Everything I Want to Teach My Baby As They Grow Up

Dear Baby,

I hope to watch you grow up,

Find your passions,

Have adventure,

Fall in love,

Start a family

My list could go on forever, however all of these goals for a child are abstract in a way. You can’t work on these the way you work on riding a bike. Instead, you need to work on building up your child so they can accomplish all they want to in life.

While I will always be their mom and they will always be my babies, I want for them to one day leave the nest and soar on their own. Therefore, I have made a bucket list of what I want to do for my children.

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Teach them how to achieve their dreams

When you first welcome your baby into this world you have no idea what their dreams, passions and ambitions are going to be. But you can give them tools and skills that will allow them to achieve their goals no matter what they are.

While it’s a very trending word right now, grit is something that is important when you are raising kids. Grit is what people have who find ways to persevere through any obstacle or hurdle. While being smart and having a high IQ is a big plus in life, it might not actually predict a child’s success. In fact, those who work hard and are praised for that usually end up achieving more, which brings me back to grit. How can you teach grit?

Take every opportunity to learn something new at every age

The best thing I learned as a child that gave me grit was learning to learn. The process of learning something new requires feeling uncomfortable as you get your feet wet. It requires failure. My favorite saying is FAIL, which stands for first attempt in learning. I like it because it teaches you that failure is a required and necessary part of learning.

In order to get good at learning to learn, you have to practice. One way to do this is to try to find a way for your child to learn something completely new at every age. Throw them into a new environment. Try a summer camp to learn a new sport or skill. Have them be the new kid and learn to make new friends. Just find ways to get them out of their comfort zone.

Once out of their comfort zone, encourage them so that they succeed. The more often they overcome obstacles and succeed, the more confidence they will have when faced with challenges. You are ultimately giving kids a growth mindset.

Knowing when to quit and when not to quit

Grit means you don’t quit and instead persevere. However, there is a catch. You should quit when it isn’t in your best interest. Part of grit is knowing when to quit one pathway and start to forge another. Making smart decisions is a great skill and one that kids will rely on and use their whole life.

That being said, I want to try to encourage my kids to finish everything they start. Even if they hate soccer, I want them to finish the season. Not only will this build their ability to persevere but also it will make them think twice before starting something. I want my kids to try new things but also know that it is a commitment.

On the flip side, I want them to understand that if something isn’t going well, then they should consider that there might be another way to achieve a goal. Let’s say their goal is to be a better soccer player, so they decide to also do track to work on their endurance. However, let’s say track isn’t going well for whatever reason. I would be fine with them quitting if we find another way to reach that goal. For example, maybe it was too much of a time commitment in the spring, so we sign up for cross country in the fall instead. Or maybe running in the morning more casually with a parent is an option.

Basically, I want them to learn that there is a difference between quitting a route to achieve a goal and giving up on the goal itself. If they learn that, their mindset will be different. They will try to find other options instead of feeling they need to give up on the goal if they don’t like their current situation.

Praise hard work and drive

Kids tend to believe what you tell them. My mom used to always say I never needed to push you, you always did that to yourself. She would also say, if I wanted to accomplish anything, I always knew you could do it.

Therefore, I tended to believe this. I remember gaining a lot of my self confidence as a child in the fact that if my mom said it about me then it must be true. If you praise their hard work and tell them they are hard workers, then they will start to believe it.

Teach them how to take care of themselves

As my child grows, it is almost bittersweet. While I want them to grow up and become independent, it is hard for me because I will never have that baby, toddler or kid again. Some say motherhood is learning to let go.

So the best thing I can do, besides try to enjoy every year as much as I can, is to teach them how to take care of themselves. Be independent and live healthy meaningful life.

How to take care of their skin

Probably not what you first think of, but so important. My goal is that my kids never get a sunburn. I put sunblock (I only use Blue Lizard) on them every single morning and reapply it. I have them wear hats whenever they are out and about.

Why? Because a sunburn that blisters before the age of 10 heightens their chances of skin cancer when they are older. Another major bonus, 80% of skin aging is caused by UV from the sun so if you take measures now to protect their skin, they will have healthy glowing skin for a long time.

