the new parent Non-Handbook

I fear that my last parenthood post may have shocked my almost-parent friends into stunned silence.  Because, although I got over 100 comments and emails, they were all from already-parents saying “hear-hear” and the like.  So what I’d like to do is put together something tangible for all my friends to take away.  I mean, we all read loads and loads of parenting books and get loads and loads of advice from everyone before, during and after pregnancy.  But half the books you throw out the window and half the advice is nebulous (i.e. “Sleep now! While you can!”)

So, what I’d like to ask from all of my parent readers is to add a comment with the best advice they’ve gotten (or wish they had gotten) about parenting.  And the more specific the better.  For example, here’s my #1 Must Do:  Get a parent posse.  Specifically, join an online group (preferably one that also meets in real life), go to meetings, playgrounds, music classes, the gym, anything.  Then invite other parents to hang out.  You’re really not going to feel like doing this half the time.  But if you do, eventually you’ll surround yourself with other parents you can count on and kids your children will grow up with.  And you’ll get out of the house.  This is a way to create the community that we need to raise our kids without going bonkers from isolation.

So leave a comment!  Help some new parents!

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15 responses to “the new parent Non-Handbook”

  1. Nancy

    1. Schedule a date night at least once a month.

    2. Try to have at least 30 minutes of time to yourself every day.

    3. Go outside as much as possible. A little air makes you feel better.

  2. Stacy C

    1. Sometimes, it’s ok to let the baby cry, when you’ve changed the diaper, fed them, burped them, and made sure nothing is hurting them.

    2. Listen to your parenting instincts. You know your child better than anyone else ever could.

    3. Remember that every stage passes very quickly. It may seem like it’s lasting forever when you’re in the middle of it, but it will be over before you know it. That can be good AND bad.

  3. Rebecca

    Parenting is like the weather. If you don’t like the weather right now wait around 20 minutes and it will change. It’s a constantly changing landscape for kids and the adults who parent them. If you’re frustrated with a certain stage or behavior right now, just about the time you get a handle on it they’re over it and have moved on. I don’t know if that’s advice of the comforting kind but it helps me when I’m wrangling with one of the girls over something to take moment to remember some issue that was a HUGE problem six month ago and has now completely vanished.

  4. Kristen

    As a facilitator of new moms groups, I completely agree with your post Cheris! I’d say building a new community of mommy friends is EXTREMELY impt. as they understand what you’re going through (and are home during the day!). It’s also impt. to keep those “old” friends in your life…to keep you grounded and help draw out the pre-baby you.

    I think maintaining an intimate relationship with your partner is impt. (ie. he doesn’t need to know about every poopy diaper…but he does need to know how appreciated he is). If you can’t get out alone, take advantage of the sleeping baby and listen to music, talk, cuddle, or have some wine. Your life is not just about being parents.

    Remember your own needs. You need to eat, sleep, and be fulfilled – it will make you a better mommy. Take a walk..let some of the chores go..allow time for showers/baths. Do your hobbies (on the floor if you have to) while baby plays on a mat/exersaucer. You may not read those novels as quickly or keep up with the scrap booking, but every bit your accomplish will feel good.

    There are LOTS of free things to do…and groups to join. Momsclub.org and meetup.com have groups in every city. Find any family-friendly activity which gets you out of the house without spending mucho dinero.

    Forgive yourself. You are not perfect. Let it go. Screw the dishes in the sink & the over-flowing diaper genie, let yourself cry if you need to, accept help…ASK for it! Ignore the advice of others (sorry!) and use the pacifier if it helps, let the baby sleep in the swing,…do what works for you and your child. Forget how it was “back in the day.”

    Recognize all your small achievements (and that of baby and daddy too!). Did you manage to eat breakfast while nursing baby in the moby? Horray! Were you able to have an adult conversation after waking five times in the night? Impressive! Did you shower this week? Wow! Yes, celebrate everything!!!

  5. Nanda

    1. Don’t let random strangers make you feel bad. I’ve gotten lots of great advice about parenting, but never from the lady on the street (Put a hat on that baby! That sling is not comfortable for the baby. Etc.)

