Posted in Family, health, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

How life changes per kid…

I received an email asking to do an article on family life in regards to number of kids within that family. Kind of like a 0,1,2,3 thing. I thought it could be kind of interesting to dig into.

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0

For some, the idea of having babies is something that they have dreamed about since they were still in diapers. They lugged their dolls around the house, carrying them by their feet, from one room to the next; getting them dressed, feeding them, putting them to bed, the whole nine yards.

For others, not so much. Not everyone wants kids. An article in The Guardian claimed that “Once pregnancy is over, you’ve got a small human that you’re responsible for 24/7, for nearly 2 decades. Many are overjoyed by this prospect, which is great, but that doesn’t mean everyone is.” This was a follow up to the argument that women who do not want children are somewhat shunned because we’re inherently supposed to want to procreate. I agree with the author Dean Burnett on that point. Then of course there are those who simply cannot have children. Because of this, please do not question young women about why they don’t have children. It makes me cringe when I hear it, and yes I hear it.

 

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1

One, is the loneliest number…

People with one kid get the best of both worlds and the worst, all at the same time. I think there is still a stigma that once you have one you’re supposed to want more.

Speaking as an only child, there are perks and there are downsides. I had my own room, but I was scared of the dark. I had my own clothes and toys, but I did have to play alone a lot. Luckily, I had a lot of cousins nearby to play with and lived in a community where friends were in walking distance, so that helped some.

No need to get a new car, even your sexy two door can probably hold at least one car seat. No need to worry about bath time, with only one kid, only one bath, no shared water/toys/wash clothes.

Traveling with 1 kid is a whole different ball game than having multiples. Traveling with any amount of kids can be stressful but when you only have the one to pack for, look for, prepare for, and pay for, it’s much easier.

Nap time is actually quiet time. There’s no other noise going on once your one little angel goes down for a nap. Same thing when they are old enough for school, or sleepovers, or summer camps, whatever; when that one child is quiet, the whole house is quiet.

Make sure you have a strong marriage/partnership before having this baby. 1 may lead to others, but not if you can’t make it past 1. That sounds a bit harsh probably but the stress of an added person (not to mention an extremely needy, cranky, always loud person) is something that even good marriages will suffer from.

“Only children are supposed to be spoiled, selfish and lonely. In fact they’re just fine — and on the rise, as more parents choose against having multiple children”

The quote above is from a TIME Magazine article published back in 2010. After the big recession in 2008, people had to stop and think more economically about having kids. It wasn’t just that kids costs more per say, people were making less, and many still are.

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2

Two children, two parents= seems like an easy way to live. Eh…easy isn’t the word I would choose in that scenario but we’ll go with it. 2.5 is the average amount of children that American families are having now. Going from 1 to 2 is much easier than going from 0 to 1. So there’s that at least.

Time is divided now. It’s not just you and your spouse time, then you and your one and only child time. It’s you, your spouse, child #1, and child #2. They will both have separate needs, wants, and ways of communicating with you. Depending on how far apart in age they are, your first might just be talking when you realize the second is on their way. You may just be getting the glorious feeling of more than 4 hours of sleep when you’re suddenly up again every hour peeing in the night. And pregnant while chasing around a toddler? Not the same as the first time, by any means.

What about twins? Yes there’s two of them, but does that count? It’s one pregnancy, one birth. No age gap. Yes they count as 2, I’m just adding to the arguments I’ve already seen and I think it’s a silly one.

There are general concerns for a lot of mothers though that go from 1 to 2. Will I love them the same? How can I ever love anyone as much as my first? How can I even begin to explain to my first that there’s another baby? What if he/she isn’t happy about it?

I will say, I had some of these pretty common concerns myself. They are not founded in any real life. You won’t love them the same, that’s impossible. You will love them equally but in different ways. It’s hard describe but once you have a second child, everything is different. You also get a newfound love for your first watching them grow into a big brother/sister. It is something magical to watch.

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3

If you Google, number of children you should have, two of the first options that arise are “Why three is the magic number of children for happiness” followed by “why three makes for the most unhappy families”. So, I think there’s some debate on this one?

