Monday, March 10, 2008

Parental Advice

My dear little sister is preggers with her third baby. Now, if you know me or read my blog you know that I believe baby #3 is a killer. You might also know that my sister is in Taiwan at the moment so we can't drink big drinks and eat chicken nuggets together. If we could, she would undoubtedly insist on picking my brain for mom wisdom. No one actually asked for my advice, but I'm giving it anyway. I have been a parent for 10 years, you know--that's a long time! And I have 4 kids and only one selective mute in the bunch. If you like those odds, here's some of my best advice.

Don't worry about preparing children academically for kindergarten.

I can't stress this enough: buy down comforters from and forget about a top sheet.

Don't sign your kids up for things unless they ask you to. You will never regret it.

Don't sign your boys up for gymnastics. It can only lead to two things: The Olympics and/or male cheer leading. ( I don't like those odds.)

I know you are supposed to use natural consequences to punish bad behavior, but sometimes it's hard to think of natural consequences. In these cases try threatening your kids with clipping your toe nails, I've had good success with this.

Say "No" to Easy Bake Ovens.

When kids are little, buy their clothes whenever. But when they start school have a big shopping trip for school clothes. Well. . . because it's fun.

Teach them to and let them make their own breakfast most of the time.

Try to like what they like. It kind of sucks when it's Yugi-Oh, but the pay-off comes when you're at the premier of The Dark Knight.

Throw away poopy underwear.

Teach them to pump on the swings ASAP.

Buy them cheap shoes when they are little. I go back and forth on this one, but I think it's good advice.

Pretend to be a selkie.

Buy them quaint wooden toys and hand-knit stuffed animals if you wish, but don't expect your kids to play with them.

Embrace their quirks.

Get boys' haircuts at barber shops.

Buy kids deodorant before they need it.

Never swear.

Don't beat yourself up about bribery.

Dress up for Halloween.

Don't make birthday parties a huge deal.

Make sure kids know how they like their eggs. There's nothing more humiliating than feeling insecure when ordering at IHOP.

. . . And there's more where that came from. Don't be afraid to ask me for advice. Just don't give me any.


  1. Great advice. Superb.

  2. I'm not sure if you mean no top sheet in general or just for kids, because I've been anti-top sheet for a long time now, but I am still trying to convince Robbie that we don't want a top sheet when we start sharing a bed.

  3. I would add that it is not necessary to introduce a 2nd language by the preschool ages. Also, that Pop Tarts are totally a fruit and Frosted Flakes are "whole grain".

  4. You are a wise, wise woman. This should be a reoccuring post on your blog.

    (I agree with everything except the "selkie" thing. It freaks my kids out. And, while I'm sharing, I learned the "don't sign up your kids for anything unless they ask for it" the hard way.)

    Throwing away underwear right now. . .

  5. The selkie idea is a little creepy, but (simply) it works. When the kids are bad, you subtly pretend to look for your skin. It provides some much-needed leverage when the going gets tough.

    I love thinking of Pop Tarts as fruit. I mean, they totally are.What's a whole grain anyway! I eat a WHOLE lot of frosted flakes.

    Hannah, get rid of a top sheet if you like but could you spare me (and your parents) from thinking about you sharing a bed with a man--at least until the wedding?

  6. Anonymous2:12 PM

    I wish you had a teenage girl, cause I could really use some good advice like this for her right now.

    But I second everything you said. And while I only have 3 kids I have been doing it for 14 years (what?!?) so we totally know what we are doing right?

    But then, what do I know? Have you read my last post? Not my proudest moment as a mother.

  7. Phew—and I really was that close to signing El Guille up for gymnastics (his dad says ‘No’ to karate.)

    Just last night I was laying in bed enjoying that my body could lie in bed and be comfortable. The idea of being pregnant and physically miserable was terrifying to me in those wee hours. As you know, our next kid would be our third. Thank you for the wise advice that number three is a killer. I sense it in my bones. However, I am still determined to get to four. Am I crazy? You tell me, Kacy!

  8. Ha! I'm not the only one who has given up on top sheets! See, this is why I keep coming back to your blog. I feel Well, something.

    Pickles are a green vegetable.

  9. ACK! I LOVE top sheets. My kids and husband refuse to use them, but for me - great love. GREAT LOVE.

    But all of your other advice is absolutely awesome. The male gymnastics thing made me snort :>

  10. Three wasn't my killer kid? Yet. Two is my hardest (but that is by personality).

    4 has been harder..but then again, I actually had to gestate this one instead of filling out a bunch of papers, handing someone a check and them handing me a baby. It is MUCH easier that way....

    love your advice. I agree with almost all of it (and the rest is just untried)....

  11. kacy you are awesome -

    i agree with you about everything, esp the top sheet and deodo issue and thinking about hannah in the "marriage bed"

    but i do disagree with the shoe quality. if you have great shoes and a great haircut - nothing else matters.

    that is lifetime advice.

    from me.

  12. I am honored that my situation has led you to write a list of good advice, and it IS good advice. Is it okay to decide TODAY to never swear again, or have I ruined my kids lives because I have let the occasional D word slip? I am grateful to be off the hook for signing my kids up for things they don't ask for. Thanks for the help.

