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Tips for Mamas from Mamas

You can read all the parenting books in the world, but nothing really prepares you for the amazing, albeit challenging, journey that is parenthood. I asked some of my mom friends what they've learned along the way, and they offered great, insightful tips! Here is some helpful advice from five mamas who collectively have nine kids ranging from 2- to 20-years-old:

1. Embrace imperfection. My greatest parenting tip isn't something I practice but something I strive to. We are all human. We will make mistakes in parenthood. We will be imperfect. But our imperfections will teach our kids to handle what life throws at them. Be compassionate toward yourself and embrace the fact that we're all imperfect, and that's ok. Your little one will still tell you you're the "best mom ever" at the end of the day.

2. Kids develop at their own pace. There's enough to stress over in parenthood, so we never pay attention to, or worry about, milestones. The Montessori approach is to follow the child and I've found that to be a pretty good philosophy generally. At my daughter's two-year check-up, our pediatrician asked me if she's jumping yet. She wasn't. Jumping is a silly example but, still, nothing we worried about. A few weeks later she started jumping - ALL THE TIME. Kids develop in the same way but in their own time. When they're ready, they're ready.

3. Onesies with zippers exist. Ditch the snaps. It'll make middle-of-the-night diaper changes much easier.

4. As babies become toddlers, encourage helpfulness. My kids are both naturally helpful in different ways. Let them help even if it is actually very UNhelpful so you don't extinguish that light. When my daughter asks to help wash dishes, I always want to say no and sometimes do, but try to stop myself and let her participate as often as she wants.

5. Hug your kids on a regular basis. It’s easy to hug them often ages 0- to 6-years-old. As they grow up, it becomes more awkward and we become afraid to embarrass them. So, avoid it in front of their friends but never stop hugging them. I hug my kids if I go out of town. I hug them before bed and some mornings. I stopped for a while and noticed a big difference. If they always expect it and it’s the norm, it will not be awkward.

6. Take videos, not just pictures. You'll want to re-live those moments again.

7. There's no such thing as a bad baby or toddler. We are all born with no emotional regulation - learning to control our intense emotions comes with time. When my toddler is melting down, I hug him. It helps show him that he is safe, loved and free to express his emotions. After his mood stabilizes, I talk to him about why he was feeling that way. Now, my threenager certainly gets time-outs if he intentionally does something he knows he shouldn't, but when it comes to raw emotions, I try my best to be calm and empathetic.

8. Talk to your kids, a lot. The number one question I’ve been asked through the years is “why do your kids tell you so much"? I have talked to them since the beginning. In the early years it was “how was your day, tell me something that was fun, interesting or different". As they aged, we talked on a regular basis, often in the car. It’s important to stay off our phones and maybe listen instead of talk, especially as they get older. Offer to drive them and their friends frequently, you will learn a lot!

10. Provide experiences, not stuff. I read somewhere that giving kids experiences that they can learn from and make happy memories doing is more beneficial than showering them with toys, and that really resonated with me. Now, believe me, my kids want and love the stuff, so I try to strike a balance. They get a moderate amount of toys and get to go on fun adventures too.

11. It's ok to set strong boundaries with family members. Everyone has their own opinion on how you should raise your children, especially family members. And they have their own expectations on how often they get to see your kids. You are the parent, and you get to decide. Don't feel obligated to conform to anyone else's ideals of what type of mom you should be. Set healthy boundaries to ensure you get to parent how and when you choose to.

12. Don't judge other moms. There are sooooo many opinions out there. How long you should breastfeed for. What age your kid should be potty trained by. When you should put them in pre-school. Every kid and parent are different. Let's stop judging each other and start supporting each other. You never know what other mamas are going through.

I absolutely loved getting and being able to share all these wonderful tips! If you're a parent and have wisdom to share too, please do so in the comments. :)


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