Lately, I've been to a lot of baby showers and, inevitably, the moms get together and talk about all the things we wish we'd known about before having kids - the things that would have saved us countless amounts of time, money, and stress.
So here is my list of things I wish I'd known before my first bundle of joy came into this world:
1. All the "Necessary Stuff" Isn't Really Necessary. - I see this all the time and I know I did the same thing. You find out you're pregnant and rush out to register for all the things you'll need. When you get to Babies R Us (or Target, or WalMart, or wherever), they give you a packet of information with a list of everything you just HAVE to register for. Before you know it, you're clicking on dozens of entertainment gyms, cute little outfits, furniture, nursery decorations, and more toys than any baby could ever need. What your baby needs is a car seat, a crib (or somewhere to sleep), a few sleepers, some diapers (cloth or disposables), and formula (if you aren't nursing).
2. Mama (not the doctor, your neighbors, friends, in-laws, books, or even Grandma) Knows Best - As a new mom, EVERYONE will have advice for you. Some of it will be good, and some won't. The important thing is to take all of it with a grain of salt and know that ultimately YOU will know your baby better than anyone else. So, if the doctor tells you something you feel is wrong, get a second opinion. If your friends or family don't approve of a decision your making for your child, that's okay. In the end, you can only do your best and trust your own instincts.
3. Babies Don't Try To Keep Up With The Joneses - And Neither Should You - Your baby does not care if they spit up in brand-name clothes or sleep in designer labels. As long as they are full, and dry, and loved, they will be happy. Also, don't be afraid to accept hand-me-downs, shop at consignment sales, or check Freecycle. Babies go through things so quickly and people are generally happy to pass them along to someone else who can use them. I used to pass clothes back and forth between friends of mine with little boys the same age as mine. It worked out great for all of us and saved us a ton of money.
4. Stay Away From the Numbers Game - If you've been a mother for more than a day, you know what I'm talking about. The minute two moms get together, the comparing begins. It usually looks something like this:
Mom 1: Oh, your baby is adorable. How old is he/she?
Mom 2: Thank you. He's 4 months old.
Mom 1: Oh, is he rolling over/sitting up/eating solids/crawling/walking/potty training (you get the idea) *This question is inevitably followed by a story of how Mom 1's child has been doing this for awhile now.
Mom 2: You're little boy looks so little/big. How much does he weigh? (or worse) What percentile is he in?
And after this conversation, both moms will wonder if their child is too big or little, or if they should be doing something that they're not. It's not healthy for anyone involved. Why do we do this to each other? I know that some people are just genuinely curious and want to make conversation. Others, I think, are just trying to brag about their child. I know I've fallen into this trap myself, but thankfully, it's easier to resist with each child :)
5. Accept A Little Chaos - I am not superwoman - there, I said it! I can not raise 4 active boys, keep the house clean all the time, cook all the meals, do all the laundry and shopping, AND keep my sanity. All of those things happen - just not at the same time (except raising the kids - I find I can't ignore that one!!). So, if you come to my house, you may see some toys on the floor, a load of laundry that needs to be put away, or some dishes in the sink....and that's okay! (I'm taking a deep breath as I type this because it's hard for me to accept.) One day, when my children are all in college, I will look at my clean house and wish for a little more chaos!!
6. (Yes, I know I said 5 things, but I have to add this in.) Enjoy The Stage You're In - With my first child, I remember thinking "I can't wait until he sleeps through the night - sits up - crawls - walks - talks...". And then, before I knew it, his babyhood was over. I had spent so much time looking forward to the next stage, that I didn't really appreciate the stage he was in. With my subsequent children, I have purposely savored every single moment of every stage. I know there will come a time when they will sleep through the night (at least I hope so!). They will talk, and walk, and potty-train all in their own time. I'm just not in a hurry for any of it to pass me by.
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