Our cousins across the water are expecting. We are so pleased for them and looking forward to meeting a brand new little person when we're next over.
Parents have one job. Nurturing a child and helping them grow into a well-adjusted adult. Capable of forming healthy relationships; supporting themselves and thinking independently.
I'm nervous of giving parenting advice as you're setting yourself up for a fall. Someone will point out that a) you've been seen shouting at your child like a fishwife or b) your child occasionally behaves like Bratzilla.
Here are the only pieces of parenting advice I ever give. Take them, leave them, adjust them to your circumstances...
You are the best parents that this little person can have. Friends and family members will offer (conflicting) advice. Keep remembering that they mean well, want to help and don't mean to be unkind. Smile and nod. Then do what you think is best. You're the one who has to live with the consequences. (If you don't remember anything else, then remember this!) Don't forget to pay that forward to other parents. Read the rest of the advice here in the spirit of the above.
Wear A Sleep Bra Every Night. This piece of advice came via Cindy, a glamourous French colleague. With an enormous shoe and handbag collection! All French women wear sleep bras throughout their pregnancy. And afterwards whilst breast feeding. It prevents saggy boobs. As breasts are held in place with connective tissue rather than muscle and change throughout pregnancy, it made sense. (Well, sense enough to do it!). She shared other pieces of French parenting wisdom as well like, "always keep nice for your husband / partner / significant other".
It took your body nine months to prepare for baby. It'll take your body a similar amount of time to recover. The media is full of celebrities looking amazing a few weeks after giving birth. Celebrities have staff! Staff to look after baby; make them look good and help them exercise. And access to industrial strength corsets to hold it all in when they venture out of the house.
If you're offered help, then take it. If you've got trustworthy people who are willing to sit with baby for a few hours; do the odd bit of cleaning or cook you a meal, then take them up on it! You're a parent, not super(wo)man. Our church cooked us meals for a week when the Tubblet was first born. We were so grateful!
Have somewhere to go every day. Toddlers groups are great places for meeting other parents, making new friends and getting out of the house. Even if you decide not to go, it makes you get up, have a wash and put clean clothes on. The day is easier to face if you're not wearing a ratty old nightie and can't remember when you last washed. (Fake it until you make it!) As I discovered the one day I decided not to bother. A fuse blew leaving me in a house with no working electrics. I called an electrician and washed in freezing cold water whilst I waited for them to arrive.
Everything is for a season. They will sleep, learn to go potty and stop throwing temper tantrums in public. Before you know it, they'll be onto the next thing. And eventually they'll be all grown up and off on adventures of their own.
Children strip away all your surface layers, exposing the person you really are. They knock lumps out of you and reshape you. Some of what you see you'll like. Some of it you won't. They inherit and showcase your best and worst qualities. The Tubblet is good at sports and maths like her dad. And as cunning and stubborn. She likes her own company like I do and is just as messy!
Buy an egg timer. A baby's cry is their way of communicating. There is a cry for every occasion - happy, sad, bored, and uncomfortable. A baby's cry is also a survival mechanism. It's designed to cut through everything in order to make you do whatever it takes to make it stop. There may be times when you try everything and nothing works. If you realise that it's all starting to get too much, put baby somewhere very safe and step out of the situation.
Put the egg timer on for 10 minutes, make yourself a cup of tea, go into another room where you can't hear baby and grab some peace until the egg timer pings. Go back to baby calmer, refreshed and in a better place.
With luck, they may have fussed themselves out of whatever it was! This timeout idea may also be useful at other times. Partners, older children and work colleges can also be annoying!
Sharing with all these great Linkys