Top Ten Parenting Principles That Keep Me Sane!

With over 2200 bedtimes under my belt, here are some parenting principles that rise to the top. (Note: these are not guaranteed, and will probably implode during the teenage years...)

1. Show your children that you love them, at eye level, with eye contact, and with lots of hugs and affection.

2. Respect your children by understanding what is really important to them. What motivates your child during each stage of development? For example, babies are motivated by food, and toddlers are motivated by exploring their physical surroundings. By tuning in, you can distinguish real needs from random whining.

3. Groceries! Happiness is a well stocked refrigerator!

4. Know the difference between unconditional love and conditional support. I will always love my children, but I also expect to be treated respectfully. If respect wanes, so does support. That applies in both directions.

5. Work toward developmental milestones. Keep moving, keep reading, keep moving, keep reading, keep moving, keep reading. Then, go to bed and get a good night's sleep!

6. Raise problem solvers by encouraging independence. "Go and figure that out for yourself" is a perfectly acceptable statement when the time is right.

7. Play. One of my favorite past-times is watching the children get involved in some elaborate game with our neighborhood friends. Benefits of open-ended childhood play are endless.

8. Partner. Whether it's a spouse, friend, grandparent or school - know how to call in for help when you need it. Parenting is constant, so a supportive infrastructure is key.

9. Network. Who else is out there? Connections build confidence, good humor, resources and friendships. All of the above are necessary to keep moving from day to day.

10. Reclaim your weekends. Large blocks of open-ended time to recharge from the week's events are helpful to our family during the school year. Saying 'no' to the calendared events has led to more time enjoying our own agenda.

My most recent lesson after the back-to-school bonanza of extended colds and crazy work schedules illustrated to me that in parenting, there is ALWAYS something. A cough, a deadline, car trouble, job changes....you name it - life happens! So I'm done with being surprised, set-back, and inconvenienced. Instead, I'm building a buffer of sanity while things are good. And when the next issue arises, watch out, because I'll be ready!

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