    2. It’s okay to get mad sometimes. As long as you are not doing some kind of really abusive damage, I think it’s a necessary part of parenting.

    3. Related to #2: Don’t let anger about the kids build up until you take it out on your husband, or vice-versa. Address issues that bug you as they arise, with the person who is involved, to spare the innocent bystanders.

  6. Sunni

    1. It’s okay to lose your shit and cry. Heck, it’s expected. Just let it out/let it pass and you’ll feel better.

    2. Don’t take everything personally. Especially comments from an equally fatigued partner.

    3. The first baby will be hard and those first six weeks may feel like a grueling marathon (at least they did to me!). Hang in there – it gets better.

    4. For Mamas planning to breastfeed, this was the hardest transition for me. My friend referred to the first 6-8 weeks as breastfeeding bootcamp – this perspective was my lifeline. Oh, and see a good lactation consultant, if only to put your fears to rest.

  7. Kristine

    1. Cut the tops off of a pair of baby socks (you know the kind with the thick elastic band at the top) and use them on onsies. It really helps keep your baby’s feet in the footed part of the outfit.

    2. Nap when baby’s napping! You might not get another chance. Housework can wait or ask for help.

  8. deb

    The best advice I got was after crying over some book and the advice “they were giving”. I was talking to my sister in tears over the parenting crisis of the day and I said, “well, they say…”, she cut me off and said, “Who the hell are THEY and how do THEY know your child. Go with your gut and you will be happier and more relaxed”. Upon taking the advice life was much easier.

    Next is remember that your marriage and your husband must come before the child so have a date night and nurture that relationship. Yes, men are like babies and need their attention too.

  9. Robin

    You can safely sleep with your baby if you want to. Sometimes it’s much easier than the alternatives.

    You can’t spoil a baby. Love and cuddle all you want.

  10. reen

    1. You really only need a blanket, a boob (or bottle), and only optionally, a bed! Well, you know, and a car seat. Really, you don’t need to go out and buy tons of stuff, I think most of us found we had more than we needed to be ready for our first babies.

    2. It was said above but bears repeating: Learn to ask for and accept help. Humans were not equipped to parent in a vacuum – and they naturally want to help each other out.

    3. Read the baby/parenting books with a HUGE grain of salt, and listen to relatives with the whole salt shaker. Your gut instinct is the right one.

  11. Cynthia

    Be flexible. Because most of the time, you won’t have much of a choice about it anyway.

  12. Lynda Quintana

    get out of the house everyday or the cabin fever will creep up on you.

    Get a sling when the baby won’t let you put them down. You can get a lot done hands free without resenting having to carry a baby everywhere and you can surf, nurse, shop, talk on the phone and walk.

    Read books just for yourself too, not just parenting books.

    Remember you are not perfect, and you don’t want to be perfect. it is a huge fall off a stool.

    If a friend says something ugly to you about your choices, call her/him on it. It will keep you from dropping them as a friend if they actually did not mean to hurt your feelings.

    If you choose to breastfeed or formula feed, don’t belittle someone else for their choices.

    Yes you can get more sleep when the baby sleeps with you. And it is okay and yes they will move out of your bed.

    you can have sex in the closet or other places other than the bed.

    Ignore comments about “you are still nursing” Don’t you want your body back?

    Trust yourself! Don’t follow advice that does not sit right in your heart.

  13. Jennifer

    Don’t discount the power of hormones. A lot of what you may be feeling (like an emotional roller coaster, perhaps) after having your baby can be attributed to hormones. And realize it’s just physiological, and will pass.

  14. Barbara

    So much good advice already! I’ll add:
    Kids are weird about food and eating, and it’s ok. You don’t need to waste your money on baby food if she doesn’t like it. You don’t need to start solids at 4, 5, or 6, or even 7 months. Your baby will go through periods of extreme hunger or extreme sleepiness. Don’t freak out, it’s a growth spurt. Sleep disturbances in babies and young children usually signal developmental milestones and are temporary. Hormones will wreak havoc on your body; not everyone will get a postpartum disorder, but read up on the various kinds and have a support net in place.

  15. Barbara

    oops. Make that “extreme hunger AND extreme sleepiness”!

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