  13. Just today I was thinking I wanted a new comforter and sheets for my birthday. I started to think "is a top sheet necessary?" and now I know that it is not. Also, after making this comment I am going straight to

    I am going to remember all of this advice for the forthcoming years.

  14. This is such a great post for me since I had my 3rd child not long ago. I guess #3 hasn't been a killer for me since I was following most of this advice already, although I do need to do a little Selkie research.

    And I agree with Bonny on the shoe advice, but mostly because she is my sister and she gave me that advice long, long ago.

  15. Well, don't get me wrong. I love good shoes. But I have regretted buying $$$ shoes for 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 year olds who ruin them or outgrow them.

    My best shoe purchases lately (I know Phoebe is in the market) were a pair of Kamik rubber boots for everyone. They can wear these outside no matter what and take them off and leave them on the porch. I got navy for the boys (which will "hand me down" nicely) but could not resist pink for Maggie (which will not "hand me down" to Ben very well.) These boots aren't $$$ and can be hosed off! So, of course, I'm going to get myself some real Hunter wellies and call it good. See how that works?

  16. Do you mind elaborating on baby #3 being a killer? I'm due with this one in May and you have me a little nervous!

    The advice was great and most of that has worked like gangbusters for the 4 year old and 2 year old.

    Just to expand on one of them: I make it a general rule to throw away poopy ANYTHING. Because, really, who wants to deal with that?!

  17. If you are about to have your 3rd baby, don't be nervous. It might be that my third baby just had a slightly more challenging personality. But here are the reasons I thought it was a hard transition (harder than the 2nd or the 4th):

    More kids than parents. This changes things.

    Kids get less physically demanding as they get older (no more nursing, carrying, etc.) However, they start school, have homework, teachers,learning to ride bikes, reading 30 minutes, chores, eating "real"meals, etc. Depending on your spacing, the third introduces a new baby who is physically demanding just as your oldest is ramping up the demands in other ways. So you "get it" on both ends.

    And,(depending on your spacing)your oldest isn't quite old enough to help in a meaningful way. Take heart--by the time you have a 4th (IF you have a 4th) the older ones can help in a major way.

    There could be something about odd numbers too--someone's always the odd man out. But I haven't done enough research on this to make any kind of claim.

    Don't worry. It will be fine. If I can do it, you can do it.

  18. Funny -- my third baby was an easy transition for me; it was my second that was the hardest for me, at least emotionally to adjust.

    Here's one you missed:
    Forget about comparing your amazing child to all the other children out there. Inevitably, some other kid will walk before yours, point before yours, learn to clap or even to eat neatly before yours. And if yours happens to be first and you congratulate yourself on what a great parent you are, all you need is a second or third child before you start to realize you had nothing to do with your child's development

  19. Hmmm, well I had 3 and 4 at the same time so I guess that explains all of the super-duper extra craziness...

    Thank you for giving me permission to not prepare my soon-to-be kindergartner because he could care less!

  20. I've already forgotten the rest of the advice because I'm a spreader of the no-top-sheet gospel.

    The thing is you have to be sure to wash the comforter covers as often as you wash sheets. At least for your own--the kids probably don't care.

    I like Ikea and Marshall's for cheapppppo covers.

    Say "No" to selkies. Sorry.

    Yes to shopping for school clothes at the end of summer.

    Until I was...maybe in college, it didn't occur to me that there were other ways to eat eggs besides scrambled and hard-boiled.

  21. Also, wanted to thank you for the advice. I remember lots of advice from you, one piece of which being save money you would have spent on a crib and buy bunk beds later (I still haven't bought a crib). I also remember you telling us Mia Maids that you went to BYU because you wanted to get married. Maybe I am remembering that wrong. Maybe it doesn't quite count as advice but I wanted to find a way to put that in there.

  22. I must say, I'm shocked. I sort of just assumed all moms pretended to be Selkies, which are portrayed rather charmingly in The Secret of Roan Inish.

  23. I think I said I went to BYU because I had no money and no other prospects. Half-tuition and living at home DID pay off for me, though!

  24. I think Eliza must be thinking of a different YW leader because you played way too hard to get in college for someone who was going to BYU to get married. Remember how you had to "think about it" when I proposed? And then there's the classic "That's nice" response to me telling you that I had a "tremendous crush" on you. If only you had been there to get married things would have been way easier for me.

    Wait -- what if you *were* there to get married and you STILL said "that's nice" and "I need to think about it"? Wow Eliza -- you're rocking my world.

  25. Well, it has been many years. I'm just telling it the way I remember it. I'm pretty sure the lesson was about temple marriage, but it may have been about getting an education. Or maybe it was a non sequitur.

    Red herring?

    Stacking the deck?

    You tell me, you teach freshman English.

    (comma splice)

    Didn't mean to rock anyone's world...I hope I haven't caused any problems.

  26. ditto on the poopy top sheets.....and not signing up kids for stuff unless they ask.

    mothers who know, do less, right?

  27. not only am I happy to know I am not the only mother that doesn't use top sheets, but maybe, just maybe, you are the only other adult that would be familiar with our last kids name, MARIK, a
    Yu-Gi-Oh character. why? Because we learned to love what our kids love!


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