1. Pick a spouse who balances you. I come from a line of nervous nellies, but we're creative and passionate. My husband is a rock - for good and for bad. This combination gives our kids the benefit of both roots and wings.
2. Pick your first born well. Our family would so not work if either our second or third born had been born first. The first guy was delighted to have siblings. He didn't feel displaced - he was thrilled to have playmates.
3. Give up sleep.
4. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. And teach them to pray.
5. Be entirely real.
6. Say you're sorry when you mess up.
7. Cheer your guts out for them.
8. Let them be who they are created to be.
9. Create rituals, boundaries, rhythm.
10. Play with them.
11. Take parenting really seriously. When my kids were little, I had file folders of stimulating, fun activities for them, and I did them with them. Little minds blossom when stimulated.
12. Go on adventures. Every day.
13. Narrate their world in ways that help them understand it better, that connect it to what they already know.
14. Protect their innocence. For me, it was shielding my kids from 9/11 when they were young, and keeping them from movies and television shows that would have them grow up too soon and would taint their imaginations and souls.
15. Read aloud books you all love.
16. Love your spouse.
17. Tell your kids how amazing and wonderful and beautiful they are.
18. Take care of yourself. Stock your larder so you have something to give. Do things that give you an identity outside of them, things that bring you deep pleasure. Do your own emotional work.
19. Cook from scratch. Grow vegetables and pick fruit together. Avoid processed foods most of the time. Don't make McDonalds part of your life. Nutrition is under-rated when it comes to child development.
20. Know that no matter what you do, it's not your fault and it's not something for which you can pat yourself on the back. Kids and parents are human, and humans are broken and sometimes the best efforts don't pay off, and that some kids become amazing despite a lack of parental effort.
21. Don't judge other parents. We're all trying.
22. Relax. Don't oversteer or worry, and don't over-program them. You relax and let them have down time too.