It isn’t really until you are an adult that you truly appreciate childhood. I guess it’s like everything in life, hindsight is 20/20. Childhood moves quickly and you suddenly find yourself trying to navigate the waters of adulthood. Then one day when you have your own children you are given what some may say is a second chance.

I didn’t start having my children until my thirties. If you are anything like me by the time you hit your thirties your vision of childhood is somewhat clouded. You forget what it was like to think like a child and while some people have not forgotten how to act like one you have certainly put that behavior so far in the back of your mind that you sometimes forget how to bring the child in you back. Luckily for me my children have helped me find her again. I’ve reconnected with the child in me and it’s amazing. Here are the top ten things my children have reminded me of that I had long forgotten:

1.) Laugh. Don’t just giggle or politely laugh at someone’s joke…really laugh. Laugh until you cry. Laugh until you look ugly and have mascara running down your face. Life is funny and laughing feels amazing! Laugh with friends. Laugh with family. Don’t just write LOL, actually laugh out loud. It’s good for the soul.

2.) Cry. Don’t worry about what the person next to you thinks. Don’t worry about keeping your emotions to yourself. If you feel sad and you want to cry, then do it. Tears are cleansing and sometimes there is no cure for sadness other than feeling it.

3.) Run.  Run around with your kids. Don’t just watch them run. Every now and then get up and run around with them. There is a reason your kids are constantly running. There’s a reason no matter how many times you tell them to stop running in the house they find it impossible to listen. It’s invigorating. It reminds you that you’re alive.

4.) Dance. Dance when you hear music. Dance when you don’t. Dance if you have rhythm, dance if you have none. Don’t worry about what you look like.

5.) Find something new and exciting in the everyday. All too often as adults we greet the day with the negative and what we are dreading. We think about the things that we don’t want to do that day. The meeting we have to attend or the running around we have to do. We want to fast forward to the end of the day before it’s even begun.  Find something amazing in the simple things. The way the sun feels on your face at the bus stop that day. The way your child waved at you at preschool drop off. The way you enjoyed every bit of your coffee on your commute into work. Find something to be excited about each and every day. It will make you happier.

6.) Tell someone you love them.  As adults we can be so very guarded with our feelings. While sometimes it’s necessary most of the time it’s not. It’s our pride. It’s our worry of feeling silly. Don’t think about it just say it. Call that friend you haven’t spoken with in all too long. Tell them you miss them. Tell your spouse you love them for no other reason than you were thinking it. Call your Grandma tell her she’s awesome. Don’t hold back. If you feel it, say it. My kids are constantly telling people they love them or they think they’re funny or pretty. They don’t care about rejection. They want to shout their feelings for the entire world to hear.

7.) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you don’t try it you will never know.  If you aren’t making mistakes well you’re not learning. Learning helps you live longer….I don’t have anything to back that up other than common sense. If we’re learning we are participating in life and that keeps us living.

8.) Don’t be afraid to get dirty. My kids run out into the great outdoors without a care in the world. They aren’t thinking about their hair, their clothes or their nails. They are thinking that the worms in the dirt look like cool things to study that particular day. Get outside. Go on a hike. Take your kids fishing. Touch the worm it won’t bite.

9.) Lean on the people who love you. Kids are never afraid to ask for help. If they are unsure about something they ask for guidance. If they are afraid of something they ask for support. As adults we have this thing called pride, and it gets in the way A LOT. Don’t let it. When we lean on those who love us the bond becomes greater.  I haven’t gotten to the end of this road of life yet, but I would imagine that the greater the bonds we make along the way the easier it is at the end.

10.) Let go of the ever growing need for more materialistic things. I’m not always good at this one. I would be a liar if I didn’t say I like a nice bag or a great pair of shoes but the reminder that they really don’t matter is good.  I’ve watched my children receive gift after gift at many a birthday party and then I’ve watched them play pirates in the backyard for hours with nothing but each other and empty paper towel rolls (ahem telescopes) They show me time and time again that all they need is each other and a little imagination.

Children are constantly showing us that life is so much simpler than we make it out to be. Sure we have adult worries that they know nothing about like mortgages and work deadlines but  if we are able to take their cues and add some of these into our adult lives we will be all the better for it.  Get to know your inner child again.  You’ve been missed.

Originally posted at Jennifer’s blog, Outsmarted Mommy.

Dropping your child off at college is one of the biggest milestones of your child’s life and a parent’s day of reckoning – having to let your child go. It’s a day filled with great anticipation, emotion, mixed feelings, and, of course, stress. And it’s your job to make sure it goes smoothly.

