Friday, April 8, 2011


Baby and bridal showers-- You either love 'em or you hate 'em. I for one, usually love the food, hate the games, and make a dash for the door after an appropriate amount of time with a fake smile plastered on my face while watching an endless stream of gifts being opened and passed around.

I know. I'm a party pooper. But for as long as I can remember, these loving rituals have left me colder than the Hawaiian Fruit Punch and Rainbow Sherbet concoction often served at these soirees.

Friends and family were threatened within an inch of their life if they dared throw me a shower when I got married. Same goes for birthday parties for that matter. I'm not a fan of being the center of attention or opening gifts in front of people. But I'm more than happy to pitch in and throw a rocking party for loved ones if that's what they're up for.

Recently, my family had a baby shower for my oldest nephew and his wife who are expecting their first child in late June. They've decided to keep the baby's sex a secret and find out in the delivery room so their shower was filled with lots of things yellow, mint green and very gender neutral.

Our Mom-to-be was specific about no games measuring the size of her belly or related to embarrassing photos from her youth. So we took a simpler, kinder approach to party activities-- We asked each guest to write a letter to the future Mom and Dad with parenting advice.

In attendance were two of the baby's great-grandmothers, both grandmothers, scores of aunties and numerous experienced mamas all loaded with fantastic advice. And then there was me-- The childless one.

I sat with pen in hand and racked my brain. I searched my mind for meaningful words of wisdom, cleaver advice and sure fire ways to spoil their child rotten. I'm telling you, steam was coming out of my ears I was thinking so hard. But in the end-- Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

My head was blank.

Shocking, considering I'm usually full of advice and opinions and never hesitate throwing them around at the drop of a hat. *ahem*

So instead of my Baby Scrapbook page being left blank, I'm asking you, dear blog friends, to please pass some parenting advice my way. Any tips, "dos", "don'ts" or "way-it-is" wisdom would be greatly appreciated by me and the future rug rat's folks.

I will print this post and your comments out as my "page" in the book. Thanks a million for your help!

What's your best parenting tip?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Jonathan Cooke -


  1. Forgive yourself. Your kids will grow and flourish in spite of you.

  2. I'm like kids, BUT one thing I can think of right off the bat is "Don't give kids EVERYTHING they want."

    ooh...and one more....teach them respect.

  3. best parenting tip i EVER Got:

    "just let it all happen. and don't look for trouble!"


  4. do put up a splash guard when changing diapers...

    do over hug...

    do play and find your inner kid with them...

    do take time to date and love your spouse, its the best thing for your kids...

  5. Savour and enjoy every minute, because the time goes by sooo fast! You'll understand what I mean in about 15 years.

  6. Be consistent - when you say you are going to do something, whether it's fun or a punishment, you need to follow through.

    Enjoy them! It will seem like the time of getting up at night, changing diapers, helping with schoolwork... will last forever. However, in the blink of an eye, your child will be grown up, so soak it in!

  7. Always remember you are their parent not their friend.

    Always say I love you! ( I know that one seems easy but I don't remember hearing it as a child)

    Enjoy every minute because it's a fast ride.

    Love them perfections and them unconditionally.

  8. a mama of five..from 30 on down to is my advice!

    Love them unconditionally, even when it is hard.

    Love them individually..don't play favorites ever.

    Show them that you love them by being consistent. Don't EVER theaten to do something unless you really mean it!

    Love your other half like there is no tomorrow and let your children see it!

    Think three times before you say no! takes a pound of dirt to kill them!! So let em get messy! Cause really that is so fun to walk in the mud barefoot. Basically, have fun they grow fast!

    Namaste, Sarah

  9. Why is a new baby like instant coffee??

    Because it's easy to make and it keeps you up all night.

    Your lives will never be the same. Neither will your floors.

    Cherish every single second... being puked on, peed on, hugging, loving, laughing.

    You're getting the most precious gift there is.

