My oldest daughter, Maddie turns 12 next month.
It seems like just last week I was going to my weekly OBGYN appointments, only to hear, “no progress yet”!
Each time, I’d want to cry (and sometimes I did) feeling like I was never going to get my sweet baby out of my enormous belly.
She finally made her appearance 2 weeks after my initial due date and suddenly all the confidence I had before her arrival was replaced with fear, anxiety, and doubt.
I had a lot of experience with children. I babysat for many families during my teen years, I am the oldest of 20 cousins, I have a younger brother, my mom taught preschool and I babysat for parent meetings. I had always wanted to be a mom. I was ready for a baby!
In celebration of Maddie’s upcoming birthday, here are 12 things I wish I’d known as a new mom:
1. There is no one size fits all parenting solution. What works for your best friend may not for you. That’s OK. The world would be extremely boring if we were all the same.
Some people spank, some don’t. I tried it once with Maddie when she was 2 or 3 years old and she laughed at me. Yes, laughed at me…
I was ready to cry my eyes out and she laughed at me. Big belly laughs. I never spanked her again. It was ineffective. Why do something that didn’t work?
Want to know what worked? I put her blanket (which she took everywhere from daycare to Target, to bed) in time out on top of the refrigerator for 2 minutes.
From that moment on, I had the perfect punishment for her. “Blankie” in time out was heartbreaking to my little girl.
Genius, right? Well, when I tried that with my twins (baby #2 and #3), it never worked.
Nora hated her having her stuffed kitty in time out and none of those worked for Blake. With David, (baby #4) he hardly ever needed correction but a quick time out in the corner worked well. Arianna (#5) is the easiest of all, with a stern “Arianna” is enough.
That is 5 siblings where none of them had the same punishment. One size doesn’t fit all!
Be creative. You know your child better than an “expert” author.
2. Some people breastfeed, some don’t. Some moms work, some don’t. Quit judging.
Each mom has her own reasons for what she’s doing. And she may not be doing what she’d like to be. The world is cruel enough without the mommy wars. Be kind, even if you don’t necessarily agree.
3. Diapers do not all fit the same. I’ve had 2 chubby babies, 2 preemies, and 1 petite baby.
When I had Arianna 3 years ago, Pampers Swaddlers was the only brand that had an umbilical cord notch cut out from the diaper. I loved that for cleaning the umbilical stump! (And as one of my great blog readers recently commented, “If your baby has a blow out where it gets on the umbilical cord, use lots of rubbing alcohol and Q-tips!)
Some of my babies had allergies to certain brands of diapers. If you are having leak issues I suggest changing sizes and if that doesn’t work, brands. You will find what works for your child.
4. Cloth diapering really isn’t hard. When I decided to try to cloth diaper the twins it caused quite an uproar. My grandmas envisioned diaper pins (I introduced them to the Snappi, all-in-one diapers and pocket diapers). Many of my friends thought it gross. I did it anyway.
Some cloth diapers are basically like disposables. There are trial packages to give you a feel of how different kinds work. When I started cloth diapering my twins, I had one friend who also cloth diapered. We supported each other and now there are many of my friends who have cloth diapered. If you want to give them a try, do it! Some of the cloth diapers my kids had were not only functional, but adorable. If it doesn’t work for you resell them online!
5. Go with your gut instinct. If you think your child has speech issues, get them tested. If you think your baby has an ear infection, the baby probably does! You may not trust your natural instincts, but in my experience, your instincts are usually correct.
6. What worked for your mom, might not work for you. This all goes back to point one. Don’t stress it and ask mom to respect your parenting wishes.
7. Some babies sleep, some don’t. You are not mom of the year if yours does and you’re not a failure if your baby doesn’t.
You can try different ideas to help with sleep but the bottom line is some kids don’t sleep through the night. I have a 7-year-old that still doesn’t. He gets up to go to the restroom, every night. It has nothing to do with my parenting (and no it doesn’t matter if we cut off his drinks at 6 or 7 p.m.).
8. If your baby is extremely fussy and spits up a lot, check for acid reflux. It could also be colic, or an allergy. Or you might have a poor child with a cranky tummy.
Prevacid did wonders for my middle daughter! Anyone that held her knew they were going to get spit up on. She had to sleep in her bouncy seat because every time she laid flat, she’d spit up. As she got older laying on her tummy helped.
Talk to your pediatrician, there’s a good chance something can be done to help.
9. If you want a simple life, simplify your child’s wardrobe. I know, clothes are adorable. However if you want a simple laundry routine, color coordinate the colors you child wears most of the time. Or limit how many outfits you purchase in each size. If you only have a certain amount of clothes, your laundry can’t pile up.
10. You are not a failure as a parent if your child doesn’t start sports, dance, reading, or any other activity by age 3 (or any age if that’s not their thing). There’s a lot of pressure to get your child involved in extracurricular activities early.
As a mom of 5 let me give you a tip…kids need to play, to have stories read to them, sing songs, and cuddle.
The earlier you put your kids in a bunch of activities, the less time you have cuddling, playing, and reading stories because you are running to events. Enjoy the little years, they really do go fast!
11. Kids do not necessarily need preschool. I know this can be controversial, but you as a parent are completely capable of teaching letters, numbers, rhymes, and how to write your child’s name. Preschool can be good for interaction and learning how to participate in a social environment but your child has learned to share, interact with others, and is respectful, there’s no reason your child needs preschool.
12. Take care of yourself. I hope you stayed with me through this long list because this is one of the most important tips!
If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. You can’t give your children your best when you don’t take care of yourself. Also if you don’t take care of yourself, what are you teaching your children?
It’s important to get adequate sleep. Take a nap when your baby does if you are up for night feedings and are tired.
Eat healthy food and if it’s hard to exercise outside the home, play games with your kids where you get your heart rate up!
If you’re married, keep your marriage a top priority. It’s a wonderful thing for kids to grow up seeing mom and dad in love. Go on dates. Get a babysitter (Grandma if you have to). You were a couple before baby, I want you to be a couple after baby.