The key to making move-in day successful lies in being prepared and remaining flexible. By now you should have purchased all your essential items (Target has an excellent printable shopping list and Bed Bath & Beyond offers online shopping lists specific for most colleges,) and had “The Talk” about roommates, friends, campus safety, health, drinking, and, yes, S-E-X.

We’ve packed and moved two kids into college 5,000 miles from home and learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t. We survived those big days and now look back at them fondly (lots of smiling photos for proof). So will you.

Do’s:

1. Have your child contact their roommate and introduce him/herself via e-mail or Facebook. Oftentimes this is when they will decide who will bring a refrigerator or TV. As the parent, I’m sure you’ll be looking over their shoulder to Facebook stalk their roommate’s photos. Try not to make comments or pass judgements, like “Gee, he’s a real winner” or “Wow, I guess she likes to party.”

2. If possible, arrive at least one day ahead of move-in day to give yourself time to pickup your purchases at major stores (if you’ve arranged for them to be held for pickup), last minute purchases (there always are) and explore your child’s new surroundings if they allow you to be seen with them.

3. Get a good night’s sleep the night before and have a hearty breakfast before move-in day begins. Arriving tired and cranky for this busy day will cause your energy and moods to quickly head south. Not a good combination and not a good first impression on your roommate who will learn soon enough what you’re all about.

4. Have your move-in directions, schedule, and maps printed out and on hand. Familiarize yourself with them ahead of time. Approach this like a Navy Seal and you’ll be fine.

5. Bring healthy snacks and plenty of water, save the wine for later no matter how much you think you need it now. (We picked up a case for the room. Water, not wine).

6. In addition to a small tool set, duck tape, and sticky-hooks, bring a roll of paper towels and 409 or Lysol Wipes to give the room a good once over before unpacking and making the bed. There’s a good chance this might be the only time that room is actually cleaned the entire year.

7. Exchange contact information with the roommate and his/her parents – for emergency use only. Not spying on your child to see if he/she has done their homework or is still hungover.

8. Do pack some small framed family photos for their desk or nightstand even if they say they don’t want them. Once they see their roommate’s photos they’ll be sad they don’t have one of Rover or Aunt Sally.

9. Bring a small First Aid Kit and include Advil, Tylenol and a thermometer -because they will get sick and you will be far, far away and will want to know what their temperature is every half hour when they have pneumonia. Or maybe that’s just me.

10. Pack earplugs, headphones, and a sleep mask, so they can sleep or watch TVwithout disturbing each other. This stretches out the honeymoon phase at least two more weeks.

Don’ts:

1. Don’t pack for your child. Involve them in the process so they know what they have and where it’s at. Though if they’re like mine, they will call you anyway to ask where it is. Don’t get frustrated. One day the calls will be too few and far between, so that phone call is a blessing.

2. Don’t pack the entire closet, like our fashionista did. Closets are small and there is limited drawer space. Who’d a thought?! And ship as little as possible. There will be long (really long!) lines at the school post office, so try to arrive as soon as it opens if you must. Check these hours ahead of time. (Remember the Navy Seal part?)

3. Don’t take over the unpacking, decorating or setting up of your kid’s room. This is their space and their chance to be independent. Chances are they will move things around the moment you walk out the door anyway.

4. Don’t shut the door while you unpack even though you’re pulling out the skivvies. Bring a doorstop and keep that door propped open. You’ll be surprised how many of their neighbors will stop by to chat and be amazed at how much crap you’ve brought. We did this with both our kids and it was a wonderful icebreaker.

5. If issues arise during move-in, don’t involve yourself in the conflict. Let your child handle this themselves. After all, they will be the one living with the roommate, not you.

6. Bring tissues, but try to hold it together. Yes, this is a huge milestone in your child’s life and, perhaps for you, the beginning of an empty nest, but it’s also an incredibly exciting time in your child’s life and the realization of years of hard work (yours and theirs!) and should be celebrated.

7. Don’t miss an opportunity to take photos and get in as many hugs and kisses as your child will allow. Preferably not in front of their new roommate.

8. Don’t blow off the orientation programs. Watching paint dry may be more entertaining, but they’re a wonderful way to learn more about the school and to meet other parents and students. The more opportunities your child has to meet other kids the better.

9. Don’t forget to pack a little surprise in their suitcase (their little sister left behind is a good start) and send a small care-package 4-6 weeks after move-in with their favorite snacks, magazines, or something small. Something Vegasy like poker chips or glitzy beauty products always go over well.

10. Resist the urge to smother. Do call or text to check up on them after you leave so they know you’re thinking of them, but don’t helicopter parent no matter how tempting it may be. They will brush their teeth and change their underwear…at some point. This is for them to figure out. I promise, they’ll be doing this on their own by graduation day.

Good luck!

Originally posted at Linda’s blog, Carpool Goddess.  Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post.