Over the last few months people have been asking me for parenting advice. Whether it's about babies or handling multiple children, I feel like I have some good tricks since I have three girls. In the spirit of helping other moms, I've come up with my favorite hints for survival.
1) Grow up! I know it sounds condescending, but I've seen many mothers and fathers fall into the trap of throwing pity parties for themselves. You chose to have a baby, your life changed, so now it's time to focus on how AMAZING it is that you get to raise a family. I know it's hard, and it sucks sometimes (like when your sleep, routine, "veg-out" time and basically everything is dictated by someone else), but working through it and laughing at the challenging moments really is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. Sometimes I hum the theme from Rocky and it instantly puts me in a can-do mood ("Aha, you want to box with me little one? I'll show you!") versus falling apart.
2) Be supportive of your partner. Moms and dads are usually on the same team and probably have the same wants and needs. I know for me, I feel great when I think Conrad needs a break and I say, "Let me take Cate for you," or "Why don't you go and work out." etc.. It feels much better to try and anticipate each other's needs and give little gifts (of time to relax, doing a diaper change), versus getting into an argument on whose turn it is to do "X", or who does more. Focus on how good of a job your partner does.
3) Take children to the doctor. You are your only child's advocate. I get so mad when I hear someone say, "Well, he/she was crying for several days, and I just found out he/she has an ear infection." If your child isn't acting like his/her normal self, don't wait around like a dummy to get them checked out. How would you feel if you needed antibiotics for three days and no one took you?!
4) Clean your children. Diaper rashes happen, yes, I know. But, there is a correlation to cleanliness. I can say this because Cate has never had a rash. It's not because she's less susceptible to them, it's because I change her diaper frequently and I wash her after she poops. Imagine pooping all over yourself and wiping it up with a wipey. For those who do that, I challenge you to smell your baby's butt afterward and see if you don't gag. It is not okay not to bathe children.
5) Try to be in tune with your baby. If you're hungry, tired or cold, your baby probably is too. Who hasn't seen the parent in a coat and pants and the poor baby in a diaper and top. Are they crazy?!
6) Keep doing your core activities that define you as a person. Do you run? Have a recurring Thursday night out with friends? Work? Doing the things you like to do the most in life liberates you (expand your interests!) and helps get rid of the martyr syndrome. It also makes you more interesting.
7) Never be too busy for your family. Time is not static, and I firmly believe that you reap what you sow regarding relationships. If you're too busy for your kids now, they'll be too busy for you when you're old. Spending time with your family allows you all to grow together and become comfortable with one another.
8) Do the best you can. You know when you're making the right choices -go with that.