Some might say the biggest mistake they made was the decision to become parents in the first place! Thank God for unplanned pregnancies, or most of us wouldn’t be here to try our hands at the parenting game at all. Planned or not, we are never prepared for the task. Read all the books you want. Listen to your parents and various family members spout their techniques, but from the moment that little monkey-child is placed in your arms, all bets are off! I personally just winged it all the way, and frankly, I don’t think it’s a bad way to go.
One of the biggest mistakes I think many parents make is not choosing their battles. They want to do it all right. While a lofty goal, it’s hardly doable. Of course we all have our own styles too, and what works for some doesn’t for others, not to mention the unique personality of each child in the same family. I have two daughters two years apart, and they couldn’t be more different than night and day. Here’s a mistake in the making right away. Back in the day, would be parents were told to space their kids two years apart. What was those experts thinking?? Here you have a wild two year-old running around like a crazed maniac, and then you have a needy whiny infant on your hip! Many a day found me wanting to toss both kids at their father the minute he walked in the front door from work! This makes for a bad spacing choice in my experience. You might want to rethink that old-fashioned idea. I think four years apart makes better sense.
Here’s a great example of battle choosing. I have a girlfriend who had her kids quite a few years after my family was already complete, so she was completely clueless. We were sitting at the kitchen table playing cards, while the kids were in the bedroom playing. She got up for a potty break and while at that end of the house, she looked in on the kids. She comes back to the table and says, “Jeanette, your little one is throwing all her clothes out of the dresser drawers”. I told her I don’t care. She repeats, “No, I mean she is throwing ALL of her clothes out of the drawers”. I repeated, “I don’t care”! She didn’t get it, but I’d bet money on the fact that she got it real quick once her kids were born and growing up! It was worth picking up the mess later, rather than interrupting our card game to discipline my daughter straight away. Now had she come back to the table and said she was cutting her other sister’s hair, (not an arbitrary example), I would have hiked back there lickety-split!
I think the biggest lesson I learned while raising my two munchkins was how to speak to them while disciplining them. I learned this purely by accident. I had come home from a long Christmas shopping trip and was dead on my feet. I came into the living room to find my two darlings watching TV and eating potato chips. At least I thought they were eating them, but hard to tell since there was chips from one end of the living room to the other! I was too tired to begin screaming at them, which is my normal method of discipline. Instead, I very quietly and slowly told them to pick up their mess and then go to their rooms. The screaming they expected; the calm rational mother they did not. They immediately did what they were told and went to their rooms. I went in a few minutes later to find them both crying! Guess I scared the hell out of them and they figured I meant business this time! This was quite the eye-opener to be sure.
So, pick your battles and don’t scream like a banshee! This is what I learned. Certainly I did little by the books, but my daughters turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself. And I do!