First of all, thank you all so much for the wonderful feedback on this feature! It's great to know that you're excited about it too! And speaking of excited, I'm definitely pumped on this week's ladies. The first mama on the list is the author of one of my new favorite blogs and I'm really happy to feature her here. She's super sweet (and adorable too), and her daughter Charlie is one of the cutest little ladies I ever did see! So, here's Kristina!
Hello, everyone! I'm Kristina - a stay-at-home wife and mother. My husband, Stephan, is in the United States Marine Corps and together we are raising our sweet lady, Charlie, who is 9 months old, out in the Mojave Desert of Southern California while Stephan finishes his contract. In only a few short months we will be facing our first deployment and Charlie and I will be moving back home to Oklahoma! Until then (and beyond) I keep family and friends updated with our happenings over on my blog Like Wildflowers. Anyway, on to the tips and tricks!
1. Don't keep score. I'm sure I don't only speak for me and my husband when I say that one of us always feels like we're doing more than the other regarding parenting duties on a given day. Particularly if one parent is a stay-at-homer. But you can not keep score - nobody will ever win that way. It is a battle that's quickly exhausting and the finger pointing will never end if you let it… and let's be frank - the last thing you need as new parents is something else to exert your energy on. Parenting is a constant journey with sometimes chaotic ebbs and flows. There are always going to be days that you do more, and times that Daddy does more. Don't keep score. Just find a balance that works for your family. Be attentive to your partner's mood and feelings. Ask for alone time or help if you need it (After all, they can't read your mind. And I recommend a loooong shower!) and give them theirs when they are in need as well. Communication is key in making it work.
2. Young doesn't mean incapable. This is more-so something encouraging that I have to remind myself from time to time - and would like to tell some of you other young parents (and parents-to-be) that need to hear it. A lot of people were surprised to find out that not only had we gotten pregnant young (Stephan was 20, I was 21 - we're now 22 and 23) but that we had been trying and were excited. In other words, Charlie wasn't a "surprise baby". And I'm often told how impressed people are with me for being a "young" mom. As if all young parents can be expected to do an awful job. Whether they mean to do it or not… the message is sometimes loud and clear that the majority of people considered us "too young" and over time - before Charlie was born - they had scared me. Their worries became my worries. I had bought into the idea that maybe we were too young and destined to fail. Should we have waited? Would a few more years of wisdom make the world of difference? What if we screw up this baby?! I'm going to be a horrible mom! And not only were we young.. we are all alone. With Stephan being in the military we are living across the country from our family and friends. We have nobody here to help or lean on. Nobody to give us a break or a hand if we ever felt like we needed it or found ourselves in a pickle. No babysitters. No date nights. No anything. And even more: Stephan is gone for work.. a lot. I would be by myself more times than not most weeks and now my head was filled with self-doubt. I remember when my family came up for Charlie's birth. Their last night here I laid awake in bed, crying, asking Stephan if he was scared about my family leaving and it only being us - first time, inexperienced parents - with this tiny, fragile new baby that is now our responsibility and fully reliant upon us for.. everything. And he wasn't. He wasn't scared. He knew we could do it - and we are. As time passed by, I realized how right my husband and heart had been. Just because some of them couldn't have raised a baby at our age - doesn't mean that we couldn't. We have our priorities straight and took the decision to have a baby very seriously. We were prepared for the work that we knew would be hard and the sacrifices we knew we'd have to make. And we are doing a great job without a stitch of outside help beyond encouraging words from back home. So, other young parents that also might feel a bit under the microscope or harboring any self-doubt… Be confident. Listen to your gut. Trust yourself. There are times that will be difficult and challenge you to your core, but you can do it. Young doesn't mean incapable.
3. There will be poop. Lots and lots of poop. Lastly, and on a very serious note, is how to navigate the disaster of Massive Blowouts. It's nearly a given in this house that at least once a week Charlie will have the kind of blowout that legends are made of. I have learned the hard way that if some of these "loads" aren't handled correctly that once I think the job is done I will turn around only to miraculously find that poop has found its way on to the floor, walls, ceiling, and furniture; on my clothes, in my hair, on the dog… the neighbor's dog… you name it, poop is probably smeared (and stained) on it no hard how hard I tried to contain it. Now, through trial and error - this is what we have found works for us in the most desperate of circumstances.
