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Top Mistakes Parents Make

10/05/2015 03:20 pm ET | Updated Oct 04, 2016
images by Tang Ming Tung via Getty Images

Parenting is a TOUGH gig! Are you making the top parenting mistakes??

NO matter how much you have dreamed and prayed and hoped for baby it is still a shock how much your life changes. Even getting a shower every day seems like a major accomplishment and in the earliest days even that doesn't happen. Remember make-up, time to put together outfits that look like you care about yourself? LOL! Neither does anyone else with an infant!

Fast forward a few years and now baby is mobile and has strong opinions! Toddler wigs out when the foods touch or the toast is "too brown" or "not brown enough." The cries of someone too tired or too hungry or just too... something makes you wonder if you will ever have peace and quiet again! We have all been there!

Your visions of dinners out and vacations evaporate. What happened to your life? What happened to your dreams of exploring and adventures? I remember feeling SO guilty at the time when I gazed down at my infant and wondered, "What have I done?" after so many days without sleep or adult conversation or even a shower. LOL! Now I know that happens to everyone!

The worst was my fear of never exploring again. Would I ever get to travel again? When just getting a shower and matching shoes on each day seemed out of reach ( not really -- who wears shoes when you never even get to leave the house??) then my days of dinners out, vacations in exotic locations and daily workouts sadly seemed to vanish.

But I was wrong and if you are feeling the same way -- FEAR NOT! I've taken kids to fancy quiet restaurants all over the world like Denver's famous Sushi Den and so can you. We not only have great meals but our kids enjoy it, too.

The time to take your kids out and about is NOW. You can teach your kids proper public behavior that will make your mother-in-law proud in a simple and painless way. ENJOY your diners out! But don't make these common mistakes!

Top mistakes parents make:

1.Taking a hungry child... anywhere.

Seriously -- hungry child on an outing = disaster! Don't you get crabby when you are hungry? Of course you do! But, you are an adult and can control yourself and your environment by waiting or getting a snack! Children have no such control and worse... have no self control about letting you AND everyone else around them know they are hungry! Snickers created an entire commercial campaign about this very thing in adults. Why should we expect kids to be happy and patient when they are hungry?

2) Taking a sleepy child... . anywhere.

Do NOT skip nap time! All the books say to get kiddo used to sleeping in more than one spot and I absolutely agree. As soon as baby arrives start having them sleep in the bouncy chair or bassinet or car seat or stroller or baby bjorn. The advice you'll read in books talks about routine -- same bed, same bedtime story, same time, same place, same pjs, etc., but honestly that only works for people who have nannies -- who can stay at home every single time kiddo needs to sleep? You can not sit in your house at the exact time for nap or bedtime for the next several years (more if you have more than one child) unless you want to die of boredom and feel like your life is over! Kids can adapt to moving around better than you can adapt to sitting in your house for the next five years.

True story: A friend, who shall remain nameless, had her adorable baby on the perfect schedule -- always the same time, the same routine, the same bedtime story and song and baby slept like a dream. Then, my friend decided when the baby was about 9 months they were ready to go on a trip! They packed up kiddo and stuff and off they went. The kid WOULD. NOT. SLEEP. After too many hours in a row of toddler screaming bloody murder and no fun/sleep/peace... they headed back home. Toddler screamed the entire way and did not sleep ONE. SINGLE. WINK. till home in her own bed.

Note to self: Perfect routines aren't always what they are cracked up to be.

3) Taking a bored child... anywhere.

Young children and even older children do not find sitting at a restaurant relaxing or fun or interesting. Remember Chuck E Cheese was designed for them -- anything else is boring. Bored kids act up! Bored kid = headaches for grown ups!

How to enjoy dinners with your kid!

Step number one:

Feed a hungry kid.

Firstly, my apologies to every grandmother out there who thinks that children need to wait for dinner and eat with everyone else, but if you want to have a nice peaceful dinner at a restaurant you need to make sure kiddo is not hungry when you arrive. I know that sounds counter to the concept of going to a restaurant -- you know being hungry to begin with- duh, but everyone knows that hungry kids do not wait well. Hungry grown ups don't either, but that is a whole different blog! LOL! Patience is a skill that comes with years and years of practice. Rome wasn't built in a day so why should this skill be one mastered at such a young age? Who cares if kiddo has a snack before dinner at a restaurant?

Step number two:

Start with a rested child.

Have sleepy child nap... wherever and whenever and however it works! With my oldest I had to sit with the car idling once I arrived at my destination because even turning the car off would wake her up -- and no, she would not go back to sleep. Other times I drove round and round and round the neighborhood so she would get a nap. We parents do whatever it takes! No judging from me on how kids naps -- just get it done!

Step number three:

Bring something to keep kiddo busy. Romantic notions of kids sitting and chatting about their day with you for an entire meal are straight out of movies... romantic movies that aren't REAL.

When our oldest was 2, the ONLY time she ever used crayons was at a restaurant. This made crayons amazing and fascinating magical tools! Wonderful! Dollar store coloring books and crayons had her happily coloring while hubby and I had a peaceful dinner -- as a family.

Busy activity suggestions for ages:

2-4 years old

crayons, play doh, sewing cards, stickers

5-7 years old

mazes, search and find books, scissor practice, pipe cleaners

8-10 years old

story books, blank books for doodling, zentangle,

I eat at nice restaurants with my kids and you can, too.