I turn 35 this weekend. Whaaa? When did that happen? I’m pretty sure I just graduated from college and backpacked around Europe. And don’t I drink Dr. Pepper without feeling gross for days and still go to concerts that start at 10 pm?
Oh wait, I’ve been married a decade and have three kids.
Confession: I LOVE my thirties. Love, love, love them. I’ll take 35 over 25 any day. I’ve felt so much more confident in my own skin, I’m much more aware of how things work, I enjoy the freedom in responsibility, and I’m better at accepting my limitations.
I still feel like a kid, yes, but each year has gotten better and better. My forties are gonna be amazing.
Here are 35 things I’ve learned in my 35 years.
1. Take the time to learn your colors. You’ll have more to wear in your closet when you only buy those.
2. Make eye contact, practice shaking hands, and don’t slouch when you sit.
3. It’s always better to not go into debt. if you’re making a decision about something, and one choice involves having to pay back money down the road, it’s probably not the better option.
4. It’s also always worth it to completely pay off debt. I’ve been debt-free for a little over three years now, and there’s no feeling like it. If you try it and decide it’s not for you, you can always go back into debt.
5. If you’re standing at the counter and can’t decide which one, go for the one with chocolate. That’s always a good move.
6. Shop thrift stores first, but if you don’t find it, don’t settle for almost. It might be worth it to spend more on quality, or maybe you should just wait until you find perfect.
7. Don’t gossip. Just don’t. It eats away at your soul, and it’s poisoning another one. If you only have friends that gossip, go meet some new people.
8. Find a set of recipes you’re really good at cooking, and stick to these basics when you’re having people over for dinner. Save the new recipe testing for family.
9. There’s room enough for everyone to do what they’re good at. Spend more time finding your element than wishing you were gifted with someone else’s.
10. It’s worth it to work out, but do it for your spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Not just to lose weight.
11. You’re never, ever, ever ready for kids. If you wait until life is just perfect, you’ll never have them.
12. Avoid painful shoes. They’re just not worth it.
13. Look your kids in the eye when they’re telling you something. Even if it’s something inane, like why the My Little Pony named Cherry Jubilee should be red with white hair instead of white with red hair—it’s important to your child, so it means the world to them when it looks like you care, too.
14. Buy cheap markers and colored pencils, but get the better, more expensive kind, too. Pull these out when you and your kids are making something epic.
15. Not many people can pull off wearing yellow. Keep it below the belt, or accessorize with it.
16. Always be reading something. The library is your friend.
17. Babies don’t cost nearly as much as the world tells you they are. Be responsible, yes, but you don’t need their college fund set up before they’re conceived.
18. Think—really think—before you hit that “Update” button on Facebook. Read what you just wrote. Do you sound like a jerk? You’ll most likely regret saying it.
20. At birth, you’re only given so many all-nighters. You’ll use quite a few in college, but make sure you store up enough for the newborn-having years. Eventually, you’ll run out, and there’s no going back.
21. There will be younger people in your life that stay young in your head, and then when you find out they’ve graduated college, gotten a real job, gotten married, or had a baby, you’re going to feel old.
22. If you feel like you don’t have friends, go be a friend to someone. Take a chance and ask her to coffee or lunch. You won’t know if you’ll hit it off until you just ask.
23. If Morgan Freeman narrates it, it’s usually worth watching.
24. Ask people questions about themselves, and find out what they care about. It’s easy to only talk about yourself when you’re nervous or tired, but people feel loved when you listen to their ideas.
25. You’ll almost always regret that vacation-themed t-shirt.
26. If you think you hate a food, try it again in a few years, or try it cooked a different way. You may be surprised.
27. Don’t wait to have a “sex talk” with your kids. Talk about it, age-appropriately, off and on throughout your days. Remind them that they can always, always ask you anything. But be prepared—they will.
28. Travel to a different country as often as you can. But unless you’re in your twenties or younger, don’t stay in the group rooms in the hostels. Stay in apartments whenever possible, and cook a protein-heavy breakfast. You’ll save lots of money, and you won’t be running on fumes stuck on the metro or in the middle of the Louvre.
29. Don’t turn on the TV unless there’s something specific you want to watch. Play lots of music in the house instead, and try different types throughout the day.
30. Tip at least 20 percent, and if your service was good, tip more. You’ll make a waiter’s day.
31. Take your kids on one-on-one dates. It doesn’t have to be anything monumental—an hour at the ice cream shop every other week with just you could ultimately be one of their favorite childhood memories.
32. Tell your kids about your childhood, and don’t skip the parts where you really screwed up. And apologize when you still screw up as an adult.
33. Date your spouse. Don’t go more than two weeks without spending time sans kids, and try not to make your dates all business. Do fun stuff and make each other laugh, like you did before you were married.
34. Even when you go days without acknowledging His goodness, God is still there. And He still loves you wildly.
35. Getting older is something to celebrate. Not everyone gets to—life is a gift. Embrace your age.
I am so, so very thankful for each and every one of you who reads this site. I’m blown away that I get to run Simple Mom for a living, and that’s all thanks to YOU. I’m not kidding… I thank God for you daily. Whatever brought you here, however long ago, I appreciate you. Very grateful, that’s me.
On Monday, I’m giving some of YOU a birthday present—I’m excited!
What would you add to my list of 35s?