I love giving advice to new moms. In fact, it might just be my favorite thing EVER. Maybe because my first baby was not a typical newborn by any stretch of the imagination. Even during the labor and delivery process I found myself throwing out almost every bit of advice I had received from well meaning family and friends.
I appreciated every single person that gave me advice, but 2 babies later I realize that not all advice is worthwhile, and some advice can actually become dangerous or at the very least counter productive in certain circumstances.
Here are the tips you can throw out, followed by some that remain timeless and worthwhile:
Sleep when the baby sleeps – If there is one piece of advice that can I consider the most damaging, it’s this little nugget. First off, what if the baby DOESN’T sleep? My first baby slept in 45 minute increments (or less) the first 3 weeks of his life (until we found out he had reflux).
Secondly, I think it sets parents up for failure. Picture this, the baby lays down for a nap. You look longingly at your bed, but you know that you have a to do list a mile long. You are supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps though, so you lay down and try your best.
Baby wakes up. You still have your to do list though and now instead of enjoying the time with your baby, you are quickly trying to wash dishes or take a quick shower.
Sleep when you are tired and when you feel like you can. Alternate shifts with your significant other. Sleep is important for sure. But don’t force it. Life has to happen to. Don’t feel guilty for getting your stuff done, so that when your baby is awake you can enjoy your baby and when you are ready to sleep, you can enjoy your sleep!
Say goodbye to showers and self care – This one BUGS me (perhaps because I’m guilty of using the excuse myself). I mean, it really bugs me. I had two kids 22 months apart. You know what I made a priority? Showering. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had days where I don’t even get a chance to brush my teeth. That was a choice though. I prioritized other things over my own self care.
Motherhood does not mean you stop taking care of yourself. In fact, it’s the best reason EVER to take care of yourself! I don’t always prioritize self care. In fact, I rarely do. It’s still a choice though. Motherhood did not take that choice away from me.
You’ve never known true love until you have had a child – Nope. Just nope. There is NO love like the love you will have for your child. Personally, I think it’s the best love. That bond between parent and child is intense and passionate. However, I also have a tremendous and passionate love for my spouse. For God. I have a wonderful and deep love for my friends and family. I consider those loves to be pure and true as well.
I don’t think you can compare the love for a child with much else, but I don’t think it’s the only true love. Not at all.
You can’t spoil a baby – This one is going to cause a fight. I simply don’t believe it though. I’ve seen it in action. Baby is with me all week long, we’re fine! We spend the weekend with family and friends and baby is passed from one loving set of arms to another. Come Monday morning, I can’t go to the bathroom without a scream fest.
I mean, how would you feel if your significant other lavished you with attention and then abruptly took it away because it’s really time you learned to sleep in your own bed! Babies can absolutely be spoiled. This isn’t a bad thing either. Spoil your baby. Love them and give them tons of attention. However, know that you are setting up expectations.
If you cuddle your baby to sleep every night, don’t expect them to go quietly into their crib when you want to leave them with grandma for a date night. If you spend all day entertaining them, don’t expect them to know how to play on their own when you need to take that important work call. If you have the lifestyle that allows you to be by your baby’s side every second of every day, then by all means, do so! However, if at some point, you are going to have to step away to take care of things…you might want to rethink just how strict you are going to be about your attachment parenting (I baby wore, co slept, etc…so I don’t want to hear that I don’t know what I’m talking about here!)
Doing XYZ will kill your baby and at the very least scar them for life – Insert whatever topic is hot button at the moment and there you have it. The truth is, babies are hardy folk. They are tough and they are resilient and we’ve been raising them for thousands of years based on “wrong information” at the time and they have still survived and thrived. This doesn’t mean that the latest science isn’t worthy. It doesn’t mean that you should throw the baby in the backseat of your car in a wicker basket.
What it does mean is that you can only work with what you know. Educate yourself and do what comes naturally. Protect your baby. Remember, most of us slept in cribs painted with lead paint and toddled around in walkers right next to ungated staircases and untethered bookshelves heavy with Encyclopedia Brittanicas. We’re still here. Don’t ignore the latest recommendations, just do the best you can with the information you have. That’s all any of us can do.
Now here are some tips that you can count on:
Be prepared to have your heart broken – Parenthood is tough. When they hurt, you hurt. When they feel pain, you feel pain. My favorite parenting quote is this: “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”― Elizabeth Stone . That’s exactly what it feels like. Exactly.
It goes fast – It won’t feel like it when they are newborns. It will speed up a bit when they are toddlers. You’ll blink and they’ll be out of preschool. It becomes a runaway train once they hit elementary school. TOTAL truth.
You will fail – Yes you will. Don’t say you won’t, you will fail the second the words leave your mouth. It’s okay though. See above about how tough and resilient these little ones are.
Parenthood can be lonely – Find friends. Reach out to family. Go to play groups. Do life with others, it will make this parenting thing much more fun.
Take tons of pictures and videos – The walk down memory lane is precious. Don’t overdo it. The pictures don’t have to be perfect. If your kiddo only knows what you look like if you have a camera in front of your face, you are taking it too far. You won’t regret capturing those moments though.