I know that we have a variety of readers stopping by this blog, from parents with multiple kids to newbies, people who are new to cloth diapers to folks who have been using them forever.
So, I thought I’d reach out today to those new parents who are just starting off on your parenting journey. Maybe you’re here researching cloth, or just looking for a supportive community. Today, I’m talking to you.
First of all, a huge congratulations! I have a son who’s in pre-K and a 16-month old daughter and I still remember what that first trimester was like. Aside from the fact that you probably feel like “blaaaaahhh” all the time (getting stuff done? Meh, it can wait), the emotions run from overwhelming to ecstatic to terrified…and more. It’s a lot, so along with a congratulations, I offer a hug. The feelings don’t always go away when the next trimester(s) comes.
In case you haven’t noticed already, you’re going to get TONS of unsolicited advice. It’s given in kindness (most of the time) and from people who’ve been in your shoes. Of course, sometimes it’s been 40 years since the person was in your shoes – and things have changed. EVERYONE has an opinion on EVERYTHING…and many times those opinions contradict.
I’d like to share with you the only two pieces of advice (pretty sure they’re ones I happened upon on my own, actually) that I regularly remind myself
Piece of Advice #1: EVERYTHING IS A PHASE.
You know how you see people comment under a friend’s picture of a child, saying, “It all goes so fast, cherish these moments!” They’re not wrong…that adorable squish will be throwing temper tantrums in the middle of a store (or, y’know, ignoring you in front of his fellow teenaged friends) before you know it. But it’s important to remember that, whether they be challenges or heart-warming moments, everything in raising kids is a phase.
You take the good times along with the bad times. Currently, our daughter is having a HARD time with the second half of the night. She still wants to nurse at least once an hour (she was better as a newborn, in all honesty)! But, out of experience, I’ve realized that this will NOT always be the norm, and the awesomeness of this age – the adorable new words, achievements, and personality developments – cancel out the exhaustion.
The fact that our son is at a point now where he very rarely acts out anymore, he helps out without complaint, and we can have mature, intelligent conversations is tempered by the fact that he’s growing up. His adorable round features are slimming and becoming – dare I say – handsome. His misspoken words, his favorite ‘little kid’ shows – they’re all a thing of the past. Sure, we had lots of spills and dirty diapers and meltdowns back in the day, too, but the flash with which it’s changed is a constant reminder of those phases.
So, during those 3am feedings, go ahead and mutter, “This, too, shall pass” – but remember that it WILL truly pass. The bad AND the good.
Piece of Advice #2: DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
Sure, there will be times that you actually seek out advice and sometimes it will be super helpful…but it’s not always the right thing for your family. Listen to your gut and don’t waste a second worrying about friends’ and family’s differing opinions.
As long as your ultimate goal is to raise your child happy and healthy (i.e. if there’s a real emergency, obviously get to the doctor…sad that needs to be said, but ya never know), there’s not really one right way to do it.
Let me say that again. THERE’S NOT REALLY ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO IT. You’ll meet A LOT of people who think they have the monopoly on the “right” way to parent. You’ll bump into people who raise an eyebrow at your child’s cloth diapers…or the baby carrier you choose to use…or the fact that you might feed your child organic foods. I could list off at least a hundred other differences in parenting styles and some people would nod their heads while reading and still others would get red in the face.
All kids are SO different that we even find our parenting styles varying from child to child. Obviously, our older son can comprehend certain words and phrases (and right from wrong) far better than our little girl. It is what it is. There really IS more than one way to parent – and the longer that you do it, you may find that your own parenting style and choices change over time.
And that’s okay. You do you, and sleep soundly at night.
Best wishes on your journey!