Monday, August 05, 2013

Advice for Soon-to-Be Parents

Some good friends of ours are at the hospital today expecting their first baby. I am so excited for them and have been thinking about what kind of advice I would offer brand new parents.

Here are a few things we have learned over the last 21 months...
1. Nothing can prepare you for becoming a parent. On-the-job training is the only way to truly garner the right experience. Once your precious bundle arrives you will be thrown into the fires of parenthood and there is no turning back. You will learn as you go. In a year, you will be so shocked at how far you have come.

2. If you are ever unsure about a parenting decision, just think back to how you were raised. Your parents did a pretty good job (you're alive, right?), and they did it without all of the products we have access to today. If they could do it, so can you.

3. Those first few weeks are going to be tough. You will be running on very little sleep. It's going to get a little harry at times, but it will be ok.

4. Things that might have grossed you out before parenthood, well, they won't bother you so much any more. I'm not saying that changing diapers is pleasant, but you will soldier through the tough stuff because you love your child.

5. Nothing can really prepare you for the love that you will feel for this child. Daniel and I have both been shocked by how excited the little things our son does can make us. We want to get up and cheer for every little milestone. On the flip side, it hurts to watch him experience any kind of pain. That first fever. The crying that you can't figure out. It all makes you hurt for him. Having a child is truly like watching your heart walk around outside your body (paraphrase of Elizabeth Stone quote).

6. You will be anxious for your little one to learn how to do things. Each new thing is exciting: rolling over, crawling, standing, etc. But one day you will wake up and realize that you miss those moments of snuggling your newborn.

7. Never be afraid to do what you feel is best for your baby and your family. There are so many right ways to parent. The mommy wars are ridiculous and you shouldn't give into pressure to do something a certain way. What works best for some, may be a terrible solution for others. Go with your gut and do what you believe is best for your child and your family (after all it isn't just about the baby).

8. Once you feel comfortable getting out of the house, do it. Make an effort to go to church, or to the grocery store, or out for dinner as a family. You can only get good at those things by trying. You will probably have some moments of feeling overwhelmed but it's ok. Just get out there and try.

9. Don't be too afraid to let people interact with you and your baby. For instance, at the grocery store, we always interact with other shoppers (even when my son was little). I always say "hi" and smile and engage with people who show interest in my child. People love to see babies. I know not everyone will agree with me on this and you obviously need to keep your baby safe, but I really believe that it is good to engage with people around you.

10. Your life is going to change, no doubt about it, but it is ok to do things you did before you had a baby. If you work at it, your child can adapt to how you want to live your life – after all they have nothing to compare it to. 

This baby thing may take some time to adjust to, but you will get the hang of it. I promise.

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