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15 Things You Should Know About Having A Baby

15 Things You Should Know About Having A Baby

“I thought I was the greatest parent, then I had kids.”

Picture this, you are sitting with a gorgeous bundle of joy in your arms, a scene you have probably pictured in your head several times during your pregnancy, and it hits you, I mean it really hits you – I am a parent. I am responsible for this beautiful piece of life in my hands! What the hell do I do now? Babies don’t come with a manual.

When I became a parent, I remember thinking to myself often, in the first year, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this?” Like most parents-to-be, we did the usual antenatal classes, read books, signed up on BabyCenter, and spoke to friends who had recently had children. But nothing can prepare you for your experience as a first-time parent. It’s one of those crazy, magical, not to mention, extremely exhausting, roller coaster rides of your life.

Whether you love kids, or have doubts about your parental instincts, or think you’ve got this parental shindig all figured out, you are in for a surprise. Your life is going to change in an unbelievable way!
Here are a few important pointers to help you along the way:

1. Breastfeeding is hard, but not impossible

Breastfeeding is not easy and it takes you time to get it right. However, it’s a great start for your child and if you choose to do it, arm yourself with the right information. Most breastfeeding issues are easily solved if you reach out for the right support. Please talk to friends who successfully breastfed to get the real picture and for recommendations for helpful resources such as lactation consultants.
Get all the help you need while in the hospital, after delivery. Seek a good lactation consultant who can teach you how to breastfeed. You need to learn to identify a correct latch and if your child is feeding well or not. La Leche League and Kelly Mom are great websites for finding additional support and more information.

2. Not all babies sleep long hours

Every baby book and website will tell you that babies sleep 12- 16 hours a day. That makes it sound like they sleep all the time and you can go about your work. But not all babies sleep for long, uninterrupted stretches. They sleep between 2-4 hours at a stretch, even at night, initially.

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3. Hence, having a baby means you will miss sleep terribly

When I had been a mom for a week, I was awfully sleep deprived. I asked another friend with more experience, (having 2 older kids), when do I get to sleep properly through the night? She laughed and remarked, “Definitely not before they are 20!”

You come to slowly realize that sleep is a luxury for new parents. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is the best advice I ever received. Don’t clean, don’t do laundry, and don’t use that time to cook, please just sleep! Take turns staying up at night.

Whether you choose to co-sleep, sleep train, or whatever, do your research and decide what works best for your family. Go with whatever gets everyone more sleep, at least until you reach a phase where you aren’t constantly exhausted. Or else, not just the baby, but you too will end up in tears. You can always change plans as the situation changes.

4. The first 3 months are the hardest

They don’t call it the fourth trimester for nothing. Your newborn baby will be gradually adjusting to life outside the womb and you will go through all kind of hormonal and physical changes while recovering from childbirth. Our world is the complete opposite of the safe cocoon the baby emerged from. Adjusting to constant stimulation, learning to express their needs, life outside is a big deal to a newborn baby, some adjust easily, and others take their time. You need to empathize with your child and give them what they need. I promise you that if you soothe your baby by picking them up, they won’t be stuck to your hip forever, not even a few months down the line.

Your emotions will be like a pendulum, swaying from one extreme to another. It’s important to get rest, eat, and drink well. It’s only too likely that you’ll lose yourself in the busy life of a new mother, but take care of yourself. Factor in ‘me time’ in the week to reconnect with yourself and rejuvenate. A happy mother makes a happy baby.

5. Everyone will have advice for you, mostly unwarranted

From the family, to your neighbor, to your friends without kids, to random strangers you encounter when your child is in the midst of a crying fit, everyone will have an opinion on parenting your baby and offer advice and suggestions. You will feel like you are not good enough. Trust me you are. As a new parent, you experience this enormous desire to get everything right! So it’s natural to be worried and question what you are doing. But learn to listen to your parental instincts, find your own parenting philosophy, and not get too influenced by everyone’s advice. Also, if you are open enough, you will learn not to judge another parent’s choices.

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6. Get all the support you can get

They say, ‘it takes a village to bring up a child’, and they are right. Get all the help you can: you will need it. Ask family and friends to babysit, even if just for an hour so you can shower and eat a meal without having to rush to your baby. If you can get help with cooking and housework, don’t refuse. Let your partner share equally in the responsibility. Don’t worry if the house is untidy or meals are hastily thrown together, it’s ok to NOT be super mom or super dad. As your baby grows, these issues will sort themselves out. For now, just go with the flow.

