This list is a reminder for me to check on a regular basis. It's simple stuff that for some reason always escapes me.
Nothing is done overnight
When Nathan was a baby, it seemed everything needed to be resolved overnight. As he started to grow and walk and then run, somehow that expectation was still there. When behavior problems set in as they do with toddlers, it finally came home for me. Everything with children takes time. It is a daily task.
Persistence is key
Little ones watch you for consistency. They will bounce off you and you need to give them that strong hold that keeps them in their boundaries. It is comforting to children to know what they are dealing with. Be insconsistent and you throw them for a loop and with that make parenting more frustrating for yourself. The sooner you start this, the easier it will be for yourself and your children. Be kind to them and be consistent.
Patience is a virtue
This is my hardest lesson. I still am very impatient although I've come a long way in this area. It gets hard to have the same conversations over and over. Or to make your toddler understand that you are in a hurry when they want to examine that rock on the ground. This area is where I wish I could really seize the moment more and realize that time is relative. Remember that patience is a fruit of the spirit. Fruits don't grow ripe overnight. You are a process.
Keep your children close by
Children need to be watched closely when they are young. Mothering is truly a full-time job. At the ages where mine are right now, some things have gotten easier. How can your day not be better if you actually sleep through the night???? However, other areas need more of your attention now. For my little ones, it is to continually watch their behavior, especially toward each other and to teach them tirelessly to be nice and loving toward each other. At times this seems overwhelming, especially when combined with the missing patience above. :-) I guess children learn by repetition. We are great at that! :-)
Talk to them about what you are doing
Children also learn by what you model them. Seeing what they are supposed to do helps tremendously. Recently I learned that it is an even more powerful tool if you actually explain what you are doing to your children. It took me 4 years to figure this one out! When you bring a gift to someone, don't just show them that. Involve them in picking out the gift and why you chose what you got, help them wrap it in a thoughtful way and then discuss why you are doing this for the receiver.
They love to help
Little ones are great helpers! And although you may think that things will go faster if you do it yourself, this is actually not true. I've found that many things go faster when I delegate. Such as having your four-year-old put away his socks. Yes, it may take HIM longer than it would take you, but it's a task off your list. Plus, the few tasks that take some oversight and teaching, they learn very fast. Go for it!
They love to learn
Teach them something new every day. This is really not as hard as you think. Have them help you cook, read them a book, do a craft. Nathan especially loves to learn from books. Get a DK series book for him and read it. Abigail loves to learn about stuff in the garden. Go out there with her. Teach them to read. Practice penmanship. It's easy and you can do it!
Nutrition is so very important
Their little bodies are just that - little. They are growing at such a rapid rate, it is important to fill them with the best you can give them. And what is a little junk for us, is a lot of junk to them. They are smaller than we are. Good nutrition doesn't have to be expensive. It just takes a little extra time and planning.
Enjoy them while they are little
Take time out of every busy day and love your children. Spend focused, quality time with them. They soak that up. Even just a few minutes of complete mommy focus energizes them tremendously. Color with them, cook with them, play in the castle, play with baby dolls, use your play kitchen. Love on your children. Little over four years have flown by. In just another year, Nathan will be off to school. Craziness.