Many first-time parents read and learn as much as possible while waiting for their baby’s arrival. It is definitely wise and for some couples, assuring to read and prepare. However, in real life, parents have limited energy and may not act or parent in the manner suggested in parenting books.
Here are 12 parenting tips that you will not find in books!
1. The Best Parent Makes Mistakes
As much as you try to be there 24/7 for your baby, there will be times when accidents happen. The baby may fall off the bed or have their fingers caught in the door or swallow bits of the rubber ball. Remember, you are the best parent for your child so there is no need to wallow in guilt for too long over these accidents. Of course, baby-proofing your home is still a must!
⇒ Related Read: 8 Common Accidents In Children And How To Treat Them Properly
2. Your Spouse is the One Who Needs You
When you have a newborn baby, she can’t feed herself, change her own diaper and need help to fall asleep. You’ve read about baby’s brain developing the most in the first few years and how important stimulating and interacting with the baby is. Your spouse? Surely he/she can take care of himself/herself. But NO – your spouse needs you, emotionally, to be there as life goes on (work, family, health issues) and a new baby is a huge adjustment for the adults too. Do not forget that postpartum depression is also applicable to fathers.
3. Fetch the Bone
There is no way to keep one’s sanity while always putting your baby’s needs before your own. Need a timeout for yourself? Get the crawling infant interested to fetch a toy placed a little distance away. Set aside an area that is not carpeted and let your baby create a mess – it is worth it if it gets your sanity back.
4. Bite anything
There is a huge awareness of toxic chemicals, BPA and even books that are safe for biting. If you need to get errands done and your baby looks like he is throwing a tantrum soon, get ready things (safe for baby) that he can play and even bite. If he ends up biting something he shouldn’t, don’t blame yourself (and know that many kids out there swallow bits of bitten straws!)
5. Distraction is a Tool
Distraction is not the ideal way to parent because it does not teach your child the right behaviour. However, it can be incredibly useful to avoid a tantrum, especially outside of your home or when you simply have no energy left to correct behaviour. New toys, stationery or stickers work wonders to distract your child from doing something you don’t want him to do.
6. Hide the Junk
Teaching your child to make healthy eating choices and habits is one of the parents’ gifts for their child. Childhood obesity is a growing concern and moreover, obesity is contagious. Thus, the best thing is not to have junk food at home – no soda, no sweet and no processed, trans-fatty chips! If you tend to binge on junk food when stressed, hide such foods from yourself. Don’t start eating junk food and doing so in front of your child will make it almost impossible to teach them not to eat junk food later.
⇒ Related Read: A Guide To Preventing Childhood Obesity
7. Some Lies are OK
To get your child to eat healthily, you can pretend yoghurt is ice cream and that coloured vegetables are the best snacks in the world – even when you don’t think so. Such lies are OK and who knows, many parents eat healthier after they have a baby because only healthy food is served.
8. No, Don’t Sleep!
Parents get a breather when the baby is asleep. However, you want them to be sleeping when you can do something with the time, not when you are stuck in the traffic jam or have to get through the line at the supermarket. Try to keep your baby awake, even if you have to use more energy to entertain or play with your baby. It’s way better than not having that one to two hours to yourself at home later.
9. Make it a Race
If you are trying to get your toddler to do something he may not like, make it fun or make it a race! Don’t want to go to the toilet? Let’s race to the bathroom! Or if they don’t want to go to bed, the first one in bed gets to sleep with their favourite stuffed toy.
10. Your Sanity Overrides All Good Causes
There is much awareness about saving the earth and disposable diapers are really not environment friendly. If you find it impossible for you to use cloth diapers, don’t feel guilty. You may also find yourself using a lot of tissue to clean up the mess. Go easy on yourself if you can’t manage.
11. Ice is more than Cool
If you are in a restaurant and there isn’t anything you or the restaurant have to entertain your baby, ask for water with ice. Ice is pretty ‘cool’ – the baby feels that it is cool, it slides, it is slippery and it gets smaller and smaller with a growing puddle of water. It is also easy to clean up – it is way better for your baby to be playing with ice and attract a little attention than to be crying out loud and attracting a lot of attention.
12. Pretend Dead
Last resort – play dead (when your spouse is available). Spouses are to be supportive of each other and to share and talk things over when help is needed. However, in the middle of the night when you are really too tired to get up and your spouse is available, it is alright to continue being asleep. Just don’t overdo it.
The tips above are practical and can be considered ‘survival’ tips which will get you through a stressful day or situation. Some of them are not the ‘model’ parenting behaviour but in reality, there will be situations where not everything can be perfect.
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This article was first published in New Age Pregnancy.
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