*Originally published May 6, 2021
If I could go back in time before I got pregnant with my first born…
I would tell myself the following 5 pieces of information, with the hope that, I would avoid such unnecessary stress and heartache.
If you are a new parent or about to be a new parent, here is some advice from a mama who has been there!
Hopefully, my tips will help you on your parenting journey and make things a little bit easier when the bumps in the road come along.
My Parenting Pain and Strife
After having my son, I cannot tell you the number of times that I cried and cried over the changes that my life took after having him!
And the sleepless nights and the stress of everyone around me telling me what to do!
I cannot tell you how distraught I would be over the little phases in his life…the phases that would just as quickly disappear as they had appeared.
I even stressed over seemingly, silly things…such as, the fact that I never ended up using items that were given to me from my baby shower or the fact that the living room just always felt so cluttered with toys and baby items!
Since I cannot go back in time and give myself the following advice, I am passing it along to you…
With the hope that, maybe, you will find it useful, as you navigate your new parenting journey.
Here it goes…
1. Life Will Never Be the Same Again!
No, it will not.
All those days of sleeping in…
Going out for a run…
Making yourself a smoothie…
Sticking to that diet…
Going to the club with the ladies…
Hanging out with the guys…
Spending the evening on the couch, watching TV…
Just like that!
In a split second!
The minute baby is born, you can say “good-bye” to all of that.
Days of luxury that you never even realized that you had…
Hold on! Don’t Press the Panic Button!
It is totally ok!
Take a deep breath.
I am not trying to scare you.
I am trying to prepare you.
Because I never felt prepared for that to happen to me when it happened.
It will all be okay, I promise!
But you need to know that things will be very different.
Let me explain further…
The Sudden Change for Me
The very day that my son was put into my arms, parenting started.
There was no pause button.
No, “Hey, hold on! This is going to be harder than I thought. Let me get my affairs in order first, and then I will resume this position next week.”
There was none of that.
That baby cried and cried and cried.
And I cried and cried and cried.
And we didn’t sleep.
I didn’t eat.
There was no way that I was going to stand there and make myself a smoothie when I was just too dog-gone tired to walk myself out to the kitchen to get a snack.
Is that my favorite movie on TV?
Baby needs changed and then fed and then bathed.
No more laying on the couch watching the zone tube, even though I longed for that!
I felt as though I was losing the race, just as it had started, and there was just no catching up!
But, there was no stopping and restarting or pausing either.
This was it!
A whole new life and there was no turning back now!
But, let me tell you…
Once you get through the first few months of this new life, I can pretty much guarantee, that you will not only get used to it and get into the groove of it, but you will eventually love it!
Even though the days are hard, you won’t be able to see yourself going back to the old life that you once had.
Because there will be a new love and plenty of rewarding moments – those itty bitty little moments – that will enhance your life in a way that you never could have dreamed!
The moment that your baby grabs and holds onto your hair, as though you are that baby’s favorite stuffed toy….
Or when your baby wraps his little finger around yours…
Or when your baby falls asleep with his head on your shoulder and snuggles in tight!
Those will be moments that you will never ever want to let go of!
No night out with the girls or guys or binge watching a favorite TV show could even compete with the joy that you will feel in your heart over that little, needy, squishy, purely innocent, bundle of love!
If you are about to be a new parent…
Enjoy every moment of the life that you are currently living in.
Take those extra few minutes to do something special for yourself.
Sleep in just a little bit longer.
Call up a friend and go out for coffee one extra time.
Soak up the moments where life is all about you for as long as you can.
Because, pretty soon, life will be all about that new little love of your life!
2. Your Baby WILL Fall Asleep (Eventually)!
Looking back now on this, I think to myself, “What the heck was I so stressed about?”
But, when you are in the midst of trying to get a highly fussy baby to sleep and it is 3am, you tend to make a mountain out of a mole hill.
My son cried.
And I just couldn’t get him to stop crying.
No matter what I did.
The stress and the anxiety that I felt throughout all of this was horrific!
I would cry because I was so tired and I thought that he was just going to cry forever and ever!
My Realization and Relief
When I had my second baby, though, I realized that she was, EVENTUALLY, going to fall asleep!
It may not be until 5am, but she was guaranteed to fall asleep, at some point!
I wish that someone would have told me something as simple as that.
“Morgan, don’t worry. Ryan will eventually fall asleep. I promise.”
For some reason, I think that that little piece of information and promise would have made the experience much more bearable.
Maybe, I would have cried a little less and connected with him a little more.
So, just to let you know, if your baby ends up crying as much as mine did, don’t worry!
That sweet, little one will fall asleep eventually!
3. This, Too, Shall Pass!
I cannot tell you how many phases Ryan went through that would cause me utter stress and worry.
I remember when he was really little and he found enjoyment in throwing items into items.
For example, he would try to throw the remote into the trash can.
Or, he would throw my phone into the toilet (which he eventually succeeded in doing, by the way! That is how I ended up with my new phone!)
He would grab items so fast and take off with them just to throw them into an inappropriate container of some sort!
I remember talking the problem over with my friend and we would go back and forth about resolutions.
