Advice for first time parents can be tricky because every family is different, however, I'm going to share with you some of the things that became real to me when our bundle of joy came along. Let me just warn you this is not all roses and fairy tales this is the real deal people. Parenthood is never what you think it will be, and on the other hand, it is so much more. It will teach you more about yourself than anything else could so be prepared to learn. Here are a few of the things that became more clear to me and hopefully you will find something here that will help you in one way or another or at least make you laugh.
- Everyone is going to tell you what you should or should not do. Friends, family, and even perfect strangers will tell you how you should do things, but you have to find what works best for you and do that. Everyone said don't let your children sleep with you but when your kid wakes up at 3:00 in the morning and you are so sleep deprived you can't think straight. It's ok to give in and let your kids crawl up for a cuddle and some shut eye. I promise they will not become serial killers because you showed them love.
- You will feel like you have a constant hangover for the first year. You will be tired and cranky and just want to get some sleep. I can remember once my husband going to check on our 3-month-old in the middle of the night and rocking him back to sleep. He came in our room and jokingly said, “Now I know why shaken baby syndrome exists.” While this was a joke, there will be times you will want to scream and cry and it's only natural in your state.
- You will not look like Kim Kardashian and Gwenyth Paltrow with your stroller sashaying down the street or to the store most of the time. You will switch all your good clothes for outfits that are comfortable (ie: T-shirts and sweatpants) that won't get ruined from the smell of baby spit up, projectile vomit, leaky diapers, and peas being thrown your way once they start eating baby food. Let's face it they don't call it the mommy uniform for nothing but don't worry this too shall pass.
- Your house will never look like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens until they leave. I can tell you countless stories about trying to organize and keep my house clean only to find it's relatively impossible. There are all the fun accessories you registered for that come with a new baby; toys, baby gyms, boppy pillows etc. and unless you have a special room to store all this stuff it will be everywhere and your home will look more like a daycare center than anything else. Then they start to move and you have to put everything on lock down with plug covers, door knob covers, gates, and those really annoying cabinet locks. Once they become older they think that the floor is their trashcan and hamper no matter how many times you scream, yell and punish it's just going to happen. Your furniture will get dented and scratched from toys hitting them and your sofa will be trashed. I'm just preparing you so you will be in reality from the get go. You can't do it all and sometimes reading a book or going to the park is just more important than that sink of dishes or vacuuming the floor so choose your battles and decide on what you can live with.
- Poo is gross and it will get in places you never thought possible. There will be times that you will be out somewhere or your child will wake up in the middle of the night with an explosion of proportions like you've never seen. It will be up there back, in their hair and anything they were currently sleeping or sitting on.
- You will never be the perfect parents you thought you would be, it's impossible. You will tell yourself you will be so different from your parents and do all these wonderful things. No one is perfect life will get in the way, you will be tired, and sometimes you will just give up and give in for your sanities sake. You will lose your cool even though you love them and it's OK your are normal.
- Your children will eat frozen and boxed foods, watch too much TV, and play on electronics longer than they should. This may not be an everyday occurrence in your household and you may be better than some at setting limits, but there will be a day when you have to get things done and there is nothing better than plopping that kid in front of the television for mindless entertainment so you can do something productive like taking a nap or making a craft (wink, wink)
- Taking a shower is one of the hardest things if you are home alone. You will question what to do with your baby if there is no one to watch them. You will either wait for the first nap time or belt them down in a baby seat to take your shower. When you do get in it's quick because when you hear them cry you'll hop out soaking wet only to find they were passing gas.
- Everything is about guilt. If you leave your kid with a babysitter you feel guilty, if you don't see your friends anymore you feel guilty especially if you are the first ones in your “group” to give birth. Those friends that have not given birth don't get it, it's like when you got married and your single friends quit calling. If they are your true friends they will stick around. You'll also feel guilt that you don't spend enough quality time with your spouse but hey they are in the same boat so just make time when you can. You just have to realize that you can only do so much and adjust your expectations about yourself.
- The pacifier is more about you than them. Sure pacifiers are something to sooth your child and no one wants their child to hurt or be sad so when they cry you pop it in quick! It's really so you won't feel like you are being a bad parent so much that your kid is miserable. It's OK braces will correct this so don't feel guilty about it.
- It's ok to cry, get frustrated, and be angry parenthood is hard and the dirty dishes will all be there tomorrow. Your friends will not judge you if they have children because they've been there too. Sometimes you just need to take a moment for yourself, hug your child, and enjoy the time for it will be short even if you don't see that now.
- When naps go away it sucks. You schedule your world around nap time. You get things done during nap time. Once this is over you are screwed because they will be all over you all day. This is where tip #7 comes in handy. Not to worry preschool is a wonderful thing and when they start kindergarten you do not feel guilty when you exclaim ” Free at last, Free at Last God Almighty I'm free at last!”
- Your first kid will have it harder than your second. When you have your first child you want them to be perfect. You will correct them more, jump to make sure they don't get hurt and be harder on them. That is ok, you have no idea what is normal and what is not and when and if you have number two you realize they will not die if you let them be a little wilder. You will also be so tired and worn out at this point that you just let things go more.
- You are never financially prepared for the cost of parenthood. There are diapers, meds, accessories etc that cost more than you ever thought. If you have a child with special needs this triples and if you have to pay for a private or parochial school well you can just kiss your retirement goodbye. The best thing is that you can plan for this in advance. As a company with a 90-year history in serving families through all life stages, COUNTRY Financial® wants to make life a little easier for all new parents! You can enter to win a $1,000 gift card to use on DIAPERS.COM! COUNTRY Financial® is a group of US insurance and financial services company, financially strong and highly rated by independent insurance rating agencies from Bloomington, Illinois that offer a full suite of products and can help as you start your new family through all your future life stages. COUNTRY Financial has strong values and has been serving families for over 90 years and are highly rated by independent insurance rating agencies
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So what's your best piece of advice for first time parents?