1. Plan Playdates. I took my first child to every free play group/ library hour I could find. I would eagerly sing ‘Five Little Monkeys’ and feign interest when another mom talked about how ‘gifted’ her kid was. These days, when the kids play, I want to zone out on my iPhone and holler at them without judgment. You have a great organic recipe to share? That’s great, can you please email me that while I fish my kids’ diaper out of the colorful play tunnel. I promise to try it in two years when my youngest is in kindergarten and I have time to care. Now? My house is a 24/7 play-date.
2. Devote Your Undivided Attention to Them. We took so many damn pictures of the first kid; I recently fast forwarded 10 minutes of my oldest as a newborn with his mouth gaped open sleeping. I simply didn’t want to miss a thing. I would sit as his feet for hours watching him line up his Matchbox cars in rows… sometimes he would even let me touch one. Now, I can’t give my children undivided attention even when I try.
3. Think They Are The Most Precious Things Ever. I entered my first son in pageants before he could even smile. “HERE! Look at my son! Isn’t he ADORABLE?” This was before ‘Toddlers in Tiaras’ was popular. My favorite moment was going down state and participating in a ‘Mother/Son’ segment where we both wore red plaid outfits and I realized, “Shit. Other moms have props and a choreographed routine”, while I simply put my son in my arms and swung him side to side like a mommy monkey. Our car broke down on the way home and that was the end of that.
4. Take them Places You Shouldn’t. When you have one kid, you take them everywhere: to work, the library, church, the bar…whatever. With four? We rarely leave home.
5. Think They are Gifted. Bragging these days: “Look at how talented my 9 year old son is…check out this intricate drawing. I think he’s gifte…’Oh here Joey let me help you tie that shoe.” Or “My 2 year old daughter has letter recognition….maybe she’s gifte…oh Maria…why are you spreading pink yogurt all over your legs like lotion?”
6. Have Any Savings Whatsoever. I started a life insurance policy for my first son. It would accumulate for ten years and continue to grow and grow and be something meaningful for his future. Yeah… we cashed that baby out when he was 11 and used it for one year of private schooling. Tax return season is our current favorite holiday.
7. Go To The Grocery Store. With a single baby sleeping in an infant seat, you can sneak out and go to the store almost unnoticed. Put a light blanket on the baby and hold eye contact with strangers who smile and nod at you. Slip the milk in the cart and get back to the car, lugging the car seat in the nook of your bruised inner elbow and get to the car, unscathed. With an older child, pass out some crackers and make it an adventure. But, there’s just no running errands with four since you are not running anywhere anymore. Outings are an elaborate slow-paced scene on wheels.
8. Let Their Boredom Consume You. My oldest would simply yawn and I’d go blow $100 on ‘Barney on Ice’. If only I known that his yawn meant he needed a nap, not major attempts at entertainment. You expose your first born to so much, and are so busy stimulating their minds that twelve years later when they are bored it’s your own damn fault. When my kids are bored now, I tell them to turn and look at the closest sibling. Now go play.
9. Think. When I had one baby, I could walk into a room and remember, “I came in here to check the dishwasher and write something on my calendar” instead of the current “I came in here to… to… dammit… whatever, let me check the mailbox again.”
10. Finish things.
Related post: An Apology To My Second Child