They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. I say parenting is an exception.
If I were to call myself a parenting expert I would be laughed off the internet! (Not to mention feeling extreme remorse and guilt for such a filthy lie!).
Parenting, as with most things, is extremely personal. No matter what your values and ideals, there will never be another parent/couple who does things exactly the same as you.
I'm here to share my stories, trials, tribulations, successes, and not-quite successes with you to help you become more well-rounded and informed. And, if you decide to give something a try and it happens to work for your family, I consider that a huge success.
In this article, I compiled the ultimate Parenting guide with getting started tips, need to knows, and more! Before that, make sure to check out articles I've written related to parenting below:
Parenting: How To Even Get Started
Writing about parenting at all is always a bit of a tricky job, since the concept is so vast, and there is so much I could say on the topic. To create a whole guide on the subject without producing a whole Bible about it is tough, but when you strip away the bells and whistles, I started to see where the real bones of the job existed.
Parenting is a different experience for everyone, and I am a firm believer that there is no right or wrong way to do the job as long as your little one(s) are cared for, loved, and happy. However, with the prospect of a new baby in the home… many moms, myself included, forget a couple of the key ingredients to successfully getting started as a new parent.
Late Nights, Early Mornings: Balance Is Key!
Don’t feel as if you have to keep up with the person you were in the past. Now that a small human dictates your schedule, you’re going to be living during some weird hours. 3am may become the new 12pm, and 9am may start to become bedtime.
Balancing regular life with “mommy life” can be tough. You want time with your partner, your family, your friends… you want to watch your favorite TV shows, maybe take a bath at a reasonable hour. Establishing a balance to your mommy life and regular life is tricky, but it can be done!
Pick a couple of specific times a week where you commit to doing something important. It could be a phone call with mom every Sunday afternoon at 2pm, or maybe you take a bath twice a week at midnight before your partner goes to bed. Find these “normal” things, and stick to it, but go with the flow for everything else.
You Are More Than Just A Mom
Many times, I felt like I’d be reduced into “mommy mode” forever. No one asked me about me, just the baby. Anything big in my life, such as events or birthdays or accomplished, felt pale in comparison to my ability to parent.
I also felt shame for this. Why shouldn’t I be happy to be seen as this mommy figure? The reason I felt a little disappointed because we are more than just mothers. We do more, we feel more, and we have the potential for more! Being a mom is great, but don’t let yourself be stuck in that rut of this is the only importance you’ll ever achieve.
How To Ask For Help
When you have a baby, asking for help is one of the hardest things out there you have to do. You don’t want to be seen as incapable, you don’t want to be a bother, you don’t want judgement or to lose any friends or support by seeming needy. So much time is spent stressing about asking for help, that it often doesn’t even happen.
In reality, you’re overthinking it. Many people, especially those without kids, are more than happy to be of assistance, but they aren’t sure what you need. This follows the belief that every mom is different – some moms need additional support in certain areas.
If you want help, just ask. Be specific with what you need. Give complete requests, instead of just vague offerings. If you want someone to feed the baby while you shower, say so. If they say no, just move on. It’s really the worst that can happen!
3 Must-Have Parenting Products
Sure, we all know the basics of what we need for when the baby comes, and your baby shower probably gave you more swaddling blankets, cute outfits, and pacifiers than you know what to do with. It’s often the most obvious things that get overlooked when it comes to quality, and sometimes a tiny change in an item we use daily can massively improve our time as a mommy.
1. The Ultimate Diaper Bag
Chances are, you’ve got a diaper bag already, but how efficient is it? For me, I was happiest when my diaper bag was also my purse, because then I had less bags to carry on top of the massive carseat and human child inside it.
2. Traveling Breastfeeding Pillow
Multitasking is everything during parenthood, even with your breastfeeding supplies. This pillow helps provide the normal support of a pillow for this use, but it also gives you storage and easy portability, which is beyond valuable for a busy mom.
3. Reliable Baby Monitor
You don’t realize how important distance and peace of mind are for a new mom until you are one… but you also don’t anticipate how hard it is to get both of those together, at the same time. Video monitoring and high-quality sound proves both, so this is my favorite monitor.
For more details, check out our best baby monitor article.
3. Safe Car Seat
We wrote a guide on choosing the a car seat for your baby. Check it out!
3. Baby Stroller
Have you tried carrying your baby for long periods of time? It's tiring! Especially when you are at the store and the baby just does not want to stay in your lap, it can be difficult.
Strollers are a mom's (or dad's) must haves in their arsenal of tools. Strollers nowadays also come packed with features like bag holders, bottle holders, visors to keep the sun out, and much more.
9 Tips To Make Parenting A Little Easier
1. Stop scheduling your sleep
The adult bedtime is real, and once you realize you’ve totally ruined your sleep schedule, it can feel only natural to return to it. Unfortunately, the sad truth is, you can’t. Not for a while, at least. So instead of trying to helplessly enforce these rules of sleep you think you have to follow, just go with the flow!
Babies sleep a lot, but it’s not always for the long stretches of time you want them to. Instead of forcing you both into some sleep pattern, like a naptime at 3, and bed at 9… just sleep when your baby does. Sure, you may not have planned on an 11am catnap, but you’ll feel better for it when you wake up.
