Yesterday marked my daughter's 2nd birthday. I know it's cliche to say, but time truly has flown by. The first few months were rough, as you would expect. I honestly have never been great with kids. I barely babysat, I had no interest in children. D and I were married 7 years before I even got pregnant. He was a lot like me, not all that into kids (outside of our nieces and nephews) so we were woefully ill-prepared. That said, we're both competent adults so I figured we would figure it out. For the most part, that has been true so far.

Let me start by saying I have come to love parenting my little one. I kind of think of myself like Miranda from Sex and the City who says that the only kid she likes is her own. Don't get me wrong I love my nieces and nephews and my friends' kids, but I think I remain not a kid person. I look forward now to leaving work to play with her and to introduce her to things on the weekends. Actually, I am really pumped about summer to go swimming and the zoo. It's gonna be so fun!

I want to preface this with to some degree she has been a pretty easy kid. We didn't have too many issues with sleep, minimal food issues and she is generally a happy kid. We had our struggles like most people especially in the initial months but we have worked them out. I know other's have struggled with colic, other health issues or innate temperament concerns so I want to recognize at the outset these facts. 

Ok here goes, 5 things I have learned so far:

1. Love is patient, and sometimes it's not
I have never been one for patience. Even as a young person I was just constantly impatient, just wanting things done a certain way. You would think having a kid would make that worse. Somehow it didn't. Let's be clear there were times I had to scream into a pillow. That's the "not" part. But somehow a good chunk of the time when she is being impossible I can keep my cool. I think it comes from understanding child development. I can sometimes explain to myself why she would doing what she is doing. Understanding is the key to patience I have found. What also helps is a great partner who is ready to tap in when you need a break.

2. Make friends with other parents
So I don't want to be that jerk person who says people without kids don't "get it." I have friends without kids who are fabulous, supportive and flexible with us. I do remember pre-Reese there was only so much kid talk I could tolerate. Now, she is obviously a major part of my life and it's nice to have friends going through similar things. When I was pregnant a friend was also pregnant and we had due dates two weeks apart. When we found out we were both pregnant it was such a relief to know I wouldn't be going through it alone. It's been fun too to see our kids learning things at the same time. I like that I don't feel like I'm burdening them when we hang out in conversation or in the sheer volume of my daughter's screams.

3. Do your best to keep a structure, but be ok with flexibility
This I know more because of my knowledge of child development. Also, daycare really helped with this too. In newborn stages, this is darn near impossible so it's ok to start thinking about it but just know that it basically is not going to happen. My mom gave me a basic layout and I tried to start working towards that. It helped a lot to give me even the teeniest sense of control. It also helped in trying to plan my days, especially if I had to run out for appointments or errands. When we sent her to daycare they pretty much run the room on a schedule and we began to mirror that on weekends. We can generally play with the schedule a little, but we learned early to stick to it. You will always pay for it if you don't.

4. Find trusted, experienced people and stick to them
Look, there are god knows how many books about parenting and websites and guidebooks and mommy blogs. Everything thinks they are an expert on this parenting thing and there are 100 different strategies to teach your kid anything. We started by finding a trusted doctor. We picked a doctor with a lot of experience, as completely inexperienced people I wanted someone who knew what they were doing. I wanted someone assured of themselves and not an alarmist. We interviewed our doctor first and I knew he was the right fit. My friends and families pediatricians sometimes give different advice, but my doctor hasn't steered us wrong so I stick with him. I have been given several suggestions on how to enforce consequences and I tried a couple out. Turns out both I and Reese respond best to timeouts so that's what we do. That said I know people have had success with other strategies like Love and Logic. Do your research, find what works best for you and yours and stick with it.

5. Make time for yourself
Parenting can be all-consuming. Most of your day is around their schedule, their needs and enjoying your time with them. This is all fun and wonderful, also you are still a person. You're still someone with friends, a partner and other interests. I can see how easy it would be to drift away from these things, especially if you have more than one kid. D and I are very lucky to have a supportive family that can babysit when we need it. Literally, 1-2 times in the last two years we haven't been able to find a sitter when we wanted to. We have been able to keep up with a lot of things we typically like to do. Also, both D and I have hung out with friends or gone out of town without each other. I am a big believer if spending time for yourself so you can return to be better. I know it's hard and it's easy to say make time for yourself, but it's so critical. Being a parent is part of who you are now, not all of you who are. Show that to your kid too.

Those are some of my best tips. What about you? What have you learned about parenting, leave a comment below!