You’re bound to do a lot of things wrong when you parent your first child. Before you have kids, you have this notion of how things should be and you are determined to do everything in your power to make that imaginative world a reality. Aside from the fact that it may be completely unrealistic (TRUST ME, IT IS), it’s what you’ve seen in books and movies so it’s got to be right.
I made my first kid pretty darn crazy.
1. Every day in your young child’s life does NOT have to include a field trip.
I remember waking up and telling my little man “Let’s go to the museum, park, zoo” (insert anything that you think kids want to do at six months old). The problem with this is that you set his expectations to darn high. When you’re tired, your kid isn’t going to care. In fact, he will probably up the ante. Disneyland, anyone? Trust me, the local park is awesome.
2. You do not need to play with your kid all the time
My oldest would play by himself and idiotic first time mother that I was, would engage him every single time. Again, I urge you not to mess with a good thing. When a child has the ability to play by himself, it’s an absolute blessing for you and him. It builds self confidence and independence for the both of you.
3. You do not need to feed them only organic
I made a point of giving my son only organic food. While that’s wonderful (albeit expensive) you need to let your child understand that everything is okay in moderation. Trust me. Otherwise you are going to end up with the weird kid at the birthday party that won’t eat cupcakes (not my kid, but his friend) or the kid that asks parents “is that organic?” (Guilty as charged). Life is hard enough. Why do you want to make kids have even more to deal with?
4. You don’t need to buy them fancy toys
I will never forget getting my boy a sweet and expensive toy that was made in Thailand with recycled bamboo inserts. My child was enamored with the box. The toy sat on his shelf. In fact, I think that it’s still there. Get your kid a little cardboard and watch the magic.
5. Stop talking for your kids
We don’t know what the heck our kids are thinking. Let’s stop pretending that we do. We are projecting our emotions on them “I know you’re sad, I know you’re happy..” Do we really? Plus, when we keep talking for them, we are giving them no reason to learn to speak on their own. Is it any surprise that my first born was a late talker?
6. Don’t judge other moms and dads
I remember being a first time and just thinking “I’m awesome because I make my little guy’s food, he eats everything fresh, and he’s breastfed.” Guess what? In the long run, no one cares. In your parent and me groups, do you befriend the mom that looks like she’s having a hard time? Do you offer a hand when she drops her diaper bag on the floor? Stop pretending that you’re perfect (none of us are) and start admitting that we are all in over our heads.
7. Let your kid get dirty and eat some sand
Kids want to experience different textures using all of their senses. This often means putting stuff in their mouths. I promise you that sand in the mouth is okay. They will turn out fine. My little guy shoved a bug in his mouth and that was gnarly. But hey, it was probably organic.
8. Don’t be so strict about sleep
I was crazy about getting my little guy on a schedule. I mean, crazy. We would cancel plans to get our kid home at a certain time, interrupt play dates so that he could go home and nap, and just live around his schedule. I promise you, this is SO overrated. The most important thing for a new mom is socialization, and if you’re running home every few hours, you will get depressed and feel lonely. Go for coffee, bring your kid, and all will be well. Promise.
9. Take lots of pictures
You never want to regret missing a moment. You don’t need an expensive camera that you will never take with you, a smart phone will totally do the trick. Set up a little online album to share with relatives and friends. Don’t use Facebook, remember, you are more that just a mom or dad. Which brings us to….
10. Don’t lose yourself in your kid
When you become a new parent, it is often all consuming. I get it. But don’t forget that you are still your own person. People want to hear about your kid, of course they do. But don’t let it consume you. Talk about more than just your offspring, especially to your friends without kids. Go out with your partner and remember to keep that relationship strong.
Friends, take it from someone that has been there. I’ve not only been a new mom, I’ve also taught parent and me classes. These ten tips are really from the heart. Swear.
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