Congratulations! You’re standing at the beginning of one of the most wonderful, most exhausting, most humbling, defining, and all-around transformative years you’ll ever experience – your first year as a parent. It’s going to be messy. It’s going to be joyful. You’ll cry plenty, feel overwhelmed often, and you won’t sleep nearly enough, but trust us – it’s incredibly worth it.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve spent hours (days? months?) scouring the Internet for advice on how to do this parenting thing well. You want to be prepared. You want to make it look easy. And some days, you absolutely will! Other days, you’re going to look and feel like a hot mess, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Parenting is a new skill set you learn as you go – even if you ace all your preliminary homework, you’re going to find yourself improvising a LOT. That’s completely normal, and completely okay. But to help you be set up for success, here are our five favorite pieces of best advice for new parents:
Expect the unexpected
rom pregnancy to birth, breastfeeding to burp cloths, and changing pads to sleep schedules, being a parent as a new mom or new dad to a newborn baby is a quick way to learn that your very best plans are likely to change. Having a plan is a WONDERFUL thing – just make sure you leave a little room in your plan for possibilities. Consider what options you’d prefer if parts of your birth plan change, or feeding is more complicated than you initially thought. Having a backup plan, or seven, is always a good idea - your baby is an individual human who might have preferences and ideas you didn’t expect. If your first plan doesn’t work out the way you, well, planned it, remember that the backup might wind up being the PERFECT plan for your family in the long run.
Organize now or never
Envisioning an organized, tidy, streamlined life with your little one? It’s probably a good idea to start early. Take time while you’re waiting for the baby to arrive to launder, fold, and put away all clothing, stock and prep your diaper stations, and set up the nursery! One tip we love? Keep a great diaper bag or diaper backpack pre-packed and ready to grab on the way out the door. Our crossbody diaper bag also has room for all the essentials: diapers, wipes, feeding supplies or pump, extra baby clothes, toys, your phone and keys, and tons more. When you get home, before you sit down to relax, replenish any supplies you used so the bag is ready to go the next time you head out. It’s a great way to avoid the stress of the last-minute-whoops-we’re-late scramble.
Accept help from others
You’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child – and you’ve heard it because it’s pretty true! Sure, you can get by on your own, but it’s incredibly helpful to surround yourself with mom friends and other supportive cheerleaders who you can ask for help, vent to without judgment, and trust with your whole-hearted honesty. If you’re lucky enough to have family and friends you get along with nearby, think about planning ways for them to support and check in with you. If in-person connection is out of reach, join an online community that can offer support and advice when you need it. Postpartum hormones are no joke, and recovery struggles and postpartum depression (PPD) are common experiences shared by thousands of new parents. If you’re struggling and don’t have help nearby, you can always call the Postpartum Health Alliance Warmline at (619)254-0023 for a judgment-free chat.
Hone and own your boundaries
In case you need to hear it from someone – your baby, your first year of parenting, your rules! Don’t hesitate to ask for what you need from well-meaning friends and family who want to shower you and baby with attention, visits, snuggles, and gifts. It’s completely okay to ask folks to wait a few days, or weeks, or to come back at a better time. You deserve as much peace and quiet and one-on-one time with your new baby as you desire. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for protecting yourself or baby by setting healthy boundaries that meet your needs.
Don’t take advice too seriously
There is a WEALTH of great parenting advice and parenting life hacks out there. Some of it is golden, and will save you time, stress, and money. Some of it is more… brassy. It might work for some, but not be the best fit for you. We’re sure you’ve already noticed how many people want to share advice for parents-to-be – a stranger or two has probably already offered you their favorite unsolicited parenting life hacks in line at the grocery store, or while you were waiting for your takeout. Most of these advice-givers mean well, but just remember – it’s okay for you to pass on advice that doesn’t feel right to you and your baby’s needs. Every family is different, and you’re making a map of your own unique journey.
So yes – stock up on all the latest trending must-haves, read all the books, and make a hundred joyful plans, and celebrate as you do! Just remember that a lot of what you need, you already have – your intuition, your village, your willingness to learn and grow, and your little one. And for some last minute great advice: recognize this first year is challenging, sleep when the baby sleeps, and do what works best for your situation when it comes to breastfeeding or formula. Lastly, always trust yourself and be flexible.
Parenthood, motherhood, and fatherhood is a lot of things, but all of them are eclipsed by the great big infusion of love your baby is about to bring into your life. We’re wishing you every bit of happiness, every step of the way and before you know it, you will be well seasoned parents.