Photo Credit: C. Corrigan

Photo Credit: C. Corrigan

Parenting is truly, and sometimes unfortunately, a “learn as you go” adventure. You can read all of the parenting books out there and still not be fully prepared. I may not be an expert – okay, I’m definitely not an expert – but I have been a mom for four years now and have learned some, what I feel are valuable, survival tips. I would like to pass them along to the new moms out there as well as those women who plan to have children one day. For those of you who are no stranger to the parenting game, I’m sure you will be nodding your head in solidarity to at least one of these.

1. There’s an unspoken rule about using the bathroom after 5am, before your young children wake up for the day. Don’t do it. Especially if you have to walk anywhere within a 30 foot radius of your little one’s bedroom. Sure, you might try slowly tip-toeing while holding your breath all while thinking to yourself “There’s no way she’s going to wake up. She’s sound asleep.” Guess again my friend. You will indeed wake the sleeping dragon. Before this time you are usually in the clear but once the clock strikes 5, their magical “nothing can wake them, not even a smoke alarm” (true story!) sleep begins to wear off. The minute one of your toes leaves your bed and touches that floor you are at risk. My advice? Cross your legs and suck it up sister. Hopefully you have the ability to fall back asleep, even with a full bladder. If not, you may want to start thinking about using adult diapers?

2. DVR is an amazing invention, especially when you have a to-do list that’s a mile long and a preschooler who’s decided that nothing on “live” TV is worth watching and they can’t keep themselves entertained longer than 15 minutes. It’s not like I plop my kids in front the television all the time, but there are certain situations where I need to have the freedom to get things done around the house without them under foot. I record movies and shows I know my daughter loves and save them for when I need some time to get things done around the house. A big shout out to Disney Jr.’s Doc McStuffins for allowing me to cross many a task off my to-do lists!

3. You might as well face it; you’re going to see, hear, and/or smell something gross every day. Not only that, but your child will not be ashamed and will find the most inappropriate times to share the grossness with you. Puke, boogers, farts, poop, crusty food leftovers caked on clothes (or at least you hope it’s food)… The list really goes on and on. I have no words of wisdom except to get used to it. Embrace it and trust that it won’t last forever.

4. Potty training SUCKS! There’s just no sugar-coating this one. Sure, I guess there are worse things in life, like having the stomach bug or the hangover you had after your 21st birthday, but potty training is a test. It’s a test of patience, perseverance, dedication, and love. It is a time when your daily schedule is planned around potty breaks and mapping out how far from a toilet you are at any given moment. And then even when you think you’ve finally crossed that long anticipated finish line, your child has an accident in their pants. After months of being accident-free. And of course when you’re not home and without a change of clothes. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and always pack that extra change of clothes now, even if it only means I’ll never need them!

5. Do not be afraid to bribe your children. You can even call it “positive reinforcement” if it makes you feel better. Bribery can be a useful and effective tool if used the right way. Think of it as a magical gift that loses its power when used too much. Keep this tool in your back pocket and save it for when it really counts. Some examples of good use of bribery include “Oh you don’t want to take your medicine? What if I give you some M&M’s after?” or “If you’re quiet while I’m on this conference call for work I’ll let you stay up later to watch TV!” Another important rule about bribery is that if you don’t follow through with the reward portion it begins to lose its effect. Make sure you’re not making promises you’re not willing to keep. Your child will quickly catch on and call bullsh*t, and you’ve just lost the Ace up your sleeve.

These are some of my tricks of the trade, a.k.a. how I’ve survived parenting so far. Care to share some of yours? Until next time my friends, (Try to) Keep calm and mother on!

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