New parents get told a lot of things by well-meaning family members and friends. They may even read some seemingly helpful information on the web or get some advice from their doctors. Unfortunately, parenting isn’t as cut and dry as others make it seem. Even seasoned parents who have been there and done that already make it seem as though there’s a rule book parents should follow if they want to be the Best. Parent. Ever. and have the Best. Kid. Ever.
But, it’s not quite that simple.
New parents have an idea in their head of their perfect baby and perfect life, but life gets messy. No one is perfect no matter how much they try to be. No new parent should try to be perfect, either, or they’ll quickly learn that they’ve set themselves up for failure.
Sleeping when the baby sleeps? Yea right! If only it was that simple. Getting the pre-baby body back in a jiffy? Nope, that doesn’t happen for many mommies. And never judging another parent because no parent wants to be judged? Yea, that likely won’t work out, either. Those annoying judging thoughts creep into just about every mom’s head at one point or another. So, the best thing a new parent can do is stop believing all the hype and simply do the best parenting job they can.
15 “I’ll Sleep When He Sleeps.”
One of the biggest lies that parents tell other parents – and one we all want to believe is true – is that you can find time to sleep when the baby sleeps. After all, he won’t sleep through the night for a while, so it’s best for mom and dad to get some shut eye when the baby takes his little naps through the day. But, rarely does that happen the way we expect it to.
Instead, you clean the house, take a shower, catch up on some of your favorite TV shows that you never have a chance to watch, go grocery shopping, or throw in a quick workout. Your mind runs a mile per minute with everything on your to-do list, leaving little to no time for sleep. And, if you do happen to catch a moment for a quick nap, your baby will surely cry for another feeding as soon as you close your eyes. Face it: You’re not sleeping much for a while.
14 “I Won’t Let My Baby Affect My Marriage.”
It’s easy to say that your new baby’s presence won’t have any effect on your marriage or relationship. After all, you probably see all of your friends’ Facebook posts about how wonderful their lives are since the baby’s been born, giving you a glimpse into their glorious family life. But, that isn’t always reality. Babies throw a new dynamic into your relationship – sometimes that’s a wonderful thing, and other times, it’s not so great.
According to a study posted in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2009, the majority of couples involved showed a drastic, negative change in the way they viewed their marriages after their baby was born. Compared to childless couples over the first 8 years of their marriages, those with children had much more negative views of their marriages. It’s not that way for every couple, but it can, and does, happen.
13 “I’ll Never Act Like My Mom!”
Of course, you love your mama. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily want to be just like her when it comes to being a parent. Although there are some women out there who strive to be the awesome mother their moms were, there are others who swear they will be different in so many ways.
We hate to break it to you, but once you become a mom, you’ll likely start noticing a whole lot of similarities between you and your mama. You swore you’d never raise your voice or embarrass your kids in public, yet here you are screaming over toys on the floor and happily dancing in your car to your favorite Spice Girls tune. And maybe, just maybe, you learned why your mom did all the things you said you’d never do – and realize how hard she tried to do the best she could.
12 “I Will Not Be Judgmental.”
This is a big one. Before people become parents, they often go after others who criticize parents for doing something different than the “norm”. You’ll never be a judgmental parent who ridicules others for their parenting style, right? Vegan kiddos? Great! Bathe your child once a week? Go for it! As long as the kid’s getting his basic needs taken care of, who are you to judge, right?
Except that we all do it. We’re all guilty, at one point or another, at pointing the finger at another parent, even if you don’t say anything out loud. Those judgmental glares when a child acts up in the supermarket is still a form of judging. It’s a normal part of parenthood, and you likely won’t escape it that easily, no matter how much you try.
11 “I’ll Set A One-Hour Screen Time Limit.”
We have to applaud the new parents who swear that they will be super strict when it comes to screen time for their kiddos. (Disclaimer: Yes, we know some parents really do stick to a one-hour time limit per day – major kudos to you!) But, don’t be discouraged if you find out that, on some days, it may be easier to give your squirming, whining child your phone to play a game on during a long car ride than it is to stay firm about the one-hour rule.
The truth is that defining a specific screen time every day is difficult. Think about all the electronics we have now: phones, laptops, tablets, TVs. They’re everywhere. If your kid is in school, she’s likely having even more screen time there, as many schools use Chromebooks or tablets for at least a portion of the day. Instead of limiting it all together, try to make it as meaningful as possible by using technology with your child, interacting with her and discussing what she’s learning and doing together.
10 “My Child Will Never Do That!”
