10 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me About Parenthood

So, you’re expecting a baby! Very likely, from the very first time that you announced it, you were given a piece of advice. Or maybe several pieces.  There is nothing like having a baby to compel family, friends, and total strangers to tell you what you should do with that little meatloaf once it’s born. I understand the hypocrisy of writing an article like this while simultaneously scoffing at those who give advice, but I’m going to give you the straight deal, yo. I’m not going to tell you whether you should co-sleep or vaccinate or breast-feed, because those are all personal decisions.  But there are some things that I learned the hard way that would have made my life way easier if I had just known them up front.

  • Don’t listen to advice.  Okay, finish reading the rest of this article and then start ignoring advice. Most people mean well, but what works for one parent and baby doesn’t necessarily work for another. From the day that your baby is born, you will know that child better than anyone else does. You will know what works for your family and what doesn’t. When a stranger comes up to you and tells you that you should stop your son from sucking his thumb because it means that he’s going to have dental problems for the rest of his life, you should smile and walk away. Or tell them to piss off. Whatever is your own personal style.
  • Do what works. You might have some idea now about what kind of parent you want to be and what kind of parenting techniques you plan to use. That might work out. It might not. Most parents that I know have had to suck it up and do at least one thing that they told themselves they would never do. Just go with it. If you planned to exclusively baby-wear, but your baby will only sleep if he’s in a stroller, then do what you have to do. If you wanted to co-sleep but you change your mind because your baby is a restless sleeper, put him in his own room and get some rest. Being a parent is all about learning what works, and you won’t know until you’re doing it.
  • Don’t feel guilty. This is one that I’m still having a challenging time with. Parenting is a tough gig, and nobody gets it done perfectly. You’ll do some things that, in hindsight, you wish you had done differently. You can’t continue to beat yourself up over it. Consider it a learning process, because it is. And please, do NOT let anyone else make you feel guilty about your choices; you chose them for a reason. You’re free to change your mind, but please don’t do it because someone else made you feel bad about what you’re doing. As long as you have your baby’s health and happiness in mind, you’ll do fine.
  • Don’t Google anything. This applies to you while you’re pregnant as well. I’m only half-kidding about this. Here is an example about how the internet is designed to make parents crazy. Maybe your baby’s had a stuffy nose for a few days and you want to look online to see if it’s anything to be worried about. You Google it and are immediately overwhelmed with a barrage of message board posts from parents whose baby had EXACTLY the same symptoms and they waited to go to the hospital and their baby DIED. Or maybe you are confronted with posts from parents writing that the reason babies get sick is because they are formula-fed and if your baby was just breast-fed, it would never get sick. People who have a story to tell or a soapbox to stand on use the internet to do so. People whose babies have a bit of a cold and get over it probably aren’t going to post about it. I’m not saying to never look anything up (educating yourself about your baby is important), but review the results with a critical mind. And if you are truly concerned, talk to an expert in your real life.
  • Let things go. Having a baby around means that priorities change. Maybe your house is a mess and you’ve ordered take-out for the third time this week. Maybe you’re wearing the same milk-covered shirt that you were wearing yesterday. Things like this won’t matter as much as they did in the pre-baby days. I would way rather take my baby to the park on a nice sunny day than spend that time cleaning my house. The dishes can wait another day.
  • Take care of yourself. I know, I just told you to let things go. But you can’t just let yourself completely go. Being a full-time caretaker of anyone is draining, and you need to practice some self-care. Simple things like making sure you eat and have a shower can make a big difference. You need some time for you. Take some time to go fishing or go to the gym or read a book or whatever recharges your batteries. There are times when it might seem impossible, but it’s really important so try to fit it in.
  • Don’t compare yourself and your baby to other parents and babies. All parents do things differently and all babies develop at different rates. Babies are people, and they have their own personalities. Comparing yourself or them to anyone else is pointless.
  • Sleep when you can. You might be a parent, but you’re still a human being and you need to sleep. For some people, it works to sleep when the baby sleeps. Maybe you need to bring in someone to watch the baby so that you can have a nap. Whatever you need to do, do it.
  • Accept help. Especially in the early days, right after your baby is born, people will be tripping over themselves to help you out. Take them up on it! They won’t be there for long, believe me. After a couple of months, people go back to their own lives and you’ll be flying solo. So accept those home-cooked meals and offers of house cleaning while you can.
  • Have fun! After hearing all the horror stories about sleepless nights and dirty diapers and incessant crying you might be wondering what you’re in for. I remember my baby shower at work was so filled with warnings about what was to come that it felt like a funeral. Yup, being a parent is hard work. But your life is about to get awesome! People wouldn’t have more than one kid if the good stuff didn’t outweigh the bad. Honestly, the first time your little baby looks at you with recognition and smiles, it won’t matter when the last time was that you got a full night of sleep.  Those little guys change so quickly, so enjoy yourself and them. Being a parent is the best!
Smiling Baby

Image courtesy of SEPpics, stock.xchng

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2 thoughts on “10 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me About Parenthood

  1. Hi. A great post with some great advice, all of which I would also subscribe to. Ever child and every parent is unique and there are some great tips around but none are guaranteed to work. Go with the flow is a good philosophy.

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