I knew nothing about mothering when I got pregnant at 28-years old. None of my friends had children yet and the Internet was very different a decade ago. It was wonderful, isolating and confusing. I often think back and wonder how different it would be if I were to become a new mom at age 38.
Here are ten parenting lessons I've learned along the way.
1. Ask for help. It is impossible to raise children on your own. Children benefit from spending time with other people and it is impossible to do it all.
2. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Be it yoga, massage, an hour alone in a coffee shop or a bubble bath. Do it. Your children and you will both benefit.
3. Every single child is different. Every baby sits up, walks and talks at different ages. Same as potty training, reading, riding a bike and all the many other milestones that happen when the child is ready.
4. Find mama friends. A playgroup when they were babies and mom's nights out as they've gotten older are invaluable and healing.
5. Trust your gut. There is such a thing as a Mama's intuition and you are doing the right thing. If your doctor says something that you don't agree with, you can get a second opinion.
6. Read one book or article on each topic only. Beginning when I was pregnant, my OB said every book will tell you something different. Pick one and follow that. Otherwise, you will make yourself crazy with too much information.
7. It might be better to walk away. When you get frustrated or overwhelmed walk away. If you have a baby put them in their crib or make sure your child is in a safe space and walk away. Once frustration gets to a certain point, there is no good that will happen. Often walking away to the bathroom or another room to take a few breaths and regroup can change the situation for the better.
8. Do not judge. Trust me as soon as you begin to judge the over-excited child that pushed your kid on the playground, the kids who sleep in bed with their parents or the friend whose child only naps for 30 minutes - it will happen to you.
9. Compliment often. Nothing gets to me more than parents that are constantly yelling at their children. Children need to be praised and develop self-confidence at home. Simple words might be remembered forever.
10. Appreciate the moment. I felt fat and gross when I was pregnant, I was anxious, tired and impatient with the endless hours of nursing and I got frustrated easily with my toddler with endless energy. But, now I look back at those beautiful and fleeting moments and miss the ones that are gone forever.
What lessons have you learned as a parent?
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