1. Sleep deprivation can make parents insane. Count to 10 to avoid going postal on parents who brag about their all-night-sleepers.
2. Sift through grandparents’ advice for the good stuff. Nod and smile and ignore the rest.
3. It’s okay to let kids watch more than one hour of TV on rainy days.
4. If you can, walk your kids to their classrooms on their first day of school every year. It means a lot to them. But when they get old enough to beg you not to, comply.
5. An occasional donut is not poison (for kids or for you).
6. Feed small children before you go to a restaurant and/or bring snacks and small toys. Your server, and the other diners, will love you for it.
7. Introduce your kids to the books and movies you loved as a child. More often than not, they’ll love them too.
8. Answer kids’ questions as honestly as you can…even the ones about body parts. But don’t go overboard into “information overload” territory; adjust your answers to be age appropriate.
9. Ten bucks and ten minutes at Supercuts beats four hours in a chair (and lopsided bangs) at home.
10. Let kids cry sometimes; just hug them while they do. And don’t worry about the snot on your shoulder. It’ll wash out.
11. Teach kids to swim and ride a two-wheeler as soon as you think they’re ready. They’ll thank you later.
12. Let kids join organizations and clubs and take lessons in things that they’re interested in, but don’t force them to continue if they really don’t like it. Just ask them to tough it out for a set period of time first, to make sure.
13. Don’t expect the school to do everything for you. Tolerance and good manners are taught at home.
14. Help them with their homework.
15. When you’re wrong, admit it.
16. Get down on the floor and play.
17. Laugh with your kids, but never at them.
18. Take a day off from work to chaperone a field trip. You’ll be glad you did…and your child will be glad too.
19. Missing some social events to be home in time to put your children to bed is no great loss.
20. Don’t pass your fears on to your children. Smile bravely and let them “go for it,” whatever “it” may be.
21. If you overreact, especially if you lose your temper inappropriately, apologize.
22. That thing about little pitchers having big ears is true. Watch what you say around your kids, because they’re always listening, even when it looks like they’re not.
23. You don’t have to have a pool; sometimes a sprinkler is even more fun.
24. When your children are tiny, an outing to Target is the equivalent of going to Disney World…for them and for you. And in the coming years you will spend more time there than at any other store.
25. Have actual conversations with your kids. You know, like they’re real people. Because they are.