"There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”
When we brought home our second child, we thought we had it all figured out. We felt
like old pros since this was baby number two. Spoiler alert: we were very wrong. Adding a new person to your family is a huge change and whether it is your first, second, or fifteenth baby,everyone in the family deserves time to adjust. This confusing and overwhelming season can also be very isolating. It seems that everyone has an opinion on how you should be parenting.
Here is a list of well intentioned, but highly misguided suggestions I have received since
1. Sleep when the baby sleeps. (Do I fold laundry when the baby folds laundry too?)
2. Enjoy it now because soon you will miss this stage. (Yes! But also, not every stage is
enjoyable, and that’s okay).
3. Breast feed only. Formula is a waste of money. (Just feed the baby however you and your doctor feel is best).
4. Don’t breastfeed! Only formula. (See above).
5. Rub some alcohol on the baby’s gums for teething. (Please don’t do this.)
6. Don’t hold the baby too much. You’ll spoil them! (Hold the baby.)
Although I understand that all of these pieces of advice are meant to be helpful and come from a place of love, they tend to make new parents feel guilty and confused rather than helping.
Now, let us look at some advice that is actually helpful to new parents.
1. Reach out for help and support when you need it.
2. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and poorly equipped. You are not going to instantly
know how to parent simply because someone handed you a baby.
3. Take breaks when you need them. If you need some time away from baby, that is okay.
It does not make you a terrible parent. It also does not mean that you love your baby any
4. Have compassion for yourself and your partner. This is new and it is okay for there to be
a learning curve.
5. When you feel like you have it figured out, they move into a new stage. Just keep going.
6. Finally, enjoy the moments as much you can, but do not beat yourself up if there are days in which you are counting down the hours until bedtime.
Overall, remember that you are not alone. Parenting is messy and joyful, but sometimes it is also hard and lonely. You can do this. If you need help, reach out, you do not have to do this on your own.