Today is Violet’s 4th birthday and I’m finding myself rather emotional. Her pregnancy was unexpected, the 58 hour labor remains vivid in my mind, the ride over the last 4 years has been crazy, and each exasperating moment with Vivy inevitably is counterbalanced by a sweet or hilarious one. I’ve also learned some things the second time around, and I’m grateful for the lessons, which I want to share with you today as part of the Lessons Learned series.
1. Don’t let pride get in the way of accepting (or asking for) help. Why was it so hard for us to accept or ask for help? While I’m certainly mindful not to take advantage, I’ve let go of any deferential pride issues in this department!
2. Individual differences are just as they should be. Parenting Violet has been a completely different ballgame than parenting Laurel. At first, it freaked me out, but I now know that their differences are just as they should be.
3. Having another kid helps your older kid(s) spread their wings. By necessity, we have needed to encourage Laurel towards more independence. It was a tough shift; after all, she was the focus of our attention for 6.5 years, but I know it has helped her grow immensely. She is so confident and capable now; it’s a joy to watch her tackle new challenges and help around the house.
4. Every decision impacts the family system. Whether it’s decisions about my travel, Jon’s client load, Laurel’s extracurriculars, or Vi’s playdates, every decision impacts the family system and we need to make choices accordingly. It’s really helped me evaluate my choices in a less (admittedly) self-centered way.
5. No is more important than ever. If you’ve read Minimalist Parenting you know I’m a big fan of people learning to say no. And it’s more important than ever as your family grows. There will always be more opportunities; don’t fear no!
6. Store-bought is totally fine. I do love baking from scratch, but, well, TIME. I’ve realized store-bought is totally fine, and in fact, when Vi asked for munchkins for her school birthday treat, I was relieved, given my workload this week. Best $7.99 I ever spent.
7. Letting your kids work it out is a gift. I have a low patience threshold when it comes to sibling squabbling. I quickly realized that whenever I tell Laurel and Violet to go work it out, I’m gifting them with practice in conflict resolution.
8. Reading together is still really, really important. Both of my girls love books and come to think of it, it’s really one of the few quiet, totally focused things we do together. I read a lot with Vi (she’s very forthright and will dump a pile of books in my lap) and I’ve also started reading with Laurel again. It does wonders for both of their moods.
9. Relationships matter more than ever. Whether it’s your spouse, immediate family, or friends, nurture your relationships. Go on a date. Go out for a meal (you do, after all, need to eat). Call someone on the phone. Nurturing your relationships will make you a happier parent. Trust me.
10. Your kids want you to do less. Ultimately, your kids want you and your undivided attention, not all the fancy trappings you’re trying to create for them (well intentioned as they are). It’s a win-win for everyone. JUST DO LESS. Vi and Laurel both are happier when we’re just hanging out together, and my phone has been stored accordingly.Image credits: Christine Koh