Recently my cousin Imogene Tilson e-mailed from Huntsville, Alabama, asking for tips for mothers-to-be. Two nieces were about to make her older sister a grandmother, and she wanted to create personalized “guidebooks” for “the girls.” What better way to get everyone in their far flung extended family involved in getting ready for the babies? Here’s my reply:
About that request for tips for the mothers, did you want only one? Too bad. I’m an opinionated mother.
Read and re-read as your child progresses from one developmental stage to another: Between Parent & Child by Dr. Haim G.Ginott and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Hands down, these books stand out as the most useful and thought-provoking of any I read.
Remember flight attendant instructions and put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. That’s sound advice. If you do not take care of yourself–emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually–you cannot be your best and do your best for others.
Abandon all hope of being the “perfect” mother. Be the best mother you can, knowing some days work out better than others.
Less is more: having too many toys overwhelms children, making them unable to focus on any one. Invest in quality toys and rotate them as the child loses interest, reintroducing them later when what’s old will be new again. Quality toys promote quality play and grow as the child grows.
Beware of branding. Companies often use characters from movies and television to promote their products, from food to clothing and toys. These licensed products become “must have” because they are familiar and popular with peers. Licensing agreements support branding efforts, benefitting corporations, not children and their families, and can lead to unwise buying, unhealthy eating, and that “I want” nagging that drives all parents nuts.
Balance is the key to sanity and successful parenting. Easier to say than to achieve, but well worth the effort.
Nurture your sense of humor. You’ll need it. Laugh everyday.
Having sent off my “words of wisdom,” I called my mother and asked her what she had sent. In declining health, she had lacked the energy to answer the letter, then forgotten about it until I asked. With prodding, she agreed to me e-mailing what she thought most important. In another post, I’ll share her advice.