If you’re new to this parenting game — here are just a few pieces of parenting advice from (25+) fellow perfectly imperfect parents
Parenting is hard. This is something we all know, but it’s not something we all truly understand until we become parents. No matter how mature we think we are, how prepared we believe ourselves to be or how many parenting books we’ve read, the reality of parenting often still comes as a shock.
First of all, the sleep deprivation — there’s a reason why it’s used as a method of torture. Then the sheer number of things you need to learn on the job — breastfeeding, burping, swaddling. It’s enough to overwhelm and intimidate anyone. We all make mistakes, and that isn’t a bad thing. We learn from them and we become better parents.
But in the interests of sharing mistakes and growing from other people’s missteps, or pooling our best advice to make our lives easier, here is some advice from a number of bloggers, who have some gems you’ll want to know.
Take All Parenting Advice With a Pinch of Salt
Seems a strange way to start off a ‘parenting advice’ blog post, I know. But seriously, if you try to take on board all the advice you’re ever given, you’ll go mad. Most advice contradicts other advice you’ve heard, and some advice would just plain not work for you and your family. Take parenting advice with a pinch of salt.
For example, the old sage advice of ‘sleep when the baby is sleeping’ — does this work for anyone? Unlike a newborn, most mums aren’t able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat, no matter how tired we are.So by the time we get to sleep, the baby is awake again, demanding milk, and somehow we’re more exhausted than we were before.
Not to mention, when baby is sleeping, that’s prime time to actually get things done and to feel like a human again. This is when we are able to brush our hair, have a mug of coffee, or have a shower.
In fact, there is a lot of advice out there you’d be better off ignoring. You’ll know if some advice just isn’t right for you.
Tanya from Mummy Barrow says:
“Don’t listen to any advice unless you specifically asked for it. Too often people give advice and it’s really none of their business.”
Before Baby is Born — Freeze Some Meals
You’re not human after you’ve just popped. I’m telling you when people talk about the newborn baby haze, they’re not telling fibs. It’s unlike anything you’ll ever experience, and it makes even everyday tasks difficult. Anything you can do before your baby is born will help. If you have time, you should start by preparing and freezing some meals and getting snacks at the ready.
Brianna from Little Red Reviews says:
“Freeze meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner if there is no one around to help cook and clean. Preparing snacks is helpful as well for breastfeeding mommies especially!”
And speaking of being prepared, Shelley from Ivy’s Library has an amazing tip:
“Buy a thermos! I never managed more than a few mouthfuls of a cup of tea in those first weeks and it had always already gone cold. A friend bought me a thermos mug and it changed my life! Such a small thing but it made a huge difference to my mental health!”
Read More About how to silence your inner critic as a parent
Read Up About the Fourth Trimester
The fourth trimester describes the period after your baby is born, where babies (and parents) are adjusting to life. Reality outside your womb can be overwhelming. Think of all the new sights, smells and sensations your baby will experience. It’s no surprise your baby is crying so often and seems unable or unwilling to be apart from you. I’d highly recommend reading up about the fourth trimester to help you understand your tiny little creature — and to help them feel secure. As Codie from Codiekinz says:
“Read about the fourth trimester. It’ll help you understand your baby more and allow you to cut yourself some slack.”
Don’t Waste Too Much Money on Clothes
Your baby will be pooping and vomiting all over their clothes for the first few months of their lives. They’ll also grow faster than you can keep track of, so it makes no sense to spend bucket loads of money on nice clothes — no matter how tempting it is. Half the time they’ll want to be naked, anyway.
Claire from Money Saving Central says:
“Don’t waste money on outfits for at least 6 months. I wasted so much money on pointless outfits when my kids were little that usually only got worn once as they grew so quickly. By the time I had my twins (children 4 & 5) they wore only babygrows for the first year! It saved me so much money.”
It’s Okay to Watch Lots (and Lots) of TV in the Early Days
For a while after giving birth, you might not want to do anything or go anywhere. You might only have the energy and mental bandwidth to sit down on the sofa and watch TV. That’s perfectly fine. If you need to shut yourself away in a quiet room and read, or watch TV for hours on end, that’s okay. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty and don’t worry about your baby. All they’re interested in is being close to you, being fed and getting plenty of sleep.
Learn The Baby Items Worth Buying
There are some baby items that are definitely worth buying. They’ll make your life easier and make your baby more comfortable. Save the money you would have spent on clothes and research these items instead.
Emily from Emily Brookes recommends a white noise machine: “There are great ones on amazon for around £12, I use mine on those nights when my baby just won’t settle, it’s a lifesaver!”
And The Unnecessary Baby Items
Try to resist the adorable but, ultimately, unnecessary baby items out there. There are a lot, and they are tempting. But you’ll ultimately regret wasting your money.