- Take your little bundle of joy into the bathroom where the poop can be contained in an area that is mostly easy to clean and poop is to be expected. Start running some bath water in the tub, but don't close the drain.
- If there is poop caked onto her clothes (particularly if it's on the front or sides of a onesie that only buttons between the legs) then we just cut it off. I don't care how cute it is… it isn't worth trying to stretch it over her head and risk her eating a poop sandwich. When we cut the onesie off we use a small pair of scissors and start at the neck and cut downwards (so the "pointy" end of the scissors are pointing away from her). Also, it should go without saying to cut slow and carefully and away from your baby! If you're not comfortable with this then you can always just cut a small piece and then rip the rest Hulk-style.
- Use a wipe or two to remove any major chunks and then move baby into the bath. Hold their little rear end under the running water and rinse it clean! And, if it's time for a bath anyway we go ahead and give her a head to toe wash down. If not, then just the rinse will do.
You might think that going through the process of washing in the tub is more of a hassle than wiping clean… but it's not. Not with Charlie, at least! If only someone had told me sooner… I can't tell you how much money on wipes and stain remover we've saved since going to the rinse method.
Anyway, There you have it. Three things I wish someone would have told me before Charlie was born. Thank you so much, Danielle, for letting me share a few little nuggets in your feature! I had a lot of fun writing these.
Next we are featuring one of my darling friends who also happens to be one of my FAVORITE people in the entire world, Emily! Emily is someone who was a wealth of knowledge for me throughout my pregnancy (and pretty much all other times too). I can't even tell you how valuable her long, detailed emails were on everything from the birthing process to what must-have items I did or didn't need. She's a great friend, a great mama, and is even kinda-sorta soon to be family, as she becomes sister-in-laws with one of my dearest friends Shirley. So awesome. Emily is a busy work-at-home Mom who does blog, but keeps it private. Sad for all of you, because Em is an amazing writer...although let's hope that maybe one day she'll open it up to the world! But until then, we can all enjoy her words of wisdom here.
Zack and I have been married almost 6 years, and are parents to an crazy fun 20-month-old little girl named Camryn and a baby boy named Maxon who is due this April. We run a promotional marketing company and a PR consulting biz from our home in Tempe, which we could never do without the help of our awesome moms who each watch Camryn a day a week. Working from home with a toddler is kind of like running a circus, but we are so thankful for the chaos we call our life!
1. Never say never. Before I began this motherhood journey, I was guilty of presupposing all of the things I would do as a parent. Or rather, the things I would NEVER do: "I will never be that mom with the unruly toddler at the restaurant." "My kid will never take a pacifier once she's old enough to walk." "I will never turn on the boob tube to keep my daughter occupied while I check email." Well guess what? I have done all of those things and sooo many more, and we've both lived to tell about it! :) One of the lessons I learned early-on is that motherhood is hard enough without the added pressure of unrealistic expectations. I have learned to pick my battles, do the best I can, and cut myself some slack when I deviate from my best-laid plans.
2. This too shall pass. My mom has often given me this simple advice, and now that I'm a mom, I see the wisdom in her words. Young children experience countless phases: learning to walk, eat table food, sleep through the night. In hindsight, the phases pass SO quickly, but when you're in the thick of them, the tough ones can seem endless. For example, during the sleepless early months, it's easy to feel the walls closing in and to think, "I am never going to sleep again, and I am going to have a baby attached to my boob for the rest of my life." But slowly, the nights start to include more sleep, and before you know it, you're sleeping through the night and all is right in the world. EVERY phase has a start and an end. I plan to ask my mom to remind me of this when Camryn enters puberty. :-)
3. 'Mom friends' are a precious resource. There are thousands (millions?) of books and web sites about fertility, pregnancy and parenting, but in all of my formal research, I have found no resource more accurate or reliable than my mom friends. I have never seen a book that covers subjects such as: "is it normal to eat an entire bag of goldfish crackers while I nervously wait for my daughter to soothe herself to sleep?" But I have asked my mom friends questions like this on countless occasions. And without exception, they assure me that I'm perfectly normal. And that I'm a good mom, and that Camryn will be fine. I truly don't know what I would do without my mom friends, and I am so thankful for the blogosphere and technology that allow us to readily support each other!