50 Lessons in Parenting Young Kids


1. Super glue has no place in a house with young children.

2. Neither do Sharpies.

3. There is no such thing as allowing your kid to play with your phone “just once.”

4. Don’t use Google to diagnose illnesses. Ever.

5. Dollar store toys cost far more than a dollar in frustration, anguish and regret.

6. The terrible twos are bullshit. The terribleness lasts through at least age four. Or, forever.

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7. Always carry wipes, long after diaper wearing has ended.

8. Resist purchasing character Bandaids, unless you’re prepared to buy a box a week.

9. You can never have too many Goldfish. The crackers, not the live ones.

10. Don’t buy bunk beds, unless you have absolutely no choice.

11. Keep track of who gave what at birthday parties.

12. Never stock batteries in your house, or you will be forced to make obnoxiously loud toys work once again.

13. Buy Mr. Clean Erasers in bulk.

14. Backup all photos. Better yet, print them.

15. Look in the oven before you turn it on.

16. There is no point in making beds.

17. Accept the fact that you will turn into your mother.

18. Always check pockets before washing clothes.

19. There is no such thing as “running” into Target with children.

20. Take more video.

21. Daily baths are overrated.

22. Find young babysitters and groom them. The less attractive, the better.

23. Always have ample one dollar bills on hand for lost teeth and bribery.

24. Carry plenty of emergency snacks in the car.

25. Keep expensive cosmetics out of arm’s reach. Arm’s reach, on a stool and tippy toes.

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26. The four-year-old check-up is brutal.

27. Look before you sit down to pee.

28. Train your children to clean up all Lego’s before bed, knowing that nothing is more painful than stepping on a Lego with a bare foot at midnight.

29. Save “no” for when it really matters.

30. Over-apply sunscreen.

31. Practice caution when approaching that stray raisin on the floor. It’s probably not a raisin.

32. Never pay full price for kids’ clothes. They always go on sale and the expensive ones inevitably get ruined first.

33. There’s a reason why people surprise their kids with trips to Disney: Their anticipation may kill you.

34. Don’t take their word for it when children say they don’t need to pee before leaving the house.

35. Lock your bedroom door.

36. And, your bathroom one.

37. Never open a can of soda handed to you by a child.

38. Walk away from temper tantrums. Or, record them for future enjoyment.

39. Upset as you may be, hair grows back.

40. But, not on Barbie dolls, so hide the scissors.

41. Never buy more than two pairs of shoes at once. Their feet will inevitably grow once you do.

42. No matter how hard they promise, kids will never walk that puppy as much as you hoped.

43. Give away the books you can’t stand reading.

44. No child went to college with a pacifier.

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45. Don’t buy any toy that is meant to come apart, unless they can put it back together themselves.

46. Keep a well-hidden stock of lollipops.

47. Don’t allow Play-Doh on carpets. Or, indoors, for that matter.

48. TV won’t really turn their brains to mush.

49. A bathroom in a house with boys will never smell clean.

50. It doesn’t get easier.

About the writer


What started as an innocent on-line baby book to chronicle Jill Smokler’s stay-at-home days with her children, quickly transformed into a vibrant community of parents, brought together by a common theme: Parenting doesn’t have to be perfect. Welcome to Scary Mommy!


hbombmom 2 years ago

#50, that is all. :-).

Beki 2 years ago

I can vouch for the bunk beds, don’t get them. My 4 year old jumped off it and purposely head butted the back of my 8 year old’s head. After the trip to the ER to find out neither one had a concussion they told me they were practicing wrestling, like those guys on tv.

Only the most brave hearted people should have kids.

Aaliyah 2 years ago

It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people in this particular subject, but you seem
like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

Lisa Bunnage 2 years ago

My favourite was “ignore tantrums, or record them for future amusement” … great blog :)

Lisa, Parenting Coach, BratBusters.com

Tracy 2 years ago

What is the deal with the 4 year old checkup?
Schoolage immunizations? I suppose I am in for a shocker. My daughter will be 5 this week and I was asked to bring her in for the schoolage immunizations (generally given between 4 and 5 years) when she reached her 5th birthday. She puts her brave face on for the flu shot and then says that it didn’t hurt one bit after it’s done. So, if it’s the immunizations, I think she will be fine.

