Parenting Hindsight Successes – Fresh from my parenting hindsight mistakes column, I’m returning with some tips that have worked quite well thus far in raising my teen and tween. I’m due for a self pat on the back after beating myself up a little :).
It’s nice to reflect on some of the positives. Hopefully these tiny tips and insights can help newer moms. At the very least, knowing there has been success motivates me to think hard about new strategies to implement as I head toward the potholes of the teen years!
Parenting Hindsight Successes and Tip 1 – Great Sleep Schedules
It took a while to unlock the mystery of an infant sleeping through the night but once they found that groove, they never let go and I haven’t forgotten the importance of a balanced sleep schedule. I’m not militant about it and it’s hard to perfect but I’ll give myself kudos for not letting the sleep patterns stray too heavily. Both of my kids have few sleep problems and it’s comforting knowing they sleep as well as they do and can also wake-up as well as they do.
Parenting Hindsight Successes and Tip 2 – Sound Spas
Speaking of sleep… This came in handy early and I’m still reaping the benefits. I bought a simple (and cheap) white noise machine (sound spa) that Homedics makes after my oldest was born and it has made a world of difference. My husband and I are light sleepers but my kids can sleep through anything thanks to this little gem. The white noise blocked out most of the household sounds that wake kids. The sound spa acted as a conditioned response. When it was turned on, my kids both instantly fell asleep. They still use them to this day and sleep like logs. Of course, nowadays there are a million FREE white noise apps you can download… but I still prefer the machine.
Parenting Hindsight Successes and Tip 3 – No (or minimal) fruit juice, no (or minimal) high-sugar or high fructose corn syrup drinks or pop
As a kid, a lot of us were raised on ordering a Coke with every restaurant meal or allowed sugary drinks at home. When my kids eat at restaurants with the freedom of the entire menu, they order water (or sometimes iced-tea) with their meals. I chalk that up to limiting the fruit juice and sugary drinks since they were toddlers. Now, they don’t even like the taste of pop or fruit juice. Their one vice is an occasional Trader Joe’s low-calorie/low-sugar lemonade (I highly recommend). Outside of that, they really don’t have a “taste for” sugar and I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s a tough tip to apply but one I highly suggest… the earlier the better. The biggest obstacle I’ve had is Capri Sun-soaked school parties and youth sports post-game “celebrations” where it is somehow customary to load kids cookies & gatorade after soccer game?! I know the teen years will be a battle trying to fight the cravings of kids sucking down energy drinks but I’m thrilled my kids are off to a great start. Kids just don’t need that stuff.
Parenting Hindsight Successes and Tip 4 – I knew when to “cut bait”
This came out of necessity. Kids have so many choices as to hobbies and activities they can try to become involved with – far more than when I was growing up. I wanted my kids to be able to try them all. Art, music, sports, individual sports etc. Unfortunately, it was impossible to afford everything or have time for every passing fancy. So, I learned early to try to involve them with everything with knowing when to bail or “cut bait” on the ones that weren’t going anywhere and being able to spot early when my son or daughter would begin to lose interest – even a little. Being able to spot this has been valuable in their growth in their true strengths and interests and help their development individually. For example… my son is the sports nut. We’d pay careful attention to what was working in addition to what he liked. Soccer was a dud, but he excelled in tennis. He does fairly well with baseball but couldn’t grasp basketball as much. While he “liked” all the sports, encouraging him early to focus on which was the most fun was key. It’s no coincidence the ones that were the “most fun” were also the ones he did well in and letting the other ones go was not a problem. Now, he and my daughter are able to focus on their core strengths and interests and my husband and I are able to distinguish which activities will help them grow and which are likely just a temporary money pit.
So, I’ve struck out a lot… and I’ve hit some home runs. What successes (and blunders) have you made? And… any quality tips I could use heading into the dreaded teen years?
Whew! It’s way more fun to talk about the Parenting Hindsight Successes than it is the mistakes!