To quote another article “Why three really is the magic number”:

 “A third child feels like an indulgence; ‘more than the world needs’.”

Ouch.

Irregardless if it’s indulgent or not, the idea that going from 2 to 3 is a hard one to make. Harder, I think than going from 1 to 2. Once you get past 2 kids the car situation gets harder, going to the store becomes even more challenging, and dividing up your time among each kid takes on whole new struggles.

One mom commented to me that going from 2 to 3 took much more time managment than she had expected. “I didn’t think it was going to be so time consuming getting out the door.” For those with 2 thinking, ugh I already struggle with that now, might be something to consider.

This isn’t uncommon either, a survey of over 7,000 moms (which has been quoted in a few different articles) claimed that mothers of 3 children were the most stressed. More than 1, 2, 4, or even 5. Why? Something about the unevenness of 3 children? The going from a kid in each hand to one kid having to be the third wheel? Maybe…

One plus to the third is allowing the baby of the family now to become a big brother/sister (yes I understand this can’t just keep going until there’s an endless chain of babies). Let’s be honest, when you have 2 kids the younger one is babied. By you, and your older child. This will happen to the third one as well but at least it might help toughen up that 2 one a little. Then there’s the dreaded “middle child” syndrome. My own mother will attest that this a real life phenomenon but is it enough to detour you?

A family of 5 is something to be desired however, for those who don’t want a “big” family, but want larger than average family. The chaos that is life as a family of 5 is appealing for many reasons. The holidays, family dinners, the siblings have more options for playmates. Hopefully they’ll like at least one of them.

3 is also the stepping stone to 4, which it seems some women think that is the best number.

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4

Wait, who’s crying? Is it the baby? No not that baby, the baby-baby. The littlest one? No, she’s sleeping, somehow. Is it the toddler? The older two fighting? What is all the noise and where is it coming from!

A quote that stuck out to me from an article in The Express “Three is the “storm” before the “calm” of four. These kind of statistics made me wary of having a third child, resulting in an age gap of seven and nine years between my third and her older brothers.”

After 3, I mean hell, what’s one more right? You have all the stuff you need, you SHOULD have at least both genders at this point (if not, I do know some, I pray for you). Having 4 children also makes you lighten up some. “Every busy home will have many moments of stress when plans for apart, homework gets lost (or stolen… yes, would you believe there are “strangers” who love to steal math homework?!) and everything descends into chaos. Adding a big dollop of humor to such occasions can diffuse tension like a magic wand and make all the difference in the world, particularly on those days when the kids want to strangle each other, or you want to strangle them.”

I like this quote from a blog called Mom.me “Four is easier because the kids can pair off. Especially when you have two of each. With three there is one left out. Also when it was three the baby got treated more like a baby for some reason.”

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More than 4!!

So you want more than 4 children…Do you not like things? Do you not enjoy sleep? Do you never want to be alone, ever in your entire life?

No? Oh, well then by all means have more than 4 kids. I’m being extreme obviously, but people on the outside look at families with 5, 6, 7 plus kids and think, “why?”

Well there’s a lot of good reasons. For one, your children always have someone to talk to, even if you aren’t available. Siblings in large families tend to be closer. You would think it would be the opposite but having to share everything with each other does tend to make you closer whether you like it or not. “It also keeps you from spoiling your children. Certainly there are children from small families who are not spoiled, but spoiling children in large families is nearly impossible. I simply can’t (and won’t) buy identical high-end expensive toys and gadgets for my kids.”

The idea of boredom in a house with 5 or more kids is probably not one that comes around often. It’s easy to see why an only child may struggle with trying to entertain themselves, but 1 of 5 can probably find something to get into with one of their siblings. Not to mention there’s always chores to do! And let’s be honest, with 5 kids all pitching in, even though they make a mess, they should be able to clean it up. There is also little helpers when it comes to taking care of the younger siblings. Most large families require the older siblings to step up and help their parents out. Good life building skills.

How do you get anywhere? Well, I guess that depends on who is coming. RV? Two mini vans? Another downside that was brought to my attention is the complete lack of privacy. Yes you have the safety of numbers but you also have a hard time finding a quiet place to be alone.

