When I ran an in-home daycare, I had to learn quickly how to adapt my life and my thoughts to adjust to the presence of little ones around me every day. I like my world to be neat, clean and well-organized, which isn’t a possibility in the child care business! During an especially rough week caring for these kids I knew that I had to do something to laugh a little about my experiences, otherwise, I was going to go crazy! The result were these 5 Survival Tips to Caring for Children.
If you are looking for serious tips to use to parent your child, my other blogs may be more helpful. But if you’re looking for a laugh and to commiserate with other parents and child care providers, then read on!
Survival Tip #1: It’s Gonna be OK
If you’re worrying about how clean your kitchen floor is after your toddler just finished eating, or how clean the bathroom floor is after your potty-training two-year-old has finished his business, you’re not alone. Many parents and child care providers are overwhelmed by the giant, ugly mess created by these tiny, adorable creatures. They spend their days worrying about when they’ll find time to clean it all up and praying that no one stops by for a surprise visit in the meantime.
The fact is, children are messy. In addition, they lack the skills to care about how they have contributed so much mess to your world or why this bothers you. When you feel stressed because of a mess, remember these simple words of wisdom given to me by a two-year-old:
Me: What’s this on the floor?
Child: [Smiling while sitting on the toilet, reaching for the toilet paper] My pee pee!
Me: Why is your pee pee on the floor?
Child: Emily, it’s gonna be ok.
It’s so simple and so true. It is going to be ok. A mess is just a mess, and even if it stresses you out to the max, you will be able to clean up that mess and your life will return to normal again. Always!
Survival Tip #2: What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You
Which is worse: seeing a dirty floor or not being able to see the mess that’s making your socks stick to the floor? For me, the answer is obvious. I would much rather physically see the mess on my floor than wonder, “What’s making my foot stick to the floor?” When you get the urge to ask yourself that question, just don’t! It’s likely you don’t want to know the answer!
Survival Tip # 3: Look on the Bright Side
If you lack the ability to find the silver lining in any situation, you’ll find parenting very difficult. Parenting is a hard task, and you have to be able to see the positives–and more importantly the humor–in every interaction with your child.
If you’re desperately attempting to pull your one-year-old out from under the table as she frantically grabs for the vegetables that fell from the table, take a moment to look at the bright side. Your toddler is fighting you about eating vegetables, and she’s the one who wants to eat them! And even more on the bright side…and I’m really stretching here…your toddler is protecting herself from future illness by consuming germs today that will provide immunity for the future!
What first looked like a power struggle to the naked eye turned into a toddler loving vegetables and building up a strong immunity. I like the bright side so much more!
Survival Tip # 4: Safety First
A good parent recognizes the developmental benefits to children when they’re allowed to help with cooking and baking. A great parent keeps 10 curious fingers intact when an electric mixer is involved in this process! Enough said…
Survival Tip #5: Just Do What Works!
I’ll admit that before I opened the daycare, I was (naively) prepared to follow all of the recommendations that were given in the best of the best parenting books, with no exceptions (hey, I said I was being naive!). My daycare was going to be the best and there were going to be no excuses. Unfortunately, what I found was that what book 1 suggested completely conflicted with book 2, and both of these books received rave reviews from parents, medical providers and other professionals who worked with children. So what was I supposed to do? Follow book 1 or book 2? Or should I pick the best of both?
When it came to getting the baby to sleep, I was unsure of what to do. I had a baby who was cranky and was getting crankier with each passing second. What was I supposed to do? Should I listen to book 1, which demands that children be put to sleep one way, or book 2 which suggests that children be put to sleep another way? Do I let her cry it out as book 1 suggests, or do I meet her every need no matter what as book 2 suggests? I was trapped and as confused as ever.
One day, it seemed that things just fell into place and I was able to develop a routine that worked for the baby. Did it follow all that book 1 suggested? Absolutely not. Did it follow all that book 2 suggested? Definitely not. But did it get the baby to sleep safely and give me a few moments to unwind before the rest of the kids woke up? Yes! And since it worked, I did it every day. She got the sleep she desperately needed and I got those moments of silence that are so rare when babies, toddlers and preschoolers are in the house!
There may have been people who judged me for the methods I used to put her to sleep; others may have said that I did exactly the right thing and that there’s no other way to do it. But neither of those opinions mattered. What mattered was that my method helped the baby get the rest that she needed and I received the time to wind down so that I could be the best provider that I could be for all of the children once nap time was over.
No matter what choices parents make, they’re always going to be judged. Just take a look at this video–which ironically is a formula commercial–that clearly demonstrates the dichotomy between parents who subscribe to different methods of parenting: The Mother ‘Hood Official Video.
If you’re willing to admit that someone is always going to judge you as a parent then you’re more likely to make choices for the well-being of your kids and not based on what others might think about you.