Lessons from an older parent

I’ve been a parent for 17 and a half years.

Wait.  I’ve been a parent for 17 and a half years?!?

No wonder I’m drinking napping more.

Along the way I’ve learned a lot of important lessons that I think some of you younger, newer parents might appreciate and find useful, and that might make your life a little bit easier as you navigate the early childhood years. So take note, ye parents of preschoolers – what you learn from the following list might just save you time, money, and at the very least, the soft insole of your bare foot.


• Birthday party goody bags were invented by the devil. So were juice box straws.

• No matter how hard you try, you will never, ever be able to get Polly Pocket’s clothes on her without ripping them or snapping her head or legs off.

• Super Glue does not hold Polly Pocket’s head onto her impossibly tiny neck. But it does do a fine job of sticking it to your fingers for about three hours.

• Contrary to what Mattel tries to tell you, the real purpose of Barbie shoes is to jam your vacuum and choke your cat. Same goes for Legos.

• Playing Candyland with a pre-schooler for 30 minutes is worse than spending an entire day at Six Flags with a tequila hangover.

• Contrary to popular belief, feeding your child noodles & butter and grilled cheese sandwiches pretty much every night for 15 years does not stunt their growth. Same goes for Cap’n Crunch.

• Taking a four year old little girl into a public restroom and trying to keep her tiny, wiggly fanny from touching the toilet seat is about as sanitary of an experience as rubbing her legs with the wrappers that stick out of the “special” trashcan (which I guarantee you she will grab – every time).

• No matter how much money you spend at Gymboree or GapKids, your child will choose the crappy shirt from Target with the peeling Hello Kitty decal on the front or the red glitter flats every time you leave the house.

• By the time your child is three, you will seriously question Margaret Wise Brown’s sobriety, but will begin to speak in Sandra Boynton rhymes when conversing with adults.

• When your kids — and God forbid, their little friends — want to “put on a show” for you, make sure a grab a bottle of wine before it starts.

• Don’t let the makers of Pull-Ups fool you … because they won’t fool your toddler.

• It is possible to get in a decent nap while “watching” The Backyardigans, just make sure the volume is low enough so that damn Uniqua doesn’t appear in your dreams.

• When traveling with a baby, a little Benadryl in the bottle will make the trip much more enjoyable. Just try not to fall asleep while holding the baby.

• If you want to continue to be able to shop at your closest Target, keep the popcorn/icee combos to a minimum. There’s only so many times the employees will smile at you while cleaning that shit up.

• Playing hide-n-seek is a terrific indoor family activity when you want to finish that book you started or take a nap. Until they’re around nine, your kids will wait for you to find them for hours.

• Don’t be fooled by stuffed animals. As the years progress they’ll multiply faster than Duggars and before you know it you’re hoarding them in tubs in your basement where they cry every night because their “person” outgrew them, but because you and your kids have seen Toy Story 200 times you can never ever give them away.

• Do not ever let your kids watch Toy Story.

• No matter how old your kids get, there will still be little plastic shit embedded in the carpet in the direct path to their room that the soft insole of your foot invariably will find when you stumble there to soothe a 4 a.m. nightmare scream.

• McDonalds Happy Meal toys are a piece of crap.

• Keep your child in diapers as long as you possibly can. Otherwise you will never, ever eat a hot meal at a restaurant again (or see a zoo animal…or ride a ride at Disneyworld…or get to watch an entire movie…).

• You will never organize all those pictures. Stop trying and just enjoy looking at them on your computer screen.

• Knowing when to pick your battles is key, and changes with age:

3 years old – Let her wear the ratty Sleeping Beauty nightgown with her black patent mary janes to pre-school. Tell her teachers that her father dressed her. Again.
10 years old – Make her wing it on the 5th grade math test after she defiantly tells you you’re doing it all wrong when you attempt to help her with her long division. The bad grade she’ll get won’t keep her out of a good college, and will give you the always fun moment of being right.
16 years old – Do not touch the laundry that has been gathering on her floor for the past month (and that is the cause of the dead rodent smell coming from her room). When she runs out of socks or underwear and her jeans stand up on their own, hand her the jug of TIDE and walk away. And make sure to hide your own clothes.

• Bedtime backscratches know no age and never get old (except perhaps when you have an Appletini downstairs growing warmer by the minute).

• Believe me when I tell you the time will pass as quickly as everyone (like me) tells you.

Enjoy the journey and don’t sweat the small stuff. Except, of course, for the Barbie shoes and Legos that are implanted in your feet.