Seek other new parents at playgroups, parenting support groups, breastfeeding cafes, and even online. It’s easier to turn to those going through the same stage in life for help, advice, support, and guidance. I didn’t have my family around when I had a baby so I set up a support group on Facebook to create my own community of friends and family for support. It was an immense source of comfort to me as a new mom.

7. Babies are stronger and more resilient than you know

Accidents such as minor falls and bumps with babies are common, but most do not cause much harm. Babies are, explorers by nature, which doesn’t help when you are exhausted parents. Luckily, infants have flexible bones and what might cause serious damage to an adult, will often, not do much harm to a tiny baby.

Other than accidents, there is so much that a new parent worries about: is my baby drinking enough milk? Is her weight ok? Does she have enough teeth? Why is she crying? It’s a never-ending list and parents are concerned that they might be doing it all wrong and may ruin their baby.

While it’s sometimes tough to gauge a baby’s signs- it takes practice and careful observation- babies are intelligent humans and if we don’t get in their way much, they will grow beautifully.

8. Milestones: don’t compare, because it’s not a race

Milestones are meant to be indicators of development, not a yardstick to measure your child’s growth and progress. Celebrate your child’s milestones and let them get there by themselves. Many parents think they need to help or teach their child to turn on their stomach, crawl, and walk. Please let nature do its own thing. These are instinctive and children will achieve these in their own time. There is no need to prop your child up to sit or hold their hands enabling them to walk even before they are standing up properly by themselves. Leaving them to do this by themselves is not just good physiologically (helps build strong muscle and bone structure) but allows your child to trust their body from a very young age.

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9. Capture their childhood

My husband has very few baby pictures and he wishes there were more photographs to cherish. So he insisted on upgrading to a better camera when we knew we were having a baby. In fact, it was probably the most expensive piece of baby kit we invested in. And I’m very glad he did that as we have so many lovely photos and videos of a phase that passes by so quickly to reminisce over. I look at my daughter’s baby pics and think to myself, “Oh my! I had forgotten that!” Sometimes it feels as if those photos are of a different baby altogether. They change so much so fast, it’s incredible. Not to mention you are mostly too tired to remember everything.

Needless to say, you will want to capture every single moment. New parents are unsurprisingly obsessed with their newborns.

10. Babies don’t need a lot of things

Just lots of nappies, a few baby sleep suits, a few blankets, and your set. A newborn doesn’t need fancy gadgetry. So think before you buy that fancy toy. All they need in abundance is your love and presence. Most first-time parents tend to overdo it, buying all the latest gadgets to make life easier. But go slow, check parent recommendations and really think if you need it. You can save that money for the future instead.

11. Plan your finances

Having a baby is an expensive proposition. Parents from previous generations set aside money for college and maybe weddings, but many parents today need to think of childcare too. Childcare is expensive so factor it in before you have the baby. These days, childcare expenses are among the largest part of a family budget. This is understandable, as childcare costs have often been said to be at par or higher than college expenses.

12. Going anywhere will become a massive task

A quick run to the shops to buy milk and bread will require 45 mins of preparation. It’s like packing for an overnight trip. You will have a long list of things to carry and forgetfulness that is a result of sleep deprivation and sheer exhaustion will slow you down. Keep a nappy bag always stocked and ready to go. Keep a checklist handy when you are too tired to think but need to pop to the shops for essentials. If and when you plan to go out for a nice evening, it will need detailed organizing and providing troubleshooting instructions to your babysitter.

13. Reconnect as a couple

“In the happiest of our childhood memories, our parents were happy too” – Robert Brault.

Parenting is hard on your relationship; especially in the early days when the new situation is challenging to both of you and survival is the main goal. It takes a toll on the best of couples. There are never enough hours to finish housework or errands, you are both exhausted and with a baby around, romance isn’t top of the agenda anymore. So it’s important to spend time with each other as a couple, without talking about responsibilities or your baby. Set up date nights at home if you can’t organize a babysitter often. If you argue in front of your baby, make sure to make up in front of your baby too. It’s important to create a healthy, happy, and secure environment for your child to grow up in.

 14. You will gain new skills

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about,” – Angela Schwindt.

Children teach us so much about life. A child will find true joy in the simplest of things. Children teach us how to love unconditionally, how to forgive, to be giving, to be honest, to be carefree, to trust your instincts, patience, and perseverance, among many other things.