  10. Don't neglect yourself; make time for you and make time for your husband. Keeping you and your marriage happy is one of the best things you can do for your children!

  11. I agree with Sarah. Let them get dirty! They will thrive and become germ "resistant". :)

  12. When they're grown, your children won't remember how clean the house was, how nice the yard looked, or how much money was in the bank. They will remember how much time you spent with them.

  13. my advice is follow the advice you've been given here, sugar and you'll be fine! seriously, i think (as a mother of 4, ages 32-40, 1 girl, 3 boys) remember, you're the parent, not the friend for now! friendship with your children will come later when they can pick up the tab! ;~D xoxox

  14. Ahhh, my best advice is to love every moment, even the difficult and challenging ones becuase they ALL make up your baby's childhood and make great stories as they grow up and get older.
    Besides, it was my baby and even the 'bad' times were wonderful because I loved him so.
    PS: I too hate being the center of attention: UGH!

  15. I raised three sons, basically alone - no child support for the youngest two. My oldest was such a help. We managed, though, and I'm not sure how, except I had a very good job and my sons seemed to learn, early on, that we were a family, struggling together.

    They learned from their earliest years to be color blind and to respect everyone - and to taste everything, even if they didn't finish it.

    I love you was said often and I'm sorry went a long way to making things better.

    I read to my boys from the day they were born. Actually, started in utero and, even in my horrible voice, I sang to them, long before their arrival. They've always loved books and music.

    I believed in holding and cuddling and loving.

  16. I am child free (by choice) except that I married a widower who came with 5 children so I would say

    When the kids were able to go out at night, for every minute they were late past their curfew, that equalled ONE DAY of being grounded. I read this long ago in a book written by Lee Iacocca. We did it and it worked well.

    I also dislike the games at showers and this year I have to attend one of each!!!!!!!!! Got the baby shower out of the way, soon, the bridal shower. However, I would ADORE going to Kate's shower in London... just sayin....

  17. In the days before I had children I was fortunate enough to share a hospital room for a week with a mother whose relationship with her teenage children blew me away...and I asked her how she did it and she replied 'Never forget how you felt at whatever age your children are at...' and over the many years since her wisdom has come back to me on numerous occasions...never forget how you felt at their age....

  18. Get advise on parenting from Joanna.

    I wish I had all these advises by all your commenters JJ.

  19. Give them roots and give them wings. Don't take blame and don't take credit....just do the best you can.

  20. My sister has one son and one daughter. The daughter is very successful in her life, while the son has struggled. She knows it cannot be due to parenting, because they are so different, but they both feel like it was their father's influence: daughter credits her father for everything she has accomplished, while son blames his father for everything he is not.

    Therefore, do the best you can and don't take the blame or the credit! Children are all different.

  21. They will be teenagers before you know it, and there really is a parenting hell. CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES. And know that you are not alone, no matter what's happening.

  22. Take a deep breath. One day at a time. Love will see you through. It's the toughest job you'll ever love.

  23. Don't be afraid to step away when you need to. It's better to give yourself a "time out" than to lose your cool.

    And don't forget to step back in and admire the preciousness of a baby. They're not like that for long (even when it feels they will never sleep through the night).


  24. Duct tape has many uses. It's an overwhelmed Mommy's best friend.

  25. Never ever say MY KID WOULDN"T DO THAT!

  26. I've been thinking and thinking. I've got two grown kids and I think I'll have to just say, "Set a good example." They will learn even more from your actions than your words.

  27. Remember, there's (usually) no need to yell. Watch Super Nanny and learn.

    Be sure to teach your child good manners; everyone likes a well-mannered child.

    And, yes, let them get dirty; it does help build a good immune system. And it's why washing machines and bathtubs come in so handy.

    Take time for yourself and your couplehood - it's important.

  28. Being a parent is not a job; it is a privilege. Loving your child without spoiling your child takes practice. If your child grows up knowing beyond a shadow of doubt he/she was loved unconditionally by his/her parents then you were a success.