2. Journal through everything
I know, I know! The last thing you have the time and energy for is writing down your day’s events. Journaling doesn’t always mean spending an hour with a cramped hand pouring your heart on a page. It can mean uploading a picture of a big moment to Facebook, updating your status “it was a good day”, or jotting down a memory you want to save in your iPhone notes folder.
Documenting this experience is important, yet so overlooked. Sleep deprivation, stress, and melted days cause us to forget some of the most touching, special moments of our children's early lives. No one is asking you to scrapbook or write a novel, just save some memories.
3. Find Someone Inspirational To Follow!
Finding inspiration to get through the day, and remind you of the little joys and beauty of parenting, are key for surviving this experience as a new parent. Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat can offer great sources of inspiration from real parents.
A few great Mommy YouTube blogs I love are:
and Instagram, too! These are some great ones to follow:
Blogging was obviously a way that I made it through the rough parts of parenting. Some people prefer a video format, or maybe more aesthetic and visual, which allows for different platforms to fully shine.
Community is also a great way to enjoy parenthood with other parents, and many Facebook groups or social circles online in networking can be helpful in this same, inspirational way!
4. Create care stations
The worst thing to have to do as a new mom is trek through the house with a sleeping baby 14 times a day to grab whatever little item you left downstairs while you’re in the kitchen. Pick 3-5 spots in the house you find yourself at the most often, and set up a little basket of things you need most frequently.
Diapers, baby power, nursing aides, blankets, and maybe a water bottle are great items to include in your care stations, and place them strategically throughout the house to minimize your traveling. Ordering a couple of these nursery kits to place in your home can work, too!
5. Practice “goodbye”
One of the hardest experiences as a new mom is having to return to work… and leave your precious bundle of joy behind. Tears, depression, stress, and low productivity can be cruel results of this, but there are ways to minimize the sadness and stress and create a more positive parting.
Practice makes perfect, and it applies here, too. In the weeks leading up to your return to work, the start of a new daycare, or anything that will require you to be away from your baby for hours on end, start practicing. Drop your little one with a grandparent or trusted friend for a short period of time, and increase the amount you’re apart. By the time you have to spend 8 hours away from each other, you’ll both be a little more prepared.
6. Take pictures at the start of the day
Babies are cute… and messy. From spit up, drool, spills, and poop, there are a hundred things that could potentially ruin a cute, coordinated outfit and spoil a great day for pictures. My advice? Throw on the sweet romper and matching headband and snap that perfect pic first thing.
For the rest of the day, don’t worry about it. Your baby will get messy, they will go through several outfits, and you will be sick of trying to match shirt to pants, socks to bow. Get those cute pictures as fast as possible so the rest of the day you don’t feel stressed about staying “presentable” (is there even such a thing in early mommy-hood?)
7. Start baby-wearing
Look around you. See the piles of laundry? The dust bunnies in the corner? The funky smell coming from the dishes in the sink? Yeah… welcome to parenthood. House cleaning very often takes the backseat when a new baby is in the building, and you shouldn’t shame yourself for that.
However, you also shouldn’t let it get too out of control. One way I managed to stay semi on top of the cleaning chores around the house in the first year of my children’s life is by simply strapping them to my body and cleaning anyway. I’d wash dishes with my youngest in a baby carrier on my chest. There are tons of cool baby wearing sashes, like this one, to make house cleaning and bonding a family experience.
8. You’re allowed to say no
Some moms like lots of company. Others desire solitude and time quietly alone with their baby. Each mom is different, but all moms feel pressure or stress at one point or another to do what someone else wants for them. It could even come from your own partner, friends, or parents!
Be it well-meaning family members begging for a day with the little one, or a friend who keeps trying to make you have a “fun night out”, you’re allowed to say no to anything you don’t want to do. Your whole day already consists of taking care of another human, plus yourself, so it’s only fair that you get the authority to choose what you do outside of that responsibility to your little family.
9. Treat yourself!
While breastfeeding, I had to follow a strict diet to help prevent my baby from experiencing painful gas. I got so caught up on being strict with my “allowed” foods, my attitude towards eating in general changed, and I started to not get enough nutrients. I was left feeling tired, cranky, and hungry… but unmotivated to eat.
Yes, it’s important you get the right food in your body to nourish your baby, especially while breastfeeding, but don’t let yourself get so caught up in your post-baby diet plan you start to hate food entirely. Have some chocolate in the evenings, or eat that bowl of alfredo. You deserve it!
Buying Gifts for a Child?
The dreaded buying gifts for your child or for a relative/friend's child. It can be a daunting task. Kids up until 18 years old go through various stages; some gifts are appropriate and some are not. For example, when an infant, it's crucial to give them toys that help them develop. Whereas when older as an adolescent, they can partly enjoy toys that are just plain fun.
We know the challenge of picking out toys so we compiled detailed guides for buying toys for specific age groups. Check out the list below:
Important note: While we did categorize the toys/gift guides by “boys” and “girls”, we do not believe in gender discrimination. We categorize it like this for easy-of-us. Make sure to check out both boy and girl guides since you never know what the child may like!