In May of 2011, I dismissed class for the last time and began a new chapter in my life, full-time dad. I taught middle school for seven years, but with two kids and a third on the way, I wasn't able to give as much time to teaching as it required, plus I wanted to spend more time with my own kids, instead of someone else's.
My wife and I have been married for nine years. She spends her days (and some nights and weekends) as an OB/GYN, or as my kids like to call it, “catching babies.”
We have three kids. First Born is eight years old, but likes to pretend she’s in college. Our son, Middle Man is five, but we’re convinced by the way he talks about things like “beautiful sunsets” that he’s an old soul, and our youngest, the Blonde Bomber is only three, but already has the attitude of a teenager.
Our kids provide us with an endless amount of stories. Writing and retelling these stories for Indy’s Child has been my part-time job for the past three years.
You can contact me on Facebook at True Confessions of a Stay at Home Dad or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 04, 2012 | 08:32 PM
My wife created a list of ten parenting rules. Enjoy!
Rule Number One...
Whispering this phrase is gold at our house. As well as Rule Number Two. The reverence given these rules leaves me wondering: what are the other rules? An hour around our house will leave you with a series of parenting mantras. We hold on to these, repeat them when are children are a step too far away to physically redirect and pass them on to other families. Why not get them on paper?
#1 Rule Number One. I shouldn't have to elaborate, but Rule Number One has and will for all time be...
Never wake a Sleeping Baby.
#2 Rule Number Two. Really a corollary on the first. Again, almost 100% adherence will guide you through many a parenting quandary.
Never bother a Happy Baby.
Or toddler, or child of any age who is engaged peacefully and quietly in any activity no matter how ridiculous that activity is, no matter whether snack is ready, you've planned to watch a special movie, or any other reason. This is a gift from the parenting gods. Get a coffee, check your email, lay on the couch but do NOT disrupt the happy child.
#3 Sleep is Survival. Every kid, every moment, every day especially in the beginning, sleep is crucial. Put down the sleep expert books. Use your brain and get creative. In the early days, all solutions are up for grabs including (but not limited to) swings next to the TV blaring static. The so-called "Nap Drive" coined by a friend of mine. Bouncing baby on a Swiss ball (gently, I know) for hours while listening to a CD of white noise that is skipping. I have done all these and I have learned:
Whatever gets the MOST people in the house the MOST sleep is the solution for today.
Don't die on the sword of habits, or sleeping in the crib from day one. It doesn't take 2 adults to handle a baby wakeup. Someone should always be sleeping. And if those creepy newborn goat sounds keep you awake, just scoot that bassinet into the closet, the bathroom, or just outside your door and get some zzz's.
#4 There are a lot of reasons to feed on demand. Endless parenting books will give you wordy explanations. It boils down to one principle.
You can't scream while you are eating.
I've also noticed that if you are serious about eating, you won't throw your food, put your fist in your ketchup, your fork in my wine, your foot on the table or get up out of your chair. All of these offenses will result in the immediate, nonnegotiable and emotionless end of your meal.
#5 Saying "No" all of the time can get really flipping old. I like to take "Henry, No" and convert it to a neutral statement. This is all in the delivery. Take the emotion out of it and state it like it is in the Constitution. Our basic version, and there are many variations, is;
We don't throw in the house. (Or hit, etc...)
For some reason, sternly stating this fact has profound impact on my children and on our sanity.
#6 It is all about choices. Only offer options that you will be happy with and make sure one of them is a default. Example: Do you want to put your shoes on OR do you want Mom to do it? Then act on it. And remember the cardinal rule of choices:
You get as many choices as you are old.
Have some common sense though, and cap it at 3-4 options for everyone. And yes, 1 year olds get ONE choice.
#7 This is obvious, but I overhear this rule being broken constantly by parents everywhere, including myself and my husband.
Don't ask a question that you don't want answered.
Please, let me never overhear another "Do you want to get in the car? Eat a vegetable? Go to the grocery?" I know my children's opinions on these things and I don't want to hear it and I certainly don't want to present them as optional. "It is time to go, so grab that last bite of broccoli and lets get in the car" is so much more effective.
#8 Welcome to the Wild West. Sharing is a skill that most adults haven't mastered. When I buy a box of Thin Mints, I am not prepared to dole them out to the minions. If I choose to leave them in the pantry or on the counter, that is my problem. In our abode, we don't share very well, so...
You can have it when they Leave it Behind.
Outside of pacifiers, loveys and pricey electronics, nothing is sacred and nothing is Mine or Yours. Finders Keepers. You play with it as long as you want but if you wander away for a second, neither God nor Country can save you. Your brother has it? Fortunately, no one around here has demonstrated an attention span greater than that of a drunken gnat, so I'm betting in 3 minutes, he'll Leave it Behind and you won't even notice because you'll be wearing 4 tutus and granting wishes to your imaginary puppy dogs.
#9 This whole concept of "counting" is risky. 123 Magic? Sure, that works occasionally. You should know that even a small child, who still thinks he is invisible when he covers his eyes, has an understanding of the mathematical concept of infinity. He knows and you know that there is no limit to how high the count can reach. And let's not get in to those using fractions to count... Counting up is ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. Instead:
Ten... Nine... Eight..........
Stated in a stern voice, often the word "Ten!" can elicit immediate results. I've never gotten below six, I've never stated what will happen when I get to "one" and I honestly don't know. Doesn't matter. Works like a charm.
#10 No one can tell you how to parent your own kids. Maybe my ten rules would create mayhem in your home. So in good faith...
Trust your instincts.
-Amanda (he's got to change the login to this blog! We don't share well...)