Parenting

Baby Love: Top 10 Tips for Parents-to-Be

Baby Shower

I am going to a baby shower for the first time in years (decade?) for a neighbor at the end of this month.  I’m so excited because I’m at that age where no one I know is having a baby since we’re long past not only being able to, but also wanting to have a baby.  So there’s not too many baby showers on my calendar at this time.  Some of friends have already become grandmothers (well, young grandmothers) but there’s no baby showers that I know of for grannies (yet), but there should be!  Becoming a grandmother is truly a rite of passage–one that I cannot wait to experience (but not yet, D & M!).

This is also our first couples baby shower.  My husband and I are that age where there was a clear understanding that baby showers were for the womenfolk.  I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that was our era.  It was the reality of the time.  I’m glad that men get to celebrate the arrival of their little one just as much as the women.  I’ll let you know if my feelings change after the shower, though.  I know women’s discussions surrounding their pregnancies can get awfully graphic, and that’s probably where the men nearly trample each other to death trying to escape to the garage with their beers and darts.  I know my stories alone will scare the sh*t out of them!

I’m also excited for this couple because it took them so long to conceive.  There was nothing they wanted more than to be parents and it just wasn’t happening.  I could not be happier for these two who are not only neighbors but true friends.  If all goes well, they’ll end up with a December baby just like me.  If there are complications, she will be a November baby just like my firstborn.

I bought them an automatic swing because I remember how much use I got out of that one baby item.  Every daughter had one and I learned early on that it needed to be the battery operated type and we needed spare double d’s lying around in a drawer just in case the swing stopped.  The battery operated swing is a must-have for every new mom and dad.  Need a break from holding the baby before your arms fall off?  Put the baby in the swing.  Need to get something done (cooking dinner, cleaning, showering for the first time in a week)?  Put the baby in the swing.  Just need a break, period?  Put the baby in the swing.

What I’ve decided to do is to put my top 10 suggestions about parenting in the card that goes with the gift I give to the new-mom-to-be.  I may change my mind before the big day but for now about including advice in a card, but for now here’s my Top 10 Pieces of Advice to New Moms–some of it was given to me and I may or may not have followed it (and wished I had):

  1.  Take a nap when the baby takes a nap.  That sink full of dishes, the dryer full of clothes, and the dust will all still be there when you wake up (trust me).  It’s so important for your mental and physical health to be well rested.
  2. When someone offers help, don’t feel bad about accepting, just take the help!  There is no parent bonus points for being a mommy martyr.
  3. Pictures are so important no matter how many children you have.  Take at least one per month in the same spot so you can chart the growth.  In the early days after birth, you may even want to take one every week to document how fast your baby is growing.
  4. Find a way to record the milestones that you’ll follow-through on.  I have a baby book for all 3 girls and the only one that’s completely filled in is the first kid’s book.  My third daughter asked me what was her first word.  I have no idea.  I was so exhausted with two kids under 2 at the time of her infancy and babyhood that I barely recorded anything.  Now there are apps that can take the place of the old-fashioned baby books BUT if you are a pen and paper kind of person, by all means, use what you will follow-through on.
  5. Making your own baby food and hand washing your cloth diapers sucks more than you will ever know.  Give up now and buy the Pampers and the Gerbers.  You will thank me for this one nugget, I promise.
  6. Your baby’s cries aren’t as loud as you think so try to relax when the baby starts crying in the grocery store or in any other public place.  Seasoned moms and dads don’t even hear the cries.  Now, a toddler is something else altogether–its cries ARE as loud and grating as you think.
  7. Make the child live around your life and not the other way around.  Children who are flexible are better people to be around.
  8. Your job as a parent is to make sure the kid is a productive member of society.  You’re growing him/her to join a community.  Keep that in mind when you’re considering handing everything the child needs to him/her without making him/her work for it.  Quick story: a friend of Devon’s had parents who were very wealthy.  They had several acres with an estate-sized house in a gated community in San Diego.  They did not have a gardener like all their other neighbors.  They had two boys and the boys were responsible for the grounds once they were old enough to handle the responsibility.  Needless to say, the parents taught them the value of hard, physical labor.  The boys were not paid for their services–their payment was a beautiful roof over their heads, and they were grateful.
  9. I’ve learned this the hard way:  the time passes far too quickly.  Savor every moment, even if it’s sucking far worse than you thought, it will be gone and you will be leaving her behind in her dorm in the blink of an eye.
  10. Everyone on this planet has an opinion about parenting–ignore them all 😉

What advice would you give to this first time parents-to-be couple?  What was the best advice you ever received?  Did you follow it?  Do you wish you had?  What would you do differently as a parent now if you had the chance to have another baby?

Bonus:  I have one more tidbit–nobody cares what you or your house look like when they stop by after the baby is born–they just want to see you and hold the baby!

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