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15 Life Skills You Never Knew Would Help You Parent Better

When we’re pregnant we prepare everything for baby, this nesting is fairly instinctual. We take birthing classes, buy clothes, breast pumps, and pull out our membership cards to the nearest Costco to buy truckloads of supplies (diapers, baby wipes, creams, and baby powders) to make sure we’re ready for the arrival of the little one. Some parents even go as far as having their entire home child proofed for a baby who can’t even roll let alone crawl or toddle up a flight of stairs.

All the same we do everything we can to prepare for those early days of parenthood. Little do many new parents know that a lot of the skills required to feel like a parenting rock star have nothing to do with a subscription to a particular brand of parenting, sleep training, or a magic product. It has to do with applying some of your own personal life experiences into mom or dad mode as we stumble into this thing called “adulting”. Don’t fret, you’ve totally got this!

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15 Master of Empty Cupboard (and Fridge) Cooking

I love a good recipe as much at the next person, but sometimes the best laid plans, and most intricately thought out grocery lists get thwarted by parenthood. Now’s your chance to get creative with spices or try out some amazing product substitutions to ensure everyone is getting fed. Applesauce is a great substitute for eggs, oil, butter and sugar. Get creative….salad dressing can make a great base for a sauce for rice or pasta too.

14 Scheduling

Most people have figured out a calendar or virtual assistant that works for them in their professional and personal lives. Once another little person, no matter how small, enters the picture they will start to fill your calendar too. Look into a paper calendar or online calendar that more than one person can access (like a Google Calendar) to track family appointments at the doctor, dentist, and mark down who’s actually watching the bambino when you finally get a night out.

13 Stain Removal

I’d like to blame my children for the number of stains on my clothing, but I can’t. I’ve always been a spilly gal. By learning some basics on stain removal, whether it’s for bedding, furniture, cloth diapers, kid’s cloths or your own, you can help stretch out your wardrobe and minimize household expenses. A mastery of some home remedy stain removal basics along with finding a really good stain spray will keep everyone’s image a little sharper.

12 Limb Independence

Limb independence is a coordination necessary for drummers to be capable of physically mastering the art of more advanced drumming. Parents need plenty of this skill, whether it’s being able to fold laundry while rocking a colicky baby, handling work email while supervising homework, or making dinner while playing an active game of hide and seek.

11 Administration Acumen

No one ever told me that there would be so much freaking administration involved in parenting. There are so many forms and a ton of paperwork to fill out: daycare registrations, school registrations, medical records, extra-curricular activities, allergy alerts (often filled out in triplicate), and that’s just the tip of the bureaucratic iceberg.

10 Referee Skills

Whether you’re negotiating a bed time adjustment when your three year old wants to finish watching The Croods (cause they’ve only seen it 50 times and will die if they can’t watch it to completion tonight!) or breaking up a sibling squabble over whose turn it is to turn on a dishwasher (parents of toddlers, pushing buttons really is the bee's knees) you need to be consistent, fair and willing to make and stick with your call no matter what.

9 Master of Small Talk

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Your social circle is about to expand in a way that you couldn’t imagine. Your little ones are going to make friends and you’ll find yourself making small talk with other parents, teachers and child care providers at daycare drop off, swimming lessons, and other places (like the grocery store) when they run into classmates. You now have a greater chance of running into someone you kind of, maybe know, wherever you go. Particularly when you’re at the drug store in your pyjamas and a toque in July to pick up a prescription and laxatives, just smile and embrace it.

8 Master of Getting to the Point

You will have less time than you’ve ever had before in your entire life, sorry about your luck. This will make it essential to be quick and to the point when attending doctor’s appointments or parent teacher meetings. Show up with your list of questions and concerns, don’t be afraid to look at it, you don’t need to memorize it! Just get talking, your pediatrician and kindergarten teacher will be thrilled that you came prepared.

7 10 minute tidy

Kids are messy. The expression, cleaning a house when you have children is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos comes to mind. When company is on their way to your place, you will quickly become the master of artfully displayed piles of junk, a quick sweep, and other ways to get your place presentable(ish) in ten minutes flat, besides it’s going to be messy again ten minutes later.

6 The ability to live in filth

This is why you need to master the 10 minute tidy! Neat freaks beware. Having children is hard and messy work. Think about that gross dorm room you lived in, or the state of your first apartment or your sloppiest friend or sibling….now multiply that, times about thousand. I have never spent as much time obsessively cleaning my floor, with it never having been as dirty as it is since I have had children, and ironically I know for a fact that from time to time little people are in fact eating off of the floor. Embody your inner frat boy to get you through the first say ten years of parenthood, you’ll be a lot less likely to freak out when your child decides to decorate something you love with pink chalk to “make it pretty” or spills an entire carton of milk all over that freshly washed floor.

5 The Art of Networking

Networking isn’t just a valuable activity in your professional life. How else are you going to secure that spot on the waiting list for that amazing daycare, find out who are the best (and most affordable) babysitters in your neighborhood? By facing the parental world with honey instead of vinegar, you’ll attract all the flies and bees (in a good way), befriend the receptionist at your kid’s school and the doctor’s office, people will be a lot more open to accommodating last minute requests if they like you.

4 Prioritization

Life moves pretty quickly, just as Ferris Bueller. Being able to figure out what is most essential and tackling that task first is key to survival. You need to know that you’re out of clean kid socks and pants (this is constant in our house) and that this load of laundry is probably more important than that outfit you wore to the office yesterday. Same goes for knowing that sometimes getting an extra half hour of sleep is worthy of bringing cereal to work for lunch, again, instead of making a lunch.

3 Have MacGyver Level Fixing Skills

Kids break stuff…it’s a fact. When it’s their own toys they’ll often ask you to fix them, immediately, like you’re some kind of magical wizard who can un-break a crayon or re-attach Ninja Turtle Raphael’s broken plastic arm. Sometimes you’ll be able to fix stuff for real, other times you’ll have to get out your tool box of tape and glue. When that fails you can convince them how badass Raphael looks with one arm.

2 Noise Cancelling Super Powers

I hope you don’t need absolute silence to get that important quarterly report finished. In our house so much work is completed with the din of Peppa Pig, happy playing, and sometimes sibling related bickering that we decide to tune out. Having the ability to be able to tune out unessential noise, yet be keenly aware when it’s been a little too quiet for a little too long and it’s time to investigate is a parenting gift that you need to master.

1 Yoga Zen Master Levels of Patience

Yes we all have tempers, we all lose our patience in bad traffic, or over whining, but we need to try and keep this in check. By being calm with your children, even in the face of a big epic tantrum, you’ll be teaching a valuable lesson by leading by example. Take a deep breath and try to keep calm and carry on.

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