Take a First Aid Course
If you’re feeling worried about the health and safety of your future child (especially if you’re accident-prone yourself, unable to cook dinner without nearly severing a limb), a first aid course could offer peace of mind. Anne from The Platinum Line recommends just this:
“Take a child first aid course so you can deal with bumps, cuts, stings and scalds then let them get dirty, climb trees and have fun.”
Have an Emergency Pack For When You Leave the House
Parents seem completely unable to leave a house in a reasonable amount of time. We’ve all seen the Michael Mcintyre sketch, and it’s entirely accurate.
You can make life easier for yourself by being prepared with a nappy bag and emergency pack, so you don’t have to worry about leaving anything important at home. Stacey from 4 Freckled Faces says:
“Carry a little first aid kit (including Calpol/Nurofen sachets), snacks, drink and change of clothes everywhere you go.”
Prioritise Yourself Sometimes
It’s normal to want to prioritise your baby at all times, but remember that you are still important. You had a baby — you didn’t stop being you. And you didn’t stop needing certain things — like a long, hot bath to unwind and recuperate, or a workout at the gym to clear your head.
Before your baby is born, make an agreement with your partner. Parenting is hard, so if you can work out a schedule where you get time for yourselves, and time with one another, it will help so much. There’s nothing wrong with looking after yourself — in fact, doing so will probably make you a better, happier and more well-adjusted parent in the long run.
Sarah from Sarah Lou Writes agrees:
“Take time out, you are only human and the stress of being a new parent can be so overwhelming at times. Even three babies in.”
So does Lauren from That Little Outfit:
“Make some time for you. I know it can be daunting leaving baby for the first time but go and get a coffee by yourself occasionally, get your hair done or even walk the dog – you’ll feel so much better for some alone time.”
… And Give Yourself a Break. You’re Only Human
When asking people for their advice for new parents, this was something that was raised again and again. We seem to expect perfection from ourselves when we become parents. We can never achieve that so we are constantly falling short of those expectations, which can take a toll on our mental health. Be kind to yourself.
Kathy from Life is Kalayful says:
“It’s okay to make mistakes. It doesn’t make you any less of a parent. It’s okay if you feel tired and don’t want to hold your child. You are not selfish or worthless. You are human.”
Fran from Whinge Whinge Wine adds:
“My mum said to me that in the early days, just do whatever you can to get through. If that means using bottles or napping at 4pm or calling takeaways 3 nights a week then sod it. It’s only short term.”
Ella from Typical Mummy says:
“Remember that you aren’t superwoman, take each day as it comes and don’t care what others think – if you spend the whole day in your pyjamas or don’t wash your hair for a week, who cares!”
Actually Take People Up on Offers to Help
It’s normal to want to do it all. But there’s no shame in asking for help, or accepting it. In fact, it’ll benefit your mental health and physical wellbeing in the long run. Don’t feel guilty in the slightest — if people are offering help, it’s because they genuinely want to help.
Helen from Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee agrees completely:
“If you have twins like me, and a toddler on top, ask for ALL THE HELP!
Katherine from Raising Harry agrees, too:
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Ignore People When They Say You’ll Spoil Your Baby With Cuddles
This is an old-fashioned, ridiculous notion. You can’t spoil your baby with too many cuddles. You are their primary source of comfort and protection. Give your baby as many hugs and love as they need. It’ll lead to a more confident, secure child because they know they can wander off and explore, knowing that they always have you waiting there for them when they come back.
Cath from Th3 Secret Life of Me has my back:
“You can’t spoil a newborn. You hold that baby as much as you want. You know your child best. It’s ok not to enjoy every single moment of it.”
Be Wary of Parenting Forums
Parenting forums can be great — sometimes. But there can also be a lot of scaremongering going on in these forums. You might be looking for advice on how to soothe a baby cold and end up panicked that your child has some sort of life-threatening flu. Where possible, scroll past the parenting forums and find an article on a trusted source, written by an expert on the topic.
Ren from Queer Little Family points out, if you’re scouring these forums wondering if your baby is okay, chances are they are, they’ll be fine, and so will you.
Your Boobs, Your Choice
No one has the right to police your boobs. You decide whether to breastfeed, bottle-feed or combination feed. Nobody else’s opinion matters. As long as your baby is getting enough milk, everything else is secondary. Certainly don’t let some randomer on the internet make you feel guilty for your choices.
It’s Okay to Hate Breastfeeding
Some absolutely love breastfeeding and see it as a calm, bonding experience. But others simply don’t enjoy it, even if they persevere. This is okay, too. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Some babies have a shallow latch, some thrash and kick and fuss. Just know you’re not strange if you never took to breastfeeding — there’s nothing wrong with you.
