I didn’t really plan to have so many posts about babies and parenting and everything to do with them, but this is kind of where my life is at right now, so that’s what I’m thinking about, so this is what you get! Today I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned from my almost 12 months of doing the mommy thing. (note, these are not in any kind of order and they probably aren’t that profound! ha!)
1. Baby stuff doesn’t have to look like baby stuff.
Before having Abel, I thought my life would be taken over by ducks and lambs and pastels – but it totally doesn’t have to be like that (unless you want it to be!). Even more traditional baby brands like Carters and Gerber have pretty modern, trendy prints and styles – you just have to look for them. And I heart H&M Baby :)
2. Toys are both a waste of money and essential at the same time.
We haven’t really bought many toys yet and I know that will probably change as he continues to grow and to play more, but he really doesn’t seem to be missing out. We have a few toys that were given as gifts, an exersaucer, and a playmat with toys that hang over him and it feels like it has been the perfect amount. He really loves the clear plastic cups at restaurants and he has a blue beanie that he loves to carry around with him and chew on and it often seems that he would rather have those than his toys. I also completely recognize that toys and playing are how babies learn and develop, so you can’t not have them, but I don’t think you need to go nuts.
3. Sleep when the baby sleeps is not for everyone.
When Abel was born that was the one piece of advice that I got the most. I totally get it in concept but it hardly ever really worked out that way for me. Generally speaking, whenever he would sleep it would feel like a somewhat normal life experience again and I could get things done! And I couldn’t just lay down and sleep whenever I wanted – maybe others are blessed with this ability, but not me! I also never felt that overwhelming fatigue that I hear a lot of other moms talk about (I’m probably jinxing myself for the next baby here) and there were only a small handful of times that I would finally crash and need a nap. So I would change the “sleep when the baby sleeps” mantra to “listen to your body and don’t push yourself in the beginning”.
4. There is nothing more valuable than a helpful husband (or support system in general).
There have been multiple times in the past six months that I have thought to myself “man, this would be so hard if I was doing it on my own” and I so feel for people in that situation. Having someone to help with the day-to-day grind is invaluable. And even past a helping hand, it is much more fun to have someone to be able to share in all of the new experiences with. I am constantly yelling from the other room for Ben to “come quick, look at the hilarious face he’s making”. And past our immediate nucleus, we have so many people willing to take Abel off our hands if we need a break or a date night, and that is equally awesome.
5. Making time to still be a couple is super important.
Even if you still end up talking about your baby the whole time, just having adult, kid-free time together is huge and makes you appreciate each other all the more. This is something I feel like we could improve on still, but at least we are aware of it, and acknowledgement is half the battle, right?? But even the few hours in the evening that we get by ourselves after Abel’s bedtime are great opportunities for this!
6. Babies don’t need ideal, cushy situations all the time to be ok.
We were pretty intentional about not going above and beyond to make Abel perfectly happy and content. Maybe we have an easy kid, and maybe it is going to blow up in our face later, but for now, it seems to be working. We just done things like not getting a white noise machine for his nursery, or a wipe warmer. We have never even purchased baby food, we generally just fed him from the table the things he could eat that we were having that night and supplemented with bananas (his fave) whenever there wasn’t enough baby-friendly parts to the meal. I’m not taking that much credit here, I really do think he’s a pretty easygoing guy, but by us not stressing out, I can only imagine that it helps nurture that. Oh and babies bump their heads all. the. time. when they are learning to roll/crawl/climb. Obviously they need to be safe, but we don’t pick him up and make a big deal out of it if he isn’t making a big deal out of it.
7. Just so I can make it an even seven, which seems like a good complete number, here are a few other thoughts.
– Get a dog or at least make sure that your baby is exposed to animals a lot. Get a good, chill dog that is the right breed/size for your family. Save the large, energetic/crazy dogs for when all your kids are older. Get a dog that your baby can climb all over and pull it’s hair and be ok until your baby is old enough to learn not to be so mean to it. It also boosts kids’ immune systems, not that Abel ever, ever chews on our dog’s toys like they are his own. That would be irresponsible.
– Nursing is weird, but it’s not as bad as your kid FLIPPING out because they are hungry. Stigmas toward this have gotten a lot better, but they aren’t perfect yet. It is unreasonable for moms to stay home or be crammed into some nasty public bathroom whenever their babies are hungry. Because they are hungry a lot! I don’t feel like you have to be extreme about this though. Not wanting to start a war in my corner of the internet, but if you wear a shirt and cover things up normally, it probably makes sense to do so while feeding your baby. If topless is your norm, then by all means, but it seems like a reasonable rule of thumb.
– Nursing is also really cool. I realized the other day that I have spent hundreds of hours feeding my baby. That’s a lot. But they are moments that are mine and I love that. Soon we won’t have those and life will be about throwing sippy cups across the room and refusing to eat vegetables. Yippy!
More than anything else, I think you just need to figure out what works for you and your family and if it isn’t working, change it. It needs to work for mom, dad, and babies. And kids change and develop all the time, so the system needs to change with it. We’ve done weird things, like not giving him grains/wheat until a year old (yes, we have successfully raised a kid thus far without Puffs!), but it works for us and it’s what we think is right.
If you are absolutely dying to know, I can tell you all about the wheat crisis we face. But this post is about how to parent, because it seems like there aren’t enough of those posts out there these days. ;)