I was surprised the other week when I received an email from a mommy of triplets plus one who liked my blog. She and her hubby have a Free Pregnancy iPhone app and wanted to know if I had any tips for new parents. While I am a boomer, not one who is having boomlets anymore, I wasn’t sure if I was an appropriate person to be giving advice to those who are approaching parenthood.
However, as I thought more about the task at hand, I said to myself…sure, I have lots of parenting wisdom for new parents. This May will mark two decades since I had a child. Much has changed since then. There were no pregnancy apps or mommy blogs when I was expecting. But, I did have my favorite book at the time called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I read it every month with both pregnancies. I actually took the book to the hospital during delivery with my first child and someone stole it from me. (Can you imagine? I wanted to read it while I was giving birth so I would remember what to expect at the delivery. I liked this book so much that when I got pregnant with my second child, I went and bought another copy.)
So, what wisdom do I want to impart to those new parents as they read their iPhone app? What tips and tactics did I use on my two kids that worked…and that didn’t always work? What do I remember best about managing with my kids throughout those years of babyhood, toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood (which they are both still going through)?
Hmm, hmm, what tips come to mind? Okay all you new parents, listen up (none of these tips are in any kind of order or priority):
- Tip #1: Don’t over feed your newborn just because you think if you feed them more they will sleep through the night. Babies have little tummies and they will throw it back up if you give them too much formula or breast milk. You may think you are smarter than your kids, but actually they are smarter than you. In fact, they are good communicators, however, as parents we sometimes don’t want to listen to them.
- Tip #2:Babies and toddlers and even parents need routines. Whenever I tried to mess up the daily routine, or take away their naptime, all hell would break loose. They would be cranky and tired and I would get that way too.
- Tip #3:Babies need lots of hugs and kisses. That’s why they are so cute so you can give them lots of hugs and kisses.
- Tip #4: Take time to sing to your baby, even if you have a lousy voice. Your baby will not tell you that you have a lousy voice because he/she can’t speak. If he/she starts to cry because of your lousy voice, turn on Lady Gaga and dance around the house with your baby. That will make he/she happy.
- Tip #5: Buy a rocking chair and rock your baby to sleep each night. The doctor may not agree, but I always loved to rock my babies before bedtime to quiet them down and quiet me down too. (Ooh, maybe I should bring that old rocking chair upstairs and rock myself when I get a menopausal moment. Ooh, ooh, do you know I still have the rocking chair that my mom used when I was a baby. Wow, it is 50+ years old now. I definitely have to bring that chair with me when I move.)
- Tip #6: Moving on to childhood, I definitely think that building self-esteem and self-efficacy is very, very, very important. If your child feels good about his/her self at an early age, it will carry them far throughout their life.
- Tip #7: As my former pediatrician once said when I was trying to potty train my son, “Judi, no child ever went to college with diapers. Don’t worry.” My pediatrician was so smart.
- Tip #8: Start the 529 account for college the moment your child is born. You will never save enough…sorry! On the other hand, maybe it’s better to listen to the tip from my son D who is close to 20. D says, “when I have kids I am going to make sure they are great at sports from a very early age so that they get a full scholarship to college.”
- Tip #9: When you send your son off to rent a tuxedo for his high school prom, be sure to give him a spending parameter. Oh, yes, also tell him that Ralph Lauren tuxedos do cost more than non-designer brands. If you forget, and he picks the expensive Ralph Lauren tux…be glad he has a date for the prom, tell him he looks great, and take tons of pictures.
- Tip #10: This is my last tip for now…but an important one. Don’t give your four or five year old daughter your old Barbie, Midge, or Skipper dolls to play with along with her own Barbie dolls. Why? Because she may decide to cut off the doll’s hair (like my daughter A did) and then it will look like a very sad looking doll. And she may decide to make a mini dress out of your favorite tweed suit that you always used to put on your Barbie doll. (Do you know when I went to a dinner for The White House Project in NYC earlier this month I saw what a real Midge looks like again…Mattel was a sponsor of the event and had all the Barbie dolls from the past 20+ years on display.
I took pictures because one of the dolls was wearing my favorite tweed outfit.
I wish all new parents luck with raising their kids. I always wished babies and kids came with better directions. Unfortunately, parenting is one of the hardest jobs. But, fortunately, it’s one of the best jobs too…and like a Timex watch, as parents we sure do take a licking, but we keep on ticking.