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Okay, fine, it doesn’t, but it will bring you welcome distraction from whatever it is you are avoiding by being on the computer. 

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  • Dawn - I am dieing here Michelle…hahahahahahaha I can relate to every single one of those lessons.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - The candyland one made me laugh…I had a little sister who was so obsessed with that game that when the rest of us couldn’t take her obsession anymore, she’d play candyland on her own for hours.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - My girls would quit actually playing the game about 10 min. in and make all the characters “talk” to each other and chase each other. It got to the point where we’d yell, “Just play the damn game!!” (not in so many words, obviously…)ReplyCancel

  • The Girl Next Door Drinks and Swears - Michelle! This is so great! I hate birthday party goody bags. And I almost puked on the one about the public restrooms. I have a phobia of public restrooms. True story.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - My husband does, too. Thank god we didn’t have boys. He’d never have survived the preschool years when you’re wedged in the stalls squatting while holding a wiggly 50 lb. kid up over the seat.ReplyCancel

  • Kimmyyy83 - I love you Michelle. you are right. and every other praise i can give for this post. BAHAHAReplyCancel

  • Dani Ryan - I love this! And I’m glad I don’t need to worry that my child eats the same things for every meal. She’s only 2, and I don’t see this changing any time soon!

    I have a post scheduled for Wednesday about 50 things the 2nd year of motherhood has taught me. As you are farther along with parenting, you may find it funny (and take pity on me)! Stay tuned!

    Thanks for the evening laugh!


    • Michelle - I definitely will be reading…..and laughing….and yes, even pitying! Feel free to print this out to refer to over the next 12 years or so. And I’m not kidding about the bday goody bags. Throw that crap out.ReplyCancel

  • Dyanne @ I Want Backsies - I wholly concur with the entire list. As the mother of a 17-1/2 year old son, I can tell you that a boy can grow to be 6’3″ and have good teeth having never consumed anything that grows in the ground, except for potatoes and beans, with the rest of the diet consisting of bacon, pizza, hamburgers and chicken nuggets.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Hey, at least there’s protein in there! Amazing how they grow in spite of a diet of white foods….ReplyCancel

  • Funny Is Family - Great tips! My kids think the food court at Target is only for employees. “Oh, bud. I’d totally get you some of that popcorn, but we don’t work here!”ReplyCancel

  • Stacey Hatton - First time reader of your blog, and I can’t tell you how much I laughed at this post. Hilarious! I, too, am a Target junkie. Now I can’t claim 5 days a week, but I do live a mile from one and I believe I can set my car to auto-pilot and it will go there on its own accord. Can’t wait to keep reading your schtuff!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - I hear ya. I also live a mile from our Target and think I could drive there blindfolded!
      Thanks for reading and following along! Happy you’re here! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Anna Smith - I love this post. It has amazing tips, some that made me laugh and alot that id have to agree on. Thank so much for the tips(and the smiles).
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  • Teri Biebel - I’m cracking up. Totally cracking up. Sadly we’ve watched Toy Story 3.4 million times. Yeah, those tubs in the basement? We got ’em.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Right? Because they CRY I tell you. Thing 1 actually had a little Jessie doll she took EVERYWHERE for a few years. Now it just sits there gathering dust high on a bookshelf. And guess what Thing 1’s name is? EMILY – just like Jessie’s owner!! “When somebody loved me……” WAhhhhh!!ReplyCancel

  • Christine C. Moore - I tell my kids I found good homes for all their toys. 😉ReplyCancel

  • Peanutlayne - Yes to all of these! I’m also a mom to a teenager. My oldest will be 16 in a few weeks. Excuse me while I go vomit!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - It’s tough to grasp, isn’t it? But when reading through these things, aren’t you a little glad some of them are over??!ReplyCancel

  • RachRiot - Polly Pockets clothes are the bane of my existence. I finally threw them all away and wrapped that b*tch in a piece of colored masking tape. That is what she’s wearing for the rest of her life. Deal with it.ReplyCancel

  • Kara - Awesome. Simply awesome.


