Mama Drama: Top 10 Parenting Tips (plus 1) for New Moms and Dads
Dear Mama Drama:
My husband and I are the proud parents of a newborn baby boy. We are so excited that he is finally here, but have a lot of uncertainty about how we’ll handle all the day-to-day challenges of parenting.
We would love any tips you have for new parents.
Dear New Mama:
Congratulations on your new baby! The journey of parenthood is full of questions (many of us are still searching for that owner’s manual we are certain we misplaced at the hospital!) and the answers are often different depending on the child.
My top 10 parenting tips for new moms and dads:
1. Acknowledge that having a baby is a huge life-changing event. When you recognize everything has changed, it makes it all easier to accept. Now think about the change from your son’s perspective (from warm, quiet belly to loud, unpredictable world) and realize that he is trying to make sense of all this, too. As a family you are a team figuring out how to learn and grow together.
2. Follow your baby’s lead. If he’s tired, let him sleep. If he’s hungry, feed him. Schedules are great, but should work around your baby’s needs rather than imposing artificial timetable’s on him.
3. Babies are not manipulative, they are communicating their needs by the only means they have. Crying, cooing, fussing, and eventually smiling are the ways they communicate. They are not intentionally pushing your buttons or trying to pull one over on you, they are letting you know they need something.
4. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Yes, there are dishes to be done, laundry to wash, floors to sweep, and the list goes on. They’ll be there when you wake up, SLEEP! Both you and your baby will be better for it.
5. Visitors are great, put them to work. Many will offer to hold the baby while you get some things done. Instead, ask them to help with some chores (i.e., the dishes and laundry that didn’t get done while you slept) so you and the baby can bond and rest.
6. Be true to who you are. Your style of parenting will depend on the personalities of you, your husband, and your baby. You will find your rhythm together. Be patient, it may take a little while.
7. Take advice with a grain of salt. People love to give advice, even perfect strangers, saying you have to do this or you must do that. If the advice makes sense and fits for you, use it. If it feels forced or rubs you the wrong way, say thank you and let it go.
8. Don’t panic when your son is not doing exactly what other babies are doing. Child development is continuum and every baby hits milestones at his own pace. Listen to your instincts and if something doesn’t seem right, talk to your pediatrician. If he or she thinks everything is good, wonderful. If not, there are many early intervention options available that effectively support children’s needs.
9. Be flexible. Just when you think you’ve got everything down, your son will hit a new developmental milestone and his needs will change. Take a breath, reflect on what he is communicating to you, and make a change. It’s part of the process, so if you know it up front it’s less frustrating when it happens.
10. Have a plan for support. You will get frustrated, exhausted, and exasperated at some point along the way (this is an understatement, by the way). Caring for a baby is a huge undertaking, physically and emotionally. Have people to call on to talk you through a stressful moment or give you a break for a while. As parents, commit to each other, and require the same from anyone who cares for your baby, to always call for help when needed before losing control. Shaken baby syndrome is a completely preventable tragedy. Be proactive and protect your baby.
And one more…Enjoy your baby! as much as you possibly can. Sooner than you can ever imagine, he’ll be heading out the door to kindergarten, college, marriage, and beyond. These first years are precious and irreplaceable. So breathe when you’re harried and tired and soak up those adorable snuggles and smiles at every opportunity.
Please share your best advice for new parents.
Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to Lisa@milehighmamas.com, and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. Read more of Lisa’s parenting perspective at her Laughing Yoga Mama blog.