October 29, 2012

Tips for New Parents

Parenthood is something many couples look forward to from the day they find out they’re expecting…some even from the day they get married! Having children is honestly one of the greatest blessings we will ever receive during this lifetime, however, it’s also the hardest job out there. I know when I was pregnant with my first child, I had all these wonderful thoughts about what it was going to be like having a baby and raising a child. Now, my first born is five and when I think about my initial thoughts about how parenthood would be, I just laugh.

I’ve learned a lot in the last five years and I can tell you, a lot of the things I swore I’d never do as a parent, I’ve done. If you or someone you know is expecting, then the following tips may be helpful. After all, there’s a lot more to raising kids than picking out the perfect holiday dress or tuxedo. It takes a lot of patience, determination and follow-through to be a good parent!

1. Say good-bye to a spotless house. Once you start acquiring baby clothes, accessories and furniture (before the baby arrives) your house will never be the same. A lot of new parents, myself included, have a hard time letting go of the idea that their home isn’t going to ever be spotless again. At least not for ten years or so. If you can accept that before the baby arrives, the better off you’ll be. That doesn’t mean you can’t get your house picked up and looking presentable before guests arrive. It just means that on a day-to-day basis, there will be something out of place whether it’s toys in the living room, a pile of clean laundry on the bed, dirty dishes in the sink or carpet that hasn’t been swept in a couple weeks…there will always be something, and that’s okay!

2. All babies and toddlers cry and throw fits. One of the most common things I hear my new-mom friends say is that they feel like bad moms when their babies cry and they can’t calm them down. Please, don’t feel this way! Most babies have a “cry” time and some develop colic, and there’s nothing you can do. Toddlers are the same way when they begin gaining independence. Throwing fits is just part of it. Just remember to stay calm and reassure yourself that every parent goes through these stages.

3. Hire a babysitter and go out! Finally, the best piece of advice I can give to new parents is to hire a babysitter and go out together as a couple…and don’t feel bad about it! You and your partner need time together without the baby so you don’t forget who you are as a couple. After all, in 18 years the child will be grown and moving out and it will just be you and your spouse again. So, whatever you do when raising kids, don’t ever feel bad about hiring a babysitter to spend some quality time together!

October 13, 2012

Going Crazy? Get Out!

While being a parent is one of the most rewarding jobs, it can be a pretty stressful job too. And, a lot of times it feels like there is no relief from this job. This is especially true for those who are stay and/or work at home parents. When you aren’t taking care of the kiddos, you’re trying to get work done, bills paid or housecleaning done – all while being constantly interrupted. Plus, let’s face it, there are days when absolutely nothing gets done because the little ones are in need of our attention more.

Well, if you are like me, you often feel frustrated, tired, stressed and just plain grouchy at the end of the day. And, when I have a few days like this in a row, I swear I’m borderline crazy. Thankfully, I have found a few things that help me keep a more positive attitude and sanity, which make me a better mom for my kids. They all involve getting out of the house! Here they are:

•    Driving – It may sound a little weird, but there is just something about taking a drive (out of the city) and turning up the radio that helps me clear my mind. I have to do this when my oldest is at school and the baby has just been fed…and, yes, it is a “waste” of gas, but sometimes a small drive is all I need to feel refreshed.

•    Shopping – I’m no different than any other woman when it comes to shopping. I used to shop all the time, but once my husband and I had kids, those days became pretty scarce. So, it’s a pretty big deal when I’m able to enjoy a kid-free afternoon shopping. I try to do it at least once or twice a month. Of course, I spend most of my time away shopping for the kids (boys suits, dress shoes, toys, etc.), but that’s okay. It doesn’t really matter what I’m shopping for, once I come home I feel more like the “me” I know and less like the crazy person I felt like earlier.

•    Lunch Dates – Even if I have my youngest son (going on 2 months), meeting a friend for lunch is always a sure-fire way to bring my spirits back up. Just being able to sit down and talk with another adult helps me tremendously…even if it is only for an hour.

•    Girls’/Guys’ Night Out – Finally, when I’ve had a couple of stressful weeks or even a month, I try to plan a night out with some of my closest friends. Paying a sitter for a few hours is always worth the cost!

Just remember that just because we are now parents, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to get out and do the things we enjoyed before our kids came along. In fact, we should make time to continue doing them every now and then because spending a little time away from the kids always has a positive effect on us and how we treat our kids.