A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

19 Things I Hope I’ve Taught My Daughter Before Her 18th Birthday

In just a few weeks my daughter will turn 18 years old. In the eyes of the world she will officially be an adult, even though she will always be my child. I have had 18 years to raise her and I think I did a pretty good job.

But as the days tick down until she’s all grown up, I’ve started to wonder if I really have instilled the life lessons she needs to be successful. My dear daughter, here are the 18 things I hope I’ve taught you in your 18 years of childhood.

1 | “Please” and “thank you” really are magic words

Barney the Big Purple Dinosaur told you this at age two and it still holds true today. If you ask for something, say please, even if it is something small.

When someone does you a solid, say thank you and mean it. That goes for everyone from your friends to your parents to the waitress that refills your water cup. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.

2 | Opportunity does not knock if it doesn’t have your address

You cannot sit in your room and expect things to come you way. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and go after things you really want. It is hard to put yourself out there and sometimes you will fail, but that’s okay. Your odds of achieving your goals are much better if you go after them.

3 | Don’t double dip

It’s gross and it’s unsanitary and it’s just unnecessary unless you are snacking alone.

4 | Never leave the house without brushing your teeth

Or without washing your face or combing your hair, because if you do, you are 100% guaranteed to run into someone you don’t want to see in your unwashed state. Put a bra on for the same reason, and because you want to keep them in that nice high place on your chest for as long as possible.

5 | Use moisturizer and sunscreen every day

When I was 10 years old a friend of my aunt’s told me I needed to start using moisturizer. I had no idea what she was talking about but she said it in such a stern, scary tone that I took my allowance to the drugstore the next day and bought a $2.99 bottle of Oil of Olay. I credit this woman – and spending the last 20 years dousing myself in SPF 40 before I vacate the house – with a fairly wrinkle-free complexion for my age. Today the ozone is way worse than it was when I was a kid, so lather on the sunscreen even when the weather says rain all day.

6 | Written thank you notes never go out of style

I will probably be the last person on earth to still own and use a pen. Hopefully, you will be the second-to-last. Handwritten notes may be so 1900s but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for them in the world. If you have to send a text or email or want to call, fine, but a handwritten note is always preferred. The rule is, don’t use a gift until you have thanked the receiver.

7 | Laughter is the best medicine

If you can, laugh every day because it feels good. Hold onto friends who understand your sense of humor and can make you laugh so hard you think you might wet yourself (this will get easier after childbirth and the mild incontinence sets in). Remember, everyone does some stupid, embarrassing things – you need to be able to laugh at yourself.

8 | Chicken soup is a close second

Never underestimate the healing powers a nice warm bowl of chicken noodle soup. It warms you up from the inside out. It has the power to heal a cold and calm a cough. It reminds you of being a kid even when you’re a grown up – especially if you get your mom to make it for you.

9 | If you have something nice to say, say it

The saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But the reverse is true, too. Everyone loves a genuine compliment. Too many times we are quick to say the bad stuff but forget to mention the positives. If you think someone has a great smile or is wearing a cool shirt, say so.

10 | Never stop learning

Once you finish attending school, the exams may be over but the learning never is. Never stop adding to your skills, be it work-related or just for fun. Do a lot of reading on topics that interest you. Keep informed on current events. Remember – knowledge is power.

11 | Alone is better than not at all

I know last week when I went to the movies alone you thought that was just so sad. But it wasn’t – it felt good to do something I wanted to do and not let the fact that no one else wanted to go stop me. Took me 40-plus years to learn that lesson, hopefully I have taught it to you in half that time.

12 | Life isn’t fair

As I said in lesson 2, sometimes you don’t get something you want or deserve. Life isn’t fair but it doesn’t mean you can stomp your feet, whine, or malign other people. No need to check your navigation system – in this case, the high road is the right road.

