Things About Parenting I Think I’ve Learned So Far

I’m riffing the title of this post from Jack Canfora’s Things I Think I’ve Learned So Far because Jack’s post is one of my favorites and I’m too tired from parenting to think of one of my own. And that matches with my experience of parenting – you have to take small favors and lifts when you can.

Admittedly, I’m pretty early on into this parenting thing with only seven and a half years so far. Despite the best efforts of my more experienced friends to teach me everything I might need to know, I understand I still have a lot to learn. But in the interest of celebrating incremental progress, here’s the list of things I think I’ve learned so far in parenting.

Dance parties improve almost any mood.

When little people behave their worst, it’s when they need to be listened to and held the most.

Sometimes, on “those” days, you just have to declare it’s Milkshakes for Breakfast Day to shake everything up.

Try to say “yes” as often as possible, even if it’s just a qualified “yes.”

No matter how hungry you are, don’t eat that last bite of their plate until its cleared from the table.

There’s a time to push limits, and there’s a time to fold them in your arms. Knowing that balance is as mysterious as the original recipe for KFC or Coke. It’s sweet when you get it right, but you will still be guessing the next time.

Laughter is a beautiful elixir that will hold you together.

Socks are the bane of parenting. Little teeny tiny socks exploded off little teeny tiny feet are under the car seats, smooshed in the couch cushions, on the counter, behind the toy box, folded into books, and left everywhere and anywhere except the laundry basket.

My efforts to lobby Amazon to create a sock subscription service where new socks are delivered regularly have been ignored to date, mostly because I can’t ever finish an email without interruption.

A little bit of sugar works as an enticement. A great deal of sugar works like an unstable explosive.

You can use power over someone with little or no agency and it might work short-term. But, when you can, spending the time to develop power with a willing mind has a big long-term payoff.

You will screw it up. Look for the manual that came with the babies and remember there isn’t one. Be grateful for however many days you have before they figure that out too.

Insistence on anything that you previously thought you was indisputable fact before you had kids quickly becomes debatable in their eyes.
If you resist, the resistance becomes an object to focus on.
Better to use redirection.

Curiosity beats judgment any day and is one of the best tools in the box.

The line between crying and laughing is much closer than previously thought.

This is also true for irritation and awe.

On the Welch’s fruit snacks, the tear spot is between the h and the s. You’re welcome.

Every time you thoughtfully respond to a melt down you get to put a marble in the metaphorical trust jar.
Every time you lose it and yell, you take out ten marbles from the trust jar.
Every time you apologize for losing it, you get to add back your ten marbles, with bonus marbles for sincerity.

Naps aren’t just for the five and unders.

A well-rested kid can do most anything – this is true for well-rested parents too.

Save money on sorting games and instead teach them to match socks. This is a theoretical one but it would have been brilliant if I’d thought of it earlier.

You will screw it up. Apply grace liberally, get a good night’s sleep and try it again.

Your eyes should light up when your child enters the room.” – Maya Angelou
But there will be times they will enter the room covered in paint or dressed in all the contents of the laundry basket that you, for once, managed to fold. So shoot for lit up eyes MOST of the time.

It’s fun when you try to pay close enough attention to learn something about yourself and where you came from every day.

In the years before logic works, you have a wonderful opportunity to practice winning over hearts instead of minds.

Connection expands in proportion to your time sitting on the floor next to them.

Someone will cry when the milk spills. Try to make sure it’s not you.

It’s only possible to handle someone else’s big emotions when you’ve taken care of yourself.

Life is fragile; love helps us to overcome the abject fear of being responsible for it.

Relationship can handle a lot as long as you remain connected.

Whatever amount of vulnerability and patience you entered parenthood with will not be enough. Fortunately, kids come with many opportunities to exercise both.

Things will seem unbearable, and then they’ll change.

It will pain you greatly at times, but you have to big the bigger person.

Parenting is maddening; but a bigger part is gladdening.

You will screw it up. Treat yourself as gently as you can, laugh about it, apologize as necessary, and remember you are teaching them how to start again.

The big upsets are rarely about what it’s about. Take the socks, for example, which is really about the complete disruption of any order and ability to get things done you previously believed you had.

Or this list, which might not be just about parenting.

I’d love for you to check out and follow my latest project – The Heart of the Matter. It’s a blog of fantastic writers and thinkers delving into what matters in life (and also what doesn’t). You can find it at https://sharingtheheartofthematter.com

For most posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com 

And if you want to follow me, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)


35 thoughts on “Things About Parenting I Think I’ve Learned So Far

  1. “ You can use power over someone with little or no agency and it might work short-term. But, when you can, spending the time to develop power with a willing mind has a big long-term payoff.”

