1. Never go out with milk in a sippy cup. This will reduce your cheese curds cups by half. Plus, how much milk does your kid actually need? Have you ever smelled spoiled milk from a sippy cup that was buried under your car seat during the a summer heat wave for a week? I smelled it and fainted and the mailman had to haul my sorry ass back to the house where kids later poked me with sticks until I woke up.
2. Always throw out dolls' shoes when your child get them as presents. Actually, discard any small accessory that accompanies anything. Why? Because your child will lose it within ten minutes and end up tearing apart the house looking for Cinderella's glass slipper or Rapunzel's frying pan or Darth Vader's light saber. Save yourself the headache and the anxiety for your child. However, you must do it quickly before the child notices that the doll had the shoes and/or accessories. THIS IS CRITICAL. Do whatever you need to do to distract your child while your partner/spouse/stranger opens the toy's package and severs the 9000 pieces of twine and plastic that secure the toy to the package. I'm certain Fort Knox is similarly protected with impossibly tiny bits of plastic and twine. If you must, hire a clown to distract child while you throw out all the tiny accessories. The additional cost will be worth it in the long run.
3. Buy mittens. Lots of mittens. Ideally, the mittens should be similarly colored and/or styled so you can mix them up. DO NOT BUY GLOVES for your preschooler. I don't care how cute they looked on Etsy with each finger a different color and a different zoo animal on top. Trust me. The time it takes your child to get each glove on will seem like an eternity and if you try to help your child with this task, you might as well give up any hope for the remainder of the day.
4. Avoid Pinterest. I know. I know. "It's great for ideas!" "I just like to look around and see what other moms are doing." Listen, here's the thing: you can get a lot of great ideas from Pinterest, but you can also get a crippling sense of anxiety from looking around at Pinterest too.
5. Repeat this mantra over and over again to yourself: If your mom didn't do it for you, you don't have to do it for your own child. What I mean is, our parents didn't photograph us every month as infants in perfectly styled outfits. Our birthday parties consisted of pizza in the backyard with poorly iced cupcakes and plastic goodie bags filled with erasers. And our childhoods were amazing! Let's collectively stop trying to create these perfect childhoods. Childhood is fun and amazing on its own. Let's stop gilding the lily. If you want to gild the lily, you should absolutely do it, just don't share the results on social media. Your real friends already know how awesome you are.
6. Don't ever calm a child down by buying something for them at Target (or any store). Kids are smart. If you do this once, your brilliant child will come to expect that every single time. I know, it's only $1, but how many tiny, cheap $1 things do you want floating around the house? Also, see previous statement--did your mom do that? Hell, NO! And you survived into adulthood. Save yourself the drama, and just avoid buying your kids crap. If you don't start doing it, then your kids won't have the expectation of getting crap every time your pull into the Target parking lot.
7. Television is not going to kill your children. I was a nut with my oldest when it came to screen time. Yes, I still monitor screen time and ultimately I'm the one in control of how much and when my kids get to watch it. Also, I'm selective about what they watch. If you figure out early on the least annoying children's programming, then you can select how you want to indoctrinate your children into the Great Children's Marketing Machine. For example, Sesame Street is fantastic. I don't mind any of the characters or the songs and there is an educational component to it. Callou is super annoying. Do you want your kid modeling his or her behavior on that whiny kid? NO! So don't let your kid watch it. Pick a few shows and stick them. The key here is to pick a few. Your child does not need to be acquainted with every single character on PBS, NICK JR, DISNEY, SPROUT, etc. The more characters that your child knows, the more opportunities companies have for marketing directly to your children.
8. Avoid kid's meals when you can. I'm not saying every time that you are in a restaurant. Mix it up by ordering a salad or an appetizer for your kids to share. You might be surprised by what your child will eat in a restaurant setting.
9. Kids will eat when they are hungry. This is a tough one. Sometimes, I will make a meal so delicious and my four-year-old will just carefully move the food around on her plate like Kate Moss or make a face that suggests I'm feeding her worms. I always end every meal with fruit. If they are still hungry, they can return to the plate of worms. If they are hungry, they'll eat. If not, don't force it. You'll end up crazy/angry/frustrated. It's not worth the energy. Don't make mealtime a battle.
10. Read with your kids. Let your kids see you reading your own books too. Hide the annoying/ terrible books if you hate reading them. Go to the library and get new ones, if you can't handle reading Dr. Seuss any more. Just read together. There is nothing better that having a warm, little body sitting in your lap huddled around a book.
11. All sippy cups leak. They are all terrible. Every. Single. One. Just accept this and also accept the truth that your children will spill stuff around your home for years to come. There is no way around this.
12. However long you think it takes you to leave the house, add on ten minutes for each child and at least five minutes for your spouse/partner. Even those days when you don't have multiple layers to put on each child or a car to warm up/cool down. Someone will always have a fit, lose something, suddenly forget how to put on shoes. Maybe that someone is you, maybe it's your child. It doesn't matter. Just factor in that extra time so you are less likely to have a breakdown every time you leave the house, or don't leave the house ever.
***Keep in mind, that I'm a just a mom trying to survive like everyone else. If you end every day with a kiss and hug from your little one, you must be doing something right. When in doubt, hold on to those hugs.