25 Milestones to Mark Your Journey from Rookie to Experienced Mom (500th blog post)I thought I knew it all.

I scoured the parenting books, browsed through forums and websites, attended child care and CPR classes. I prepped myself about sleep deprivation, diaper changes and breastfeeding. I even knew I wouldn’t know everything, yet that didn’t stop me from wanting to learn all  could. I was ready to have this baby!

Except I wasn’t. Not entirely, and not in a way that anyone who has yet to have a child of her own will ever know until the day she becomes a mother.

This entire blog is based on everything I’m learning about being a mom. Sift through the archives and you’ll see all I’ve learned, the accomplishments and the mistakes. It’s an ongoing process.

So, in honor of my 500th blog post (yay!), today I write about 25 milestones that mark a mom’s journey from rookie to experienced:

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5 Lessons to Help Your Child Recognize Letters and NumbersPanic.

That’s the feeling you get when you wonder why your three- or four-year-old still hasn’t recognized her letters and numbers.

You hear how other kids can already write their full names and even sentences, yet yours doesn’t seem to grasp the concept.

And when you try and teach her, she shrugs it off disinterested, or worse, grows frustrated.

How can you help your child to recognize letters and numbers—without nagging and fighting?

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In the four-and-a-half years I’ve been a parent, I’ve never not felt tired. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve gone one day without yawning my sleepiness away or feeling that tingle in your eyes because they want to shut themselves so much. The ironic thing is now that all three kids are sleeping through the night, I can’t even blame them for my sleep deprivation—it’s all on me.

How to Cope When You're Insanely TiredTake, for instance, the first few glorious weeks after my husband and I sleep-trained the twins: No longer bound by their thrice-nightly wake ups, we now had the hours after 8pm to ourselves. But do we set our bedtime to 8:30pm like we used to before they slept through the night? No—we now pushed bedtime up to 10pm, spoiled that we are for finally being able to spend time kid-free.

Or how about when I stopped pumping for the babies? Gone were the 5:20am wake up times or the 9:30pm pump-before-bedtime rituals. Do I still sleep by 10pm? No—I’ve pushed bedtime even further, sometimes as late as 11pm.

(All the night owls can stop laughing now. I’m one of those folks who need a solid eight hours of sleep.)

I didn’t use those extra hours for sleep. I do domestic stuff, I read, I blog. And then I get tired all over again.

(Like now. I’m not only tired but sick, too, and should be resting in bed.)

Your source of tiredness could come from more excusable reasons than mine, such as welcoming a newborn (and newborn hours), working overtime or family changes. Or maybe you’re like me and you would rather be tired than forgo other aspects of your life.

Okay, but we’re all still tired. So what do we do?

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It’s the question I get more than any other, the topic everyone has battled with at some point or another: Bedtime. Namely, how can we get our kids to fall asleep / stay asleep / not be so scared about sleep. You’d think something as relaxing as a good night’s sleep should be easy, but clearly it isn’t.

9 Children's Books about BedtimeAnd while we can sleep train and coerce and give rewards as a way to convince our kids to go to sleep, one of the best and often overlooked tools to overcome this and many challenges is through books.

With books, kids can relate to the characters. They realize they’re not so alone, and their feelings validated. They’re also able to discuss and define emotions they may not know how to voice, or even know to exist.

And books are fun! They’re a great way to talk about a challenging aspect of your household in a relaxed, natural manner.

Below are several favorites. Some deal directly with a child’s resistance to bedtime, while others are beautiful reads to transition our kids into sleep.

Take a look:

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Before my husband and I were even married, we both wanted the same number of kids: Four. Each of us are products of large families—I’m the youngest of five, he’s the youngest of six. Our parents have even more siblings: My mom (8), my dad (11), his mom (6), his dad (8). Four seemed like a nice, manageable number—not as big as our parents’ generation but enough to have the fun upbringing of a boisterous house. Yes, we would have four, we eagerly decided… until we had a kid.

Ask the Readers: When Did You Know You Were Done Having Kids?And overnight I was fine with just having one child. Who was I kidding thinking I could handle more than one? How did our parents manage on their own raising a zillion kids?

A few years passed (two-and-a-half, to be exact) when parenting started to feel easier. The newborn and infant phase was over. Even the Terrible Twos (which technically should be called the Terrible Eighteen-Month-Olds) faded away, and I started to itch for a second child. I wanted my eldest to have a sibling, and I believe I knew in the back of my mind I wanted at least two. I just needed the time to break me in and convince myself that I can handle this pregnancy and baby thing all over again.

Well, you know how that goes: Read more →