After having four kids, there are some things that we realized we should have started at an early age, or we were really thankful that we did start early. Naturally, we are still learning, and I am sure this post will continue to evolve. Kids thrive off of routine and schedule. So, starting some things early gives them a strong foundation to build on. What’s the saying? Plant the seed……
- Eating different foods- Now with one of ours, we had food issues, so this was not an option and sometimes that is the case. But with our others, we really wish we had introduced more and stuck to it. We actually have a kid that does not like macaroni and cheese!?! Kids are picky in general and never want to try anything. So, this tends to be a battle. But try things early! Let them try the asparagus, introduce the fish, and give them a bit of everything you eat (within reason of course). Cooking separate meals for kids or threatening that they cannot leave the table is never fun!
- Eating at the table or out- If you want to have family time around your table at night or you want to eat out with your kids, start it early. If you start kids eating in the living room in front of the tv, they will always want that. If you don’t take them out to eat when they are young, they won’t know how to act in public when you do take them out.
- Drinking water- Give your kids water. Of course, our kids have juice and an occasional treat soda but, boy do I wish I gave them more water when they were younger. They drink it but some days it is a challenge. If you start it when they are young, it becomes a part of everyday life. Such a good habit!
- Car rides- We had a baby during Covid and after a year we realized he hated the car. Why? Well, he had only been to the doctor and a couple other random places in his whole first year of life. He was not used to being strapped in a seat and feeling the motion under him. Most kids love that vibration and fall right asleep. Not him. It was miserable. Every. Single. Trip. So even if you just ride around your neighborhood, take your little for car rides. Get them used to being strapped in and various lengths of car rides.
- Travel- We are so thankful that we always traveled with our kids from a young age. All of them. Camping, plane rides, bus rides, train rides, car rides, or cruises, we never said we can’t do that. When kids travel from a young age you get to experience things through their eyes, and they understand that there is a big world out there for them to explore. It also helps them adapt to general travel so when you go on trips, it’s less stressful for you.
- Chores- Finally, after 11 years, we realized that we should have started chores much sooner. Not only so they can earn their own money or help out, but it really is a responsibility thing. Teaching them to help out and clean up, is teaching them that life is not all fun and games. Just make your chore charts age appropriate. Even younger kids can make a bed or pick up their toys.
- Money- Now I am not talking about getting them books on managing their finances at 10 but, teach your kids about money early. Our 11-year-old knows the difference between a debit card and credit card. He knows how to walk in a gas station and buy a candy bar using his debit card. There are some great programs and cards out there that help kids manage money. You can even use parental controls on many of them. Let them swipe their card one time and get declined. They learn quickly. With littles, teach them that it takes money to buy things. Get them a piggy bank and let them save their money to buy something they really want.
- Reading- We read to our first son every night for the first years of his life. He loved books and then he got to an age where he could read himself. He then hated reading. So, we realized that while reading to him was great and had so many pros, it didn’t make him love reading. When he got to an age where he could read himself, we should have made the time in his schedule for him to read weekly. We should have bought more books that he would like, at each age level. When your little starts reading on their own, capture the moment. Buy the fun books, make the cozy reading space, and set aside the time in their schedule.
- Negative Emotions- Recently, we had an experience with our son getting very angry for the first time. He was very confused by it because he is a gentle soul. It dawned on me that we had never really explained negative emotions to him and that it’s okay to have them. The feeling of being sad, angry, scared, and anxious are often not talked about or hidden by adults. Take the time to explain that feeling all emotions, at different points in life, is a normal thing.
- Swimming- Please, please, please teach your kids to swim or water safety and at an early age. Literally, the earlier the better. Kids tend to have no fear, horse around, and try new things. When that happens around water, you want them to know how to float, or swim, or get on their feet. Little kids often don’t realize they won’t just float around the pool when they don’t have their cute little floaties on. Even if you can’t swim, have someone teach them. And you.
- Personal Hygiene- We all know kids need to brush their teeth and wash their hands (often). I am more so speaking of the correct way to wash their hands, brush their teeth, and bathe. I was recently reminded of this when my son came home and told me that they had to separate the boys and girls at school to have talks on how to stay clean. Teach your kids to clean all their cracks, brush until the light goes off, and wash their hands until the ABC song is over. If they adopt this early, there are SO many pros that come with it.
- Emergency Plans- This is one I didn’t think much about until our first son was in scouts. It is an important one. Teach your kids a fire route out of your house, how to call 911, and the basics about what to do if an emergency should happen. Along with this, goes your phone number. The earlier they know this, the better.
- Gun Safety- Now I know this is controversial but, at least the basics. There are play dates, sleep overs, and times when you never know if a gun is present. You may not have one but the house they are at might. Just make sure your child knows what to do if they have a gun sitting in front of them. You could save a life.
Most of all, teach your kids to be kind. Teach them the golden rule. Treat others as you want to be treated.
Hopefully, you find some of this helpful. I am sure this post will evolve over time, and I will keep adding to the list. Life is constantly teaching me with these four amazing kids.
Also be sure to check out my post on what you should think about if you are going to expand the family.
-Kristy M., Mommy To Many