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The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Got

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Moms and dads in 2013 have an ever-expanding network of family, friends, Facebook friends, friends-of-kinda-sorta-friends and total strangers to crowd-source ideas for getting through your latest dilemma. While this can be a recipe for information overload, sometimes you get that laser-focused advice or perfectly timed Facebook message that puts things into perspective. So we asked experts, celebrities and (of course) you to send us the best piece of advice you ever got. You're gonna want to hit the share button on these.

Potty Training

When they say “I'm a big girl” or “I don't want to wear diapers anymore,” stop what you're doing and head right to the store to let them pick out new underwear. If you wait, the moment will have passed. —Kim Graham-Nye, co-founder, gDiapers

Take them to the bathroom every 30 minutes, and go straight to undies. —Kristina B., via Facebook

In the bathroom, we put up a colorful “Potty I Did It!” chart with stickers that they picked out. When they went in the potty, they placed a sticker on the chart. If they got four stickers, they could choose either a trip to Menchie's yogurt, a book from Barnes & Noble, or a trip to the mall's indoor playground (their fave). It was hit and miss at first, and then highly effective. —Tori Spelling, actress and author

Raising Good Kids

At the White House

No matter what's going on, at 6:30 p.m. we stop everything and have dinner together as a family. It creates good teaching moments, when something that might otherwise sound like a lecture becomes a nice conversation around the dinner table. —Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States

Character isn't something you teach to your kids.

Character is something you show them. Not in some epic moment of your life, but in the sum of your daily actions. Want a good kid? Be a good adult. —Kelly Combs, blogger, ChattyKelly.com

Help your children understand the difference between needs and wants.

There are items that we need in order to live and then there are items that we like but can live without. That line can become very blurred. —Lisa Reynolds, mom saver-in-chief at coupon website RedPlum.com

The surest way to make life difficult for your children is to make it too easy for them.

Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child. —Betsy Brown Braun, author of Just Tell Me What to Say

Our role as parents is not to ensure our kids are happy.

It's to prepare them to find their own happiness. So it's good to let kids fail. They will learn how to cope when things don't go their way, and gain the self-confidence to try new things, and go for it. —Marc Lore, co-founder, Diapers.com

Sleeping

Midnight isn't a good time to attempt a new approach to your baby's latest waking. You're better off to continue with your current method, rather than try something new out of desperation. Make a plan during the day when you can think clearly. —Suzanne Hansen, baby sleep coach, Plan2Sleep.com

Around 6 p.m., I start yawning in front of my 5-year-old and telling her how late it is. She can't tell time, so I capitalize on this to get her into bed at an appropriate hour. —Kendra Robins, founder, Project Night Night, which donates care packages to homeless kids

Children don't understand time, but they do understand sleep. So if my kids were going to see Grandma in two days, I would tell them we'll be visiting her in two sleeps. They understood that they needed to go to bed to make it happen. —Molly H., via Facebook

Don't tiptoe around the baby. Allow her to sleep with noises all around. —Jacki W., via Facebook

Marriage After Kids

Make it a point to have sex once a week. It's called Hump Day for a reason. —Suzanne Bastien, reader

A mom once told me: “Hire a babysitter for a date night every week and tell her you'll pay her no matter what.” It forces you to take the time for each other. —Melissa Taylor, blogger, Class Notes, on parenting.com

When your kids are older, they will not remember that you went out once in a while—but you will. —Elisa D., via Facebook

I never feel guilty sticking my kids in front of the TV if it's for A.) a hot shower; B.) to make them a healthy dinner; C.) sex. None of that stuff takes long enough for their brains to start rotting (Sorry, babe.) Erin Zammett Ruddy, blogger, Mom Without a Filter, on parenting.com

Breastfeeding

If you want to introduce your breastfeeding baby to a bottle, Mom should leave the room or even the house. For many babies, if she's around, the bottle won't be an option. —Alan Greene, M.D., pediatrician

