The parenting advice I didn’t get
There are a handful of sentences that will forever ring in my memory. Among them, “Enjoy sleep now because you won’t sleep once the baby comes” is a standout.
I’ve also been given home remedies that likely haven’t been practiced since the turn of the century, like “Try putting a little whisky on your teething baby’s gums.”
Expectant and new parents are showered with unsolicited advice; it can be all-consuming and overwhelming. We know others mean well, but if I have to hear “Put pablum in her formula to help her sleep” one more time…
Old wives tales aside, I was given very little practical advice. I asked others about strollers, I endlessly googled the make, model and safety rating of car seats and asked friends which bottle brands they preferred. I never wondered about whether I might encounter complications after delivery or how to handle my post-partum hormones, or how much my growing baby should eat.
Breast or formula? I knew ‘breast was best,’ because I was told so many times I could hear those three simple words in my sleep. I didn’t know, however that my newborn would be writhing in pain and often inconsolable after feedings. I didn’t know what GERD was either: gastroesophageal reflux disease, or to put it simply, infant acid reflux. And I didn’t know it was possible for my baby to spit up more than he took in. I didn’t recall hearing any words of wisdom about dealing with GERD.
I’ve never quite appreciated what “sleeping like a baby” might be like, especially since I was blessed with a baby who preferred catnaps over a couple hours of shuteye. My second child was programmed to sleep 20-30 minutes at a time. The mini-sleep sessions were coupled with colic, so for the first three months of our daughter’s life, I felt like I failed her in the sleep department. I couldn’t help her body kick into REM sleep and I wasn’t able to calm her. The witching hour began each night at 9:00 p.m.; for three painstaking hours, I desperately tried to ease her discomfort. I was never given advice about this, albeit it never crossed my mind.
Practical advice for parents
I have no desire to hop on the entitled mom bandwagon but there are a few pieces of advice I wish someone had offered up:
Buy second-hand and accept gently used items
Full disclosure: I wanted the best for my bundles of joy. I realized having champagne taste is not only impractical, but buying every baby item brand spanking new can seriously deplete your savings. I learned that accepting used clothing and other baby goods that didn’t pose a hygiene risk was wonderful. The old clothing is new to your baby and it allows you to spend on other things you might not otherwise have in your budget.
Make time for date night
“Enjoy your time as a couple now because you won’t have a date for another 18 years.”
You can actually have quality time alone with your partner if you make it a priority. My husband and I went on our first baby-free date when my son was just a few weeks old. Yes, I worried about him and it’s true, Tristan dominated our dinnertime conversation. But I also realized date nights, no matter how few and far between, are an important part of a couple’s relationship.
Modesty is down the drain
Bathroom breaks and showers are no longer private. It’s simply a fact in our home. I’ve tried to shut the door, ask for privacy, and even tiptoe away to my ceramic floor sanctuary. I’m convinced there’s some sort of child potty sensor because it never ceases to amaze me how quickly my children will find me. I’ve even succumbed to having my toddler climb onto my lap when I’m visiting the porcelain throne. It’s one of those parenting realities I never considered before children.
Your wardrobe will never be the same
Need to buy a pair of mom jeans with an elastic waistband? I was prepared for that. What I didn’t know is how much excrement can project from a ten pound baby’s body. I’ve bounced my squealing child on my knee only to learn she had happily left a little “accident” on my leg. I’ve washed far too many milk-stained t-shirts. I’ve had more vomit run down my neck and back than I could measure. I would have appreciated some pointers on how to successfully deal with that without dry heaving.
I’ve also learned that when your loved ones offer advice, they usually mean well. So, my advice is, take it with a grain of salt. Advice can come from many places, for more tips on parenting, savings, budgeting and more, visit the Heritage Blog.