Parenting 101: Rules To Learn Early On

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Parenting 101 6 things to learn early on.Most of my friends now are moms.  One of the most frequent conversations I have with my fellow moms are ones in which we describe our ultimate mom fails for the week and then talk about how to do it differently in the future.  Honestly, it makes me feel better to hear other women talk about how imperfect they are at parenting.  It makes me feel like I’m not weird.  I mean, I know I’m weird in general, always have been, always will be, but it’s like a breath of fresh air to know that I might just survive being a parent.

In the past year and half I’ve learned at least one thing.  Do the best that you can and life takes care of the rest.  I’m writing this post in hopes of encouraging other moms who, like me, in general have no idea what they are doing and mostly hold on by the seat of their pants everyday.  I know I said I had 6 things, but I added an extra one so now it’s 7!

Don’t compare your kid to other kids.

  • Growth Percentile Charts– Sometimes I want to take the child percentile charts given to me at pediatric appointments and burn them.  How much grief and anxiety have those seemingly innocent charts caused parents?  The up’s, the down’s, & the inaccurate measurements.  If your kid is healthy, happy and developing normally why waste anymore energy worrying about how your kids compares to others kids.  Seriously, take a good look at history.  The human race has survived a really long time without the need for those charts.  I believe they have their purpose and place but if a kid is coming along normally, ignorance is bliss with percentile comparisons.
  • Talking, Walking, Pottying, Counting, Reading…– So what if your friends kid is talking or walking ahead of yours?  So what if your neighbors kid can read novels in pre-school?  Your kid is your kid.  Your kid is going to do all their developing at their own pace.  I realize that there are exceptions to this in life but in general, don’t worry about development comparisons unless your pediatrician brings them up.  Your kid will catch up.  It just takes time, encouragement and doing the best you can to help them be the best they can!

Don’t compare yourself to other moms.

  • Nurse vs. Bottle- So things didn’t work out when you tried to nurse your kid.  It’s no problem.  They will get what they need from formula or other forms of milk.
  • Cover vs. Non-cover- You nurse with a cover while the women in the mommy milk club don’t.  It’s okay.  You can be open or modest if you want to.  Do what you gotta do to feed your kid comfortably.
  • Working vs. Non-working- This has been a kind of silly debate in my mind.  Speaking as a woman who stays at home with her kid, I can’t imagine what the life of a working mom would be like!  I’m at home all day and can barely get laundry done.  I feel like working women are super moms or something.  On the other side being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean we sit around and watch soaps and eat Bon Bon’s all day.  We struggle to get stuff done being an 24 hour daycare center operator.  Either lifestyle you choose (or have to choose) will be as rewarding as you make it.
  • Weight- Is Your best friend who just had a baby 2 weeks ago already looking like she has never been prego while your still carrying around 50 extra pounds of baby cushion?  I learned the hard way that it takes at least 9 months to take off what you put on in 9 months.  Be patient with yourself.  You can get a pre-baby body back if you work consistently at it.  Everyone heals and recovers at their own pace.
  • Keeping Up With the Jones- This may not be a big deal to some, but to others it’s can be a debt nightmare   If your best friend has all the finest baby equipment, bags, toys and electronics but you know there is no way you can afford it, let it go!  Tons of debt over stuff you can’t pay for will not help you be a better mom.  You can survive and thrive with basic gear just like you can with nice gear.  Do what you can with what you have.  Be you.  It’s okay.
  • Television/Tablets- I’m adding this category because I feel like it also one in which moms struggle.
    • When I was pregnant I swore my kid would not watch TV til the age of 2.  But then the fateful day came that I had to use the restroom, make an important phone call and clean up a mess with a very mobile active baby.  And you know what I did? I let my kid watch 20 minutes of Blues Clues on my Kindle from the safety of his crib.  And you know what I found out?  That 20 minutes let me get a whole heck of lot done.
    • So for all you moms who are ashamed to admit that your baby/toddler watches TV, don’t be.  Everyone needs a minute.
    • As long as you don’t park your kid in front of the TV so you can be on Facebook for 3 hours straight, do not sweat it!
    • You need a break and guess what?  YOUR KID LOVES IT!  That’s right.  If you are able to get something done in those 20 to 30 minutes without a melt down, then they must be entertained.
    • TV BABYSITTING-  Your TV isn’t babysitting your kid. Does the TV babysit you and your husband?  No, the TV entertains you.  Your TV/Tablet is entertaining your kid.  They are enjoying life.  Just like you enjoy watching your favorite shows.
    • If you feel strongly that your child should not watch TV then you should not be ashamed of that either.  In fact you should seriously consider writing a book on toddler activities to help other moms with ideas on entertainment for kids.
    • Life is about balance and so is watching TV.  If your kid never touches a toy because they are zoned out on TV all day, that’s not balanced.
I wrote this post because I feel like I would have been relieved to read some of these things when I was learning about becoming a parent. It feels like the world of parenting is full of stark contrasts with few people admitting the truth.  Most of us are just doing the best we can each day to provide safety, love and physical care for our kids.  And at the end of the day, that’s all they want and need anyway.