    Lizzie 2 years ago

    I was a pediatric medical assistant for 2 yrs and the four year checkups are rough because we checked vision and hearing and most four year olds have the attention span of 0.3 seconds! We also did all vital signs during which all movements are closely scrutinized and questions galore before we can move on to the next action. Then its time for shots (usually after the Dr visit for which you might have waited a long time) and they get MMR and varicella which HURT as if shots don’t hurt enough. So a trip for an ice cream cone afterward is always a nice treat!

Jamie Bartley 2 years ago

I loved this article and it is all so true. I have a 14 year old a 13 year old and a 3 year old. Parenting is never easy no matter the age of the child.

rose 2 years ago

hahaha so true! Every single one of those i experienced and wished id known before…except the bunk beds! THanks for the heads up!

momma22boys 2 years ago

These are all so true! Red sharpie does come off painted walls but not off wood doors (with the help of a Mr. Clean magic erarser). Bunk beds are a horrible idea when you have two boys…we had them for less than a year, just took them down last weekend…sick of watching them climb to the top bunk and jump down onto the bed below…I never pay full price for clothes, if you join store clubs, like The Children’s Place, you can get awesome deals. If you have two kids of the same sex, it doesn’t hurt to buy expensive stuff…especially when you know it will get handed down in decent condition. I regularly spend $50 -$100 on winter coats (at our local ski wear shop) during their summer sidewalk sale because i know how well they are made and that I will get not one kid’s wear out of them but two.

Courtney Mungovan 2 years ago

Why is it brutal? We have ours in a week.

Amy Contakes 2 years ago

Becky Hedlund, yes they are so lovely when they are asleep~and it is so very worth it!

Becky Hedlund 2 years ago

#50 is definitely true, but thankfully (most days) it still all feels worth it…especially at the end of the day when they are finally asleep and adorable again. 😉

Amy Contakes 2 years ago

I'm with you Bethany. And the one about locking the bathroom doors. I tried that and then when they come running and screaming for you and find that the door is locked. They just stand outside the door screaming and banging for you. So I just leave the door unlocked.

Bethany Vitaro 2 years ago

If it doesn't get any easier, I'm not sure we'll all survive.

Amy Contakes 2 years ago

Number 50 is my favorite

Joyce Atherton 2 years ago

Been there done that now raising Grandchildren doesn't get easier but you are a lot smarter…….

Alicia King 2 years ago

We just had the 4 year old check up…and it was brutual :/

Natalie Birdsall Wayman 3 years ago

haha these are some GOOD tips!!

Geoff Kinsey 3 years ago

No matter how strategically planned it is, your shower will be shortened by the insanity producing need of your child. And even a locked door can't defeat banging on a door!

Marilyn 3 years ago

My son in law had the nerve to say I wasn’t doing a very good job babysitting grand kids that were 1 and 4 at the time. Completely tickled when a week later I stopped by their house when he was in charge of the little ones and the one year old greeted me at the patio door with the remains of powdered sugar doughnuts all over him as well as one clenched in each little fist. In addition to this, his 4 yr old sister had written her entire name up one side of his face, across his forehead, and down the other cheek, and YES it was with a sharpie. Oh what fun it was to call their daddy away from the computer!!

    Manicmom 3 years ago

    That’s karma, she’s a witch but sometimes it’s ok

Funny Kitten Videos 3 years ago

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Mari Praisewater 3 years ago

49. A bathroom in a house with boys will never smell clean.

Boys at ANY age…..

Thymosin Beta 4 3 years ago

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christie 3 years ago

I should have listned to #8. Every single one of Sweets’ fingers and toes had microscopic boo-boo’s that absolutely were bleeding and needed princess bandaids.

Fran 3 years ago

Thanks, I needed to laugh and remember. I think you covered all the bases and as a Grandmother and soon to be again. You forgot one. Silly putty,play dough’s sister. Oh, and keep it all away from one year old lab a shep’s. They will eat anything.

Sam 3 years ago

I cannot agree more on basically this entire list. I really wish more parents thought like you and lightened up a bit on their parenting skills.

