Monday, August 15, 2011

Parenting Advice

A friend recently wrote a blog post about parenting advice inspired by a news article she found online. My first thought when reading her blog was, that's something I could write about. I put it on the back burner, but today I came across a post I wrote several months ago that sort of tied in. So instead of writing a list of advice on how to parent your child, I'm offering suggestions on being a parent, mostly geared at new parents.

So, here's me, attempting advice.

First, before your baby comes, when you're imagining what life will be like with your brand new baby, know that you must have flexible expectations for yourself and baby. It does not matter what you want to do, plan to do, think you must do, if that doesn't work for your family or, most importantly, baby, it won't work at all. Having expectations for yourself and baby can sometimes result only in heartache. Not always, but sometimes.

Next It's important to know that it's okay to need help. If you've never needed help as a parent, by all means, tell me your secret, because everyone (especially brand new parents) need help. What kind of help? Anything. I was so set on being able to do everything myself that I didn't need anyone. I don't need to take a nap, I'm enjoying my baby and I can handle it. It doesn't matter if I haven't really slept for days, because all moms do this; if they can do it, I can do it. I was really stubborn and really set on proving to everyone I knew that I didn't need any help that I made life a lot harder than it needed to be, on myself and my family who was dying to just be helpful. It is okay to need help, and it is okay to ask for it. I promise. No one will think any less of you. And if they do, they shouldn't be part of your life anyway.

Enjoy your time with your baby, but don't forget that you have other roles in your life also. Chance's are, unless your a nanny and not a parent, that you aren't only responsible for holding a baby all day long. I know it's wonderful and amazing, but in addition to being moms (and dads) we are spouses first, or significant others, whatever. It is so easy to fall into dream world of baby and how awesome it is to finally get to spend time with your baby that we really do forget that we do have other loved ones in our life.

This can be really stressful for marriages, especially for dads, who unless they are stay at home dads really don't get as much bonding time in and don't always understand why we moms don't talk to them anymore or acknowledge their presence. I had a really difficult adjustment period realizing that my husband did need me to spend time with him as a wife and not a new mom. It's a hard mindset to even realize you are in, and then even harder to get out of it. I wanted to spend all this time with my new baby, because I knew he wouldn't be a baby for long. BUT, you won't miss much if you go out for dinner alone with the spouse or if you skip taking a nap with baby to actually talk about non-baby things for more than five minutes.

The best advice I can give here, is just to be flexible and realize that the dynamics of your relationship have changed, on both sides. You have to balance being a mom and wife, and Dad's have to realize that you are learning a whole new role, while on minimal sleep and a tide of emotions.

Might be more of a side note, and this may not happen to everyone, but my complete lack of sleep for several months has resulted in loss of memory for months of my child's early life. So, take pictures, start a blog, keep a notebook, something that keeps your memories intact so that you can look back on them and tell stories about them. (These memories are especially useful for the terrible 2's and 3's, because they help you remember how wonderful it was to hold a tiny sweet baby, when said baby is screaming their head off over who-knows-what and you're starting to wonder what you were thinking becoming a parent in the first place.)

The last one is a big one, and it's pretty hard to do at times. Every been there, done that mom has advice. She knows how it worked at her house, and why. But she doesn't know how it works at your house, so when she offers her unsolicited advice kindly smile and thank her for her words. and avoid punching her in the face. You can even try her advice if you want, but know that what works for your sister/mom/aunt/mother-in-law whoever, won't always work for you and your baby. No matter how many times she tells you what to do, or sometimes what you're doing wrong and how to fix it, know that she means well, but she isn't always right. It gets frustrating sometimes having to hear everyone give you unsolicited advice, but it never ends so just get used to it. :)

Being a parent is truly one of the most rewarding, stressful, wonderful, tiresome, scary, beautiful adventures you will ever go on; and it lasts forever. It never gets any easier, but the good news is, you will have a reason to smile for the rest of your life.

So, be flexible, don't take anything too seriously, and enjoy the ride.

My sweet boy and I our first day home from the hospital. 

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Tracy said...

From a former first time mom, and now mom of two. If you plan on more than one, expect the unexpected. I thought "second baby, I get it all now" and then the baby came. And WHAM... Granted my situation is a bit different with all the health issues, but still. I don't think I would have handled it any better.

And btw - love the picture! Makes me tear up a bit!

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