How to cook

I never took an interest in cooking as a kid and boy did I pay for that one when I went away to college. Making my own meals was a big learning curve. It took me years to learn how to shop, prep and cook healthy meals. And I feel like I am still learning. But eating healthy is such an important life skill.

I not only want to teach my kids to cook but also give them a cookbook of our family recipes. So, one of my goals over the years is to actually make a family cookbook that I can get printed and give to each kid.

I am trying to find ways to include kids in making meals. Here are my favorite ways. For toddlers, use a learning tower and let them watch and help. Mixing is usually the favorite activity for little ones. When they are bigger, once a week put them in charge of a meal with your help of course. Have them pick out what they want to cook, make the grocery list for their meal, shop with you and then help cook it.

Another awesome way to get kids excited about healthy foods is to join a local farm share. Try to find one that also has a pick-your-own section. We started this a few years ago and my child will eat anything we pick, but won’t touch the same foods at home.

How to be financially savvy

I love the idea of an allowance and piggy bank but in today’s world, you need to teach and do more for your child if you want them to really understand finances. Start by opening a 529 account, it allows you to save for their college. A 529 account allows your money to grow tax free and can be used on education. You can use this account as an example of investments work.

Have them help once they are older with keeping a budget. The ability to budget can protect them from going into a lot of debt. It will teach them so much more about how money works than just an allowance. Additionally, kids will learn just how expensive real life is. This is beneficial at a young age because it can motivate kids to stay in school and work harder.

Get them a credit card when they are 15. I am SERIOUS. If they want to establish credit, then they need a credit card. They need credit if they ever want to get a loan for a house. Once you get older, it gets harder to establish credit and get a credit card.

How to manage stress and emotions

Some days I seriously wish my biggest worries were what snack did I get in my lunch or if tomorrow would be a snow day. Being an adult can suck a LOT sometimes. I feel like I am constantly juggling so many hats as mom, wife, housekeeper, cook, and career woman. With that, it is so important to manage your stress in order to be good at any of those things and also to be happy.

Over the years, toddlers have taught me a lot about addressing my emotions. I try really hard to have healthy ways to relieve feelings and stress. If I had been doing this since being a child, I would be much better at it, so I want to try to help my kids as much as possible in this area.

My favorite book for this is Brain Rules for Baby (for kids 0-5). And honestly, it helped me too. What I love most about this book is that in the back there is a chart broken down by age. The chart gives you responses to use for different situations to help strengthen their ability to manage emotions and use logic.

How to clean, declutter, and organize

I think there is a difference between chores and knowing how to keep things clean. By teaching how to keep things organized, clean and tidy, you can save your child a big learning curve later in life. When I became a mom, I wished I had more housekeeping skills. Honestly, these are the type of things that are underrated.

Allow them to help with cleaning projects such as decluttering, deep cleaning or organizing. They are learning a valuable skill, spending time with you, and contributing to the family. It is really important for kids to feel part of the family.

How to pick a wardrobe and put together an outfit

Depending on the type of child you have, this will either seem silly or very necessary. I feel like it took me way too long to learn how to dress myself well. Learning how to put together an outfit or even a whole wardrobe that you actually like is a skill. A skill I didn’t possess naturally, but my sister does.

Since I would have really liked to have had this skill, I want to help my kids develop it. My main reason behind it is because when I do like my outfits and feel put together, my self-confidence skyrockets. And who doesn’t want self-confidence for their kids? I also think helping them find their style, helps them find a little more about who they are.

I firmly believe everyone should be no one but themselves. I want my kids to find out who they are, love who they are and embrace it. And I think knowing how to put together a wardrobe can allow them to do that and dress for success.

Teach them about relationships

I cannot fathom a greater gift to give to your children than the gift of having better relationships. I am not just talking about with their future other half. I am talking about all relationships. Better relationships with you, their parents, their friends, mentors and even their own children one day. As I get older, I find again and again that it’s the people and the experiences in life that make life worth living. Therefore, anything I can do to help my kids create healthier and more fulfilling relationships is a must.

