What an interesting WFMW challenge–what’s the best parenting advice I’ve received?So many unrelated bits and pieces come to my mind.Tiny Babe AdviceWith newborns, the best discovery we made was a middle ground between feeding on demand and scheduling. We ended up creating a pattern, or an order of events. Let me see if I can remember–it’s been a while, you see. The Boy will soon be six years old. But if memory serves me, we would feed, play, nap. Feed, play, nap.The baby would wake up to be fed, we’d keep him up for a while (sometimes just a minute or two in those first weeks) so he could watch me from a bouncy seat or bat at toys on a blanket. After a while, eyes would get droopy and we’d put the baby to bed again. When he awoke, we could start that order again.As the baby grew, we could stretch out the awake/play time as well as the nap time. In the end, the baby would almost always fall into a schedule all on his or her own without us having to set a clock and make it happen. I guess we were, in essence, feeding on demand; but the pattern gave the baby a little structure. We found it to be a great compromise that gave everybody some parameters and expectations, though when things were mixed up due to travel or visitors or whatnot, we’d of course add feedings or skip a play time if the baby was too sleepy.Toddlers on UpDon’t promise anything I’m not absolutely certain I can deliver. I would make a promise that I couldn’t keep due to circumstances out of my control, and everyone would be crushed. In an effort to be honest and manage the children’s expectations, I must have eliminated that phrase (“I promise”) from my vocabulary pretty early on so as not to promise anything. “We will try to go the library,” I would say, “but we might not be able to.” I learned to do this because so often something would happen–the repairman would stay an extra hour and throw off our schedule, or an important phone call would come through–and we’d have to delay or cancel. What seemed to work best was to be very vague, or to keep quiet altogether.Natural ConsequencesBooks and friends both recommended that I use the word “consequence” with the kids. This amused both family and perfect strangers. “Tommy, stop that right now or I’ll give you a consequence.” Nobody knew exactly what that consequence would be–including the old lady standing nearby at the grocery store, or even me, for that matter! Sometimes the threat of some kind of consequence would be enough to cause the child to stop what he was doing. It also bought me a little creative thinking time. I could come up with a consequence that matched the behavior, which leads to another bit of advice–when disciplining a child, try to make the consequence a natural consequence. If the child didn’t want to take a bath, the consequence wasn’t to sit in a corner (at least not for long)–the consequence was to take a bath. Or if the child refused to put away her clothes, then she put away her clothes as well as someone else’s clothes. It’s hard to generate logical, natural consequences sometimes, and I’m sure I’ve made some illogical leaps; but I’ve tried to follow that principle.Don’t Overschedule KidsIt’s hard to say how much one piece of advice affects a child’s development–and there’s no way to turn back time, try it a different way, and see how they’d turn out–but we chose to keep life pretty simple when the kids were little, even when neighbors were tempting us to sign them up for classes, clubs and teams. This allowed for plenty of free play, where experimenting and imagination flowed. In fact, we still try to keep life simpler and slower than most people do in our suburb.We’ve certainly signed our kids up for teams–they’ve tried the neighborhood swim club, recreational soccer, and junior high softball–and they’ve taken classes such as art and music, but we have avoided overscheduling. When we’ve let things get out of hand and leaned toward the hyper-scheduled lifestyle, we’re anxious and snippy with each other. Some families can handle that fast-paced, nonstop, fast-food-in-the-van-en-route-to-Little League lifestyle. While we certainly have busy seasons, we try to build in breaks. We prefer a slower pace and are a healthier–and I think closer, more intimate–family when we preserve that.Those are a few pieces of advice that have made a difference. I think I might add to the list as things come to mind.** Updated with link back to Rocks in My Dryer and old WFMWs **Please visit Rocks in My Dryer for more great ideas!
My previous Works-For-Me-Wednesday Ideas:A-B-A-B (Always Bring A Book)What Doesn’t Work For MeOutlook for EverythingWorks for My Daughter (tent for a little solitude)21st Century Calling CardsBuying LocallyWorks-for-my-Friend Wednesday (Storage for Hospital Stays)When Life Is Crazy-Busy, Do the Next ThingProjects Contained and PortableCastile Soap for a Simpler Life (and blemish-free face)Post-It Annotation for Library BooksEveryday Mom-Mobile Essentials & Travel NotebooksMoney-Motivated KidsDrawers-by-the-DoorMake the Most of Internet Lag TimeStoring Dishes: How Low Can You Go?Crepes? Mais, Oui!Containerize Kids’ LaundryLet It Snow, Let Us Slow (Crockpot Steel-Cut Oatmeal)Family LoveFestJoy of Lifelong Learning–For Free!MP3 AccompanistMP3 Note-taking