Parenting ‘Nevers’ You Thought You’d ‘Never’ Do

Parenthood begins the moment you first see that little pink line. Throughout parenting there will be multiple ‘lines’ drawn and everyone will decide for themselves which side they stand on. It never fails, while expecting that first bundle of joy, you and your spouse will hear and see things from other parents that you’ll ‘never’ do with your own kids. Lines are drawn before you even begin.

It’s important to note each child will bring about their own personality and challenges. Each parent will respond differently to these children. Parenting will be the most important job you ever have along with the most challenging. Don’t take it so seriously! There will be times when you do something and think, “I am exactly that person I said I’d never be.”

Between keeping (or not keeping) to a schedule, the never ending dirty diapers, shoes needing tied and sticky, gooey messes to clean up, you will learn what works and what doesn’t for your sweet, growing family. No one does it perfect. However, below are some very common things parents have said to their spouse or themselves that begin with, ‘I’ll never … let my child… do this as a parent… etc.’ However, in my experience, the more you say those things, the more they will surface throughout parenthood and you may make the exact decision you swore against… and its OK!

5 I’ll NEVER let my baby sleep in MY bed

The first never I’d never do’ is also the most controversial. Or perhaps it’s just associated with something we as parents struggle with from night one: Sleep. Sleep affects our mood the entire next day if we have been robbed. Parents for decades, and its still a heated topic on social media, have argued over the ole’ I will NEVER let my baby sleep in MY bed!

Before I had kids in fact, this was my first ‘never’ I swore to. I loooved sleep and heard the horrors from friends and family over loss of sleep post-baby. Quickly, I searched the internet about how to get your baby to sleep through the night and made a game plan. However, somewhere after twins, nighttime nursing sessions that never ended, I broke.

You see, I get it, I’ve been there. You roll over and there is a sleeping time bomb. You finally got a couple of hours sleep in a row while your baby slept safely beside you. However, now you want to roll over and there is a drop off on one side or you take a huge risk to move your now peaceful sweet pea and have to begin once more the rollercoaster ride of getting him/her back to sleep.

What are you to do? You already broke the one rule you’d set out with: I’d NEVER let my baby sleep in MY bed. First off, don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember, sleep is sleep. It is important for momma and baby. There are plenty of studies done to support both sides of the scale between making your baby sleep in their own crib and allowing them in your bed.

It’s not the end of the world if they join you. Plenty of women who have let their children sleep with them and they all concur they subconsciously know where the child is and have never, after multiple children, rolled onto one. In fact, according to Dr. Sears, there is evidence the SIDS rate is lowest (and even unheard of) in countries where co-sleeping is the norm.

Do what’s right for YOU. Not what you decided pre-baby. It’s a learning process and enjoy every moment. Eventually, they will move on to their own bed!

I’ll NEVER Let My Kids Eat Junk Food

I’ve seen it before. That look another parent gave you when you let your child have a second cupcake at your friend’s wedding. Or a bag of chips when they won’t eat pulled pork and coleslaw for dinner at a family BBQ. I know because I used to give the same look… before I had kids. I used to think, I’ll NEVER let my kids eat junk food.

However, who was I kidding? In my own life was I perfect? No. We’ve all made New Year’s Resolutions to abstain from those greasy, paper bag dinners only to break them three days later. Even parents’, who are self-proclaimed health nuts, will still pull through a McDonald’s if their child is hungry enough and about to eat their own toe.

With child obesity on the rise, pediatrician visits where they give your child a ‘percentile’ weight and ask if they are eating all their fruits and veggies, it’s no wonder parents feel pressure to not allow their child any junk food. There is a middle ground. With nutritionists at MayoClinic.com reporting depression as a symptom of eating junk food and the Prevention Institute blaming junk food on the increase of diabetes in children, it’s definitely not an issue to be ignored. Junk food has little to no benefit to your children’s health.

But that’s not why we ourselves indulge our sweet tooth now and then is it? Children need to learn a healthy balance and they will if you show them the right amount of ‘junk’ mixed into their balanced diet. If they NEVER have junk food when the time comes to actually have a bite, they will over do it. And pay for it.

Therefore, don’t feel so bad if you did give your child that second cupcake to keep them entertained during your BFF’s wedding so you could get a chance to tell her congratulations, or for letting them have a bag of chips in order to wet their appetite for the rest of that pulled pork BBQ. Kids need to learn a healthy balance and who better to show them than you? 

