9 Tips for New Parents

{this photo was from P's newborn photo shoot; a great shot but what you don't see is how we had to break every 5 minutes for P to nurse, then fall asleep, then try the photos again. lather, rinse, repeat.}

 

I know so many people who have either just had babies or are about to have babies in the coming months. It's such an exciting time. I remember being as prepared as I could possibly be to become a parent. Of course, nothing can really prepare you to be a parent, amiright? I never fully believed or understood what people meant when they said it was the hardest thing ever, especially those first few months of parenthood. Life is completely turned on its head. If I'm being honest, and I like to be honest around here...I wondered why I went and disturbed the perfect life I had B.C. (before children).

I think that once you get past those first few months, your brain begins to black out those initial months. If it didn't, well, I don't know how anyone would have more than one child. I'm no expert, no sociologist, no PhD or anything like that...but today I'm sharing a few pieces of advice that I wish I had prior to becoming a parent, or even at those dark moments when I felt alone and like there was no upturn in sight. So! I'm bringing back Baby Talk Tuesday and I hope those of you having kids or thinking of having kids will find these few bits of advice useful (and not scary...for those of you about to give birth, perhaps bookmark this for a week after you are home from the hospital and consult as you would an old friend ;))!

 

Get up and go. Don’t miss out on life because you have a baby. It’s not always easy. In fact it’s actually very hard (6 airplane rides spring to mind...). Many times we do things with Penelope in tow, and I think, wow it would have been so much easier to just stay home. But staying home isn’t living life. The more you go, the easier it becomes and the more adaptable your child will be.

Have someone who you can pay to watch your child. We are so lucky to have our own parents to babysit all the time. They help us pick P up from daycare in a jam. They watch her overnight if we need to go out of town. They are so present and amazing. But sometimes, they are busy. Sometimes, it's nice to have another option;  a person who you trust who you can pay to watch your child. They will do things exactly as you instruct. They won't wonder what time you are coming home from a date night, whether too early or too late. When everyone in your family is invited to the same wedding, she will be there to watch your baby. It's just freeing to have that extra back up, that's all I'm sayin'.

Do what works for you. I remember the first week I was home with Penelope after she was born. She would sleep for 1.5 hour increments overnight and then take an hour after each sleep session to nurse. It was torturous. At one point, I called my mom to ask her whether, when Penelope wakes up to eat overnight, should I feed her first, or change her diaper first? (In hindsight, this seems a silly thing to ask, but I knew nothing about babies then). My mom said to do what worked for me. And that is advice I've carried through whenever things get tough or I don't know how to handle a situation. What works for me, my husband and my baby is what I'm doing.

 

Caffeinate. Once you become a parent, you will be more tired then you have ever been in your life. And that's another thing that was inconceivable until I became a parent. You will wonder how the @#$% you manage to function on such a small amount of sleep for such a long period of time. So drink up!

Be ok with being a mess. Right after P was born, we had a steady stream of visitors for weeks. I was so determined to be the put-together mom; to be unaffected by just having given birth and sleeping in hour increments between nursing all night long. I was so concerned with having a clean house, looking thin, fitting into my old clothes, wearing make up, having perfect hair and portraying that I had it all together. Looking back on that time, I wish I had just let it be; just allowed myself to be a mess for a little while. To just focus on the time I had at home, without worrying about how it looked to outsiders.

Create a Dropbox account to house all of those photos you'll be taking. ...because there will be a lot of them. It's a great and inexpensive way to back up the mountains of photos that you will undoubtedly accrue and want to preserve until the end of time. I have a paid Dropbox account and it's one of the best investments I make each month. I love that I can access it anywhere and don't have to worry about a hard drive crashing or breaking.

 

Consider getting a tablet, a Netflix account or at the very least, a smartphone. Friends, there are a whole lotta hours you'll be spending in the deepest, darkest times of the night when you'll feel as though you are soul-crushingly the only person alive on the Earth. My iPad, filled with a long blogroll, and a Netflix account connected to my TV and also on the iPad made those 3AM feedings so much more tolerable.

Find friends who also have kids. The truth is that no one will understand your life or what has just happened to you, aside from other new parents. Even your own parents, aunts, uncles and older people in your life will have forgotten the trials and tribulations of being a new mom or dad and they will be so swept up in the adorableness of your new child that they will think you are kind of crazy for saying out loud how tough it is. Make friends with people with young children, reconnect with old friends who are also having babies. You'll thank them for understanding...and me for the suggestion.

 

Take care of yourself. Above all, do this. Order in dinner when you can't possibly scrounge together more than a yogurt and some old peanuts. Hire a cleaning service to come in and help get your place in order. Sleep whenever you can. Make no excuses for how your life is now turned upside down. Take care of your partner. You're going to need him/her. Cry when you need to (and you will need to). Take a deep breath. Snuggle your bundle of sweet baby and remember that it's all going to be ok. This is just a blip on the radar of a long, fun, loving life together.

 

 

I don't want to sound bleak. Being a parent rocks (it really does!), but it's hard and I think sometimes people don't talk about that part. It's wonderful to have a cute baby to snuggle and on a daily basis, you will feel as though your heart could simply burst with this love that you don't even know what to do with. There will be adorable outfits, finger grabs as your baby stares into your eyes, a first smile that makes you want to sing from the rooftops, little laughs that make your life worth living and tiny toes! oh those tiny toes. And don't even get me started on the thigh rolls. But.

But. As a new parent, you are the one who is always on, never missing a beat, always needing to handle any possible situation that you will be totally unprepared for: projectile poop, lack of a latch at 4AM, constant crying, irregular rashes, normal parental neurosis (I swear, I still wake up in the middle of the night and check to ensure P is breathing)...and it's often really hard, especially in the beginning (I should tell you that by now, projectile poop has nothin' on me). The fact that people seem to gloss over these things, or make it seem as though this isn't the case...well, I always had a tough time accepting that and so I wanted to give it to you straight. It IS hard. You will PROBABLY seek advice. And above all, you WILL make it through.

Stay rested, my friends!