I’ve also seen mentioned in quite a few different articles about having a large family is that the parents are less prone to end up in a nursing home. At least they hope so.

But how can you afford it? Um hand-me-downs. Your kids may end up wearing things a little too big or a little small but that’s the way it goes with large families.

 

Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

When I just don’t want to play

 

 

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I get bored with playing. There, I said it. It’s hard, even as a blogger of parenting articles and other family related activities, to always express my personal life for public use. However, in order to write honestly, I think I have to.

Sometimes, I don’t want to play pretend. I want to just read and tune out. I don’t want to color or play play-dough. It’s too hot for playing tag and too cold to splash in puddles. Sometimes, I don’t want be completely immersed in another person. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to ask the same question over and over, or give the same answer over and over.  Sometimes, I want to do nothing.

Sometimes, I just don’t want to do these things. But I do them, even if halfheartedly on the rougher days. Coming home from work and transitioning into mom mode isn’t always easy. But I do it.

Because I know there will be a day when I go to start playing and my daughter will say no. That she doesn’t want to play pretend. She just wants to read and tune out. She doesn’t want to color or play play-dough. She’ll say she’s too old to play tag and too mature to splash in puddles. She doesn’t want to be completely immersed in another person. She doesn’t want to talk. She doesn’t want to answer the same question over and over, or give the same answer over and over. She just wants to do nothing.

Mostly, she just won’t need me to do these things like she does now. So I won’t.

That’s what I remember when I have to play house, or school, or doctor, or any of the games that are on constant repeat in our playroom. I try to smile, push through, and ask her “okay, what do you want to play now?”

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Posted in Family, health, Mental Health, parenting, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Other than hyper…

When you think of a kid with ADHD or ADD, you may picture a small child swinging from a ceiling fan while making loud monkey sounds. Or maybe they’re on top of the kitchen counter trying to jump rope. They are, more or less, always hyper to the untrained eye.

Image result for child with adhdHowever, having a hyper child doesn’t mean that they have ADHD. Most children, at least a majority of them, have a resource of energy that adults just don’t understand. The phrase “he/she’s been running all day, how is she not tired” could be for any toddler or adolescent.

On the reverse side, not all kids who have ADHD/ADD act out in a hyper manner. Some are very often caught daydreaming or “in the zone” when doing something. Since children with ADHD get distracted very easily, some sufferers need to completely tune into one thing they are doing. If anything else is going on they will lose focus and not be able to complete task. They may not appear hyper but they are struggling nonetheless.

The difference really comes down to, is it negatively affecting your child’s life? A lot of times ADHD/ADD can’t be identified until they are in Kindergarten or older because their limitations of concentration haven’t really been tested. From what I have seen in work and at home, there seems to be three categories that ADHD/ADD symptoms are lumped into most often: Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

Inattention:

  • Difficulty organizing
  • Cannot remember directions and has trouble with completing tasks
  • Seems to not be listening when being spoken to
  • Constantly losing things or putting them where they don’t belong
  • Difficulty concentrating on schoolwork or activity for the amount of time it would take to complete it

Hyperactivity

  • Can’t sit still; fidgets or constantly moves feet when sitting
  • Gets in and out of chair when sitting at table or desk
  • Talks excessively and usually loudly
  • Difficulty playing quietly

Impulsiveness

  • Interrupts, even when you are answering something they asked you
  • Struggles to control physical movements
  • Blurts out answers (if in classroom)

I think it’s important to note (since this is how I realized we may have a problem on our hands) that ADHD/ADD is linked with behavior issues. It’s easy to understand why, once you start to think about how a child with ADHD has to process the world around them. Frustration, anger, fear, anxiety, and low self esteem are all very real feelings for kids suffering through this. Parents may be exhausted and beat down but even when your child is screaming they hate you, they are probably going through more emotional turmoil than you are.

