5 Lessons for New Parents
“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.” Johnny Depp
These days I feel as if I’m living in a mini baby boom. Nieces, nephews, and newlyweds along with old and new friends all seem to have (or are preparing to have) newborns.
I love seeing the thrill in their eyes and the slight panic as they consider whether they are “ready.”
Of course they aren’t “ready.”
No one really is. However, that doesn’t mean they are ill-equipped for what’s in store. They just have to learn a few lessons.
Lesson #1 - The crowd is usually wrong
There is no perfect, fool-proof way to parent. If there were, children would come with an instruction manual.
Sure, there are principles which usually work, but the reality is parenting a newborn involves a good bit of improvisation. What works for one child won’t work for the next. I found my sanity when I stopped consulting the masses and found one of two people who were close enough to understand me and my baby and who had enough experience to tell me when to calm down. This is not the time to consult all of your friends (and the internet is most definitely a black hole!), but to find a mentor. For me, my sister and Ginny were the people who helped me find my way.
Lesson #2 – Sometimes the crowd is right
I realize I’m contradicting lesson #1, but the absolute truth is there are no absolutes (hello irony!). Sometimes the best advice DOES come from people who are in the middle of the newborn madness.
For example, EVERYONE told me to nap when the baby naps. I tried to avoid this because I wanted to shower or watch TV or act like a grownup when the baby was sleeping. Eventually Billy forced me to nap because my judgment was so clearly compromised. What a difference it made!!! I also found out about great products from the crowd – the most life-changing one being the miracle blanket.
Oh my. Believe the swaddling hype.
Lesson #3 - Remember “it’s just a stage”
My mother-in-law always told me her favorite Bible verse was “It came to pass…” because it reminds her that everything in life is just a stage. This is especially true about newborns. Just when you figure one thing out, something new mystifies you. The flip side of this principle is when you’re in a terrible stage, it won’t last long.
The hardest thing about having a baby is maintaining a long-term perspective.
Breathe and think to yourself, “it’s just a stage.”
Lesson #4 – Parenting is not a competition
Competition in athletics is NOTHING compared to competition between parents. It starts with how much weight did you gain and ends sometime when your child is delivering grandchildren.
(Aside - I put on 61 lbs. with each child thinking the woman who gained the MOST weight won! Oops! But I digress…)
Stop the madness by celebrating differences. It doesn’t matter when your kid starts rolling over – they will have mastered the skill sometime before kindergarten so that’s all you need to know!
Lesson # 5 – Be nice to your spouse
You and your spouse are BOTH learning about this new addition to the family. Allow room for learning. Expect mistakes and don’t get bossy. For instance, if you’re critical of your spouse's diaper-changing techniques, maybe he/she will let you do it yourself!
And since the newborn timing is “just a stage,” remember to date your spouse – meaning get a baby sitter, shower, and leave the house for a DATE!
After all, the goal is to keep your spouse around long after the kids are gone.