Shannon, of Rocks in My Dryer, is talking about parenting advice at (where else?) Parenting.com today. So I started thinking, what was the best parenting advice I received? There were all the nitty-gritty details, of course: sleep when the new baby sleeps, freeze extra dinners on the weekend, don't neglect your spouse....the list goes on and on.
But, really, the best advice was one sentence spoken to me (by an experienced dad of 4, of course) when I was only 3 months pregnant with my first child. "Don't expect everything to be perfect," he said.
Don't expect everything to be perfect? Well, of course I wouldn't do that! What a nonsensical thing to say. I filed his advice in that section of my brain where I store other useless info and forgot about it.
It took 4 kids and 10 years for that valuable piece of advice to resurface. It took a decade of dealing with fussy babies and dirty diapers and screaming tantrums; a decade of watching, helplessly, as laundry and dishes piled up, and up, and up, despite my best efforts; a decade of Larry and I running ourselves ragged in an attempt to make everything run smoothly...and suddenly I heard, "Don't expect everything to be perfect."
It turns out that life with a bunch of small children is way less stressful if you expect the clean clothes to be found in the laundry baskets, and the clean dishes to be found (if you are lucky) in the dishwasher; it's much less nerve wracking if you expect that at any point of the day there will be one child whining or two children bickering or one toilet overflowing....
Some may accuse me of lowering the bar. I just call it being realistic. And if I should stumble on one "perfect" day, I will have the opportunity of being pleasantly surprised.
Hey, do any of us get on a roller coaster expecting a smooth ride? No! The whole point of the ride are the ups and the downs and the loop-de-loops. So next time things in your house start reaching your breaking level of chaos, just raise your arms in the air and yell, "Whooo-eeeee!"
I guarantee, you'll feel better. And it will definitely freak out the children.