Amanda 3 years ago

Dear Lord don’t leave out the feather pillows. Don’t care how soft they are, when the kids find out there are feathers in it, they will also find a way to make them come out so they can make “feather Angels” Im still haunted by feather a year later. Found one stuck in my shirt that I’m sure has been washed 1000 times sense. I have a 6,5 and 4 year old.

Nacer @ Gas Engineer 3 years ago

Must have taken you a while to put this list together but you have been on the money with all points – great stuff!

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Kat 3 years ago

Oh my! Thank-you, I really needed a chuckle today. My girls are now 15 and 17, sighs.. Great post, looking forward to reading more.
Your newest fan,

Prof_hyperion 3 years ago

As an expectant father, I find your list to be nothing earth-shattering, but still very frightening. I stumbled upon this site trying to gain some level-headed insight into parenting (all I hear from many is how much it sucks, how much life will suck, and really anything else that would make it seem like Person X is trying to make me feel regretful). Thus far, my research (both online and in the analog world) has yielded the most accurate and uplifting results from moms. As an educator and endurance athlete, I value difficult challenges – they yield the best rewards. Raising a well-adjusted, adaptive, intelligent, kind adult should be difficult. I have no delusions about that, and keep an open mind and open heart. One question I have, though: I have friends who have a completely out-of-control two-year-old who spends the day (this is not an exaggeration) doing whatever he pleases, and does not seem to have any discipline. He seems to comprehend quite a bit of language, but conveniently dons the infant routine to get his way. This may be an apocalyptic tantrum, a smashing expensive electronics rampage, or both. The other day, he punched my pregnant wife in the stomach – the parents said nothing. However, when the kid started grabbing at my phone and attempting to order me what to put on it (game, video) and attempting to climb over my body/arm to grab at it, the dad said “he wants to see your phone.” Ha! I simply replied, “no.” To which the lad responded with a tantrum and ran into the kitchen demanding a snack, which he received. What kind of parenting style is this?

    shama-mama 3 years ago

    Raising a child requires discipline from the parent. And some parents just don’t have it. Leaving the child to run about as they please is the “Lazy Style” of parenting. Rather than exert some effort to discipline the child, they just give in to the child and end up creating a monster, who will later suffer in life. These parents have convinced themselves there is nothing wrong with thier child and all problems lie with you instead. “How dare you not show my precious child your phone! Now you got him upset! (That might require me as a parent to do something)”

    Erin B 3 years ago

    I’m not sure how long ago this was posted, but I read something about “free-range” parenting the other day. Your question reminded me of that article. I whole-heartedly disagree with it but even with the best intentions *sometimes* you have to pick your battles with stubborn headed two years olds. I know I do. I would never let her disrespect someone like your friends child though.

      Prof_hyperion 3 years ago

      I have heard this style of parenting referred to as some form of attachment parenting, which involves giving the children maximum exposure to parents. I disagree with this because neurosis should not be a basis for bonding. Both my wife and I work quite a bit, and are triathletes – so being ever-present, and 100% compliant with the whims of a child is not possible. I have found that, for some of our friends, moderation is paramount. These individuals have lifestyles similar to ours, and have happy children who are already demonstrating a capacity for self-discipline (we’re talking 1 1/2 to 5 years of age). The other friends I mentioned do nothing but sit at home and/or take the kids everywhere, and most of the time it seems they are barely hanging on to sanity. To me, this is a contradiction of our potential as dynamic adults. Ultimately, I see this so-called “attachment parenting” as an excuse for laziness.

        Jennifer 3 years ago

        I would caution that free-range parenting and attachment parenting are not really the same thing. Most (because there are always exceptions) who follow the attachment model still have rules/guidelines and disciple for their children.

          tj 2 years ago

          Neither attachment parenting or free-range parenting condone a kid getting whatever they want, whenever they want. Free range parenting is about letting your child explore boundaries further (ie. expect scrapes and bruises) – doesn’t mean there aren’t boundaries, just that they are further out. Atachment parenting is based on the attachment theory of development which means that kids need one or two primary adults who look after their needs and pay them mindful attention in a manner that facilitates their communication in order to develop a secure and loving base from which to explore the world. Again, doesn’t condone kid doing whatever whenever. AP parents are either (1) not actually interpreting AP’ing properly or (2) getting a bad rap because of (1)

Kenya G. Johnson 4 years ago

LOL! I am going to have to come back and check out those links. #27, even you your son isn’t home. Really? #49 – phooey.

april liewer 4 years ago

I can confirm with the no sharpies. I got what looks like a picture of an iguana in our bathroom.

