So here is the stuff I wish someone had told me before I had kids. I'm not saying this is universal. Just the stuff I have picked up along the way
1. The reason you don't tell your kids about Disney World
The commercials make it seem like it is just for this magical surprise that you can record on video. That is a lie. The truth is that if you tell your kids that your family is going to Disney World (or anywhere really) six months out, you will have to then live with daily questions. "When are we going? Are we going Saturday? Can we ride the Dumbo ride? Can I go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and get my hair done? Can I bring eight stuffed animals? Will we meet Buzz Lightyear?" You get the picture. Better to save it as a surprise and then they are just so excited that you are going that they forget about the details.
2. When in doubt, wear a costume
This especially applies to events like Disney on Ice. I had no idea that 70% of the girls would be in Cinderella costumes the first time we went. I had no idea that snow cones would be $12 either but live and learn. I also quickly learned to bring Disney light up toys from the dollar store in my purse and eat a very big meal first but I digress. Just put your kid in a costume if you are going to an event. Fire Station tour? Fire truck t-shirt. Just do it.
3. Buy the best
Don't more than you can afford but buy quality. This especially applies to school items and things they touch every day. I'm a huge fan of Laptop Lunchboxes and LL Bean and Land's End for backpacks and coats. Better to buy one $30 backpack that lasts rather than three $15 backpacks.
4. Nap mats
When taking a nap mat to school, you might think to go to Wal-Mart and by a regular red and blue plastic mat. Wrong. You evidently do that and then go buy a monogrammed washable cover with attached blanket and optional pillow. Etsy is a great source for these. I was blessed to find this out before preschool started.
5. Stuffed animals multiply
You have to gather them up once a month and donate them because I honestly believe something bizarre is happening in toy boxes across America. Those buggers must be procreating because no matter how many I take out of the house, more seem to appear every day.
6. Kids will outgrow things at the worst times
My kids only outgrow clothing when it is impossible to replace what they have outgrown. They wait until February when stores are putting out tank tops to tell me that their snow boots are way too small. Their tank tops become midriffs about the time all the school sweaters are for sale in August. I haven't really found a way around this other than just buying a little too big at the first of the season instead of "just right".
7. The worst secret of all.
This is the one I hate. The one that it has taken me the longest to both learn and implement but it is almost fail proof. You have to be the person you want your kids to be. Want them to be patient? Loving? Kind to their family? You have to be those things? Want them to grow up big and strong and eat their veggies? Yep, you have to eat healthily too. I think it is a kingdom principle back to 1 Peter 1:16, "Be holy as I am holy". We can't expect our kids to do something we won't do. So if your kids are being sarcastic and smarting off...start with the way you talk to them and your spouse. Ask God for forgiveness and resolve to be the best example you can be.
Please comment with the secrets you have picked up along the way that you wished you had known!