I've mentioned before that we are done having kids, so this is not written to invite speculation. This is written as personal reflection from which others may possibly benefit. And so . . .
IF I COULD GO BACK AND DO IT AGAIN WITH MY KIDS:
1) I would start from the beginning having my babies eat normal, natural food. No processed stuff. No sugary sweets. Real food. I mean, I wouldn't have been a tyrant about it, like forbidding cake and ice cream at birthday parties. But I would not have allowed them to acquire a taste for the lousy stuff first. (Remind me of this when I'm a grandmother . . . it seems to be harder for that generation to resist . . . )
2) I would have stricter TV/video (and, eventually, computer) limits. Time-wise, not necessarily content-wise -- I'm pretty comfortable with the limits we set there. But I would try harder to resist the temptation to use a screen as a babysitter. I also would put more effort into developing the girls' interests in better activities -- more productive, more active, more creative. Taking the remote isn't as much of a fight when they know what to do instead.
3) I would teach them housekeeping skills earlier and establish cleanliness and order at home as a habit. Again, not dictatorially, but such that order feels like the norm and disorder feels like a condition needing to be remedied -- not vice versa. Even if that means taking a day off of school occasionally to make a "fun day" of picking up the house with an ice cream sundae dinner as a reward. (Yes, I see the tension here with #1.)
I'm sure there are more, but there is one thing I would never change . . something I recommend to every parent.
I would read to my child every single night possible before they go to bed. And before naptimes. And any other time during the day that it's feasible. The many hours we have spent cuddled up reading books are the most precious memories I have of my girls' childhoods. A mother in our NJ homeschool co-op said that once a child learns to read, you should not read aloud to them anymore. Hogwash!! I will read aloud to my kids until they muzzle me. And thankfully I don't see that happening anytime soon.
But, as I already said, we are done having kids. I promise.