Finally, I had come up with a plan!
Just as I had started to implement this new plan…
He stopped doing it!
He just plain-old, stopped doing it, as though that was yesterday’s news and now pressing and rubbing his ear to the floor was today’s news!
Then he would do that for a while!
So, then, I would be puzzled about his new behavior of pressing and rubbing his ear to the floor and pushing his whole body forward.
What the hell was this?!
He would do that for some time and I would just watch in awe, as I tried to figure out what to do about it.
And then, just as soon as I would find a solution for that…
He would move on from that behavior to a different one, such as opening all of the dresser drawers and pulling the clothes out!
The Frustration and Realization
So, I would be researching ways to “lock” dresser drawers and then go around the house and complain about the extra clean up that I had to do everyday!
It got to a point to where, I finally realized that I was stressing myself for no reason!
I mean, was it really all that bad that he was pulling items out of cupboards or chewing on socks or screaming at the top of his lungs when he could not have something that he wanted?
Was it really all that bad, when these moments were only going to last a matter of a couple of weeks to a few months?
I finally decided that it wasn’t.
Once I made this decision for myself, I immediately felt better.
My thoughts went from,
“Oh my god! He is climbing on the back of the couch!”
(Drop everything and run over there!)
“Oh, he’s climbing on the couch now…(sarcastic tone) fabulous…”
(Continue sweeping the floor, but watch him out of the corner of my eye.)
It was, as though, I went from one parenting extreme to the other!
And, guess what?
He is doing okay!
It has all been okay.
You just have to watch, of course, that your child isn’t about to do anything that could cause serious injury to themselves or someone else!
Be open-minded but be safe.
So, lesson learned here is…
Whatever “phase” your child is in, he/she is probably – more than likely – going to be a-ok!
If you would like to hear another parent sum it up, click here!
4. That Diaper Box Will Become a Blessing of a Basket!
You’re probably saying, “huh?”
Well, let me explain…
You are probably going to receive plenty of wonderful baby gifts for your shower!
Oh, all kinds of stuff!
Cute baby outfits!
Here is where I bring in the dark cloud…
I can pretty much guarantee that you will not use everything that is given to you.
And, you may not even use everything in the way that you think that you would use those items!
I understand now what my friend was trying to tell me, way back when I was pregnant with Ryan.
He was a single father and he had a 2-year-old little girl.
He said, “You will find that the diaper pail becomes a door stopper.”
I never thought much about what he had said that way, until recently.
I realize now that some of the items that I had received from my shower were either sitting in the back of the closet or that they had become a means for something else.
Within the first 9 months, the cradle became a “stuffed animal holder;” the hair rinser became a “small toy bucket”, and the nursery ottoman became a “dresser drawer blocker!”
I cannot even tell you, after two children, how I make use of some of the other items that I received from my shower!
I will tell you the number one item that I tend to make the most use of though.
You will be surprised, I’m sure!
Empty diaper boxes!
(I bet you didn’t expect to hear that!)
I make the most use out of empty diaper boxes!
They make wonderful boxes to put toys in!
They are great for hauling stuff from one place to another!
An empty diaper box also makes great do for, what I call, a “quick, clean sweep” when cleaning up the house at the end of the day.
I toss everything that is laying around, into a diaper box, and then go through it the next morning and put everything back where it belongs!
That way, the house is tidy for when we go to bed and for when we wake up in the morning!
Empty diaper boxes keep the kids occupied because everyone knows that a child can’t resist the joys of an empty box for imaginative play!
I have even wrapped them in wrapping paper and created a climbing activity for the kids.
As a parent, you learn to get creative with the items that you have!
Ode to the Unused Baby Shower Items
What makes me sad are the items that I never made use of, for whatever reason.
I never had the chance to put the kids in some of the baby clothes that I had received because they both grew too fast!
Now, they sit in the “0-3 month” bin with the hopes that, maybe, I will have a third baby someday, in order to get another chance at using them.
How about the baby swing that I barely made use of with either child, even though I swore that I would use it more, once my daughter came along?
Or the diaper pail that is now sitting out in my garage because I just hated having an extra trash can to attend to?
So, I guess my advice here is, to simply try to have an open mind and know that you may not use the items in the way that you originally intended.
And that is okay!
Those items that you don’t use, you can hold onto for the next baby that comes along or pass them along to a friend in need.
And, with what you do use, don’t be afraid to get creative!
5. Your Parenting Will SUCK! (According to Someone Else)
I hate to tell you this,
But someone out there is going to HATE your parenting skills!
No matter how good you try to parent!
There is something about someone else thinking that they can parent your child better than you can!
I do not know why there is such attitude and entitlement this way with people in our society.
I cannot tell if others are jealous, bored or just want to control someone or something outside of themselves.
Regardless, be prepared for plenty of ridicule, judgement and just plain old “meanness.”
Because people can be mean and cruel!
And they will use every opportunity to make you second guess yourself as a parent.
You Can Prepare and Be Ready!
The good news, though, is that you can prepare yourself for such encounters.
Make certain that you understand that you are this child’s parent!