Trish Sammer Johnston 4 years ago

This was genius. I’m going to share on my FB page, despite the fact that I’m now having a massive anxiety attack that I haven’t backed up any photos — and probably never will. Zoinks!

Allyson 4 years ago

Love it! Don’t forget to check the bottom of socks for gum before placing in the dryer. I decided to stick the sock back on the melted gum so I could continue doing the laundry.

Lisa 4 years ago

Thank you!
/Mother of a 19 month old boy

Chris 4 years ago

While you should never use Google to diagnose illnesses, it is the very best tool for figuring out how to undo what your child has just done. Sharpie on wood? Make a paste of rubbing alcohol and baking soda, rub into marking until it magically vanishes. Nail polish on carpet? Put the polish remover away and get out the Windex.

No matter how much we want/need to be unique in all the world, the Internet proves to me daily, that there is almost no problem someone else hasn’t already had, figured out how to fix and posted the solution to online.

And we LOVED this list!

Ginny 4 years ago

This 50 Things is a real gas, Meg. thasnks for some chuckles

Georgen 4 years ago

No way on #11.

Debra 4 years ago

This is a great list. I agree with everything especially the Lego. And I’ll add another – never buy a shag pile rug. Vomit, wee and spilled milk will NEVER come out!

Lynn 4 years ago

NO SILLY PUTTY! Ruined a favorite skirt when I sat in a glob someone left on my rocking chair. (It also stained the rocking chair pad.) I have also banned stickers from the house. Occasionally, a few will sneak by, and then I’m quickly reminded to be more vigilant as they become stuck to my hardwood floors or furniture.

My husband doesn’t see the problem of bunk beds. I, however, freak out about them. When my stepkids were younger, they had bunk beds, and promptly fell out of them (or rather, were pushed). No thank you, don’t need more opportunities for head trauma in this house!

Mom Off Meth 4 years ago

Such a GREAT list. I love the pacifier thing. I never stressed about that. Only one of my four kids used one. It was the BEST. Also, I have three boys. My bathroom is nasty, almost always. We don’t make beds, and I don’t stress about it.

Chrissy 4 years ago

Another one: Make sure glue traps are up when spending the night at grandmas house… Couldn’t find my youngest son after bedtime. Turns out he crawled into the closet and fell asleep… with a glue trap stuck to his arm. From there the glue ended up all over his face and legs. Lesson learned. Best way to get it off? LOTION!

Rachael 4 years ago

Totally love your blog! I loved it when I was pregnant and now I get it! I love it more now that my little one is finally here. She’s only 3 and a half months, but I already know you speak the truth! I will be printing this and carrying it with me always! 😛

kalosa82 4 years ago

It’s so refreshing to know there’s other moms out there that see parenthood the way I do….and use “bad” word.

Katy McCaffrey 4 years ago

Extra children’s underwear in your purse may make you feel like a perv but will one day be the most useful thing you have in there.

    Dorothy Inman 2 years ago

    I have several in mine and pants too. I have no shame.

Nicole Martel 4 years ago

These are great, some made me laugh out loud. :) Oh and I’m half way through your book and loving it… Can you believe, I was gonna skim through the book while watching Sex in the city for the second time and ended up turning the tv off… I wanted to hear what you had to say instead :) hehe.

kim 4 years ago

#17 fer sure…

Theatre Virgin 4 years ago

Brilliant, spot on list! Loved it! :)

Ola 4 years ago

number 17 so true 😉

girlfriend 4 years ago

Love this and laughed all the way through it.

(Except where you make Sharpies and Legos plural with an apostrophe. The OCD in me says “teach your kids how to use apostrophes!!”)


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