Have the dog days of parenting got you down? Even the best parents have those days when they are feeling overworked, underappreciated and at their wit’s end. Papi, the star of Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, shares his top 15 parenting tips to keep your kids (or your pups, in Papi's case) happy, healthy and well-behaved.
Who knew so much could be learned from a talking dog? Check out these quick parenting tips, inspired by Papi himself.
Tip one: Ask away
Navigating the trials and tribulations of parenthood is rewarding, but tough. Don't be scared to ask your friends and family for help or advice. Reach out to parents online (check out our SheKnows parenting message boards) or go to your local library to find a wealth of parenting books and discover what to expect in each stage of development. Every snippet of advice helps.
Tip two: Follow your heart
Some parenting advice can't be found in books, but can only be found by following your instincts. By loving your child and putting their best interests first, be confident in knowing you are making the right parenting decisions. Of course, you will make mistakes – but you will learn as you go along. Keep your chin up and your ears open, and embrace parenthood with an open heart.
Tip three: Play away
It's important to get active as a family, so put some time aside for outdoor activities. Head to the beach, pool, garden or park and play away! Keep your backyard stocked with fun outdoor activities, like a scooter, slide, water soaker or a bat and ball. Be a positive and active role model for your kids. Get active, everyone!
Tip four: Encourage creativity
Encourage creativity in your kids by setting up an art station in your house complete with non-toxic paints, crayons, construction paper and stamps. Research has shown that art helps children learn skills such as increased concentration and improved eye-hand coordination. Get out that play-doh (or make your own!) and have fun!
Tip five: Plan storytime every day
Take time each day to read to your children – or make up your own stories! This is a fun way to get your children's imagination flowing. If your child is going through a difficult time at school, such as having a fight with a friend, tell them a story of your own childhood and how you dealt with that same situation. You can also find a book that talks about what they are going through in a way they understand. Not only will this hone their reading skills, but it will help them know they are not alone in dealing with life's bumps and bruises.
Tip six: Food for thought
Get your children interested in healthy foods from an early age by offering them colorful and healthy chow, like fresh fruit and vegetables. Be a good role model for your kids by eating healthy foods and keeping processed foods and sugary snacks out of the house.
Tip seven: Morning mayhem
To keep morning mayhem at bay, organize homework, school lunches and clothes the night before. Give your children breakfast in their pajamas. If they spill anything, they don't have to change their clean school clothes.
Tip eight: Prepare for rainy days
Get creative when rain or snow days keep the kids inside. Why not have an indoor picnic? Place a blanket in an unusual corner of the house, sit down as a family and eat there. Another fun idea is to let your kids turn the living room into a fort using the sofa cushions.
Tip nine: Snack attack!
Do you live life on the run? Don't worry! Always keep a healthy snack with you for the little ones in case of an emergency. No unhealthy fast food is needed if you keep some fruit or rice cakes with you at all times. Get ideas for healthy road trip snacks here.
Tip ten: Eat before shopping
Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach – and make sure your little one has eaten, too. Not only will your child be a much better shopping companion, but you are less likely to overspend on snacks and foods due to your growling stomach.
Tip eleven: Take a bag of tricks
Heading out for a family meal or a long journey? Pack a small bag of toys, travel-size games or coloring and connect-the-dot books along with crayons and pencils. One word of advice: Leave the noisy toys at home – or pack headphones for handheld games so as not to annoy those around you.
Tip twelve: Buy an apron
Save your clothes (and your sanity!) by investing in a full-length apron. If one of your kids gets sick or the food goes flying at meal times, at least you won't have to change outfits or waste time cleaning up. Your kids may also want to get in on the food by wearing their own aprons!
Tip thirteen: Color-codeD cuties
Use color-coding to help keep your kid's toys, sippy cups and clothes organized. If they are old enough, ask them what their favorite color is and buy cups in that color. If you're a parent of twins, associate a color with each of your little ones and dress them accordingly. It doesn't have to be an entire outfit, just an accessory like a bow or colorful socks.
Tip fourteen: Family movie night
Movies and TV shows can be good conversation starters for a young family – and they often lead to fun family discussions. Pop on a DVD every once in awhile and watch together as a family. Make sure the show is age-appropriate for your children.
Tip fifteen: Have fun!
Take time out to enjoy the kids (or in Papi's case – pups) in your life. Throw a dance contest or a backyard race; set up random treasure hunts around the house; hold a teddy bear or doll party… Have fun with the little ones, enjoy yourself and get the whole gang's tails wagging. That's what family life is all about. Aye Chihuahua!