Some other symptoms that are not mentioned as much but still may be a red flag are:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Bold and no fear (meaning they will talk to strangers, climb on anything and not care about the idea of getting hurt)
  • Unable to hop on one foot (up to age 4)
  • Complete loss of control (for parents who experience this, it’s like a tantrum on steroids)

 

I am putting this information out there for parents who may be on the fence about whether or not their child has ADHD/ADD. There is a lot of literature available about how ADHD/ADD does not exist. That it is a made-up disease for pharmaceutical companies and to label overactive children as a way to explain their actions and behaviors. In the past three years, I have learned very clearly that is inaccurate. While medicating a child is a separate topic completely, I think we need to realize that mental illness is completely, 100% real, and that it does affect people of all ages, even children. Until that stigma is gone I feel a lot of children who need help won’t get it.

On the same note, I have said it before, I do think it’s also over-diagnosed as well. Do yourself a favor, if you think your child has a problem, go to a doctor. Not your pediatrician, but a counselor of some kind. They will be able to tell you after a few sessions and talks with you whether your child is just very energetic or if there’s something else going on. There are many natural remedies to some of the behaviors you may be experiencing and with just a little tweaking here and there you may see a huge difference in your child at home and at school.

 

Posted in Library, literature, Mental Health, Poetry, Uncategorized

Miles to go before I sleep…

The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and the cold seems to bring out the worst in some people.Use this time to reflect on yourself and your family to see how everyone is really feeling. In the midst of January, and “January Blues” season, I wanted to share some insight on one of my favorite poems. After the holiday rush there seems to be a lull in activity for most people.
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As you may have seen with the circulating Facebook post about people having “a warm bed and tea ready”, this is the time of year when those who are really suffering from depression tend to have the most struggles.
Why is the winter so hard?
There are a lot of reason it’s believed that “January Blues” seems to happen. It’s not just January mind you, it’s winter in general. There’s a mix of cold weather, staying indoors more, less sun, calmness from the holiday commotion that some people do not do well with, and of course need to cleanse yourself from the plethora of calories from the holidays.
I always think of a famous poem by Robert Frost this time of year.
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
Whose woods these are I think I know.Image result for snowy woods
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Some critique the poem as a suicide note. The claim is that the narrator is trying to persuade himself to keep on living even though it would much easier to stay in the depressed state that he is in. Others look at it as more uplifting. Even though the narrator is contemplating the darkness of the woods he is choosing to continue on. I prefer that latter.
Still others would say it’s a completely over-analyzed poem and it’s just about a guy riding his horse and enjoying nature. I could get on board with that too, I suppose.
Robert Frost wrote this poem prior to winning four Pulitzer Prizes. The man obviously knew what he was doing with words. The sounds and rhythm of his poetry are top notch, even if you aren’t a fan of the possible messages and imagery.
Why is this important right now? Why should I care about a poem written almost 100 years ago?
Well, I think all literature is important and I think it can be used as a great bonding and teaching resource. If you have an older teen or tween who you may suspect is suffering from depression, have them read this poem. Talk about it. I’m sure they are going to be forced to read it sometime in school, but have them do it on their own time. Tell them how you feel about it.
If nothing else maybe this poem could inspire you and your family to log off for awhile. It’s so easy, especially with the cold winds blowing, to stay inside, plugged in, and tuned out. The woods can be a great place for reflection and discovering what you are really feeling. Not to get all spiritual about it or anything, but the woods are one of the best places to just…be.
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Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, teaching, Uncategorized

Calm Down Box

I have mentioned explosive behaviors once or twice in past posts, and have written about anger in toddlers before, but I also wanted to offer a solution to these breakdowns.

As I mentioned in a past post about discipline, time-outs did not work for us for our daughter. However, the concept behind a time-out (stepping away from your actions and taking a moment to consider them) can be done in a better way. We have a calm down box.

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Before starting it, make sure to explain that it isn’t necessarily a punishment, it’s just to help get your child back to neutral. We are working on walking away from anger stimulants (ie someone being mean at school) so my daughter can learn to calm herself as oppose to punching the other kid in the throat (yeah…). I know the anti-punishment movement can seem hippy-dippy to some parents, and I’m not saying certain behaviors don’t require discipline (ie punching the other kid in the throat). The calm down box is simply a way to teach your child how to soothe themselves enough to come back to center before moving on to the next thing.

