Pretty egotistical title, I know. Know this – it’s a lie – It was meant to grab your attention and elicit a reaction. The true title is probably something more along the lines of:
“New Parents… Chad is a twit – He makes a lot of mistakes and poor assumptions about parenting – Here’s how you can learn from his mistakes!”
This article is actually about how wrong I am about everything. But what the whole Texas Zoo Crew website experience is about…is learning. I have learned. And you can learn from my mistakes.
Here is a collection of things I’ve changed my perspective on as a parent- “Cheers” to you doing better!
1) Enjoy your time in 5–10-minute increments
Yesterday my daughter crawled up into my lap to watch a college softball game on TV. She showed genuine interest and was really into it, asking appropriate questions based on observation. I remember feeling just fulfilled and happy. What a great dad moment…one of those things that make parenting great. That is until she heard the neighbor friends and dumped me faster than my prom date from High School. Wow. That burned. It was great while it lasted though.
The time was great for her though – it was enough, and it was real bonding with pops! But now, what’s next?
As adults, we enjoy our experiences as they evolve and grow and tend to equate “time happy” with “better experience.” To kids, not so much. They just want happy. Time isn’t in the equation.
A few years ago, my dad and I had this dream bonding trip I think about often. We took a road trip to the NCAA national Wrestling tournament, just the two of us with big points, big names, guts and glory. I was 40. It was nice and the “tantrums” were at a minimum with me being…well, 40 years old. That trip doesn’t happen like that if I’m 6. Our brains are just a lot more meshed as adults.
Disneyworld has figured this out – that’s why 70 minutes in line and 3 minutes of spinning teacups is FUN. Just enjoy it while you’ve got it –even in 5-minute bursts – that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
2) Your life isn’t over, it’s just different
Having kids is great, strange, wonderful and just plain different. But it’s not a “life over” deal. Yes, the social scene –clubs and bars – that’s changed but that wasn’t really the priority it was in my youth at this point anyway. It’s about Jumping World now and seeing my kids socialize.
At times I have fond reminisces of my “good ole’ days and double-fisting long island ice teas with my boys but truly, at the end of it all – it’s way more likely these times with my kids will be my actual good ole’ days. These new experiences are so much more rewarding, fantastic and magical than the smoky loud bars of my 20’s.
I have always loved to travel. My wife and I built this pre-kid life around travel. So now…my kids still travel with us and are there for all the important pieces of how I live.
I think the parents that completely 180 changed who they are, how they react and live just kind of went a little overboard on how much kids change things. It doesn’t need to change anything.
Seriously, just pack your kids up and take them with you.
I don’t feel I’ve really changed that much – just my point of focus and how less important small thing are is what’s changed.
3) There’s a significant amount of whining (you need to be ready for this)
Wow! Guys, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s intense – the whining. I just want this stage over with already. It’s my constant struggle with kids, really my only real complaint.
Now listen to that last line again…see? I’m whining about stuff now. We whine as adults every bit and more than any kids do on any day. WAY more. Pull up Facebook for one minute or just turn on the news. Complaints and whines… like a gang of 4 year olds when the ice cream truck starts her wonderful mouth-watering music up.
Kids?? Puh, adults whine!
We just don’t have that little high pitched annoying voice – you need to get ready for that!
4) You will learn as much (or more) than you teach
It’s incredible – being a parent is far more than what the brochure had us believe. School work and projects with my kids as well as how they see and move about the world, nothing else like this exists – It’s incredible and keeps us young and our minds sharp. Embrace this! Learn Spanish or guitar, about the solar system, or how milk is made. Learn with your kids.
5) You do it your way and other families do it their way
Don’t judge or compare other families or how they do stuff and don’t feel the pressure of how you do yours. My youngest sleeps in our bed. A lot. Too much. But it works for us and just makes sense a lot of times. My other kids sleep on the floor with their dogs like an aboriginal family and it works. Do it your way. Experiment with what works for you.
6) Never! Yeah right.
I have a warning. The word “never” will make a fool of you.
As in, “I’ll never let my kids eat in the car” or “Never let them have an iPad when we drive” or watch movies when friends are over or eat Doritos etc. on and on and on.
Do what works for you and what keeps your sanity. A six-hour road trip without a Disney movie would be torture for all of us. And for what? Because we decided when they were babies we wouldn’t? C’mon man. Roll with it.
7) Just pay for the Skittles *****
This article is no longer showing on the site…. Think to yourself, in this point in time is buying the kids Skittles really that big of a deal? Will it keep them happy while I drag them around on errands? Yes. Will it cause cavities and a sugar high? In excess, maybe. Weigh the actual costs and benefits before blurting out “no”. Check out my article “Just Pay for the Skittles” where I explain this concept in detail.
8) Kids don’t value money or care one bit about the “cost” of things
“Do you know how much this costs?”
“Quit wasting food.”
“Do you know how long this will take me to clean up?”
“Do you even know how much this hotel costs per night?”
“You just ruined a $100 ____”
They don’t care. Or know. Or value it. Even if they are old enough to know they still do not value it – they can’t conceive the difference of a job that pays $40,000 a year vs $100,000 a year nor do they really care.
Don’t wreck this for your kids. The fact they don’t understand the value of stuff is in my opinion, a good thing. They have the rest of their adult lives and forever to worry about money. You’re doing a good job as a parent if your 6-year-old just doesn’t give a damn and values a Dr. Pepper the same way he values his bike. His age and emotional development are in the “immediate now!” stage. Instant gratification.
It’s called the “Emperor Complex” and it’ll help you cope with parenting to understand that they see themselves as the most important human in existence on the entire planet.
Isn’t that what you want them to think at this age anyway? They’ll change with experience; I promise you this. It gets much better and relaxed. So, chill-out dude – things like couches, cars, money and sodas will come and go multiple times over the course of your life – this ride on the rock we call Earth happens once – get your values square, view it as a learning experiment and move on.
9) Your kids don’t need to live your life
I hear parents say to me – “I moved to my old neighborhood because I want my kids to grow up the way I did. Go to the same schools, Sunday school at 9 am, same convenience store and park, same little league…etc.etc.”
Why? Why do I want to force my kids to live my life from, a generation ago?
Things have changed and this time is about them.
I was a super Jock kid. Maybe my kids won’t be into football, soccer, wrestling and super Jock stuff – Maybe they’ll be into a whole different set of things and play the Cello at Carnegie Hall or be a fry cook on Mars. I’m ok with my kids creating their own strong independent identities and coming up with their own conclusions. That’s a huge part of their development and why I love them. And guess what, they’ll surely pick up a lot of what you love just through osmosis alone and more than likely we end up on similar paths and likes and values. Relax. Just be a parent.
That’s all – 9 tips I wished I’d learned earlier. Let’s just call it the New Parent handbook. If you would like a more in depth look into my parenting style and what works for me, keep an eye out for my book “Parenting from Out of Bounds”. Coming soon to a bookstore near you!