Date them

I got this advice when I randomly met a mom on a walk who had twins. I asked what it was like to have twins. They were toddlers and she told me, they were an absolute nightmare when around her. They would whine, cling and cry. She felt like the only thing she wanted to do when with them was to run away so she went and saw a psychologist. The psychologist told her that their behavior was because they really needed one-on-one time with mom. As twins, they never got mom’s undivided attention.

I, of course went home and searched the internet to find out more about this because if it changed this mom’s life, then it had to be something worth trying. And in fact, there are an overwhelming number of reasons to spend one-on-one time with each child. And each parent (not just mom) should do it. This is because it allows a relationship to grow between two people without the dependence of a third person.

I know a lot of households where once grown up, the kids can’t hold a conversation well with dad. The main reason is they didn’t get one-on-one time to develop a relationship with that person. Usually since mom is around the house more, it becomes mom. Learning to build relationships with each family member is the foundation kids need to have healthy relationships as adults. Not to mention that having solid family relationships will make your child happier and more whole in the long run.

Read to them every night

Traditions count a lot in childhood. They are the staple of their memories from childhood. In fact, I have written a whole post just on all the different ways to create intentional memories for your kids.

One of the traditions I want to do is to read to them before bed every night. It allows me to end the night curled up with them. It also allows us to learn and discover and go on adventures together. I think that this is one way to make sure you stay close to your kids as they grow up and schedules get busier and busier.

Fight and find resolution in front of them

Arguments between you and your other half will happen, and sometimes it will happen in front of your kids. The good news is that it’s healthy for kids to see that people in relationships don’t always see eye to eye. However, it is also important that they see how conflict is resolved.

A lot of kids have a fear that their parents will divorce. Showing that you both found a way to work through an argument allows kids to better understand relationships. Kids will lean on these skills when they enter relationships. This means you should be careful how you fight.

How to fix mistakes by saying MORE than I’m sorry

Everyone makes mistakes. In addition to learning to say I’m sorry, give kids tools to try to correct an error. For example, it can be as simple as when a kid pushes another kid, you could say:

It looks like he might be hurt. Maybe you could ask if he is alright and offer to get a bandage. I know you were just frustrated and didn’t mean to, so it might be a good idea to also say I’m sorry.

By offering a bandage and following up with the other child, you are teaching them how to take responsibility for their actions.

These simple exercises will go a long way in helping them with their own more complex relationships as they become adults. Additionally, if you approach the conflict they have in their childhood relationships in this manner, then you have become a sound board for your child and they will come to you for advice on how to handle tough situations.

How to be grateful

I have learned through my own life that I feel most grateful when I am giving. Even as a kid, I can remember when I gave and how much more meaningful to me that was than getting. Find ways to allow your child to give. Get them involved in volunteering at a local animal shelter or zoo.

Another awesome idea is to be a Santa for another family and have your kids help with the shopping, wrapping and delivery. My friend also gave me another idea which was to have your child be a “Santa”. This means that once they get old enough, allow them to become a “Santa”.

They then get to choose someone they think needs something and what they want to give to them. The catch is they need to do this anonymously. Once they pick the person, you help them get the gift and deliver it to the person anonymously. It is fun because kids love secrets and also teaches a valuable lesson in that giving can be rewarding even without the credit.

Another classic tradition is to give on Thanksgiving Day and make that part of your tradition.

How to be social (make friends)

You need to be able to make friends throughout life. Friends come and go. And while there is a special spot in my heart for my oldest childhood friend, making friends is a skill that can really change your life.

If my child never goes to a new school and is the “new” kid, then I plan on putting them in situations where they can be the “new” kid. This can be anything from a new dance class to summer camps. I need to know that my children are working on this skill every year.

I was the new kid a lot since my dad was in the Navy, and let me tell you I hated that first day of school. However, it taught me an amazing skill. I can strike up a conversation with anyone. I have absolutely zero shyness when it comes to meeting new people. I also can make friends very quickly.

The world is full of so many interesting and wonderful people, I hope my child gets to meet as many as they can.

There are many ways to love

Learning and using different love languages won’t just help your kids out, but will also help your relationship with your other half. Coined by Dr. Gary Chapman, there are 5 main love languages. They are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. Spend some time learning each child’s love language. It will speak volumes more to them.