This has been one of the biggest life savers as far as parenting goes for us. Now that my daughter is 3 and is starting to be able to verbally explain her feelings and emotions better, she realizes that the calm down box is helping her. I have a basic plastic storage box and I rotate the items inside, except for a few standard pieces. Below are some options of things to put in your own calm down box.

Ooooh, the bubbles…

These are still mesmerizing to me, even as an adult. We use one as out calm down timer basically. The sound of a ticking timer can be a little less than calming, so instead we have one of these that I flip over. I tell her she has to play with her calm down box until all the bubbles have fallen. Usually after a few moments of watching them she’s so engrossed in something else she forgets that it’s there. These have also helped with not being able to go to sleep at night occasionally.

 

Stress balls are not just for the office. Kids can benefit from them too. The brighter and the more squishy, I think the better.

 

 

Water snakes are a great sensory toy, as long as they don’t break. I guess it depends on just how mad your kid is at the time…

 

 

I may be the only person the world who still uses CDs more frequently than iPods or MP3 players. For my daughter, the process of finding a CD or Audio Book is kind of part of the calming process. She picks what she wants, puts it in the player, and listens. It’s simple and effective.

 

 

Sometimes the CD player isn’t enough and headphones are required to really help her escape. I think that’s easy to relate to.

 

 

 

 

Music is needed sometimes, but I think audio books are also great to help kids learn how to calm themselves down. They have to focus on what book they want and then really listen to the words that are being spoken.

 

 

Touch and feel books are usually for babies and toddlers under two, with some exceptions. However, if your child is playing alone or learning how to soothe themselves a touch and feel book can be very helpful. The act of “reading” along with the physical processes of touching certain materials, can be very soothing.

 

 

Same token, books like Journey are great because without words the child isn’t intimidated to “read” alone. They just look at the pictures and make up their own story.

 

 

 

 

There are many sites out there with recipes and instructions on how to make your own calm down bottles. They can be a great addition to any calm down box.

 

 

 

 

Some other items that help with restlessness and not being able to sit still can also be useful in a calm down box. If you have tried other things that have worked mention them below!

Posted in Education, Family, Library, literature, parenting, reading, teaching, toddlers, Uncategorized

13 Picture Books to Read before 2016 Ends

As much as I love the classics- Where the Wild Things Are, Dr. Seuss, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, etc etc; I feel that there are some great new children’s easy readers (picture books), which have come out in the past few years that get overlooked when parents ask for reading recommendations. Everyone who follows this blog knows how I feel about Early Literacy Education, so even if you are newly pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or just had a baby; bookmark this list to review.

I’m going to already assume you have the essentials and give you some updated book recs for babies, toddlers, and preschool aged children.

This book made my daughter actually lol. That’s hard to do with a book. I love Oliver Jeffers style (The Day the Crayons Quit) and I think kids do too. It’s a colorful, relatable, style that is still detailed enough to really paint vivid images. In this book, a little boy loses his kite in a tree. So logically, the only thing to do to get it down is to throw his shoe at it. Then his shoe gets stuck. So he throws the other shoe. The whole thing just spirals as he throws whatever he can find at the tree.

 

 

Great bedtime story. The transitions from the daytime to the nighttime are really cool. I enjoyed the illustrations of this book more than I did the actual story.

 

 

 

 

I’m a sucker for rhyming. I like to read rhyming books out loud. This is a very cute little story about a mouse, who obviously wants to sit in his chair, but there’s a bear in it. Pretty simple premise but definitely a fun read. Also good for kids who may be having a little trouble with sharing.

 

 

I honestly did not know how my daughter was going to feel about this book. In the same vein as Journey, The Only Child has no words; just pages of pencil drawn images to tell the story. Being they are all black and white I thought maybe she would get bored of it. I was wrong. She loved this book and I enjoyed it too. It was a great way for us to talk about what we thought was happening. Since there are a lot of fantasy elements to the plot we ended up going on some pretty long winded tangents.

 

Like every kid, my daughter has a small fear of the dark. Nothing major but when I saw this book I thought maybe it would help her out. At first she was a little apprehensive of the book. Then after we read it two or three times she started to realize “the dark” was nice. It hasn’t cured her fear but she did ask for this book more than some of the others I had brought home.