I’ll NEVER drive a Minivan

It’s not new news: Minivan’s have a negative stigma associated to them which drive men and women alike to say, ‘I’ll NEVER drive a Minivan.’ Even the newest versions the car company’s come up with each year do not make your heart go pitter patter.

However, imagine having three kids. Add a diaper bag, stroller, and toys that some how make it into the car and never leave, with little humans who always need something to eat or drink. Couple that with the need for safety and to load said children in and out multiple times a day without lifting a finger. Enter the Minivan.

With its dual sliding doors, oversized walkways, cup holders galore, storage, safety features and fuel economy, the minivan truly is the perfect vehicle for parents. The aisle ways and sliding doors make it easy to load and unload children (at a certain age they can even do so on their own!). All you have to do is hit the keyless remote to unlock and open the door. Yes, their doors can even open with just the touch of your finger.

During the summer months, you’ll love the extra cup holders as the second your kids sit in their scorching car seats they’ll tell you how thirsty they are… and hungry… all at the same time. So having extra space to store snacks and drinks comes in incredibly handy for them… and your sanity.

Lastly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety listed three minivans as their 2015 Top Safety Picks: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and the Kia Sedona. Safety really is your number one concern when traveling with little ones. These three minivans received awards because they had the highest level of rankings in a multitude of crash tests.

Finally, fuel economy will become more important as those diaper bills increase. Again, the average combined city/highway MPG between the three minivans mentioned above is 21 MPG. Not bad for a vehicle that can fit everything you need (and may not need, but that’s another story), take the stress out of loading and unloading all while keeping your family safe. So put your sunglasses on, take a second look, and I bet you’ll agree the Minivan sure looks a lot cooler now.

4 I’ll NEVER let my kids Whine in public

Research has shown the most annoying noise in the world is a baby crying. I’d beg to differ. It’s a whiney child. However, to assume your child will NEVER whine in public is just asking for it.

Children, again, are like us and we are not perfect. We don’t expect perfection from ourselves, so word to the wise; do not expect it from your little ones. I again failed this test many years ago while watching my sister with her girls and listening to them whine, I promised myself I would never let my children behave in such a way.

Much like us, kids’ mood swings can be blamed on two things: hunger or needing rest. Keeping them full and on a good sleeping schedule is key; however, there are still days where they are sick, holidays or special events where naps are missed, or food is lacking, and whining may ensue.

Therefore, whining is: a teaching moment. There are times when they are frustrated, hungry, cold, hot, grumpy, etc and without knowing the correct way to express this, they resort to whining. Again, whining is annoying... and although I still try to avoid it in public at all costs, it happens. It’s an expression of how they are feeling. And it’s okay. You are not a bad parent, but one experiencing a completely common scenario.

However, just because it is common doesn’t mean you will not be frustrated. Therefore, here are four suggestions to help break the whining habit from Parents.com:

4 Ways to Break the Habit

  1. Refuse to let it bother you. Pick a quiet time and tell your child that there's a new rule: If he whines, you won't respond. ...
  2. Make sure your child knows what "asking nicely" means. ...
  3. Give praise where praise is due. ...
  4. Hang in there.

That’s right, hang in there. Its okay, and tomorrow is a new day!

3 I’ll NEVER let my kids watch TV

Unless you literally do not own a television, iPad, smart phone or computer, this is next to impossible these days. I get it though. Whether it’s because you want to protect your child’s innocence or you just want to encourage your children to play outside, saying I’ll NEVER let my kids watch TV makes sense.

In fact, research supports your desire and if you can keep to this NEVER, your children will be better sleepers. Sleep Magazine reported that kids who frequently watched TV before bed were four times more likely to wake up several times during the night than those who did not watch TV. The findings also showed those who listened to music or played video games before bed had difficulty going to sleep. Sleep, as was said before, is coveted by all parents with little ones, so this advice is golden. However, to NEVER let you kids watch TV in this day and age with technology constantly at all our fingertips, is like telling a certain curious monkey you have to sit still all day long.