On a lighter note, you will learn to become a ninja around your baby when she sleeps. You won’t remember things that need to be done, but you will know the words to every rhyme even in the middle of the night. You will learn to eat your meals super fast or single-handed. You will learn to do many things single-handed. You will become an expert in non-linguistic communication and baby language. For a while, only you will seem to be able to interpret what your baby’s words mean. You will learn to sleep anytime, anywhere.

15. Enjoy your baby – they grow up too fast

Being a parent is mostly about being full of love, joy, hope and unimaginable delight, even when you’re bone tired. You will laugh more than ever before. All the craziness will soon end – the sleepless nights, the toilet training, and tantrums. Time will run swiftly and in the blink of an eye your infant will be a toddler and before you know it, ready for school. Savor the baby stage; it’s so special and so short-lived that you will miss it dearly when it’s gone. Watching your child grow is one of the most magical and mystical experiences of your life. Don’t be constantly worried and panicked about the baby.

You will be fine. Don’t take life too seriously. Remember to relax and have fun as a family enjoying this beautiful gift that you have been blessed with.

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Featured photo credit: Lisa Rosario via albumarium.com

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Published on April 3, 2020

How to Strengthen Family Bonds When You’re Staying at Home

How to Strengthen Family Bonds When You’re Staying at Home

Now is a perfect time to work on making some memories with your closest family members. When situations call for social distancing outside of our home, we need to do the opposite within home.

Now, more than ever, we need to engage with those living in our home. We may be together for a while, but look at it is way, it is a wonderful opportunity to create some good family memories and positive interactions together.

Staying home can be isolating, especially when we hole ourselves up in different rooms than our other family members. Make an effort to spend quality time together. Sitting in the same room on different electronic devices is not quality family time. Put down the elections, join together in one room, and do activities together.

Your family bonding becomes stronger when you spend time doing activities together. Below are 10 ideas you can do with your family and loved ones.

1. Create Photo Albums

If you are like most of the population, you probably have lots of photos and very few physical albums. My parents generation always had photo albums. I can go to my parents’ home in Florida and find at least 20 albums from the lives of my parents and my childhood that I can flip through and reminisce. Physical, tangible photo albums are always cherished.

Look back at the past five years of your life. Were there meaningful trips that you took as a family or major life events such as a Baptism, marriage, or birth of a child that happened in the past few years? Do you have photos of the event stored somewhere digitally such as social media, on your phone, or on a computer? If you do and you want to savor those memories for years to come, then you may want to think about creating some photo albums.

This is a great activity for family of all ages. You can approach the project in one of several ways. You can print the photos and put them in your own physical photo album (the kind our parents used and you can still buy), you can scrapbook, or you can create an online photo album.

Whichever choice you make, the family can be involved in the process. I like the tangible photos and traditional albums or basic (no frills) scrap-booking, as do my kids. We have albums in all three formats. Whichever method you decide to do you can involve the whole family in the creation process.

Scrap booking as a family can be fun too. It does not have to be over the top either. We do it with scrap booking paper (12 by 12 inches), photos, and bits of paper to write captions for the photos. The family uses photo safe glue to secure the photos to paper that each person selected and then we slide the pages into the clear page holders of the album. Albums are easy to create using this method and this method still allows for personalization of each page.

    To do a photo album project, I simply print out the photos that I want to use for the album. Many albums will ship printed photos directly to your home. For example, we did a National Park trip this past summer and visited seven of them in the United States over a three-week span.

    I printed all of the photos from the trip that I thought we could use for the album. Then I cut strips of colored paper. I use these strips to write a sentence of two. I usually put a strip with details on each page, but not every photo because that becomes more tedious.

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    Having everyone select and do a page or two and write the details about what the photos they selected makes it even more meaningful. For example, my son Charlie writing “This is Glacier National Park where we camped and Max got bit by gobs of ants at the dog run and we had to find a vet to help him” makes it memorable. His handwriting and the thing that captured his memory about that particular day are special. It adds his touch to the memories from the trip. Having every family member participate in putting the photos into the book and writing a few sentences for the photos that they are putting into the book helps to make it a shared family experience.

    It is also a wonderful time for revisiting the occasion that you are creating the album about. For example, doing an album as a family for a trip you all took together provides us with plenty to talk about as we go through the photos. My kids always get excited and say “look mom, remember when….” about a hundred times anytime we do an album together. The photo album activity is a bonding activity, as is the reminiscing over special time you spent together in the past.

    2. Indoor Camping with Sheet Forts

    What kid doesn’t love a good sheet fort? Sheet forts are the kind of memories that make a childhood great. If your kids don’t have any sheet fort memories, then now is the time to start making them!