13 | Be present

The way to stop the F in FOMO is to stop checking the “F-ing” phone-o! If you’re hanging out with friends, hang out with them. If you’re at a concert, listen to the music and don’t video record the whole damn thing so you can post it later. If you’re sitting in the kitchen with your mom who is giving you her undivided attention, stop Snapchatting your friends.

14 | Don’t text and drive

Just don’t do it – ever. Put your phone in the glove compartment if you think you will be tempted. I don’t even like you talking on a hands-free device when you drive. And I will add don’t ever, ever drink and drive.

15 | Change can be good

Just because the chicken parmigiana is always good, doesn’t mean there aren’t other delicious items on the menu that you might enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try something new – not just on a menu but in life, too. If you want to change jobs or move to another city, you should. We will be there to support you.

16 | Be you

You are truly amazing! Embrace everything about yourself and know that the world is very lucky to have you in it – especially your family and friends.

17 | Don’t text angry

I know talking on the phone is so over but this is the updated version of the very wise 80s advice: “Don’t drunk dial!” Mad at a friend, colleague, boyfriend, teacher, or boss? Take a few deep breaths and tie your hands behind your back. Do not text, email, post, snap, insta-anything when you are angry. Most things pass but once you put it in writing, it’s forever.

18 | When you’re wrong, apologize

We all make mistakes. If you make one, apologize and make amends. The people who care about you will forgive you. And when someone hurts your feelings and offers a heartfelt apology – accept it. Life is too short for grudges.

19 | Family is forever

We sometimes may be THE most annoying people on the planet and SO uncool, and REALLY not understand, but we will love you unconditionally forever and ever.

Even if the law says you’re all grown up, in my heart you will always be my baby. That doesn’t mean I’m going to throw you in the stroller and give you a binky; it just means that when I look at those gorgeous brown eyes I fall in love again, just like the day they put you in my arms at the hospital. And yes, you can have the keys to the car tonight.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

I had big plans to be a "good mom" this summer. There were going to be chore charts, reading goals, daily letter writing practice, and cursive classes. There would be no screen time until the beds were made, and planned activities for each day of the week.

Today was the first day of summer vacation and our scheduled beach day. But here's what we did instead: Lounged in our pj's until 11 am, baked the girl's pick, chocolate chip cookie brownies, started an art project we never finished, then moved to the pool.

It's so easy to be pressured by things we see on social. Ways to challenge our kids and enrich their summer. But let's be real—we're all tired. Tired of chores, tired of schedules and places to be, tired of pressure, and tired of unrealistic expectations.

So instead of a schedule, we're doing nothing this summer. Literally NOTHING.

No camps. No classes, and no curriculums.

Instead, we're going to see where each day takes us. I've dubbed this the "Summer of Me," so workouts and clean eating are a priority for me. And also giving our girls the freedom to pick what they want to do.

We may go to a local pool and check out the swimming programs. And we join the local YMCA. But whatever we do—it will be low key.

It will include family time, too much TV, a few trips, lots of sunshine, some new roller skates, water balloons, plenty of boredom, rest, relaxation, and reading. (Because mama likes to read!)

So if you haven't figured out what you're doing this summer, you're not alone. And guess what? It's OKAY! Your kids will be fine and so will you.

Originally posted on Kristen Hewitt's blog. Check out her post on 30 ways to have fun doing almost nothing this summer.

You might also like:

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

You might also like:

When we consider all the skills our kids will need to succeed in the future, what comes to mind? Perhaps creativity, tech skills, or an excellent understanding of math might be at the top of many parents' lists. Social-emotional skills, like empathy, compassion, or the ability to understand another person's viewpoint may not be the ones you thought of right away, but deep down you know they matter.

We've all had those co-workers who didn't know how to listen to our ideas or friends who couldn't compromise with others. We know that in the work world and in our personal life, emotional skills are key to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

If you are the parent of a toddler, you know that young children are inherently self-centered. It's not some faulty aspect of their character or a misstep of parenting skills. Young children simply do not have the brain maturity to consider another person's perspective or needs just yet—their brain physically is not ready to handle that kind of mental work.

