Edited From The Archives
There are a lot of things you shouldn’t say to new moms. Things like “Have you lost that baby weight yet?” or “My cousin’s baby slept through the night at 3 weeks!” Unsolicited, passive aggressive advice is not welcome either. Things like, “I think sleeping with your baby is crazy, but that’s just me…” or “Doesn’t formula cause AIDS?”
Not cool. Not cool at all.
Of course there are times to give advice, times when moms need a little help or a gentle nudge in the right direction. Mostly it’s a matter of timing, only offering your two cents when your two cents is needed. If you are having trouble knowing when this time is, listen for the following words: “I need your advice.” It’s that simple.
Here are the top ten best pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received, all given to me in a kind and gentle manner. All with perfect timing and the wisdom of moms who care.
Thank you, moms. You know who you are.
1) Your body was made for this.
You want me to push a who out of what now?
Things your body was made for: labor, delivery, c-sections, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, resiliency, anger, love, exhaustion.
Things your body wasn’t made for: Full body waxes, an entire container of Oreos, meth.
2) Never say never.
Things I said I’d never do: Co-sleep, sleep train, use formula, google cheap daycare near me! at 2am.
Save yourself the embarrassment.
3) Treat them like a human person.
Things we expect of our dogs: obedience, submission, quiet. Things we expect of our kids: the same, but be cheery about it too! Here’s the thing though, kids aren’t puppies. I know it’s confusing.
It’s hard to treat a child with respect who is ignoring all your demands and throwing your toothbrush in the toilet. Really, really hard. But what if you were shorter than your roommates, constantly tripping, unable to make coherent sentences, and not allowed in the bathroom? There’s a reason kids act like drunk maniacs. Patience teaches patience. Grace teaches grace.
4) There’s a difference between sharing and bragging.
The first time my first baby slept through the night, I was so excited, so proud, so FULL OF MYSELF that I immediately texted all my friends and family that lo and behold, my child hath slept through the night! He didn’t do again for another 8 months. Karma is a delight.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Every kid is different and unique. Sharing is caring, but sometimes it’s annoying too.
5) Just when you think a stage can’t get worse, your kid usually gets over it.
It will get better. There is no other piece of advice that is more true and more repeated in the world of parenting. Newborn screaming? It will get better. Postpartum pooing? It will get better! Baby teething? Toddler screaming? Four-year-olds terrorizing the houseplants? Dude, it will totally get better. The days are long but the years are short. They will be peeing in that potty before you know it (really).
6) Acknowledge feelings.
You don’t have to pick up your baby every time he cries. You don’t have to give your toddler a cookie every time he asks for one. You can acknowledge how they feel, even if it evokes the craziest of crazy eyes from your tired, Grinchy soul. For example:
“You’re tired, you want to be picked up!”
“You’re so sad, you wanted to stick your hand in the blender!”
“You’re so frustrated, you cannot process one single emotion rationally!”
7) You are the mom.
You are in charge of your kid. Not your mom, not your neighbor, not your frenemy from church who has opinions on food allergies. You know what’s best for your child because you are the mom.
Self doubt is a part of being a parent, but it’s true what they say–mama knows best. Trust your gut. Do what works for you and forget the rest.
8) Children are not a problem to be solved.
Children are not a problem to be solved but a person to be enjoyed. The problem is that parents are problem solvers, so it’s hard when your perfect baby comes with a list of things that need to be fixed (sleeping, eating, bug ingestion). Realistic expectations only work in our favor. They (and you) will be fine.
9) Ask for help.
We are not designed to be alone. Work, children, marriage, our aging parents and arm skin–all of those things require support. Other parents and people are our greatest asset, even if it’s just your cousin’s half sister who offered to babysit on Saturday mornings so you can grocery shop in peace.
10) Get away.
Get away from your kids. I know it’s hard. I know they might cry and wonder where you are and bump their head on your mother-in-law’s coffee table. The hilarious thing is that they will be totally fine. The first time’s the hardest, the second time is okay. But soon enough, with some gentle practice, leaving your baby and your kids becomes second nature to everyone. A weekend at grandma’s house is good for everyone, even if you never leave your bed.