In light of the royal baby buzz, I’ve been thinking about what it was like being a first-time parent. Keeping in mind that I was six months away from being a full-fledged pediatrician when I had my first child, you would think that I probably knew everything there is to know about having kids. You would be wrong. There were plenty of things I wasn’t expecting. Here is a list of things I wish I knew before I had kids:
- Your life will revolve around bodily fluids. Whether it is poop, pee or spit-up, it seems like you spend a lot of time cleaning it up, worrying about it or wearing it!
- Keep an extra change of clothes around (in the diaper bag or car) for both you and your child or children. (See above.)
- Breastfeeding is hard at first. It seems that a lot of us think that it should be a piece of cake, and then we get frustrated when it isn’t. Starting out with a more realistic picture would be helpful!
- Do not be afraid to ask questions! Even if you think it’s a silly question, the peace of mind you can get by having your questions addressed is priceless. Your pediatrician or family doctor can be a great resource and can point you to other good resources, such as books and websites. And for breastfeeding help, lactation consultants are amazing!
- Sleep is important for everybody and if you haven’t appreciated it before, you will now! It is easy to start bad habits, such as always holding them or feeding your child until he or she is asleep. Consistent nap times and bedtimes are important for older babies and children, but…
- You can’t schedule a newborn. Go ahead and try. Just when you think you’ve got a routine down, it will change. Just go with it. Eventually, your baby will become more predictable but never completely predictable!
- There is not a “right” way and a “wrong” way to raise a child (with obvious exceptions, such as abuse). What worked for someone else’s child may not work for your child. Trust your instincts!
- Your baby has no idea that you don’t know what you’re doing.
- If you miss a “first” (rolling over, taking steps, talking), it is OK. The first time you see it is still a first for you.
- Forget about the kind of parent you thought you’d be. Guaranteed, reality is different. Don’t expect to be perfect and don’t compare yourselves to other parents. Although you may only see the wonderful things a relative or neighbor says and does, there are going to be things you don’t know about that they would like to change.
- Moms, you won’t fit into pre-pregnancy clothes when you leave the hospital.
- Vacation time from work is not for vacation. It’s for taking care of sick kids.
I am sure there are at least a dozen more things I could add to this list. What do you wish you had known before your first baby was born?