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There are a number of things as a new parent we all wish we knew before bringing a new baby home. Today I’m sharing the best advice for new parents I’ve learned myself over the past 15 years.
If only there were a manual on how to raise children. The most honest advice comes from those who have come before us and probably learned most of what to do and what not to do the hard way. There is no, one, flawless way to raise a child but I think we have so much to share and learn from one another, parent to parent.
Allow Time and Space for Your Child to Play by Themselves
I cannot stress this enough. Children need to spend time alone, even if you’re just 5-10 feet away. This space allows them time to think for themselves, explore books or toys, maybe even make some mistakes in those moments. Even if you are nearby or in the same space, don’t always feel the need to entertain, interact, and play with the child. Yes children learn so much by watching and observing us, but I believe they learn equally as much playing on their own.
Introduce vegetables and a variety of foods as soon as they’re old enough to eat them…and then once you’ve done that, never stop offering and serving these foods. I haven’t 100% figured out how my parents ultimately got me eat the healthy foods and I, as a parent, have not been able to achieve the same results. I know as my children continue to grow into young adults and eventually adults, their tastebuds will change and they will most likely actually enjoy a serving of vegetables, but this is when they really need them, when their brains and bodies are growing and developing.
Read, Read, Read
One thing I did almost every single night together when they were younger, was read to the kids. They may not have been able to follow along and sometimes weren’t paying the closest attention, but I still continued to read. I don’t believe one can have too many books. Yes, there are some they loved more than others and I could tell them the story by heart after some time, but I never stopped telling them the same story. Let them turn the pages when they’re able, point out all of the animals, colors, shapes, make some silly sounds and inflections in your voice as you read. My boys were starting to recognize words early on and both started reading at 4 years old. I’m absolutely confident it’s because we read together almost every night.
Don’t Tiptoe Around the House
When a baby or child is sleeping, don’t tiptoe around the house. Babies and children adapt very well and will sleep when they’re tired. It’s not necessary to be extra quiet around the house while they are sleeping. I think it’s important for them to get used to being able to sleep and calm themselves when there is external noise. It’s so much more work, especially if there are other children in the home playing or making noise while others may be sleeping, to try and get your child that’s awake to be very quiet. There are so many opportunities to get things done around the house as well while he/she sleeps, so maximize your time, go about your day and do these things, loud or quiet.
Choose Your Battles
This simply means, instead of arguing or fighting the children for something you want them to do, or they don’t want to do…be selective of the problems and confrontations you choose to have with your child and save your energy for those things that truly deserve to be a battle. Being able to let go of things that your child does that may not necessarily need to become a conflict. Over the years and as the boys have grown, I’ve found myself often following a few basic rules, one including that if they’re not hurting themselves or someone else, then I often don’t interject in the moment or situation.
Try to be a “Yes Mom”
I feel very strongly about this, simply because I know that a lot of learning comes from children making mistakes. Being a yes mom allows the kids to experience so much more than me saying no and not allowing them to do something. As I made the choice to be a stay-at-home mom, I consciously made the choice for my days to be spent teaching, nurturing, helping and loving my boys above all. I made the choice each day to go outside to play, to read those books, to make food together because I knew they were only going to be that little for a short time. Although the laundry needed to be folded, dishes washed, and I could maybe have taken some time for myself, I made the space in my day when they wanted to do something together to say, “Yes, let’s do it!” The laundry and dishes will be there when that quality time together has passed.
Be Present and in the Moment
It’s easy to be distracted, especially in the home, to be focusing on things that need to be done, other things you could be doing, work, cleaning. Trust me when I say, kids grow so quickly, changing almost every day in the early years. Once I decided to be present with my children and ignore the other tasks that may need my attention, it was freeing. I learned to ignore the noise surrounding us and focus on what they needed or wanted from me. There’s so much truth in the saying, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
Let Others Help
Those that offer their help with the new baby, take them up on it. This is especially important in the early weeks and months of having a newborn baby. As the years go on, it will be so much easier to prioritize you and your partner’s relationship and connection if you start from the beginning of this new chapter. I know it’s not always easy leaving the baby at first, but things like this may just take more practice. With a healthy relationship between the parents of the child, this love and relationship will be a beautiful example to the children as they grow. It’s also a wonderful feeling to show your child that as you trust others to take care of them, the child will also in turn learn to trust.
Socialize Your Child
Socialize your child. Babies experience social and emotional development on a daily basis even just in the home. However, when you feel both you and your baby are ready, check your local area for these extra opportunities outside of the home, baby story time, play groups, and/or parent/child groups. Being around others babies or children their age will allow them to learn social cues, interaction in a new environment, parallel play and so much more.
Document and Organize Photos and Videos
There’s no shortage of photos or videos as our children are born and grow over the years, especially with the easy access and camera capabilities of our phones. The challenge is in the organizing, deleting/keeping, and printing photo books. Over the years I’ve made family photo books and had a specific file on my computer/phone to document the things I wanted to remember about the day or something they did for the first time. The best method for me is to create a yearly folder and within that folder, monthly folders and sometimes even within those folders, specific event or individual child folders. At the end of each week or month, I filter through the folders for that week/month and delete, edit, share, save and back up the files to an external hard drive or cloud storage.
Jodi is a fun-loving mom of two boys, ages 16 and 11, who live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a stay-at-home mom over the years she has taken on the role of renovating just about every space in their home. She enjoys photography, being a brand partner for Young Living essential oils, sports, reading, crafts, exercise, cooking, plants and gardening. Her love language is acts of service and she’s an Enneagram type two, wing three. Follow her on Instagram @jodileigham
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