50 of Our All-Time Favorite Pieces of Parenting Advice

"Parenting advice" is a tricky term. It's something that some moms and dads seek out voraciously, while others insist upon steering clear. But when it's digested on your own terms, in your own time, hearing how other parents have survived and thrived in raising their families can be tremendously beneficial. These 50 nuggets of wisdom are full of positive, practical advice from moms who have been there, done that. No "breast is best!" or "cosleeping will ruin them!" here — this is a judgement-free and inclusive zone. What would you add to our master list?

  1. "No matter how many times I say 'no' throughout the day, I make sure I say 'I love you' even more."
  2. "Raise them with just enough dysfunction to make them funny."
  3. "Have inside jokes. When my daughter's dad drops her off at my house, as soon as the door closes, we break into a silly dance and sing "Girl time, girl time." We can hear him laughing from outside, and it always makes us laugh even more because it's our little joke."
  4. "Milk and cookies heal many injuries."
  5. "Take a picture every day, because they change by the day!"
  6. "Never say never. I had my children before a lot of my friends. Of course they judged me from their childless perspective: 'I would never do that, never say that,' etc., until one day it happened to them. Parenthood. You just don't know until you're in the thick of it."
  7. "I always strive to make our home a sanctuary for our family. Children need a place that they know will always be safe."
  8. "Ignore all the parenting books and 'professionals.' Listen to your mothering instincts. Do what works for you and your dynamic."
  9. "Be consistent."
  10. "To help with quick meal prep, Costco has the best rotisserie chickens that it debones and vacuum-packs. About four cups' worth of cooked/shredded chicken. I buy a bunch of packets and freeze them. Defrost in the morning. SO helpful for weeknight quick-and-easy meals for the family."
  11. "When on maternity leave, put on actual clothes, fix your hair, and put on some mascara as often as you can. It'll make you feel human again."
  12. "Spend more time playing and less time cleaning. Before you know it, this time in your life will be over."
  13. "Laugh! You'll miss those messes and fights one day."
  14. "Apologizing to your children doesn't make you look weak; it shows them that you practice what you preach."
  15. "Don't prepare the path for your child; prepare your child for the path."
  16. "I told my kids this as they were ready to become parents: 'I did my best as a parent. Use what you liked, and change what you didn't."
  17. "Celebrate the little victories. When I found out my son was autistic, I really took this advice to heart, and love every minute with him."
  18. "Teach and preach the golden rule."
  19. "Don't let yourself become so consumed with raising a good kid and forget that you already have one."
  20. "You've been their age; they haven't been yours. Give them the tools and encouragement they need to grow into their life."
  21. "Every morning when you go in to get your child, let them see a smile on your face; it always helps start the day out right."
  22. "Be your child's advocate; especially when they are younger, you are their voice."
  23. "Do not get mad when someone gives you dirty looks on a plane, at a restaurant, or at the grocery store. We were all nonparents before we had kids, and we sure as hell did the same before one of those kids was ours."
  24. "Choose a wine you love (and that ages well). Get a case of it, bottled in the year your child was born. On their 21st birthday, pop it open to celebrate with them. Pop the bottles open for other special events like college graduations, weddings, etc. It's a special way to commemorate the year of their birth while toasting to their future."
  25. "Remember that sometimes scrapping the 'plan' to have spontaneous fun is the responsible choice."
  26. "Raise them the way you wish you had been raised."
  27. "Never make promises or threats that you don't plan on following through with."
  28. "Praise them when they do something great, even if it's small."
  29. "Keep a roll of paper towels in the car."
  30. "Install slide bolts at the tops of doors, especially if you have those adventure-loving types."
  31. "Let them be kids! They only get to do it once."
  32. "Buy lots [and lots . . .] of wet wipes."
  33. "Every child needs validation from their parents, or else they will crave it from wrong sources as they grow older."
  34. "When your child asks for a hug, don't let go until they do. You don't know how long they need that hug for."
  35. "Start, and stick to, a sleeping/nap schedule."
  36. "Breathe and count to at least 10 before reacting."
  37. "Surprise them with ice cream for dinner at least once every Summer."
  38. "When you have a child with special needs, tell them about their situation as soon as they are old enough to understand.
    There is no 'right age,' as every child is different."
  39. "This too shall pass — mostly regarding all those sleepless newborn nights, but also regarding toddler temper tantrums and stomach bugs."
  40. "Accept help whenever it's offered (especially with a newborn)."
  41. "From the day they are born, look directly at your children when you speak to them. You'll be able to see much more than just what they look like. Plus this is a great trait for them to possess as they grow."
  42. ""He's only ____; he doesn't need ____" — from my mom, mostly regarding me trying to overschedule the kids with activities at too young of an age. It's important to let kids be kids and be mindful to allow time for free play."
  43. "Always use the same respect talking to your child that you use when talking to your best friend."
  44. "Rewarding positive and good behavior will go further than always punishing bad behavior."
  45. "If you are not happy in your relationship, end it. Separating from my ex-husband was painful but the best decision we ever made as parents."
  46. "Get up an hour earlier than the kids. Some days it's impossible, especially if I'm running on no sleep, but having that hour to myself to start the day — whether it's taking a shower, cleaning up the kitchen, checking email, or just catching up on last week's TV — it's helped me ease into the day and has made me a better, more focused mom."
  47. "Listen to all the advice you are given, you will find nuggets and boulders of useful stuff. But when deciding what to do, weed through it and go with what feels right to you."
  48. "If you have more than three kids, color-code everything. Assign each kid a color so they know which things are theirs (or so you can easily figure out who didn't put their things away!). Plates, cups, bath towels . . . everything."
  49. "No one heads off to college in a diaper. Just relax."
  50. "Parenting does not come with an instruction manual. Instead, each day that passes, your personal manual becomes filled with advice, notes, and ideas on everything from baby shampoo to food to crafts. Before long, you will look back at the novel you have made and no longer see the challenge, but take joy in the journey it took to get there."