  • lilshrimpit - Benadryl in the bottle…my mom did that and is so proud of it.ReplyCancel

  • Kurt - When Kamea was still in a stroller and then still young enough to hold his hand and he’d follow along…I would take him to the mall and when he would start to whine and want to leave (he is a boy and still doesn’t like shopping) I would repeat over and over again “I wonder if the elevator is over here”. And then I would say “I wonder if the elevator is by the shoe department”. I could keep shopping for hours doing this. Until he finally realized the trick and could answer back and tell me where the elevator actually is. But, I could enjoy the thought that I tricked him for years and enjoyed my shopping time.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Playing tricks on your children is always fun, isn’t it “KURT”?? 😉ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - • By the time your child is three, you will seriously question Margaret Wise Brown’s sobriety.
    LOVE it!!!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Good lord, am I right? That woman had to have been on some serious sh*t while writing The Runaway Bunny.ReplyCancel

  • MKE gal - Never share any personal story as a “don’t learn the hard way like I did” lesson with your teen. They will rub it in your face and possibly even share the story with Grandma, who still thinks you were an angel.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Oh, that’s a good one! True stuff. The “do as I say not as I did” parenting method is best.ReplyCancel

  • takeitfrommeg - Do not teach your son to pee standing up and he will never have a toilet seat argument. Unless it’s with his father.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - A wise lesson, indeed! You will make your future daughter in law so happy.ReplyCancel

    • takeitfrommeg - I hope so! I taught my 11yo to wash the floor the other day telling him his future wife will be very pleased.ReplyCancel

  • momofRR - We only play candyland with the double color cards (3 and 4 year old boys). It is a quick and painless game…they will be so pissed when they play at some kids house with single colors and that damn gingerbread man that makes you go back to the start!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Smart! We also used to stack the deck in our preschoolers favor so she’d get to the end faster. Also “lost” all the cards that sent you back to the beginning. No one’s got time for that.ReplyCancel

  • toulouse - Candyland is the devil’s work. And so is Chutes and Ladders!
    I’m an old mom of young kids and I’m so so tired. I wish I’d had these tips sooner so thanks. But mostly thanks for the laughs!

  • toulouse - Candyland is the devil’s work. And so is Chutes and Ladders!
    I’m an old mom of young kids and I’m so so tired. I wish I’d had these tips sooner so thanks. But mostly thanks for the laughs!

  • Ksquared - The little people in our candyland game went on “vacation” and until they return we just can’t play! Also, as the parent of a 5 1/2 year old I have learned I will never watch a movie all the way through without her asking “what are they doing? Why did that happen” and so on…I feel like Disney ought to include a question and answer sheet with their DVDs.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Ha! That is a trademark idea! Any time we played a board game, the game pieces had to have conversations with each other and chase each other and play with each other – even if they were just colored pieces of wood. Drove us crazy. Ahh…good times. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • B - Never look a child mid-tantrum in the eye, it’s like making eye contact with the devil. It only fans the flames.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - I think that rule applies for the mama, too!ReplyCancel

    • Ksquared - I made the mistake of busting into laughter during a meltdown, she was just so funny looking flopping all over. WORST.MISTAKE.EVER.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - I have 4 daughters (my oldest was a month short of 5yrs old when my youngest was born). I lived in naked Barbie, tiny sharp stuff, crap-tastic furniture hell forevahhhhh.
    I have one tip for you. If you have more young children than you can carry at once, DO NOT attempt to use an escalator (no matter how fun your children think it looks). You will NOT make it to the top and/or bottom with dignity.ReplyCancel

  • rugrat1411 - I can relate to the last part of your post, I have an 18 and 23 year old. When they want me in their room to sit and talk I always go regardless of what I might have been doing because it doesn’t happen that often. I tell people all the time hold and love them close as long as you can because time flies way to fast. Just found your blog today, love it and signed up for email updates, thanks for the laughs…ReplyCancel

  • Angela - What a great list! I found you on topmommyblogs. I have two little girls, 4 and 1, who like your older ones are best friends my oldest tells me. I hope it stays that way. It’s great to find someone that’s been there/done that. These early years are CRAZY as my blog stories sometimes show. But as crazy as it is it does fly way too fast. I can see that already. I love forward reading more posts.ReplyCancel

  • Darcy Perdu - So funny! My favorite: “Playing Candyland with a pre-schooler for 30 minutes is worse than spending an entire day at Six Flags with a tequila hangover.” Amen, sister!

  • Parri (Her Royal Thighness) - This is some seriously funny stuff, Michelle. I’m so glad I finally had the time to wander over to your blog! My kid’s 18 now, and I could totally relate to the entire list … especially the part about “No matter how much money you spend at Gymboree or GapKids, your child will choose the crappy shirt from Target with the peeling Little Mermaid decal” … and the tip to keep them IN diapers as long as humanly possible. GREAT BLOG!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - I think the same rule applies to toys, too. Buy the $100 American Girl doll and they’ll choose the dollar bin barbie every time! Thanks for reading and for the nice comment! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Brandi Lucas - Love itReplyCancel

  • Amber Splittstoesser - So funny! So true!ReplyCancel

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