    All you need are some sheets. The bigger, the better. Flat and fitted work just fine. Fitted sheets can be helpful to secure under legs of tables since they have elastic corners and are gathered. We like to use tables, chairs, and sometimes couch cushions too. You create a space using the furniture and then cover the furniture with sheets. You are essentially making indoor tents.

    My kids like to play inside their forts for hours once they are created. I help with the creation, to ensure that things don’t fall over and hurt anyone, but once that is done, I let them play. They will take books, little action figures, and their stuffed animals into their fort to play. Feel free to climb into their fort with them too! They will think you are the best parent ever!

      3. Bake or Cook Together

      Staying at home is a great opportunity to cook or bake together as a family. If you have special recipes that you would like to teach your children, now is a great time to do that.

      If you have grandma’s apple pie recipe that has been passed down for generations, it would be a nice time to make it with your children. You can use the time to talk about your grandparents, the heritage of your family, and perhaps the meaning of the recipe to you.

      After you make the special dessert or dish with your children, it will then have special meaning to them too. They will be able to recall the time that they made that special concoction with you and the memories you made from that day.

      Here’re also some ideas for you: 15 Easy Recipes for Kids That Don’t Require an Oven

      4. Play Board Games Together

      I come from a family that plays games together. Even as adults, we love to play Boggle, Scrabble, Rummikub, and a variety of card games.

      My kids have caught the game bug too. When we go camping or are home over the weekend, we will play Uno, Connect Four, Dominoes, and Memory. These board and card games are inexpensive and provide hours of entertainment. It is also a great way to bond as a family and create memories.

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      Some of my favorite memories from childhood are sitting at the kitchen table playing games with my siblings and parents.

      For very young children, you can start with games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. From there, you can move onto slightly more challenging games for their minds such as Uno, Monopoly Junior, Memory, War (basic card game), and Connect Four.

      My kids started playing Candy Land at the ages of three and four. From there, they have been hooked on family game time ever since. They ask often to play together and now is a great time to teach them to play even more games. The entertainment, laughs, and memories are priceless!

      5. Put on a Show or Play

      Family talent shows, putting on a play, and putting on a musical show do not require an audience. Your family can do the show and record on your phone or other electronic device. It doesn’t need an audience other than you all to make it memorable. It is the experience of collaborating, planning, and executing the show together that make it special.

      My kids began making their own hat creations out of our various art supplies. I have been helping them in the process. We have art class daily as part of our new home school curriculum (I am one of those moms who never wanted to home school, yet I am doing it because our schools are closed indefinitely).

      Art class daily has become hat making time. Once they have made enough hats for a fashion show, I said we would put on a show and record it. It has spurred on their motivation to create elaborate works of art. They are excited about each hat and the show that is to come to fruition.

      You can find free plays and scripts on Free Drama. You can act them out as a family and record just for fun. You can also use a script from the website to create a puppet show. Each family member can then play multiple roles and it opens the door to more characters.

      If you don’t have puppets, then make some! You probably have a basket of mismatched socks like we do. It is a great way to use them at this point. Go to Pinterest for ideas on how to make sock puppets. Creating the puppets together is also a great bonding activity. Once you have your characters made, then you can act it out.

      Don’t forget to video it, because I can guarantee that your kids are going to be interested in seeing their own performance. Such a great way to make family memories and it doesn’t cost much, if anything at all!

      6. Reading Aloud

      Reading a book aloud is a great way to create some bonding time and memories. It is a much better alternative than everyone isolating themselves doing their own activities. Being pulled into the same imaginative world through a book creates a shared experiences.

      I remember reading The Old Man and the Sea to my mom when we were on a car trip when I was a kid. I recall talking about the premise of the book and our opinions about it. It obviously left an impression on me, as I remember this over 25 years later.

      I have read aloud books to my kids too. The first chapter book we read aloud together was Charlotte’s Web. After we read the book together, we then watched the movie. It is sweet how my kids will still point on the book or movie if we see it somewhere in public. They will say “remember when we read the book together and watched the movie?” They say it with such sweetness and innocent pleasure, it is a good reminder that the simple things in life are sometimes the best.

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      Some other good books that we have read aloud together that my kids personally enjoyed were The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Secret Garden, and Little Women. I know several friends that have read the Harry Potter series with their children who are slightly older than my six and eight year old children.

      Medium shares a list of 20 great books to read aloud with your kids. Their list is helpful because it has descriptions along with recommended ages for each book.

      If you can’t get out of the house to go to the library, you should look into the digital software that your library utilizes. Visit your local library’s website to find out what apps you will need for you to borrow from their digital library.

