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11 Things Every Mother-To-Be Should Not Miss

11 Things Every Mother-To-Be Should Not Miss

The first few weeks after you bring your baby home will be one of the most stressful and wonderful times of your whole life. I went into it feeling really prepared. I had talked to my mom, aunts, and mommy friends at length. I had read every parenting book that I could get my hands on.

But it turns out that there were still surprises. There were things I wished I could do differently. And I have three kids! I discovered that each pregnancy and baby is totally different. I also learned that no matter how much you think you know – there is always more to learn.

Here are ten things I learned first hand after having a baby.

1. Take the stool softener you’re given

Things tend to get bound up immediately after having a baby. This is usually compounded by the pain medication you’re on. You will most likely be offered a stool softener. My advice? Take it. Your body will thank me.

2. Frozen maxi pads are your new best friend

Take a maxi pad, run it under water, and put it in the freezer. Give it a few hours and you have the most amazing, perfectly shaped ice pack for sore lady parts. I remember telling the nurse who told me about this amazing invention that she was a genius. Have these little gems on hand for when you bring your baby home from the hospital.

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3. Your baby might sleep a lot

There are some wonderful little souls who seem to sleep all the time right at first. One of my kiddos was like this. I was a little worried by it. But then I remember looking back and wishing it could always be like that. If you happen to get one of these amazing little beings for your own – enjoy this time. It’s normal. It also usually doesn’t last long, but when it does it’s amazing.

4. Your baby might cry a lot

My first daughter wasn’t a cryer. So we were a bit shocked when our second daughter began screaming her little brains out nearly immediately. The crying would go on for hours. It was a shock to me. I had heard other people’s babies cry before, but nothing prepared me for my own offspring howling like a banshee. It was heart-breaking and ear-shattering. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed.

But time passed and it stopped. She was gassy. Her little body figured it out. Babies outgrow this. I don’t know too many grown-ups who cry at the top of their lungs all the time.

5. You will still look pregnant

I know that the birthing class instructor told us that you should pack clothes for the trip home from the hospital that would fit your five months pregnant self. And I did. But it’s so disheartening when are having a baby and look down and you STILL LOOK PREGNANT.

I remember wanting to cry. Somehow my rock-hard nine months pregnant belly was easier to handle than this squishy mound before me. It actually shook like jelly when I laughed. I remember thinking I looked like Santa.

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But it goes away. In fact, it goes away pretty fast. You’re so busy being a mom and getting through those first few months that you’ll look up and it’ll be you in the mirror again.

6. Labor and delivery nurses are da bomb

Sure, your doctor is the one who helped your little miracle into the world. But those labor and delivery nurses – they make the entire labor and the entire after delivery portion of your hospital stay manageable.

They help you labor, help you use the bathroom, help you with your baby, help you with your pain meds. They can be your saving grace when you’re sore, tired, overwhelmed, or just have questions. Take a photo with those folks because you’ll want to remember them someday.

7. You will sweat like a pig

I had no idea how much my body could sweat. I’m not usually a big sweater, but when I came home after having a baby I would honestly soak through my pajamas, my sheets, everything.

There is nothing worse than being wet through to your skin when you’re already struggling to feel like your old self. I remember being completely shocked by this. Nobody mentioned that could happen.

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Plan for it. Make sure you have extra clean clothes, undergarments, and sheets. In fact, put a waterproof liner under your side of the bed and put towels on top of your sheets for a week or so. You’ll thank me in the middle of the night when you wake up drenched.

8. Meconium is stickier than honey

You know that first poop your precious child produces? Meconium. It’s a fancy word for black, waxy grossness. It’s somewhat traumatic trying to scrub that stuff off your precious new baby’s tender little bum.

Be generous with the wipes and generous with the diaper cream. The good news is that the meconium stage is super short. Then you’re on to the more normal stuff (and the stage where it’s normal to discuss another human being’s bathroom habits.)

9. It’s okay to say no

Can’t muster up the energy to handle more visitors? That’s okay. Tell them you’re exhausted and just want baby time. They’ll understand. Every parent out there has been in your shoes before.

10. Be gentle with yourself

Now is not the time to scrapbook or clean or cook or perform any other “super mom” duties. Heck, it’s barely even the time to shower (although you might find that feels good if you can find the time.) Pregnancy is hard work. Being a new mom is even harder work. Be as easy on yourself as you can be.

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Ask for help. I’m serious. I was terrible about this. But asking for help (not holding-the-baby help – you want doing-the-dishes, doing-the-laundry, cooking-a-meal help) is one of the smartest things you can do. Relax and enjoy your new family.

11. Having a baby is both bizarre and wonderful

There’s nothing quite as surreal as being pregnant and then giving birth. One minute you have a big belly and the next you have a child in your arms.

Be proud of yourself. You grew a PERSON. Sister – you rock!

Featured photo credit: DSC_9688 a/bradfordst219 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 22, 2019

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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3. Build a Community

In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

4. Accept Help

Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

5. Get Creative with Childcare

Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

7. Create a Routine

Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

This article may help you to discipline your child better:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

9. Stay Positive

Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

10. Move Past the Guilt

In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

11. Answer Questions Honestly

Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

12. Treat Kids Like Kids

In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

13. Find Role Models

Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

Final Thoughts

Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

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Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

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