  29. I am not a mom, but compare myself to Aunt Mame. The main 3 advices I give to my sisters and friends are, to embrace all the moments good and bad, pick your battles and give your children wings and teach them to fly. xo

  30. Take the time to enjoy your children! Have fun!!! Don't take yourself so seriously!
    Laugh...a lot!!

  31. grace,
    leave room for grace , for your children, your husband,
    ( five kids 13-22)

  32. I tell my two daughters that what lies ahead won't pass them by and they will deal with whatever it is. Not that they listen to me, mind...

  33. From a mother of one, grandmother of 6, great-grandma to one: Love and hug them like crazy, learn to say 'no' with firm kindness, take a few deep breaths every so often, and take LOTS of pictures (because it's going to be over before you know it).

  34. Kids want to be included, valued and loved... often. The rest is fairly unimportant.

    Good luck!


  35. you are like the best aunt EVER !!!
    1. be consistent
    2. let them learn to fall asleep without your help
    3. use the new "swaddle" blankets with velcro for the first 5 months or so. this is a must !
    4. if you say no, mean no
    5. if you say yes, say it really loud and be happy about it and even dance a little
    6. staring at your newborn for hours on end is not a waste of time
    7. if you don't want to nurse, don't...if you do, do...don't be pressured by others. do want you want to do
    8. a dropped pacifier will not kill a baby if it's not sterilized again before use
    9. dog kisses are good for babies
    10. hugs make everything better
    11. being down on their level gives you a new perspective of being little
    12. other kids can be downright mean. trip those kids [kidding] ......not really
    13. work as a team no matter what's going on. kids have a way of taking sides and making parents fight with each other
    14. when their heart breaks at 15, your heart will hurt, too
    15. only take the training wheels off when there is a lot of grass around
    16. eating ice cream after the kids are in bed is not wrong
    17. keep a notebook of all the funny things they say. this might be the most important thing to do...well after the swaddle blanket
    18. and take photos of everything. i mean everything. everything. did i mention to take photos of everything
    19. hug your spouse everyday no matter what and say i love you and really mean it
    20. foot massages fix everything
    21. you need a visual monitor so you don't run into their room after every little grunt and fart
    22. babies cry. lots and often. don't freak out
    23. babies can sleep on their tummies and all night in their car seat {next to your bed} and will still turn out normal
    24. don't let strangers touch your baby's hand when it is teething. that's just gross and adults should know better, but they don't.
    25. so to reinforce #24....don't be afraid to say "please don't touch my baby" EVER. FOR ANY REASON !!!! adults are dirty !!!
    26. let family babysit anytime they offer. anytime!!

  36. Trust your heart. You can't love a baby too much or cuddle a baby too much - the hard world comes along soon enough.

  37. Trust your gut. You are probably right.

  38. Get all the sleep you can now as it will be in short supply later on.

    It's a kid's job to be messy and loud. Encourage them to do their job.

    They grow up too quickly. Make the most of the time when they want to be with YOU: play play and play with them.

    Tell them you love them every day - no matter how frustrating you find them.

    Don't read too many manuals or believe what they say. After all, kids don't read them or act after them either!

  39. There will be times when people look right through you and give the baby all their attention. You'll hate it, but it will pass.

    There will be times when you wish you had a grown-up to talk to, but none is available. You'll hate it, but it will pass.

    There will be times when you wonder, "What the hell was I thinking when I considered parenthood?" You'll hate yourself for it, but it's normal and it will pass.

    There will be times when you feel like a neurotic, clueless idiot. You'll hate it, but it will pass.

    There will be times you want to bang your head against the wall until it bleeds. You'll hate yourself for it, but it's normal and it will pass.

    And those are just some highlights of the first couple of months! After that, you'll need a therapist. And that need doesn't pass until your child is grown up and has a family of his or her own.

  40. we don't have baby or bridal showers over here, which is probably just as well, considering the advice I'd come up with..

