Tips Learned Since Becoming a Tired Parent

D Nelson Collins

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Becoming a father can be daunting. I am far from an expert and continually seek out new information.

As a new parent, I constantly thought of what I needed to do. I remember driving 30 MPH on the highway to protect my newborn.

After five years, I thought I’d share ten tips I’ve learned myself and from others.

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

I’ve learned the hard way that things will go wrong. A toddler will do the opposite of what you say. It’s essential to be like a duck and let things roll off your back.

It’s helped me stay sane and take the good with the bad.

2. Get as many videos as possible.

Pictures are great and will help you hold onto memories. But videos take you right back to the moments.

You get to relive the emotions from the timeframe. It’s the memories that pass on that are hard to let pass.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see that at the time. Which video helps out a lot.

3. Do things to show gratitude to your spouse.

It’s easy to fall into the routine. Life becomes work, kids, and unwinding. Rinse and repeat.

It’s essential to find ways to show gratitude. It doesn’t have to be big things. A touch, a short text, or something sentimental can go a long way.

4. Lower expectations.

I had some high expectations for my son. Some were unconscious. Even under five years old, I expected him to lean toward sports and things I liked.

So when we got him into soccer at 3 ½ years old, I was expecting the next Messi. But it wasn’t his thing at the time. I learned to allow him the freedom to be himself.

He’s a person with his ideas still developing.

5. By golly, he’s a person.

My son is a person. It doesn’t sound revolutionary.

It’s something I try to remember when those big emotions hit. Letting go of a balloon outside is not a big deal.

But at three or four, it’s the end game. I had to learn to weather big emotions.

When I’m frustrated, the last thing I want is to get scolded for it. It’s no different for a small child. (No matter how people look at you in public.)

6. Give grace when it’s undeserved.

We work hard to make it clear that every decision has a consequence. It’s essential to convey. But on rare occasions, we show my son grace for something he should have received punishment for as a result.

It helps show that there are occasions when a second chance occurs in life. It also puts faith in action. God showed us grace through Jesus Christ. It’s only fitting that we offer grace at times.

7. Live more, lecture less.

I am learning to lecture less. It’s easy to turn almost anything into a teaching moment. But sometimes it’s good to enjoy the moment.

8. Don’t force a connection.

When family comes around, especially key members (grandparents and such), it’s easy to expect a child to be comfortable.

A family member shared the insight — the importance of allowing a child to determine their comfortability.

If a child is not comfortable, it is ok. That’s something that should be encouraged to reinforce intuition. Kids know when something is off. I’d want a child to grow comfortable on their own instead of being pressured.

9. Ignore the bad; praise the good.

Another idea I wish I had known earlier is praising the good while ignoring the bad. It’s easy to give attention to bad behavior to correct it. But, it causes a vicious circle. Attention is what is desired by any means.

If I praise and give attention when good behavior occurs, it reinforces it. Ignoring some nondestructive bad behavior will starve the attention.

10. Be there.

The first five years will fly by faster than an F-15. Do everything you can to be there. Endure the sleepless nights. Fight to connect daily. Go on trips and attend shows.

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to look back knowing you were there. It’s not a collection of memories you see in photos but moments you spent.

What tips would you add to the list?

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I am a writer and entrepreneur with a passion for writing and sharing ideas. https://dncollins.com

Houston, TX
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