*I am not an expert. I’m sharing what I am still learning along the way because I’m still new to this parenting thing too.*
I’m sharing what I’ve learnt so far and what I consider to be important and beneficial. I wanted to say more because I loved the conversation but I was dealing with two excited little people getting ready for bed.
If there’s one thing I’ve realized is a constant for other parents my age, it’s that we are not our parents. I’m not saying that in a negative way either! We’ve all had different upbringings but there are a lot of experiences that we have to in common when it comes to how our parents raised us.
As I said above, throw them out of the window because you’ll be setting yourself up for soooo much disappointment. I wanted to breastfeed my son, my milk wasn’t coming in and as a first time parent, with only my husband to help, my focus was making sure he was being fed and we weren’t running ourselves ragged in the nursing/feeding/pumping cycle. Having a healthy thriving baby was more important than stressing about something that was only making me miserable and not enjoy him. But that milk came in for my daughter when I had no plans of nursing her! That was a lot for me because I was not used to the attachment that came with breastfeeding. And she was adamant about breastfeeding as she didn’t really like the bottle! I’m still coping with her strong personality 😅. If things don’t work out, don’t be hard on yourself, do whatever is best for you and your family. I’m not saying don’t try! If you try and you don’t feel like it’s something you want to continue with, don’t be hard on yourself. I don’t just mean breastfeeding either, I mean everything. Definitely don’t rush potty training either, it’s better for your kid to be ready with that! Kids just require you to go with the flow while trying to hold on to whatever expectations you have had that you’d like some variation of it to come into fruition.
Something else to consider… You and your partner are two different people who met in your older years. You don’t know what they were like as a child (hearing stories is different to experiencing it) and you don’t know who your child will favor. Seeing your partners traits in your little person is going to have you rethinking how to parent a mini version of your partner/spouse.
If you’re going into parenting in a relationship, please have discussions about how you want to parent with your partner. Now I’m not saying you will agree on everything! You won’t. But it’s important to discuss how you handle things. I let my husband know I don’t want to quarrel about the kids in front of the kids. We keep it neutral or move to another room and make decisions or hash out whatever the issue is. We also call each other out when we don’t think a situation is being handled in a manner that benefits everyone. Kids are a riot. And after a long day, we don’t always feel proud of how we handled a situation, but accountability helps. I often try to wait until the kids have gone to bed to release all of my steam and to discuss how to handle similar situations in the future. Again, this is a partnership. I’m not saying to draft something up for reference but take note of what you want/expect from each other. Just like how communication is important in your relationship, communication between each other about your kids is important. Do not expect things from your partner without discussion because you will pay dearly for that lack of communication. Discuss who will take a night shift – my husband is a night owl and with our son who was bottle fed, he took over so I got some rest. The same didn’t happen with our daughter as I breastfed her but he helped in other ways. If you normally do pickup but you can’t and you mentioned that you can’t that day, send reminders, the average person doesn’t remember something that isn’t in their normal routine, BUT, don’t nag. You don’t want your partner to resent your parenting style and find you overbearing and clock out when you need them most.
Communicate. Talk. Repeat.
When people mention support system, I think the automatic thought is support system = family. It’s not. I’ve been blessed to experience two different types of support systems.
Family. Growing up, my sister and I spent a lot of time with our grandparents. From sleeping over when our parents went out, to having our grandfathers pick us up from school, grandmothers feeding us and looking after us after school while our parents worked. I have some of the fondest memories of those times. And as an adult and parent, I realize how important they were. Living in a different country away from our family, I miss it as well. It’s amazing whenever we go home to visit to have our parents participate in the way my grandparents did but I don’t have the luxury of having them here with me. One of the reasons I am a stay at home mom is because we don’t have that family support and the nature of my husbands job and how he works. So I’ve found a different kind of support – friend who are family.
Chosen family. We can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends. When you find friends who are like family, it makes raising your kids in this scary world a lot easier. The thing about support systems is what can be covered under a support system. You have your mom friends, who help you on the journey and you bounce things off of each other to make sure you’re not the only one going totally insane. You have friends who you can add as your emergency contact because you know they have your back and are also trustworthy. They treat your kids as their own and vice versa. You have the friends that bring you meals/order meals to you when you’ve just had a baby, or come over and wash dishes/do laundry/tidy the house or even send a cleaner your way just to ease your load a little. All of this support matters. Also, a person or group that you can declare a no-judgement zone with.
As my friend mentioned above, she wanted to honor her parents’ recommendations. Well, that’s just what they are – recommendations. Someone you trust recommends a restaurant to you but when you see the menu and realize it’s not a place you’d enjoy as much as them, you say thank you and then make your own decision on where to eat. It’s kind of the same here. You know what’s best for your kid(s) and you. You have to consider how you want your child to be raised, what is different about you now than when you were kid and what you want for your child going forward. There’s more to consider – a different environment, different cultures (you and your partner), different upbringings… the list goes on. But this is your family now and while recommendations from family/friends are always great to receive, never feel obligated to do it because of who said it to you, and trust your gut. Some advice can bring you peace. Like when my mother recommended adding rice cereal to my son’s last bottle to help him stay full longer and not wake as often to feed. He was about 9 months+ and a hefty kid that loved to eat. He was still waking every 2-3 hrs and after I added the cereal to his “last” bottle for the night, he was sleeping in much longer stretches and so were we. Then on the other spectrum, she also suggested the standard discipline we grew up with when he misbehaved sometimes, but I wanted to change that narrative. Again, you do what you know is best for your family in your situation.
Love is the underlying reason for everything in parenting. You do everything out of love, even when it pains you to see how your child responds. Shots, punishment, limiting snacks, you name it. Your guidance is grounded in love. Parenting is one of the biggest and most extreme emotional rollercoasters you will ever experience in life. You will question every decision you make, you will have many sleepless nights before they’re teenagers. You will love them so much that you cuss them (in your head) about how they left your bodying what you went through to have them, but turn around and have 2 more babies lol. No matter who or what your child grows up to be, that love will always be there. Never forget it, and never stop using it to guide them. Tough love is a real thing, and it sometimes hurts you more than it hurts them.
Never stop loving.