Additionally, teach them that there are many different ways to show love. Allow and encourage them to practice them because giving love is just as fulfilling as receiving love.

Give them what you wish you had a child

Does this mean I won’t follow their interests? Not at all.

I know that you should never live through your child. But I think there is a difference in wanting them to fulfill your unaccomplished dreams and giving them the opportunities you never had. These are the opportunities I want my kids to have. If they decide they have no interest in these things once they grow up, then that is fine.

A second language

I have studied abroad both in Germany and Spain. If I have learned anything from these experiences, it is how important learning a second language as a child is. Teaching a child a second language allows them to talk to so many more people. It allows them to have experiences otherwise impossible to them.

The world is a wonderful place to explore and the gift of a second language will make those adventures that much richer. I know it is hard to find ways to teach a second language if you don’t speak one. However, if there is a will there is a way. Start by picking babysitters who speak in the desired language natively. You may also be able to opt for a school with a language focus.

No effort is wasted. No matter how little of a language your child learns, you are giving them a stepping stone to master the language in the future if they so desire.

A programming language

I didn’t have this opportunity simply because of the generation I was born in. However, technology and computers are a way of life and will be for my kids. Programming is like any other language and is best learned as a child. By learning a programming language as a child, you give your child the gift of easily learning computer languages in the future.

If my child decides to do nothing with computers for a career, then that is fine by me. However, if they do, then I will have given them the tools they need to succeed. I want my kids to be able to follow their passions and that means to give them every advantage possible to follow those dreams.

A musical instrument

I learned piano as a kid but like most kids, I only took piano for a few years. I then told my parents I wanted to quit and never played again. I highly regret that decision. I also didn’t understand my decision because I was a kid and didn’t see the value of learning the piano. I envy people who can play instruments. I wish I could get lost in creating music. And maybe one day, I will have time again to try to learn, but until then I want to give my kids the gift.

I want my kids to learn a musical instrument. They can quit when they leave for college. There is no quitting before then because when you are a child, you can learn. As an adult, you can still learn but nothing like how a child can learn. A child’s brain is just built to excel exponentially at music.

Teach a sport that they can play their whole life

I did a lot of sports as a child and I loved them all. However, now as an adult I can’t do a lot of them. Not only am I getting old but also it’s just hard to find a place. For instance, I loved ballet but taking classes as an adult is not the same. I also loved team sports but with a busy parent life, finding time and teams is too much.

Therefore, I want my kids to be sure to learn a sport that they can do well into old age. One that you can do with just another person and is quite common. The one that I think fits the bill well is tennis. Tennis will be one of the sports that we do as a family. They can do other ones also, but everyone in our family will learn tennis. This way, they can all play a sport together for life. As I child, I wouldn’t have valued this reason, so I hope that they appreciate it later.

How to take photographs

This might seem quite random, but I think this is a wonderful skill to learn. Learning to take photos is an artform in and of itself. I wish that I was able to take better photos because getting professional photos is so expensive. Additionally, I think the best photos aren’t staged. They are candid. I want to capture the pure personalities of my children. I want to get great photos of everyday life with my kids.

This is a skill I now value but had no idea how wonderful and valuable it would be to me as an adult. And again, like most things you want to learn as an adult, I have very little time to spend learning photography. Who knows, maybe one of your kids will become a photographer?

Wholeness instead of happiness

The last thing I want my kids to learn is that while I want them to be happy, it isn’t a permanent state. Wholeness is a permanent state. I want them to strive for wholeness. I want them to know that if they aren’t happy, that other emotions are okay. I want them to know that no matter what they feel, I love them. I want them to feel complete. I want them to strive for wholeness.

Pursue your children Today.

As my children age, I realize that no one is going to make these things happen unless I am intentional about it. I always talk about everything I hope my children will have or become. It is so much harder to work at it every day to make those things a reality. It takes crawling out of your comfort zone. It takes planning and it takes commitment.

Start today by just picking a few goals you have for your children and then working backwards on what you can do right now to help them achieve it. Your children will never forget your effort, time and dedication. I promise you can’t go wrong on pursuing your children.

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