    – I love this one. It’s the difference between instilling a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset in your children.

    The main thing parenting has taught me is the need to accept your own feelings before dealing with theirs. Otherwise you end up pouring gasoline onto the fire. Just taking a few seconds to breath can make all the difference.

    Lovely post Wynne. 🙏

    1. Thanks, AP2. I love how you put it – a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. Yes! And I love your lesson of accepting your own feelings before handling theirs. So true!! What a journey this is – thanks for your comment!

  2. Wow, Wynne! There is so much wisdom here. I’m bookmarking for someday when I have little ones. 💕There are so many great lessons, but the one about trust struck me. It takes time and effort to build trust, but it can be lost in an instant if we act thoughtlessly. This one is just as true for adults as children. Though, looking back, I think being able to trust my parents gave me a more general sense of trust as I went out into the world… I think that was far more important than I had ever realized. Such a touching and heartfelt post, Wynne–thank you for sharing! 💕

    1. I had to bookmark this one too, Erin! The combination of wisdom and wit made this my new “Wynne favorite.” Oh dear, how many does that make now?! Plus, Jack’s post is such a keeper – I loved that you tagged onto it. P. S. I couldn’t pick a favorite line – I was thinking, “Ooh, love that,” then I’d get to the next one and think, “Ooh, I love THAT one.” Thus the bookmark. 😀

      1. What a compliment! Thanks, Kendra!! I’m sure you have many, many more lessons to add to this list. I’m a newbie compared to you!! 🙂

    2. Oh, what a sweet and lovely comment, Erin! I love how you connect the trust you had to your parents to the trust you have for the world. I hadn’t really put that together but I think it’s the same for me. I doubt you’ll need any lessons when you have little ones but hope that when this happens and you are looking for socks, you’ll laugh a little bit harder… 🙂

      1. I love the bit about having the kiddos match and sort socks. You’re a genies!! 🤓 Such a fun and enlightening read, Wynne!

  3. I was ‘torn’ (lol!) between loving this: “On the Welch’s fruit snacks, the tear spot is between the h and the s. You’re welcome” or the “Naps aren’t just for the five and unders”. Both made me giggle…well, heck, the whole list did that, but those two quips were the best. Where was the Welch’s wisdom when I needed it, say, 15 years ago??? 🤣

  4. We made a road trip and pair of socks was changed inside the car and the dirty one was under one of the car seats for months and we had no clue about it! Thought I would add to your socks saga!

  5. Wow! That is an awesome list! You are one of the unicorn parents who learns lessons from parenting!

    FYI, about matching socks: unless you give up this quest, you will be struggling! When it was just me and my daughter, it was easy to figure out whose sock was whose, but matching could be a problem when socks wandered off. With my daughter’s 3 kids, only the boy’s socks were obvious especially since he favors one style, the girls and her all wear the same size now, so wearing unmatched socks became a thing, as they love buying packages of cute socks, and it is difficult to know where the 2nd sock ended up!

    1. Oh, thank you so much, Tamara! And thanks for the encouragement to give up on the socks – I’m struggling for sure so it’s unmatched socks from now on…. 🙂 Who knows where that 2nd sock ends up?!?!

  6. This is great. My daughter and husband are expecting their first in a month – they think they “got it?” My wife and I can’t wait for the SOS calls.

    1. That’s funny! I bet the SOS calls are a little fun for grandparents to get because of the wink wink, do you remember this? kind of reminiscence. Congratulations on your soon to arrive new family member, Danny!

  7. I love your list! I’m saving yours, and I have Jack’s saved as well! My fav of yours is: The line between crying and laughing is much closer than previously thought.

    This is giving me all the feels tonight. ❤️

  8. Nice list Wynne! It sounds like parenting would be much easier if we could somehow do away with the need for socks 🤔🙂

  9. Your “close up” of childrearing had to be written at this time in their lives and yours. At a distance you will see some of it differently, I imagine — see other things, forget some, and unearth a new vision of your glorious project: life’s biggest and best job. Here’s to all the moms you speak for, Wynne.

    1. Ah, there is so much wisdom in this comment, Dr. Stein. You’re right – this is an ever-changing snapshot. I wonder what the list looks like in 10 years? Hopefully I still be writing one down then!

  10. Listening hugs, balance and laughter. I love the ideas about holding off on eating their food and the socks subscription. I could have used that as a single father. Humility and prayer seemed to help me a lot, too.

  11. Hey! I absolutely love some of your posts. You’ve got a great blog. I’m new to blogging and would appreciate it if you could check out my blog sometime and give me a few pointers! Much appreciated! 🙏 ☺️ 🙌 😌 ❤️

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