If I ever have children, there are a couple of things I need to remember.
In case you didn’t already know, my day job is that of a nanny for two wonderful families in Chicago. One family I’ve been with for almost two years now, and the other just joined the share in November. Overall, I’ve been doing childcare for the better part of 12 years (only full-time the last 3 years), and I feel that I’ve learned many a lesson. Today, I’d like to share with you (and my future self) a few of those lessons:
-Be consistent. Parenting is not easy, folks! One thing that I’ve noticed that has the most impact (I think) is consistency. If you want the child to ask nicely for something, then don’t give them X just because they’re whining and you want them to be quiet. ESPECIALLY then. That’s one thing I learned early on as a child – I knew that if I whined and cried long enough, eventually my parents would give in. I wasn’t born with that knowledge, though. I learned that I could do that, and get away with that. I see that sometimes in ‘my’ boys, and I work really hard to try and squash that, while still being loving and fair.
-Be a united front. Communicate with your partner (and/or child care provider – even if it’s just a once-a-week babysitter!) and make sure you’re on the same page. This ties up with the last point: being consistent and united eliminates the confusion a child may have (ie: if Dad lets you jump on the couch but Mom doesn’t).
-Make time for yourself. I used to be really judge-y of the moms I babysat for, because I didn’t quite “get it.” I would scoff at a mom who would have me come over so she could go take a nap, or go get her nails done. Now I feel I understand a little bit more the importance of taking care of yourself as a parent. Happy individuals make happier parents which makes happier children. Taking some time for yourself every now and then is crucial for maintaining your identity and sense of self! You are a person! You have thoughts and opinions and dreams – just because you have a child doesn’t mean you have to give up those things.
-Make time for your husband/partner! Same with making time for yourself: make sure to still connect, interact, and bond. Try and do something together, just the two of you, that has nothing to do with children. Have sex! Most importantly, be nice. It’s so easy to get frustrated and be short with one another, but that breeds a whole different kind of animosity, and children are really sensitive to that. Happier (more patient, more understanding) parents lead to happier children.
-Hire a babysitter/nanny and be realistic – help a girl out. This falls under the last two categories as well. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed to have help! That being said, if you’re having just a part-time or occasional sitter, help a girl out and leave notes or things to do, or let them/the children watch TV occasionally. Be relaxed and let them go out and explore or go on field trips. Have some decent food in the house, and food already made or assembled for the kids (or have it be an easy assembly).
These were some big things I didn’t want to forget. They seem pretty basic (and they are), but now that some of my friends are mothers (and sleep deprived), I wanted to put this out there for myself and make sure that I don’t forget anything while I’m still (relatively) clear headed. I’ll have more tips and tricks every now and then, but for today I think we’ll leave it at that.