I thought I was being clever when I sat down with Edie, days before her 4th birthday, and asked if she’d like to look at birthday cake ideas on Pinterest with me. I was wrong, this was a bad idea. The first photo to catch her eye was a 6-tiered, rainbow-colored, fondant-wrapped cake with swarms of candied butterflies floating across it. My stubborn little 4-year-old became committed to this idea of a “rainbow butterfly cake” and no other suggestions would do. This is parenting: with the best of intention, we often end up cornering ourselves with more work than necessary.
Parenting Tips I Actually Wish People Told Me Before Having Kids
When Brett and I brought Edie home from the hospital, we were in a 2-bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto. On the 18th floor of this apartment building that my internally-optimist hubby considered “full of character”. Now, being on the 18th floor with a baby and stroller meant you were at the mercy of the elevators. If I had to do laundry, run errands or I just wanted to go for a walk, I waited for that elevator. I hated that elevator.
The mysterious odor was one thing, but it was the forced company during those sleepless, brand new parent weeks that made the giant vein in my forehead throb. Everyone has an opinion on parenting, even those without kids will tell you about their cousin’s kid. “You should breastfeed as long as you can.”, “Don’t let them sleep in your bed.”, “Enjoy every moment, it goes so fast.” Let me tell you, when you haven’t slept in 6 weeks, it doesn’t go fast enough. I started to hate riding that damn elevator.
Welcome or not, there is nothing wrong with a little advice when you are beginning this giant chapter in your life. However, 4 years and 2 babies later, I can’t help but to look back and wish there was less talk about my breasts and more realistic insight on what to expect from the land o’ baby. Here are a few tips that I actually wish people told me before having kids and what I’d like to pass on to new and future parents now:
- You are going to change your mind about A LOT of stuff. Oh no, not you! Your kids will never eating McDonald’s and will only watch a minimal amount of the most educational television. Sorry, but everything you think you know before kids changes. Parenting is all about choosing your battles. Your kids are going to challenge you on everything, it’s up to you to communicate wise choices and your desires and just find that healthy balance and moderation that makes you all survive the day.
- There will be times that you don’t like your kids. Just because they’re yours doesn’t make them less frustrating. Actually, it can make their actions that much more frustrating. Your kids spend a lot of time with you and they learn how to push your buttons, there will be days when there are no more buttons to push and you’ve reached your limit. It doesn’t make you a bad parent to need a break from your kids every now and again.
- Rely on your partner and your support team. Seems obvious but this was actually one of my greatest learning curves in becoming a parent. For a very long time I took care of myself and enjoyed being very independent. In those early days of being a family, I had a hard time even justifying a hot shower while Brett watched the baby. I felt like I had to do everything and be apart of every moment if I was going to be a “great mother”. Learn to let others help. If you have a support team in place, take advantage of it. Pace yourself and you will be a better parent for it. Having kids has taught me that it’s OK to ask for help, you don’t need to do it all on your own.
- A happy mom, is a happy home. Make decisions based on your own needs as well as your families needs. When children are born men tend to instinctively want to provide for their family; they start shifting funds into RSPs, taking on extra work, building financial portfolios, etc.. Women start self-sacrificing, compromising themselves for what they think is “best for the family”. There is no right or wrong, what makes you happy will make the whole family happy. Don’t give too much up in those early years.
- Trust your instincts. After 2 all-natural births, I can tell you that the female mind and body are capable of incredible things. You were born from hundreds of years of parenting history, listen to your instincts, there is already a vast amount of parenting know-how available in you.
- You never stop learning. These little minds develop quickly. Every day seems to offer a new challenge and new parenting decisions to be made. For example, when you think reviewing Pinterest with your daughter could be a fun bonding experience of brainstorm cakes together and you end up sentencing yourself to creating an elaborate multi-coloured birthday cake. Learn from these experiences. 🙂
For the cake batter, I simply baked my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe (from the post Punk Rock Cupcakes) in three 6-inch cake pans.
Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
Note: Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins). If you would like to make a layer cake instead of cupcakes, divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans or three 6-inch cake pans and bake the layers for 30-40 minutes.
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over-beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
- Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
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