    Babies grow hair and teeth. The first may require frequent nit lotion application, the latter expensive dental work.

    Seventeen years after giving birth, driving lessons currently pan out at around £30 per lesson, and even then that's only if you book them in bulk. (Be sure to budget in a projected inflation here.) Your little darling will naturally expect either a Lotus or a Porch as reward for passing said test. (Emphasis upon expect, resultant tears may follow.)

    Homework begins at age four. Contrary to popular belief this is set for the parent, not the child, and is obliged to be turned in, preferably correct as well as on time, throughout the entire duration of his/her education.

    Upon reaching the magical age of 16, although legally able to work, demanding your cherub seek outside employment at this stage will undoubtedly ruin their entire future, distracting them as it will from any critical study period and essential social activity.

    As a teenager, Your child will divide and multiply, creating several life size clones to further feed and house.

    That sweet little nursery you plant the offspring in warps over time, necessitating frequent fumigation.

    Baby-grows do not stretch to 6ft.

    First words lead on to more, usually regrettable.

    No parent ever "does" it, because it's "disgusting" and you are far too old to remember "it" anyway. (In actual fact, this isn't too far from the truth, it's hard to maintain an enthusiastic sex-life when you are always half-expecting someone to burst in on you both, with demands of either cash, food, rides or an immediate clean turn-around of their favourite shirt.)

    Okay I'll stop, let's forget the daily nutritious meals you're duty bound to serve, in-between their snacking at MacDonald's en-route home, and we won't mention having to constantly figure out the latest Bebo site your child is currently posting their indecent pictures at.

    There are rewards. One day (hopefully planned) you may become a grandparent. This is when your child will step back in wonder, and appreciate how brilliantly you managed to cope with them down the years. So much so, you will definitely be trusted to sit for their own little darlings.

    (Well, having finally landed themselves that fabulous job that you always wanted them to get, it's only but fair you'll then allow them to keep it, huh?)

    Ah yes, parenthood, what a delightful mixed-blessing it brings!

    I wish your friends luck (evil grin)!

  41. Teach by example. If you're wrong about something, admit it. If they are, forgive easily.

    Be consistent - with consequences and with rewards.

    Write things down - a lot. You may think that their cute habits and comments will never be forgotten, but they will. And you'll forget who said what when more children come along. Write them down. Read them over every now and then. You'll be glad you did.

    Similarly, take lots of photographs and videos.

    Hug often. You can't say "I love you" often enough especially when they've misbehaved. They need to hear it then more than usual.

    Save "NO" for the really important stuff. And then mean it.

    Give each child some special time alone with each parent. Do things that are unique to that child's interest.

    Make sure your kids see how much their parents love one another. Don't fight in front of them. If a disagreement happens within their earshot, make sure they also know the conflict has been resolved without love loss.

    They truly do grow up before you know it, so enjoy every moment.

    Support their passions as best you can.

    Read to them every day. From at least as soon as they can sit on your lap.

    When it's time to let go, do it with pride and celebration, knowing that you raised them to become independent and that you did your job well.

    Don't allow the times that they'll disappoint you (and they will) to cloud the many times they make you proud.

    Trust your instincts. They're probably right. If you're really uncertain, ask the person whose advice you trust most. Then still decide for yourself.

    Don't blame them for things over which they have no control, or for those they feel a need to assert control (toilet training comes to mind). They all learn at their own pace. It's a process.

    Become a child again, through their eyes. Don't lose sight of their magic.

    Remember that they'll choose your nursing home in your old age. ;)

  42. JJ, you don't have to be a mom to share wisdom. You are a delightful story teller and because of that, I would start out with, "Ignite your baby's imagination by telling him/her a story every night." Then, you can tell a favorite story or make up one to be shared.

  43. I love what Beth and all the women had to say! I am so much like you, I did a post awhile back about my dislike of baby showers etc.

    Here's one thing I will say even though I have no children. Do not worry about hurting self esteem so much that you allow 2 + 2 = 5 being a 'very good try!' Insist that they be of service and value to others. It's the only way to live happily in life.

