For a well-balanced life, I find it helpful to have certain types of friends. Responsible friends to keep me grounded, religious friends to remind me to pray, active friends to get me off my ass, and stylish friends to keep me out of mom jeans. Basically, I like to surround with people who have their shit together, as I often do not.
Now that I’m a mom, one of the most valuable friends is the mom with older kids. I have a very close friend who has been this to me from the beginning of my mom journey. We met in college, and she’s still a fantastic drinking buddy. She sent me a nice long list of baby stuff I needed and baby stuff that was a waste of money when I was pregnant with my oldest. She told me not to buy a highchair (waste of space, get a booster seat instead so your baby can sit at the table) and to invest in a good breast pump. She gave me maternity clothes.
This friend has given me suggestions about feeding solids, which diapers to use, potty training, transitioning to a big kid bed, how to handle my boy being picked on, and most recently, suggestions on my kindergartner buying hot lunch at school. Since she has both a son and a daughter, she kicks us her kids’ hand-me-downs. Listen up, people! I can not stress this enough. Having a friend with older kids is worth it just for the hand-me-downs.
If you are a mom, or an expectant mom, and you have not yet identified this important friend in your life, begin this search immediately. You’ll want to make sure her parenting style is similar to yours. I couldn’t ask for school lunch suggestions from a mom who is still cutting up her five year old’s grapes any more than someone who forbids television would want my thoughts on flying with kids. Internet searches can yield tons of information, but tips from a friend – someone who knows your kid – can be so much more valuable.
When looking for that mom with older kids to drain of her parenting knowledge, don’t overlook the original. If you are blessed to have your mother still with you, listen to her advice. If you are also blessed to have a mother that only gives advice when asked, then ask, fool! I am lucky enough to have both a mother and mother-in-law who (mostly) hold their tongues unless I ask for advice, so I have to pick their brains from time to time. I know a few things have changed in the past 30 plus years, but many parenting fundamentals are timeless.
The best advice I’ve received from that generation is, “Don’t wish the time away.” I was complaining about one of the million things that made me say, “I can’t wait until he can walk (talk, sleep through the night, tell me how much he appreciates my sacrifices, drive me home from wedding receptions so I can celebrate properly, etc)” and I was reminded gently to enjoy my children as they are. It really changed my perspective, and I hope I can always remember to heed that advice.
I have several friends with big kids that I hit up for free advice. I don’t worry about sounding like an idiot, since they already know how much of a dipshit I can be. I have friends and family members whose parenting I admire, and it would be silly to not take advantage of that. As my kids get older, I am becoming the mom with big kids. I like it. As you may have noticed, I love to give my opinion on just about anything, so I am happy to do my part and pay that advice forward.