Read to Them From an Early Age
There are so many benefits of reading to your baby. It teaches them about communication, helps them to develop vocabulary and introduces them to shapes, numbers and colours. It’s also a great way to bond and interact. From everything I’ve read on this topic, the earlier you start reading to your baby, the better — it’ll shape their reading habits as they grow up and it’ll give them fond memories of reading with mum and dad.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Parents
Ultimately, comparing yourself to other parents is just toxic and you’ll never win. Accept that you’re a different human being. You’ll do things differently, at your own pace, and that’s okay.
Jenni from Cruise Mummy agrees:
“Don’t worry what anyone else is doing. Everyone has their own way of doing things. If it works for you and it’s safe then go for it. For example, just because every other baby has a dummy doesn’t mean that yours automatically needs one. Trust in yourself to make the right decisions!”
Jo from Tea and Cake For the Soul says:
“Don’t compare yourself to anyone else or feel that others do parenting better. As long as you are doing the best you can for your child, you are a good parent. Take on board how others do things but don’t feel that you should do the same. Every child is different and has different needs.”
Stop Comparing Your Kids to Other Kids
Every kid develops at their own pace. Just because Timmy started talking at 9 months, that doesn’t mean your child will fail their A-Levels and live a life of poverty because they aren’t talking at the same age. And just because your colicky baby is fussy and grumpy right now, that doesn’t mean they won’t be a delightful little toddler.
Don’t Take Things Personally
When your baby, toddler or child gets angry or fussy, it’s easy to take things personally — but don’t. There’s probably something going on in their head that they can’t really articulate. It’s not really about you, so don’t torture yourself.
Get Used to Doing Jobs ‘In Instalments’
What once took you fifteen minutes might take you two hours once you’re a new parent. It’s okay — make peace with it! Helen from Dartmoor Photographer says
“The best advice I was given, and still holds true with a teenager, was get used to doing things in instalments. If you have a job to do make sure you can set it aside frequently to deal with your child.”
There’s Something Magical About Outdoors Time
There is something so magical about being outdoors. So if you can get out there, do it. Outdoor time is restorative. It can clear your mind and help to calm your worries or stress. It is also so helpful for babies, and toddlers in particular, who want to be free to explore and experiment.
Victoria from The Growing Mum agrees:
“Try to go outside once a day. Even if it’s just a walk round the block. Fresh air (and leaving the chaos) does wonders to the body.”
Listen to Your Instincts
There’s a lot to be said about parental instinct. You might think you don’t know what to do for the best, but it’s likely you have a gut instinct about things , and this shouldn’t be discounted.
Eddie from Yorkie: Not Just for Dads says:
“Listen to your instincts. They are like a super hero’s powers. If you have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right, get it checked. Always trust your own parental instincts.”
Catherine from Lazy Mum is another supporter:
“Don’t worry about doing everything by the book! I gave myself so much stress with my eldest, thinking there was a right and wrong way to do everything (apart from SIDS advice of course). I used to have nightmares about the health visitor telling me off! Second time round I do much more on instinct and it’s far more enjoyable for all of us.”
If you’re pregnant and struggling with panic attacks, check out this blog on panic attacks during pregnancy.
This Too Shall Pass
As Avenue Q says, everything in life is only for now. Knowing that can really help to put things in perspective.
Claire from Stapo’s Thrifty Life Hacks says:
“My one piece of advice would be this: Try to remember that everything does eventually pass. They will sleep again, the tantrums will stop and they will stop rejecting every item of food that you offer them at some stage. Things can feel relentless as a new parent and your patience will be tested to a new level, so reminding yourself that ‘this too shall pass’ will help you to get through tricky phases with your sanity intact.”
Josie from Me, Them and The Others agrees:
“Remember that “this too shall pass” is the best parenting advice I was ever given. When you’re in the middle of teething or colic or sleep deprivation it feels like that is your life now and it will never change but reminding yourself that, with babies and children, most things are just a phase really helped me keep things in perspective and not get too bogged down in the current problem.”
And so does Shelley from Wander and Luxe:
“My best piece of advice is to remember that when you have young children that ‘this too shall pass’. Everything is a phase. Newborns, babies, toddlers and children grow, develop and learn rapidly. So when you are in the midst of something that feels like it will absolutely NEVER get better, rest assure that it will. Parenthood is hard and you are doing a fantastic job, even if it doesn’t feel like it!”
Check out this blog on popular sleep training methods
The Most Important Parenting Advice — If You Have a Boy…
And now we get to the most important piece of parenting advice, courtesy of James from My Hero Joshua
“If it’s a boy, make sure his bits are pointing down when changing their nappy. You don’t want a golden shower.”
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