With just a couple of months before my 30th birthday rolls around, it seems like a fitting time to look back on what life has taught me so far. Here it goes!

1. If you’re wondering if you should go to something that you’re invited to, a wedding, party, or whatever…you should go. Rarely do you regret going, but it’s easy to regret skipping out on friends and family.

2. Don’t succumb to clothing size vanity, i.e., stuffing yourself into uncomfortable, too-small clothes just so the tag has a smaller number on it. You won’t look smaller, you’ll be miserable, and no one will see the tag anyway!

3. Don’t crash diet before your wedding! Trust me!

4. Have a vegetable garden, even if you don’t have time to weed it as often as you should. It’s still fun.

5. Clean your kitchen each night with your kids while you play loud dance music. They’ll learn to help clean up, and it won’t seem as painful for anyone involved.

6. Try to just suck it up and put the darn clothes away as soon as they come out of the dryer. I know. It’s awful. But you know what’s worse? Putting away 5 loads of wrinkled clothes that are heaped on your chair for a week.

7. Stop dieting. Just try to eat healthy food and be active, and still have treats from time to time. Stop obsessing.

8. Similarly, just don’t buy the food you don’t want yourself and your family eating. It’s so much easier to say “no” to something unhealthy once in the grocery store than it is to say “no” to it every time you walk by the cabinet.

9. Help other people, and make sure your kids are involved in it. Make meals for people who need them, donate clothes, shop for families on your local holiday giving tree…and tell your kids what you’re doing and why.

10. Make sure your kids know that there are people in this world who don’t have it as good as they do…who are hungry and need help. And help them when you can, as a family.

11. Don’t give your kids whatever they want whenever they ask for it. It’s 100% fine to let them experience disappointment when they beg for a toy and you tell them to save up their own money until they can buy it themselves or just flat out “no”. Delayed gratification is an important lesson.

12. Have books around your house all the time.

13. Teach your children to be respectful of other people, especially elderly people. Call them out immediately if they’re not.

14. Let your children pick out their own clothes as long as they’re weather-appropriate, even if they don’t match.

15. Don’t burn bridges!

16. Keep in touch with friends from all parts of your life, even if they’re not currently relevant to where you are in life.

17. Learn to make really good chocolate chip cookies as soon as you have kids, preferably before you have them. You’ll be surprised how often this will come in handy.

18. Buy mini muffin tins when your kids start school for birthday treats to share with the class. Seriously, look at the size of a cupcake compared to the size of a 5 year old…and also keep in mind: kids are probably eating them at 10 am in school. Go for the minis.

19. Go to the library once a week.

20. Don’t wear clothes that aren’t flattering on you just because they’re what’s currently “in” and you feel like you have to.

21. Go to the dentist regularly. Seriously. Do it. It really stinks to have a root canal because you’re a whimp and skipped cleanings for 5 years. Dentist-whimps hate root canals more than they hate cleanings. Trust me.

22. Go to your annual OB/GYN appointment. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever skip it (was that enough “ever”s?).

23. Trust your gut.

24. Don’t try to make yourself like something you hate, whether it’s beer (yuck), ballroom dancing (ew), or broccoli (blaaaah). But keep trying it from time to time in case you change your mind someday.

25. Decorate for the holidays…all of them!

26. Offer to host things at your house all the time. It will force you to always have your house relatively clean.

27. Vote. And be educated about your choice when you do.

28. Keep quick dinners on hand for busy nights so you can avoid eating unhealthy and expensive take-out.

29. Always give people the benefit of the doubt. Assume they mean well and are doing the best they can, and treat them accordingly.

And (almost) 30…Raising kids is HARD WORK and NO ONE has all the answers! (perhaps the biggest understatement ever made!)

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