Before having children, all I could think about was being a mom and holding my babies. I would dream about smelling their hair and kissing their sweet faces and tiny toes. I would imagine the sound of their voices, laughter and doing all the fun things families do together.
My husband and I quickly learned that raising kids was "no joke"!
In fact, we now say, "Parenting children is the hardest job you'll love for a lifetime."
Why do I say that? Raising a child is something that you can never really prepare for. I don't care how many books you've read, or if you've grown up around a lot of children. I believe, until you are the parent responsible for the "everyday-overall-love-care-safety-and nurturing" of a child, you really don't have a clue.
As a new mom, I remember riding in the car (going home from the hospital) with the baby in the car seat. He cried the whole way, and I was so upset! I told my husband to pullover and stop the car so I could take the baby out of his seat to calm him down. I was a nervous wreck, sleep deprived, and sore from surgery and breastfeeding.
Fast forward to when our kids were teenagers, our concerns soared to even greater heights. In addition to school, sports, weekend activities, and being the cook, maid, nurse, referee, and chauffeur... we had to cope with social media influences and possible exposure to what was happening in pop culture to include: drinking alcohol, sex, teen pregnancy, drug use, and bullying.
Our lives were consumed with protecting our kids, while keeping them informed, safe, healthy, and heading down the right path.
The best advice we ever received early on was the importance of surrounding yourself with a community of people (other couples your age, with children) who share the same beliefs and values. Find people who can also support your vision and who can do life with you and your kids.
We learned that having a network of people who can speak life into you when you are drowning in your sorrows & frustration, encourage you during the tough times, or tell you that you're "tripping" and that "it's not that serious"... are all necessities every parent should have.
Lastly, but most importantly, we believe that having God as your foundation, studying His word, praying together daily and consistently is key to raising children. During the good times and challenges, prayer is what will keep you sane, give you hope, and guide you in decision-making. These practices will help you to best relate and respond to your children in all phases of their lives.
5 Helpful tips for raising children:
1. Mom and Dad must be on one accord. Don't let the kids divide and conquer!
2. Communicate your feelings with your spouse and what you need.
3. Establish rules early-on for the child's behavior at home and away. Practice kindness, respect, and gratitude.
4. Practice self-care: eat healthy, get rest, exercise, schedule regular date nights!
5. Ask for help. Get a good babysitter, or responsible family member to watch the kids so the parents can spend quality time alone.