Breastfeeding is a lifestyle choice. Know this going in, and you will better adjust to what your baby needs, instead of trying to fit feeding into your own routine and getting frustrated. —Katie Parsons, reader

I put glasses of water everywhere so no matter where I sat to nurse, I could always rehydrate. —Jessica C., via Facebook

When you see your newborn sucking her fingers or fist, or rooting around, it's time for a feeding. A crying baby can be difficult to latch, so watching for these early cues can make breastfeeding go much more smoothly. —Amy West, certified lactation counselor

When your baby gets up in the middle of the night, go pee before you pick him up. He will be OK for another minute, and you'll sit comfortably through the feeding. —Abby R., via Facebook

Managing the Chaos

If you're running late, it's not the kids' fault. Don't take it out on them. Get up earlier. This was a true revelation that changed my mornings. —Jaime Gold, reader

When you're really angry, pretend someone is watching and judging you. When I was teaching, if a student was pushing my buttons, I would pretend I was being evaluated. It would force me to stay ultra-calm. Now I do it as a mom, and it still works. —Allison McDonald, blogger, No Time for Flashcards

My dad always described outings as “adventures,” even if we were going to the grocery store. I find myself doing it with my own son, and it makes life so much more exciting. —Joanna Goddard, blogger, A Cup of Jo

First Weeks With Baby

Use a zip-close, netted laundry bag for washing and drying all those tiny socks together. You'll never have to dig to find them or worry about losing them. —Jennifer W., via Facebook

When I had my first child, my mother told me to be slightly ahead of my kids' needs. Feed them just before they get too hungry, get them something to drink just before they get too thirsty, and give them time to rest just before they get too cranky. —Alan Greene, M.D.

Use the diaper as a poop shield when you're changing your baby. When newborns go, it's like a squirt gun. Always hold the old diaper over the bottom until you're totally ready to put on the new diaper. —Laura S., via Facebook

Stay in your pajamas when people come to visit. People will think you're about to have a nap or still haven't had time to shower, and—hopefully—they won't overstay their welcome. —Patti K., via Facebook

Always pack a shirt for yourself in the diaper bag. Always. —Kayliegh M., via Facebook

Use disposable plates and cups during the first few weeks so there's no dishwashing to worry about. —Christie B., via Facebook

Velcro. Forget the snap-on onesies. When it's 3 a.m. and you can't see straight, you'll thank me. —Ana Connery

Picky Eaters

Get picky eaters involved in the process. If you give them even the smallest task, they'll feel invested in the dish and are more likely to try it. You can even get them involved in the grocery shopping, and have them come up with ideas as to what to make. —Dean McDermott, actor and reality show star

Everything tastes better when it's jazzed up a bit. Try offering your child a shaker of toasted sesame seeds or salt-free seasoning for her to add flavor to her veggies. —Catherine McCordblogger, Weelicious

Parent Hacks

Parent Hacks (parenthacks.com) has been sharing user-submitted shortcuts for simplifying family life since 2005. Founder Asha Dornfest, also the author of Minimalist Parenting, shares her favorite hacks.

Play-Doh as glitter cleaner

Glitter is incapable of remaining unspilled, but rolling Play-Doh over it mops it right up. Bonus: Now you've got glittery Play-Doh!

Shoe organizer as pantry snack bar

Fill a clear over-the-door organizer with healthy, snack-size eats and let kids self-serve. No pleading for junk, and no interrupting what you were doing to fix a snack.

Silly Bandz as water-glass markers

Got a ton of these shaped rubber bands left over from the craze? Keep a pile near glasses, assign each of your kids a color and have them roll a band around the first cup of the day.

Tissue box as car trash can

Use an empty Kleenex box to collect all the wrappers and snack bags that usually roll around the minivan. The design is perfect: Trash goes in but can't get out.

Dadvice

  • A guy smarter than you just told your pregnant wife she looks beautiful. For the second time. Don't get complacent.
  • When it comes to raising children, your grandparents' philosophical advice will be spot-on. Their medical advice will be terrible.
  • Side with your partner more often than with your mother. You don't live with your mother.

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