However, child development research shows us that we can do a few things along the developmental path to help foster social-emotional skills in our kids. With a little help from us, our kids' brains can develop with meaningful connections that tune them into the feelings of others.

Here's how:

1. Treat others how you want your kids to treat others.

How we talk to our kids becomes their internal dialogue. We know from research that this goes for emotional skills as well. A recent study showed that when parents talk to their kids more about how other people might be feeling, the kids had better perspective-taking abilities—the ability to see a situation from another person's point of view.

This, of course, is the basis of many emotional skills, especially empathy. Just by talking about another person's feelings, kids begin to develop those crucial brain connections that help them develop empathy.

It's worth pointing out that very young children under ages 3-4 do not have the brain maturity to really understand another person's perspective. They lack a crucial skill that psychologists call Theory of Mind, meaning they can't understand the mind of another person.

However, our urgings and thoughtful phrasing to point out how another person might be feeling can only help them down this developmental path. Then, once their little brain matures, they will be in the habit of hearing and understanding the feelings of others.

2. Model positive emotional behavior in daily life.

It's probably not surprising to learn that how we react to our kids' feelings influences their emotional development. When your child gets upset, do you get angry or ruffled by their big emotions? We are all human, of course, so sometimes our kids' emotions are the exact triggers that fuel our big feelings, too. However, if we can remain the calm in the emotional storm for our kids, their development will benefit. Through modeling emotional regulation, over time our kids will learn how to self-regulate as well.

One study, in fact, showed that toddlers whose parents exhibited anger or over-reacted to tantrums were likely to have more tantrums and negative emotionality by the end of the study. However, the opposite dynamic can happen, too. Parents who model firm, but calm emotional regulation help their kids learn these skills as well.

3. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions.

Many times, we feel that one of our main jobs as a parent is to protect our children from the big, often overwhelming emotions of adults. For instance, we try not to break down crying or become red-faced with anger in front of our kids. It just feels too big for them to handle and perhaps not developmentally appropriate.

As they mature, however, older kids are able to handle a bit more discussion and expression of honest emotions. Have you noticed that kids usually pick up on the fact that you are upset even if you try to hide it? Kids are naturally curious and, many times, very sensitive to the emotional tenor at home. If they are developmentally ready, this can be a good time to have more discussions about emotions and how to handle them.

For example, my 9-year-old is playing a lot of baseball this summer and always wants me to pitch to him so he can practice batting. Now, I am not a very skilled player so my pitches often go off course or are too weak. He had gotten in the habit of correcting my pitching or (more likely) complaining about it every time we played.

After repeated experiences with this, I was not only annoyed but it also sort of hurt my feelings—so I finally told him how I felt. Guess what? His behavior at practice time changed dramatically! The mere fact of him realizing that his mom has feelings too really made him think about his words more carefully.

These types of interaction can become part of your "emotion coaching." It may sound silly but it can make a big impact for kids, especially as they grow older and are more able to really understand the emotional lesson. On some level, it's nice that our kids think we are superheroes, but it's also crucial that they understand that we are still human, with real feelings.

The magic of helping our kids develop empathy doesn't happen in well-planned lessons or elaborate activities. The real magic happens in the small, simple interactions and discussions we have with our kids each day.

You might also like:

Sometimes it can feel like you never get a minute to even finish a thought—let alone a to-do list. When your day is packed with caretaking, your own needs get pushed back. So when you finally get to lie down at the end of the day, all those thoughts are waiting for you. While we haven't figured out the secret to keeping you from over-analyzing every.single.thing. (sorry, mama!), we do believe you must carve out time for you. Because that rest is just as important—and you've certainly earned it.



PS: We spoke to Jessica Alba and she gave us the lowdown on why she stopped breastfeeding, and Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale until August 5th. Here's everything we want!

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.