You’re probably thinking I’m nuts if I think there are only 5 things I didn’t know about parenting. Truth is, there’s way more I don’t know about parenting but there’s only a few things I wish people told me. Having a child is probably one of the biggest responsibilities you’ll ever have in your life, especially since it’s not something you can prepare for. Let’s be honest, who can say that they knew how to parent before becoming one? If you thought babysitting was going to give you a leg up – think again.
When we decided we wanted to have a baby I read a million posts on Pinterest, read articles online and soaked up all the mom advice from everyone who thought I needed it. The worst part was definitely hearing that you’ll never sleep again (definitely true, but not helpful). After months of being pregnant and hiding all the eye rolling at some of the worst baby advice – I became a parent myself. Most of you probably wouldn’t know that I’m one of the most stubborn people you’ll meet – I don’t take unsolicited advice well, especially when it’s riddled with condescension.
The reality was that I struggled. There were days when I questioned myself more than I ever did pre-baby. The questions running through my head were never ending and the self doubt created more sleepless nights that a ravenous hungry newborn ever could. Even through all of that, I wouldn’t trade even one moment of it. What I would love to do is share some of the crazy things that I never heard from other parents in the hope that it helps you get through the worst of the best moments with your new baby.
1. Forget everything you think you know.
It seems counterintuitive but you don’t know what your baby is going to be like until you’ve spent some quality time with them. Even second or third time parents might end up with a baby who loves to sleep after several years of sleep deprivation.
2. You can’t spoil a baby by holding them.
We tried it all to get baby to sleep through the night. So many people gave me the advice to stop holding him but it caused distress, crankiness and general unpleasantness for the entire house. Hold your baby, or don’t, but you can’t spoil them or their sleeping habits by doing it. How you can spoil their sleeping habits is by not watching the cues that they are sleepy.
3. It doesn’t matter how you feed the baby.
The age long debate of breast or bottle is old. It doesn’t matter. What does matter? A happy baby matters, if breastfeeding keeps baby happy that’s wonderful and if it’s a bottle that’s equally wonderful. When your baby is a teenager, do you really think anyone is going to know how they were fed as an infant?
4. You need to teach baby how to sleep.
Every baby is going to be different, some love rocking, swaying, snuggling, bouncing or just being put down. Until you know what kind of baby you’re dealing with, sleep is going to evade you at every single moment. Try everything and see what sticks – sleep training didn’t work for us but a white noise machine did. People might say we didn’t do it right or we didn’t leave baby to cry long enough but in the end, we’re sleeping now so does it matter?
5. You’re stronger than you think you are.
Have you had a day where you don’t think you’ll be able to care for the baby because you’re so exhausted? If you haven’t, you will. The hardest part of parenting, hands down, is dealing with the constant every minute attention that a newborn needs. It’s hard but we made it through pregnancy and child birth so this is just the next crazy battle, for both mom’s and dad’s.
Don’t forget that you made the choice to be a parent, that’s way more important than anything anyone will ever tell you. Love every minute and try not to blink, the hard times will disappear quicker than you thought possible.