I read a lot of books about what to expect before having kids, and I didn’t always remember the many bits of wisdom when I needed them. Of course, hindsight is always crystal clear, but that is often how we learn best.
I’m sharing the most cherished insights I wish I’d learned before I started raising our two incredible daughters, Alexandra (Ali – now 27) and Jessica (Jessie – now 24).
Kids worry more about us than we do about them
Some significant research has shown that when parents aren’t conscious about how they talk about their job (e.g. complaining about their day), kids worry that “work” is hurting us. I found that when I told my kids how much I loved what I do and why, and shared some fun or meaningful things that happened at work, they relaxed more and were confident that I was happy working.
Kids somehow know everything that we try to keep secret
I never knew how they did it, but my kids continually surprised me with what they knew. Don’t hold information hidden to protect them. Be out there with the truth. They need to know and can handle it.
It’s the quality of the time you spend with your kids, not the quantity
My children enjoyed every moment spent with my husband and me because we weren’t distracted. Although they were in daycare each day, they didn’t suffer by missing us during the day because they got the most out of our family time when we were together. Have dinners together and put down the technology!
You learn good parenting on the fly
Kids teach us what we most need to know, and every mistake made is a chance to learn something about yourself. Sometimes there are difficult lessons, and we learn the hard way, but we eventually “get it” and both the kids and parents benefit. Keep your mind open, don’t be too hard on yourself, and keep learning!
Just holding our kids, sitting quietly and listening is enough
We don’t always have to give advice or take care of everything. We want to! But kids often want to be supported without words. As they age, this never changes, and becomes more necessary.
Partnership with your spouse or partner is critical!
Kids need boundaries, structures and alignment with their parents – getting different answers from each parent is confusing. Get on the same page with each other, even if you disagree. Work it out in private, and then have a family meeting.
Always choose what feels right for the family
When I was an executive with two children under the ages of five, I was asked to do things that I felt would be a problem for my family and me. Even with the short-term costs, I made the decisions I felt were best. It paid off in setting an example for other women and men, and helped me move towards the right career path, even though I couldn’t see it at the time.