The Best Parenting Advice I’ve Ever Been Given!
Recently a mom in one of my parenting groups on Facebook (there is a group for everything these days and I learn so much from others around the world!) was asking what moms wished they’d been told before becoming a mom. This is a pretty common topic in these groups and a quick search will probably have you seeing many forums with moms asking the same question. As moms we tend to like to be prepared lol.
So what is the best parenting advice? Well this obviously varied depending on who was responding, but here are some of the best answers most often given…
Take time for yourself.
Whether it’s a book, your favorite tv show or even a shower where you get to shave and wash your hair, do something that makes you feel good. Fill your cup so you have something to pour into your family’s, if you don’t take care of yourself, then you will struggle to take care of others.
Listen and then stand your ground.
You receive a LOT of unsolicited advice as a parent, possibly more than even when you were a kid. Take what suits your family and leave the rest. Sometimes, and honestly this feels like most the time, the advice is completely contrary to everything you are trying to achieve with your child. But sometimes, usually when you least expect it, there is this pearl of wisdom that can completely change your worldview for the better. So don’t be afraid to hear someone out, but if it goes against what you’re philosophy as a parent is then do stand your ground and politely, but firmly, tell them “Thank you for the advice, but this is what works for our family.”
Cherish this time.
Ok, so this is way easier said than done, especially when sleep deprived or when your baby is crying for seemingly no reason, but it’s so important.
This can look many ways, but my recommendation is multifaceted to get you through the now and years from now. First, hold that baby. Don’t be afraid of spoiling that precious soul, as this age there is no way to spoil them. But when you hold them, take a minute of two to really see them and all the details that are purely them; their eyelashes, their fingers and toes, the mussed hair, and pouty lips… this is easiest when they sleep lol.
Next try and take a photo and video every day. There’s an app I use called 1 Second Everyday that will take your photos and 1-1.5 seconds of video from everyday to create a mashup of any time frame you choose. I use it for each month and it’s amazing to see the progress, especially in the early stages. I also HIGHLY advise you to print these images whether in little books like chatbooks or full on albums and canvas prints, you won’t regret it. Oh and BE IN THE PICTURE! Your child won’t care if your hair is a mess, if you haven’t lost the baby weight (or if like me put it all back on), of the image isn’t lit just right with the perfect focus, they want to be able to have pictures and videos of YOU.
They want to be able to have pictures and videos of YOU.
Sleep when baby sleeps.
This is so true at the beginning especially because babies don’t typically sleep very long, but to be honest I have always struggled with sleeping during the day so I had to find an alternative, for me that meant bedsharing (even though I swore I wouldn’t), and oh man has that been great for all of us. My husband loves waking up to his smiles, my son (especially as a newborn) breathed easier, and mommy got sleep because she can’t function without sleep.
Read to baby from the start.
I love reading, I was the kid on the bus that was squinting in the dim pre-dawn morning trying to continue reading my favorite book, and it all started with my mom reading to me every night. I STILL remember moments where she’d read me from a certain book, even when all other early memories have faded. The more kids are exposed to books, the more likely they’ll want to read themselves, plus it helps with language development (when they’re ready).
There really is no downside to reading to your child! I actually made a goal to get through all “J”s books before his first birthday and a week before he turned 11months we did it! Now to do it again! It’s also advised to continue to read aloud to your children even after they can read for themselves!
Accept/ get help!
Oh this is soooo important. Like I would say this very well could be like number two or three in importance, maybe even one depending on your circumstances.
At the most basic level for everyone, let others help! Let them make dinner, do the dishes, do the laundry. Even if it’s not the way YOU would do it it doesn’t matter, all that matters is that you are spending time with your precious child, that is way more important than laundry folded a certain way and if it means that’s your mantra so that you can cope (I know OCD is real for some) then do so. On a more serious note, if you find your anger, sadness, or feelings of being distant are overwhelming you PLEASE get help. There is no shame in asking for help, no matter if it’s medicinal or a helping hand. This time in your life is so hard and you and your child are so vulnerable. Honestly, I’m a huge advocate of even hiring a part time maid to come in at least once a week so that you can spend more time being “mom” and less time being “housekeeper”. There’s no shame at all in being more present.
There is no shame in asking for help, no matter if it’s medicinal or a helping hand.
And the BEST/ MOST IMPORTANT advice for all parts of motherhood?...
Trust your Instincts!
Literally, THE only piece of advice you really need to follow. If you do this there will never be any question as to if you’re doing it “right”. “Right” is a fluid concept to be honest. If you are a life-long learner then you will continue to improve in your parenting and in your life and so as long as you trust your gut/heart/inner voice/ whatever you want to call it, you’ll always be doing what you know to be best at that time. When I had Boogie I “knew” all the things I was supposed to do and what I didn’t want to, but instincts guided me a different direction and I’ve never looked back.
As babies become toddlers, and toddlers become children, children, teens, and teens, adults, obviously most of the “best advice” will change, but overall these little tidbits of wisdom will be just as true at the beginning as the end.