No one knows this child the way that you do!
And you are truly making the best decisions for this child that you possibly can.
Now, this isn’t to say that maybe they may have a “point” or, maybe, they actually give you some good advice that you can use.
Be a little open minded.
Just listen to what they say.
Think about it.
If it doesn’t jive with what works for you and your family, then…
SHRUG IT OFF!
In your mind, you can tell them to just go jump off of a cliff!
Especially, if you know that they are telling you these things out of meanness and with no good intentions!
My Mean Friend
I have a friend (maybe she shouldn’t be my friend) who, constantly, has something to say about my parenting.
She doesn’t like that I still allow my son to drink from a bottle.
She thinks that I am letting my baby be on pureed foods for too long.
My so-called friend thinks that the kids go to bed way too late.
It became so much so, that I just dreaded talking to her and allowing her into my home!
I defended what I was doing to her by trying to explain why I did what I did.
But she continued to bring it up as though she had never even heard my responses about it before!
I would always feel bad about myself after she would leave our home, and then, lose sleep that night because I was second guessing myself as these children’s parent.
Finally, I decided that her judgment was stealing too much of my time, my energy, my good mood and my confidence as a parent!
How I Fixed the Situation
When she would come around and start making comments, I decided to take a different approach.
I stopped explaining myself.
I stopped defending what I was doing.
Also, I reminded myself that what we do in our household is what works for us.
Then, I learned to turn the conversation, so that we focused back on her and her kids and less on me and my children.
My friend would say: “I think Ryan is about ready to ditch that bottle and try an open cup. Maybe you should get him one with a superhero on it or a car.”
Me: “Hm. What kind of cups did you buy for your boys?”
It helped me to feel more in control with the conversation instead of feeling lost, speechless and trying to defend my actions.
Here is another example…
My friend would say: “Belle doesn’t need that pureed stuff anymore. She’s a big girl! She should be eating steak by now!”
Me: “Well, what about your boys? What foods did they like at this age?”
That seemed to work wonders for me!
I learned to hear what she was saying but to redirect the whole conversation when I knew that it just didn’t jive with where I was at with my children, at that time.
On the Other Hand…
Someone might say something that becomes a life saver!
One day, I was sitting on my couch, folding the huge pile of never-ending clean laundry that I just hadn’t been able to get to.
My father was over and we sat and chatted, while I folded and put away the laundry.
I took piles of folded clothes into my arms and then disappeared into the bedrooms to put everyone’s clothes away.
When I came back out, he finally looked at me and said, “Morgan, why don’t you just put all of the folded clothes into the laundry basket and carry the basket with you? It would be so much easier.”
You know what?
It was a genius suggestion!
And, I questioned why I hadn’t thought of that before!
A Busy Mind Can Make You Blind!
Sometimes, when you are parenting, you really don’t see things that make sense or that would be more helpful.
Your mind is so full all of the time!
You never know when someone else’s feedback may actually be more of a help than a hinderance.
So, as hard as it is to constantly be ridiculed, as though the entire world is your supervisor…
Learn how to shut it down when their words or judgement make you feel like crap!
I wish that someone would have told me all of this when I first had my son.
From day one, I just wasn’t prepared for all of the judgement that came along with the job!
Had someone told me this information, I probably would’ve cried a whole lot less!
And I probably would’ve learned to hold myself up just a little bit more confidently, as a parent.
5. That Baby Will STILL Love You!
Parenting is one heck of a challenge!
You will question yourself more than you probably should.
For all of the times that I felt so down on myself because I really thought that I was the worst parent in the world, I just wish that someone would’ve propped me up a bit and reminded me that it is a journey and that I was actually doing a good job.
It has taken quite a bit of time for me to realize this for myself and to find my footing with it all.
It took time for me to be okay with my own parenting skills and to learn to live with lower expectations than I thought I should have for myself, as a parent.
For a single parent, raising two children with special needs, during a pandemic (of all times!)…
I am actually doing a pretty good job!
The kids have been fed well.
They are clean and bathed every night.
My kids are protected, as much as possible, from the dangers around us.
They get cuddle time and play time from mama.
They are being raised to be polite and respectful and are learning new things every day.
I think that, all of that, at the very least, constitutes as good parenting.
Bottom line, though, is that, my children still love me.
No matter how many times my son has to dig through the pile of clean laundry on the couch to find matching socks for himself because I just can’t get the time to actually fold and put away the clothes…
No matter how many times my daughter has to sign “milk” before I can actually get to a point to where I can actually fulfill her request for milk…
They both still love me!
And that, folks, means more to me than anything else on this planet!
No matter how bad of a job you think you are doing as a parent…
I can pretty much guarantee that that little one who you hold so tight in your arms…
Will still love you, too!
Mama Morgan is a single parent by day and a writer by night! She is raising two, young children with special needs during a global pandemic. She aims to give other parents confidence, hope, and a practical, down-to-earth reading adventure through her own experiences. While Morgan is heavily focused on caring for her little ones, she is also dedicated to helping others and making the world a better place. Mama’s Grilled Cheese is just her delicacy!