DAY 1: BE QUIET! – Your kids don’t want to be told what to say, how to say it, what to wear, what to eat or when to go to bed. You can still be in charge and get your point across but sometimes you just need to zip it.
DAY 2: LISTEN – Which brings me to listening. Sometimes your kids just want you to listen. Stop giving advice, reminiscing about your childhood experiences, your ideas, thoughts or concerns and GENUINELY listen to what they are saying. Hard to do but you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll actually get to know your kid.
DAY 3: NEVER SPILL SECRETS – The day you do this is the day they will stop talking to you about anything. Obviously if someone is in danger this rule doesn’t apply. Spill immediately.
DAY 4: READ THE MOOD – Get to know which side of the bed your child falls off each morning. Simply stay away from the wrong side.
DAY 5: GIVE SPACE – Let them breathe! Do you really have to know who they ate lunch with or played with at recess? Whose party is this weekend or who is dating who? You’re the adult, remember?
DAY 6: LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY – NO MATTER WHAT happens…it’s your job to LOVE
DAY 7: LET GO OF THE PAST – Stop bringing up past mistakes or disappointments, forgive, forget and move on with your relationship.
DAY 8: DON’T FREAK ABOUT THE FUTURE – So maybe your kid will be the next Bill Gates, earn a gold medal, get accepted to Harvard or make it in Hollywood. But what if they just grow up and do their own thing that is completely separate and opposite of what YOU have dreamed for them? Don’t freak out, nothing is guaranteed.
DAY 9: LET THEM BE UNIQUE – They are not extensions of you. They are separate little human beings with their own unique personalities. Love them no matter how much they drive you nuts.
DAY 10: EMBRACE THEIR QUIRKS – Whoa! How annoyed are you when they crack their knuckles, lack personal hygiene, squeal in that high pitched whiny voice, pick their wedge 20 times a day and drive you nuts with 100 questions on the way to school? Who cares? You’re quirky, they’re quirky, we’re all quirky. Get over it.
DAY 11: STOP NAGGING – yes you nag, even if you think you don’t. Stop doing it or they’ll tune you out and you’ll find yourself yelling at the top of your lungs and get no response.
DAY 12: MODEL BEHAVIOR – Don’t just tell them the type of person you want them to be, lead by example. Yes, it’s very hard to do.
DAY 13: SAY “YES” OR “MAYBE” MORE THAN “NO” – When you consistently say “NO” eventually your kids will stop asking and do it anyway. You don’t want that to happen. So instead of jumping to “NO” every time you’re asked a question, pause…ask for some time to think about it and give a “maybe” or even a “yes”.
DAY 14: SPEND QUALITY TIME – no matter what age your children are, even if they don’t admit it, they do want to spend time with you.
DAY 15: LOVE YOUR SPOUSE – The most important thing you can do is love your spouse. Your child’s relationships will be defined on how they witness you and your spouse treat each other at home.
DAY 16: PRETEND YOU’RE INTERESTED – 99% of the time while you’re making dinner, or driving carpool or rushing to soccer practice, one or multiple children are telling you something. In the early years it’s about their day or what they got in the treasure box. As they get older it might be about girl drama, their latest I-tunes download or getting cut from the football team. Whatever it is, be interested and be present. When your kids are on their phones or have ear buds in every time they’re around you, you’ll know you failed at this one.
DAY 17: DON’T GET INVOLVED WITH DRAMA – The last thing your kid needs is for you to fight their battles. They will get their feelings hurt, multiple times. They won’t be invited to parties, someone will bully them mentally or physical. But kids need to learn to stand up for themselves. No matter how much your mama bear wants to tear apart the perpetrator, stop. Don’t do it. Your actions will only make matters worse for your child.
DAY 18: DON’T NEGATE FEELINGS – Feelings are never right or wrong. They are simply feelings. Assure them that they have every right to feel a certain way and understand where they are coming from. Then go back to numbers 1 & 2.
DAY 19: BE PATIENT – Give them time to open up. Half the time kids are going through something they might not even know how to verbalize it. Don’t rush the process. Kids will be kids and do things you won’t understand because it’s not the way you’d do it. Be patient.
DAY 20: BE LOVING – there is no stronger emotion than love. Do it often and do it big.
DAY 21: BE KIND – Stop being mean. Sometimes parents are more of a bully to their kids than any peer in their life. Just be nice…easier said than done, but seriously give it a whirl.
DAY 22: ENCOURAGE FAITH – whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, share them with your child. Kids are naturally selfish. Let them understand that there is something so much more important than them. Faith can help them in tough times and bring you closer.
DAY 23: BREATHE – You cannot and will not get through parenthood without taking several deep breaths each day. Sometimes each hour, each minute. Relax…breathe.
DAY 24: STOP FREAKING OUT – Sometimes, even when life totally sucks, you have got to keep your cool. If the mom freaks the house crumbles. Don’t do it. Or at least lock yourself in the bathroom when you do.
DAY 25: GUIDE, DON’T BOSS – Be a mentor not a dictator. You know who you are. Stop it.
DAY 26: BE FUN – Be silly, be creative, remember what it was like to be a kid. Would you have hung around YOU if you were a kid? If you answered “no”, get with the program and hit the dollar store for a whoopee cushion, prank call your kid’s cell phone or Google some new jokes to share on the car ride home.
DAY 27: CREATE MEMORIES – Let them skip school to hit the beach with you, wake them up after everyone else has gone to bed to take them in the jammies to get ice cream, spend extra time snuggling, go on a walk alone in the rain, or go to a park and swing high next to each other and chat about your day. Don’t just create memories, make moments they’ll remember forever.
DAY 28: SPEND TIME WITH EACH KID – Take time out for each kid individually, find out what they like to do, their favorite food, favorite hangout. Join them in their favorite sport, they may laugh at your efforts, but at least you’ll be smiling together.
DAY 29: VALUE THEIR BELIEFS – Again, your child is not you so inevitably you will have different and varied beliefs especially as they get older. Respect their own viewpoints and don’t push your beliefs upon them.
DAY 30: REWARD EFFORTS – Praise, praise, praise. Whether they try and succeed or not, reward the effort. If no effort is given, do not reward. Encourage the journey, not the destination.
Great list. I really like #’s 26 and 27. I love to have fun and create memories even if it means we stay up too late or skip school to make it happen.
That’s great you do that!