I’m a single parent. That usually doesn’t make a difference until you’re traveling, enrolling at a private school, or applying for extra leave credits (and/or tax status, which isn’t much, I tell you). Other than that, practical parenting is pretty much a standard discipline that applies to all kinds of people.
When I had M, I had lots of help from my mom (yey for family support groups!). Some tips may be old fashioned, but they worked. Others needed some updating.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned as a first-time parent, is that you must always have wet wipes handy. That, and these 7 other things:
(But please, the list isn’t comprehensive so by all means, add yours)
- Ziploc bags are your best friends. You never know when you need snacks to entertain a toddler, or pack away really messy stuff. Don’t ask me what they could be.
- Cute printed bandages. Just make sure you don’t use them more than your kid would.
- Other than wet wipes, always have alcohol in your bag. No matter how big or small your handbag is, when you’re with a kid, these 2 things are your savior.
- Pens and papers. Glitter glue, if you have room to spare and if you have a girl. Just anything that can entertain when you’re chatting with friends over dinner, or waiting for your doctor’s appointment. These have never failed me so far. Even Katie Holmes agrees with me.
- Cereals (in ziploc) and milk (in tetra paks). You spare yourself some guilt when there’s nothing to eat and fast food is the easiest way out.
- A really good and entertaining story, complete with voice modulations. Yes, practice your storytelling skills; you never know when it will come in handy.
- And an explanation for every “why?” question. Even if it seems existential or just plain silly, be ready for it.
However you think you’re not ready, when you’re already in that situation, you will know. Parenting isn’t for perfect people. It’s for perfecting people like you and me. I didn’t know what I was doing when I took M home from the hospital — sometimes now I still don’t. Trust your parenting instincts, and above all, pray and ask for wisdom. Nothing beats that tip.