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Congratulations on becoming a parent! Whether you’re still expecting, new to the parenting world or just needing to brush up after a long gap between kiddos it’s a very exciting and overwhelming time. Overwhelming from all that you need to accomplish, earn and buy but also overwhelming thanks to all the strangers who NEED to tell you how to be a parent.
Unsolicited advice can be frustrating. I get it. BUT. Some of the most amazing things I’ve learned as a parent came from the advice of experienced parents I’ve met along the way.
So in the spirit of unsolicited advice, we are sharing some of our own favorite advice as well as the advice of our amazing followers to hopefully help make your experience just a little bit easier.
Reach out for help. I know we ALL say it but that’s because we’ve learned over time that help is necessary in raising children. We have all been through the hardest of days, I promise that no one will think twice to help when you ask.
You will feel exclusive. You know that people have been having babies since the dawn of time and yet for some reason when you have your first child it feels like this is exclusive to you. It’s a magical feeling.
Make time for you. Whether it’s a shower, grocery shopping, girls night, date night or sitting in the pantry eating candy so you don’t have to share…make time for YOU.
Take it one day at a time. If you think too much about how long the hard parts will last or when you’ll EVER be able to sleep again you’ll go crazy. Take it little by little, I promise it’s easier.
You WILL sleep again. I know you want it to be tonight. But even if it’s not tonight, it will happen. Try to snuggle up and savor the moment in the middle of the night every once in a while. You’ll be glad you did when they’re 12 and stinky.
Don’t compare yourself to other parents. That mom across the street isn’t gaining as much as you in her pregnancy? You got an epidural and your friend didn’t? A mom in your moms group is doing baby signs with her 1 month old? It’s ok. We all do it differently. If you like what someone else is doing then by all means take a page from their book but never feel like your parenting isn’t as good as theirs.
Don’t compare your child to other children. See above. Just like parents, babies, toddlers & children are all different. They all grow and learn differently and do it at their own speed. Don’t worry that someone else’s baby is rolling over when yours can barely keep their head up. They will all catch up eventually, but if you have worries never hesitate to ask your pediatrician.
Go ahead and let it out. Cry. You don’t have to be strong all the time, this gig is HARD and unpredictable and it makes you feel legitimately crazy sometimes. Cry. It’s so good for you and for your sanity.
Buy extras of everything. Pacifiers, crib sheets, changing pad covers, socks, hats…everything. You lose socks no matter how hard you try not to, and you go through all of your crib sheets in one bad day so always keep extras handy!
Use a basket or extra diaper bag to keep essentials in the car. Extra diapers, wipes, outfits, burp cloths, bags to dispose of diapers or keep clothes contained after a blowout and as they grow I still keep it in the car. You NEVER know when a blowout or carsickness wave will hit!
Stock up on cheap white onesies. I put them on under every outfit when baby is new to control blowouts a little better with less mess on the more expensive clothes and my kids’ umbilical cords all bled a little every once in a while and it saved so many of my favorite outfits from being blood stained!
Don’t stock up on newborn diapers. More likely than not, your baby will be in size 1 within a week or so of birth. Stock up on the size 1, if anything.
Don’t unpack all those diapers! Open up one package at a time. Sometimes babies break out with skin reactions to some brands and not others. If this happens, try different brands and when you find what works for you, return all of your other diapers and buy the brand you like best.
Layer crib sheets and blankets on the mattress (and buy a mattress pad!). Here’s how I make up the crib with a little one: mattress pad, crib sheet, blanket, crib sheet. If there’s a mess in the middle of the night you simply pull off the sheet and blanket and you’re good to go!
Layer diapers. Diaper changes are another time you can end up with a nasty mess if not done carefully. Babies pee and poop on their own schedule and do not take into account that there’s no diaper there. Slide the new diaper under the baby before you take the old one off and you won’t have a mess! If they pee or poop you can quickly clean it up.
A white noise machine might just be your new best friend. Keeping noise going while baby sleeps will keep them from waking up when you make random noise around the house!
Put EVERYTHING on your registry. Everything. Diapers, wipes, shampoo, your crib etc. Not that you expect people to buy them for you (but it’s awesome if they do!) but at the end of your pregnancy, most stores will send you a hefty coupon to finish buying everything on your registry. Some require you buy from your registry so add everything you’ll need and save a ton! Also, if there are items you need to return but don’t have a receipt, add it to your registry before you return it. Your registry works as a sort of receipt!
Find a rocking chair that comes up above your head. You will appreciate the spot to rest your tired head when you’re up rocking your crying baby or nursing in the middle of the night.
Park your car as close to a cart return as possible. Always. It is exponentially easier to get in and out of a store if you can get a cart or return it without having to go too far from your vehicle.
Make a medical box filled with infant acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen, gas drops and thermometer before you have your baby. You don’t want to be the parent that needs to take their screaming feverish baby to the store, it’s best to have it all on hand.
FROM OUR FOLLOWERS
“Don’t wish it away…those milestones will be a memory”
“Never ever ever if you can help it, let them miss their normal bedtime thinking ‘Oh just one more hour wont hurt’ ” (It hurts…trust us!)
“Trust yourself and take it one day at a time. It’s an absolutely beautiful time.”
“As your baby grows, you will also grow as a Mom. You and your baby are in this together. Nobody knows everything from the beginning.”
“Two words..dry shampoo. Some days your shower won’t happen but at least your hair won’t give you away.”
“Always read a book to them at night”
“When you walk into a room and everyone is focused on the baby, this is a good thing! While they are focused on your baby’s cuteness, they are not seeing the dark circles under your eyes from lost sleep or the fact that your hair hasn’t been washed in 3 days.”
“Sit and Watch them. They do a lot of very interesting and impressive things we don’t notice because we are too busy trying to clean, feed, dress, and take care of them.”
“It’s ok to decline visitors!”