First Time Parenting: Five Things I Regret
Ten years ago I started my parenting journey and it totally rocked my world. It was not at all like I thought it would be. However, I have fond memories of that first year with a baby. While I’ve had many parenting successes, I’ve also had just as many parenting flops.
I don’t think it is possible to enter parenthood knowing everything about how to raise a baby and beyond. It’s truly a constant trial and error of life experience. Often getting close to reaching that potential expert level and then, just like that, it’s over and things change.
It turns out no matter how many books you have read you won’t ever be fully prepared for all aspects of raising a baby. Sure you can surround yourself with all the positives. You can have that village. All of us will still make some mistakes at some point. That is okay. That is normal.
Truth bomb, we love our kids and will do what it takes to do a good job at raising them into awesome humans but we will still make mistakes.
Five Things I Regret
- Comparing every aspect of my baby to every other baby that I knew or saw.
My first baby came out crying and did not stop for the first 12 months. He was a high needs fussy pants and it was a total shock. That whole first year I constantly thought I was doing something wrong. I looked at other new mothers out and about in the city, pushing their babies in strollers, and wondered what the heck was wrong with me. I had to do the fussy baby wearing dance while the fancy stroller was collecting dust in the corner because my baby screamed bloody murder if I tried to put him in it.
One regret I have is, instead of looking at the positives of baby wearing I felt like baby wearing was a negative chore. I felt like a failure for not being able to soothe my baby while he was laying quietly in a cot. With the second and third baby I quickly found the positive benefits of baby wearing. Baby wearing meant I had two hands free to take care of other kids and keep a baby quiet and sleeping!
- Spending way too many hours on line ‘researching’ how to get my baby to sleep. Then feeling like a failure when my baby would only sleep in a carrier or on me or for a short amount of time.
First time parents this one is for you especially. The amount of energy, stress and worry that I spent on figuring out how to get my first baby to sleep is absolutely laughable now. There is basics of infant sleep that are important, like establishing a bedtime routine. However, the truth is once you have baby #2 or #3 (or #4 !) you realize that being flexible and going with the flow is actually your biggest win.
Ensuring that your baby sleeps somehow will often work the best. With the great lesson of, sleep begets sleep and a well rested baby is often easier to put down than an overtired baby. It turns out that napping on the go in a carrier is actually less of a burden than it felt like the first time around.
- Bringing my sick kid out in public because I didn’t realize just how fast kids spread germs.
There are a few sentences that put total fear in me as a parent. ‘Mum, my tummy hurts‘ is one . These words make me want to go and grab the bleach and start dowsing down everything and anything. This is totally a learned behaviour after parenting for a decade. With three kids in the house, all who attend school/preschool, I am well versed in just how contagious vomit/diarrhea can be and I am ALL about the quarantine. I cringe when I hear that a school mate was up through the night vomiting but still showed up to class. CRINGE!
- Not traveling with my first baby because I was too concerned about him crying hysterically on a plane.
Baby #3 has been on way more air travel adventures compared to our first. It wasn’t until after a few kids that I realized how much easier traveling with one crying baby versus three would have been. I just did not know that at the time. Instead I kept thinking things would get easier. With our first baby the idea of traveling felt totally off limits. I regret this, especially as I had a full year off work that would have been ideal for travel. Things don’t necessarily get easier in parenting. Parenting changes and your personalized bag of tricks for survival gets bigger.
You have two choices when you have a baby and want to travel. You can put travel on a hiatus till your kids are old enough to schlep their own bags and sit in a confined space or you can figure it out and go. Here’s the thing, your baby might cry bloody murder the whole flight. That could happen. It might be an uncomfortable sweaty journey filled with forced smiles. Here’s the bottom line, you will never see these people again. If you are actively parenting a crying baby then you are doing everything you need to be doing. Just take that baby and travel.
- Believing that I did not need a baby book to write down milestones because I would remember all of the firsts.
It sounds so ridiculous now but I really did believe that the love for my baby would ensure that I filed away every single important milestone forever and ever. It turns out that sleep deprivation and baby jiggling does NOT help make those memories stick around. First word? I think it was ball. First tooth, let’s say 6 months! First steps, hmmm what’s the usual age?
I wish that something like locally made Mushy Books existed back when my first was born in 2008. As a lover of paper products and shopping local this modern day baby book looks like it would have been so lovely to write in. Even if the book ended up being just for me, it would have been all kinds of sentimental. That first year of parenthood has so many amazing milestones.
If you are a seasoned parent tell us what regret you would add to the list? That first year of parenting seriously can knock your socks off. To all of you awesome first timers surviving out there, you’ve got this.