      Our library offers a multitude of free e-book downloads. You borrow the materials much like you would a physical book. Usually, the downloads can be kept for 2-3 weeks at a time, depending on your library rules. They also have audible books available for download from many libraries as well. For example, our local library subscribes to Cloud Library. To use it, I simply downloaded the app and entered my library card information requested from the app. I was instantly given access to thousands of audible books free!

      7. Plant a Garden

      This tip only applies if you have a yard, however there are options for creating patio gardens and indoor gardens too. Planting a garden and teaching your child how to tend to vegetables is a wonderful bonding opportunity. You are teaching them real life skills, you will have real food to eat from your own garden, and you are creating memories that will last a lifetime.

      If you ask a person if they had a garden when they were a kid, everyone knows the answer. It is not something you have to think to hard about. Why? Because gardening is an experience. Why not experience it with your family too?

      If you don’t know much about gardening, then you can learn with your child as you go through the process. Here is an article from Bonnie Plants on how to plant a garden.

      If you don’t want to leave your home, then you can order gardening supplies online like I did. Lowe’s dropped off our raised garden bed kit on my doorstep and I ordered a variety of seeds from Amazon. Just look online at the garden stores that are closest to you and see what they ship to doorstep if you don’t want to leave the house.

      8. Host Your Own Family Party

      Just because you are home and can’t have a big party with lots of friends doesn’t mean you can’t still have a party. A party with your family is fun if you decide to make it fun.

      Pick a theme to really make it an event. An 80’s themed dance party is sure to get the whole family laughing and smiling. Pull out your best 80’s looking clothing, rat your hair to get that special 80’s look, put on some 1980’s tunes, and teach your kids some dance moves from the 80’s.

      Having a dance party doesn’t require many people. A party of two is still a party! Make some memories and perhaps show your kids what things were like when you were a kid. They will certainly remember an 80’s themed dance party for many years to come.

      Weekends spent at home don’t mean that they can’t be fun. Make the weekend special even if you have to be home. For example, Friday can be family movie night or family game night. Then Saturday night can be your 80’s dance party. Let your creativity go to work and if you need a few ideas check out this blog article that has 32 Party Theme Ideas .

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      9. Learn an Instrument Together

      No time better than the present to start learning to play that instrument you have always wanted to play.

      Have you always wanted to play the guitar? Then, look online for a basic learning guitar that isn’t expensive, yet has good reviews. We did that for my daughter and purchased a decent quality ukulele from Amazon that was intended for beginners while still having a quality sound (it wasn’t some trinket from a tourist destination that wouldn’t hold a tune.)

      We found lessons online from an instructor who would conduct lessons one on one using Skype. Many instructors use this technology or other free software that allows quality video communications from their home to yours.

      The website we happened to use to find an instructor was TakeLessons.com. You can find instructors that will teach anything from drums to cello to saxophone. Prices vary too. You pick your instructor from their pool of instructors available. This website is basically a service that connects people with talent (some with really good music education too) who can teach to students who are looking to learn.

      Learning to play an instrument together and you are creating memories together! You are also learning a new skill that you can enjoy for years to come. Playing music together is good for the mind and soul!

      The TakeLessons.com website also has language lessons. You can learn a new language as a family. All from the comfort of your own home. I am sure there are many different website that offer lessons on learning another language. Do your research and compare prices before committing to anything.

      10. Plan Future Travels

      While you are learning a new language you can begin planning future vacations. You can do a family meeting and discuss where you would like to go and why.

      It would be even better to have each child research where they would like to take a trip. Each child and/or family member can present a pitch on why your family should travel to that location in the future. They can use their research to tell about the area such as its historical value, recreational features, and the learning experiences that can be had from such travels.

      This doesn’t mean you need to book any travels. It more about learning and finding hope in the future. If we can’t plan for the future, then there is no hope. Make mental plans now, as a family, for what you want to do and where you want to travel someday.

      Make Memories Today!

      There is no time better than the present to start making memories together and bonding as a family. In these times when many people are having to stay home for extended periods of time, it is a great opportunity to bond and connect as a family.

      You have a captive audience with your children at home. Don’t miss out on this time by holing up in separate rooms doing your own activities. Make it a point to chose group activities and engage your family during this time at home.

      Every day alive is a blessing. Every day having your family is blessing. Don’t take your blessings for granted. Love on them and create great memories in spite of the circumstances.

      Featured photo credit: Marisa Howenstine via unsplash.com

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