TV has some good and definitely bad sides. Plenty of research has been done on the subject of children watching TV. It’s going to be hard to restrict your children from every YouTube video, Netflix movie and television show while at grandma’s. While TV’s good side is that it can be educational, entertaining and teach little ones about the world without having to leave their living room, it also negative consequences like sleep problems, scary monsters can traumatize young children (it’s recommended that kids under 2 do not even watch TV), obesity and takes away time for reading or homework which can cause problems at school.

However, much like NEVER letting your children eat junk food, showing your kids at a young age the appropriate amount of TV to watch during a day should be about balance. There are plenty of educational shows (Public Television has some great ones) and apps on smart phones that can be used in place of just propping them in front of any old show. Again, because it will be difficult to NEVER let your children watch TV, its best to know the negatives’ and plan accordingly. If you child asks for your phone to watch You Tube, instead only let them go to an educational app. If they want to watch morning cartoons, but on an educational show for half an hour; these are great alternatives.

2 I’ll NEVER Talk like a Baby to My Baby

We want our kids to be intelligent, right? And somehow talking like a baby, even to a baby, seems like we are somehow making them less intelligent during the conversation. Again, for those of you who have at one time or another said ‘I’ll NEVER talk like a baby to my baby, here are some facts:

According to Today’s Parent, some forms of baby talk (like using a sing-song voice) can boost your baby’s language development. Also, researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Connecticut conducted a study to find out if baby talk one-on-one versus group settings increased a child’s vocabulary. They also noted if the parent spoke in a regular voice or an animated one (called ‘parantese’).

Over a year period, the then 2-year olds who received the most one-on-one baby talk knew 433 words, on average, compared with the 169 words recognized by 2-year olds in families who used the least baby talk in one-on-one situations. Nairán Ramírez-Esparza, assistant psychology professor at the University of Connecticut said, “What this study is adding is that how you talk to children matters. ‘Parentese’ is much better at developing language than regular speech, and even better if it occurs in a one-on-one interaction.” She went on to say, “Parents can use baby talk when going about everyday activities, saying things like, “Where are your shoooes?,” “Let’s change your diiiiaper,” and “Oh, this tastes goooood!,” emphasizing important words and speaking slowly using a happy tone of voice.”

So whether you are in public or not, whether you had actually said you would NEVER do this or not, looking your baby in the eyes and speaking to them in an animated voice with questions, and expecting answers, smiling at them, etc. will not only make them feel loved, but develop their vocabulary. They can thank you for this later; and probably with a multitude of fancy words!

1 I’ll NEVER Use My Hands to Clean up Baby Fluids

I can recall the specific time I decided I would NEVER use my hands to clean up baby bodily fluids. My first niece was teething and as the droll was about to spill over her lip onto her onesie, I watched in absolute horror as my sister reached over and with a swipe of her finger, wiped her pouty lip of the droll. She then wiped it on the onesie as if it were ‘no big deal’.

Horror, right!? Atrocious!! A million times after I have done something quite similar I can no longer say this. Have you checked for number two in a diaper and got some on your finger? Check. Wiped a runny nose with your finger? Check. Had a baby throw up and you instantly put out your hands to catch it? Check. Even if it wasn’t your own baby? Double check.

I don’t know when it happens, but becoming a parent changes you as a person. It’s no longer about you. Your baby’s comfort, health and overall happiness now are much more important than your own. Who would have thought that spit-up could be such a misnomer that you forget to even clean it off your shirt before heading to the store? Not me before I had kids. Or that watching your child vomit, catching it in your hands and then cleaning it up wouldn’t even make your tummy do a little twist? However, when your little guy’s face is white from lack of sleep and nutrition and his body is too frail to play, catching his throw up may seem like the only way to help him at his weakest moment, and its okay.

Wiping droll, spit-up off your baby’s chin, or snot off their noses with your hands is not the end of the world. Sanitary, no, not really. But during those times you have a fussy baby, no tissues, wipes, napkins to be found, it will be okay. Helping your baby is always a number one concern and you won’t even hesitate if you know your baby will be happy if that snot is no longer running down their face.

Parenthood isn’t about all the NEVER’s you’ll never do. It isn’t a competition. There is no winner for most amazing parent of the year. However, there is a reward far better than that if you just take it easy on yourself, laugh and don’t sweat it when you break your own rules. Better yet, take it from me, don’t even make any. Rules are made to be broken and whether you NEVER want to drive a minivan or let your baby sleep with you or not, the reward in taking a lighter, approach to parenting is happier, healthier and better-rounded children.

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