As I think of ways to keep my little one healthy and happy, I continue to come back to something that’s been heavy on my heart for a while. As more of our friends have children and navigate the waters of having a new baby, I want to spill the beans to them about what parenthood is actually like. I feel like I’m constantly walking the thin line between the truth about those first few weeks (or months) and the romanticized idea of sweet new babies. Because they are sweet. But they are also demanding. And you’re going to be exhausted. And some days you’re going to wonder how you can possibly continue on with no rest.
In the midst of all this worry, you will almost assuredly feel like a failure. You will read a parenting magazine or a mom blog, and you will feel like the lowest of low because you’re not using a video monitor that tells you the temperature and humidity of your baby’s room. You’ll convince yourself that you didn’t try hard enough at breastfeeding and your child will have abandonment issues because you never co-slept. And why shouldn’t you feel this way? There are a million different resources that are telling you what to do and how to do it. It’s rare to just hear that you’re doing a good job. Instead of others telling you you’re an awesome parent, people are generally too quick to offer their advice about what you should be doing. To which I say, turn off your listening ears, smile and nod. Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, cloth diapering or buying stock in Pampers, making your own baby food or emptying the shelf of stage 1 Gerber food… YOU ARE ROCKING IT AS A PARENT!
Try not to spend your time concerned with how everyone else is parenting and if your child is keeping up. If you’re concerned about something, ask a trusted friend or professional for advice and use it as a starting point. Always adapt things to fit your family’s needs. And try to remember these things:
- Parenting styles are not one size fits all. What works for someone else may not be best for your family.
- You will get a full night’s rest again one day.
- Your child loves you and needs you, regardless of whether you breastfeed and co-sleep or formula feed and have your baby in the crib from day one.
- It’s OK to take time for yourself. Spend time doing something you enjoy (on your own), if even for a few minutes a day.
And perhaps, most importantly, just know that you are an incredible parent. You are doing a great job, and you deserve more credit than you’ll ever give yourself!