 

 

 

This book I actually bought, purely for myself. I don’t cry at movies, but books will get to me. This one definitely did. If you are a new mom I highly recommend this book. And some Kleenex.

 

 

 

This book promotes reading so I liked it (shocker). More than that though, it was a very funny story that I actually enjoyed. The illustrations are simple, cartoon style, but they work well with the story.

 

 

 

 

If you don’t have the Press Here book, get it now. My daughter goes crazy for that book. This one is the same idea. It’s almost magical I think for little kids when they read these kinds of books. “Did they really just make all the dots fall to one side?” Definitely gets kids using their imaginations.

 

 

 

I loved this book. My daughter got a little bored at parts because it is long winded. Basically a little girl goes home from school with a book her teacher gave her but as she walks, words from the book start to fall out. A fox behind her catches them and she creates the stories. Very clever and unique children’s book.

 

 

 

 

If toddlers and preschoolers had to take sociology I would make them all read this book. It’s a cute book that shows you all the different houses people can live in. The art is interesting so I think that kept my daughter’s attention more than anything.

 

 

 

 

This was not at all what I was expecting when I first opened it. Bruce is an old curmudgeon and doesn’t like to be bothered. So of course, due to a series of events, he ends up with baby geese to take care of. The writing is actually really funny and the illustrations are great too.

 

 

I added Finding Winnie onto this list because I enjoyed the book. With that being said, my daughter did not. I tried to get her to let me read it again and she was not having it. It does have a lot of wordage and war history so I think she just lost interest. However, being an huge Winnie the Pooh fan as a child I enjoyed the back story.

 

 

This is my top pick by far. Everyone should have this book in their collection. It’s art and story are amazing. Every picture in the book is made up of words from classic tales like Peter and Wendy and Treasure Island. My daughter liked it because it’s fantasy and she enjoyed the illustrations but I don’t know if she got all the messages in it.

Posted in Family, toddlers, Uncategorized

15 Things I Wish I Knew the First Time

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For first time parents, it’s easy to get lost in hours upon hours of reading parenting advice, funny columns on how you’ll never sleep again (cause that’s hilarious), and first-hand accounts on how you will have poop on you at some point in your parenting career (at least once a month if you’re lucky). But there are some things I wish I was told before having my first child.

  1. Use expensive diapers at night and cheap ones during the day.
  2. Breastfeeding hurts. Like, real bad at first. It does get better though, so if you really want to do it just get past those first three weeks.
  3. If you feel like something is wrong with your baby, just go to the doctor. Save your data and stop Googling things. Most likely it’s just a tooth coming in or an upset stomach but if you’re worried about a sick kid there’s no way to think about anything else.
  4. Don’t buy any clothing over $5 in the 0-3 month range. Or the 3-6 month for that matter.
  5. You’re going to either drop your kid, accidentally hit their head against the wall, bite their finger when you’re trying to play, drop your phone on them while trying to take a selfie; you’re going to do something and they are going to cry and it’s going to be your fault.
  6. Some cups are better for breakfast and dinner, others are great for the car, others are good for school, and the rest are for nap and bedtime. There are levels and times for certain cups; get to know them.
  7. Enjoy driving alone now. While you can. Enjoy listening to rap really loud or heavy metal without having to worry about the language. Or just enjoy driving in the silence. Ahhh, I do miss that.
  8. You can test if you’re doing things right by smiles and laughs. Forget milestones.
  9. Don’t fold your baby’s clothes. Just…just stop. They’re so small and you go through them so fast.
  10. “Baba” turns into “dada” turns into “mama” turns into “no I don’t want to and you can’t make me” really fast. Like whoa.
  11. People say funny things about parenting and you will laugh but sometimes you won’t really understand why because it’s actually sad. Like how you have absolutely no life with kids hahahahahahaha omg that’s hilarious.
  12. Things matter and words hurt.
  13. Playing pretend is super serious and you better do it right.
  14. The first few smiles you get from your beautiful new baby are just poop smiles.
  15. There’s nothing more terrifying than being home with kids and realizing all of a sudden that it’s quiet.

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