  44. I have great advice to pass along:
    Dear Parents,
    Though family love would seem to come naturally, little ones need to be taught to honor and appreciate their aunts and uncles as well as other important members of the family. Teach your child to remember her/his auntie's birthday with a handmade card or a phone -- it will make her day. In other words, teach them to do more than be on the receiving end of presents from relatives. To have a close family, every member must extend a hand to make that happen.

  45. Oops, I meant "phone call" ... I can't imagine a child who could afford to buy her auntie a phone! :-)

  46. wow you have some long ones here already. 3 things --
    1. Keep they imagination alive and enjoy ever "why?" they ask.
    2. Sunscreen
    3. Find more great advice at this link,0,4054576.column

    all the best

  47. You can never hold them too much when they are small. Find your own way...every child is different and they really don't come with a one size fits all instruction book.

  48. p.s. you blog posts are always very was just a case of on the spot pressure :)

  49. Inhale that wonderful 'new baby' smell as much as ya can. It doesn't last long.

    Learn to swaddle the newborn nice and keeps 'em calm which makes you calm too.

    Sneak in a nap when baby need all the rest ya can get.

    Never wake a sleepin' baby!

    Never contradict each other when correction is involved. Parents need to show a united front!

    Let Great Aunts, Grandmothers, etc. give you time to get out and take care of yourself. The best thing you can do for your child is to take care of it's Mama. :o)

    Relax and have fun, not a one of us knew what we were doin' before we procreated!

    Congratulations to both you and your hubby. Your life is about to change but what an adventure!!!

    God bless ya!

  50. I think I'd just tell them to buckle up and enjoy the ride. How can anyone give someone else advice on parenting? It'd be like me telling you how to take care of a Ford Mustang when you're driving a Porsche ;-) Kids & their environments are all so different.
    I'm with you on the baby shower thing... I sneak away as soon as I can :-)

  51. Do the best you can. Your child will tell you everything you did wrong when s/he is a teenager. Don't make the same mistakes your parents did, you'll make your own new mistakes. And your child will tell you all about them, when s/he's a teen. Keep your sense of humor, always. Even when s/he's a teen.

  52. and another one: Never, ever hold a grudge. Each day is a new start. However: Trust, but verify.

  53. Great post, JJ.

    It's far too late for my advice - which would have been: "DON'T DO IT!"


  54. Think everyone pretty much said it all - so just have fun!

  55. Oh gosh Joanna, you have already gotten some great advice for the new parents. I really don't have anything to add that hasn't been said. Just thought about one thing for all parents.

    Stay off your cell phone when driving.
    Remember you child is the most important thing in your life right now but don't forget your husband/wife.

  56. Don't worry about what life throws at you. The most valuable lesson you can teach your child is acceptance, love, and that inside we are all the same. ~Jane

  57. i aim to teach my child to be a loving, compassionate human being. i aim to guide, nurture and protect her and watch her bloom into the flower JAH intended.

    one love.

  58. The ability to say sorry to your child when necessary,and admit a mistake is important - at any age. Mix it with lots of love.
    Humour often builds a bridge.
    If there needs to be a disciplining consequence,make it a reasonable one and always follow it through.Avoid idle threats like the plague.
    Look for the good in others and yourself, and remember everyone has their own battles, from when we enter the world to when we leave it. Try to have fun along the way.

  59. Equipping them with real skills and training to real-life... that will help them become competent once they enter the real world.

  60. Have someone you can call who will talk you off the ledge or calm you down before you pick up your son (or daughter) from the principal's office.

    Call that person often.

    And always call them before you have to have any kind of "talk" with your kid. Or, another way of putting this same thing is: Never punish your child when you're mad. If you can't get a hold of your Calm Down Person, tell your kid to go to their room because mommy needs time to think of what to do to them.

    Ha. Just kidding. Sort of.


Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I really appreciate it.