If you thought that you got a lot of parenting advice from people BEFORE the baby was born, just wait and see how many “well wishers” make contact with you after the little one arrives in order to give you the benefit of their extensive experience.
There is nothing that brings out the “You mean you’re not…” or “Really, you should…” genes in relatives and friends than a babe in arms – especially if they mistake the normal, new-parent “I can’t believe I’m really doing this” look on your face for the stunned, deer-in-the-headlight look which conveys “I really don’t have a clue.”
We spent a previous article discussing some of the “Advice to Ignore” I had accumulated while perusing specious web sites with hidden agendas. I saved them up for a time when I was in a position to set the record straight; but, realizing that may never come, I decided to let these little gems “fly and be free” into the ether of the internet.
So, here we go with part two:
Things To Remember About Parenting Advice
Find A Babysitter
If you think your life was busy before the baby, you’ll find that you didn’t have a clue what the definition of the word “busy” was back then – in the “good old days.”
Then, you’ll also soon learn, from all the unsolicited advice that your baby draws out of people, that most of them don’t have a clue about the word “take” either.
“Be sure and take time for yourself,” you’ll be told over and over, as if you can expect to see great quantities of unclaimed “time” come floating by just waiting for you to merely reach out and pluck from the clouds into your day.
Absolutely anyone who’s actually succeeded in parenting can tell you that there is no “take” in it at all – you’ve got to go out and single-mindedly MAKE it!
Once you’ve recovered from the birth and feel strong enough you can call and chat with friends, go for a quick shopping trip or other things to get back to “normal” (if you can even remember what that was.)
It’s best if the baby avoids “groups” of unrelated people for a couple months (where there is a greater chance of becoming infected with an illness, get a fever and get hospitalized because he’s under two months); but, that doesn’t mean you and dad can’t get back to your weekly “date night” before that – you do have one don’t you?!
A good baby-sitter that you can trust is your ticket to sanity. One which even deserves searching for before the baby’s born. There is nothing inherent in being left in the care of “not-the-mommy” that will stunt his development for life.
Getting a break from her for a couple of hours will do you a world of good; and, who’s to say that she doesn’t need a break from you too?
Relax Your Standards A Bit
An infant soothed with a pacifierAs pediatricians we can often tell how many children a mother has had simply by the way they handle a “binky.” It’s kinda’ cute to see a brand-new first-time mom come in for the first well-baby visit. They’re often the ones who don’t carry or maybe even own a pacifier and you might hear them suggesting to others in the waiting room about the evils of using one.
Even though they’re too far away to actually hear the conversation you can tell what they’re talking about by the kind, sympathetic looks on the faces of the other mothers and the occasional head nod but the clear look in their eyes which knowingly says: “amateur.”
You can tell a first-time parent of an older baby by the fact that they’re packing a baggy full of sterile pacifiers they can use for immediate replacement should it accidentally hit the floor.
A second-time mom still packs a couple of back-up binkies; but, if it should accidentally hit the floor, mom will pick it up and run it under the water in the sink before replacing it.
“Once a mother has had three or more children,” we’ll often joke with other pediatricians “if the baby is crawling on the floor and the binky falls out, she’ll reach over with her foot and tap it back closer to him.”
If a parent is being honest they will often tell you, only partly joking, that “I was a better parent before I had children of my own.”
You’re truly not alone if, before the baby came, you thought that you would be back to work in 6 weeks after designing and decorating the baby’s room by yourself and be making all of your baby food from scratch.
You’re also just another one of the guys, if now you truly believe you need a lot more than 6 weeks, are meticulously copying a magazine photo for décor, are shopping at Babies R Us and know the baby-food prices at Walmart by heart.
Look, the only person on earth who can be the “Martha Stewart” of parenthood is: Martha Stewart. And even she couldn’t stop hers from becoming one of those “teenagers” everyone tries to avoid but can’t.
It’s Ok To Stand Your Ground And Say “No”
Hand-in-hand with making time for yourself, finding a good babysitter and “lightening up” a bit is the need to be able to begin setting up and enforcing rules, boundary’s and limitations – yes, even now.
If you want visitors to wash their hands before touching or holding the baby, then make it happen. It’s your prerogative – even duty – to use your best judgment in protecting/raising your children. If you don’t want the baby to be awoken in order to merely be held – say no.
Yes, it’ll take a bit of backbone, tact and sometimes finesse; but, it’s OK to stand your ground and say “I mean this in the kindest possible way, but I just got her to sleep and if you don’t leave her that way I’ll smack you with this newspaper and put you outside.” Well, perhaps not exactly that; but, close.
You don’t even have to accept (and probably shouldn’t) baby clothes or supplies from anyone if you know they won’t fit, you already have plenty, or you just don’t want to. “Thanks for thinking of us, but you know we were just given a stack of those that will last us till I don’t know when!”
Just think of it this way: saying “no” to the in-laws when they want to come over for the third time this week to hold the baby is just good practice for all the times you’ll need to thwart the “mommy can I…’s” in years to come. There’s really nothing wrong with saying: “not today please. How about next Thursday? You can watch her while I go shopping.”
Unless your husband’s name is Raymond and you live in a sit-com your friends and family mean well, but ultimately it’s you who decides what’s best for your baby.
So, that’s the majority of the thoughts I’ve been saving to set straight about “Things to Remember.” The remainder of the items on my list fit better under the title: “Things NOT to stress about” and that’s what we’ll undertake next time.