This circles back to the judgmental parenting thing. We all have ideas in our heads about how our child is going to be when he gets into toddler and preschool years. You know, our dream child. The one that never talks back, never lies, never has a public meltdown, comes right home and does his homework without a reminder, happily completes chores, and is super nice to his siblings. Just so you know, that perfect child doesn’t exist.
It’s easy to say what your child will never do before you’ve had said child. Once you become a parent, though, throw everything you think you know about parenting out the window. Your child is sure to throw you and your partner for a loop time and time again, so never say “never.”
9 “My Baby Will Eat Healthy Foods!”
Again, you likely dream of a child who loves his fruits and veggies and doesn’t say, “EWWW, gross!” every time a new food is put in front of him, right? Yea, we’ve all been there. Unfortunately, picky eaters exist and it’s a tough thing to deal with. It’d be great if we could easily get our kiddos to eat a variety of foods, try super healthy stuff like avocados and hummus, and never balk at the sight of a lima bean. But, kids are kids and they have a mind – and taste buds – of their own.
You may end up with a picky eater no matter what you introduce to your baby as soon as she’s ready for solid foods. As kids grow, their taste buds change, as do those of adults. She could love veggie baby food and grow up to hate even the sight of a vegetable. Again, expect the unexpected when it comes to your kiddo!
8 “I’m The Boss.”
In your dream world, your child will be submissive to his parents, and the word “no” won’t even be a part of his vocabulary. But that’s not reality. Kids brains don’t quite work that way. They’re defiant sometimes. They’re bossy other times. And some of them thrive on pushing their parents’ buttons to see just how much they can get away with, no matter how strong and firm you stay in your discipline routine.
Yes, you’re the boss. But don’t be surprised if your little one challenges that as much as possible once she starts crawling, walking, and talking. In a way, it’s a good thing – your child is creating her own personality and growing some independence from you. Just stay firm and give her as much room as you can without allowing her to take over.
7 “Once I Feel Better, I’m Hitting The Gym!”
After you have your new baby, you probably feel like crap. Not only are you tired and sore, but you also have extra belly bulge that wasn’t there before. It happens to the best of us. We often kid ourselves with wanting to get right back to the gym as soon as we feel up to it and the doctor gives us the green light. We have all these great expectations of getting our pre-baby bodies back ASAP.
Then, we have the baby. We’re exhausted and feel like a zombie-like cow who never stops getting milked by her calf. It may be a long time before we’re ready to hit the gym again when the reality of everything settles in. And that’s totally okay. Why? Because you’re a new mom! Take it all in, because your baby grows fast. There’s always time for the gym, but the precious moments of being a new mommy are gone way too quickly.
6 “My S/O Will Be The Best Parent Ever.”
Shout out to all the amazing daddies and mommies out there! There are plenty of moms and dads who share responsibilities when it comes to a new baby, such as nighttime feedings, diaper changes, and more. We all hope that our partner is going to be the most incredible parent for our tiny human, love every second of daddyhood or mommyhood, and be someone we can count on through the good and bad times. It doesn’t always work that way, though.
Parenthood isn’t for everyone and sometimes a person doesn’t realize that until they’re already thrown into it. Just because you see your friend post gorgeous Instagram photos of her adorable new baby getting held by his seemingly perfect daddy all the time doesn’t mean yours will be the same. Similarly, not all moms are cut out for the job, even when they think they’re more than ready.
5 “I’ll Be The Best Mom Ever!”
You want to think of yourself as the most perfect parent ever. One your baby will grow up to look back on and say that you did everything perfectly. Be the perfect role model, provide the perfect house, and even be the perfect friend. Well, guess what? None of us are perfect – especially when it comes to parenting.
If you think that nothing you ever do will go awry as a parent, you’re setting yourself up for failure. There are going to be mistakes, disagreements, and probably even some screaming matches. There will be times when you question your ability to keep your tiny human alive. Trust us, we’ve all been there. Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself is one of the worst things you can do for your confidence and your sanity as a new parent.
4 “This Sadness Will Go Away.”
Postpartum depression is very real. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get discussed like it should. New moms don’t expect to ever spiral into depression after they have their baby. If they don’t start feeling that new mom bond with their baby that everyone talks about, they shrug it off as something that will eventually just happen. Or, they’ll make themselves believe that their sadness and emptiness will just go away. It won’t, because postpartum depression doesn’t work that way.
According to BabyCenter, up to 80% of new moms have a bout of baby blues after giving birth. But, intense feelings of guilt, anger, or sadness that don’t go away could mean you have postpartum depression and you need to seek help. PPD occurs in about 10% of new mommies and may even begin during pregnancy. To get help, check out Postpartum Support International (postpartum.net) for resources and support.
3 “I Could Never Let My Kid Fail.”
Please, please let your kid fail sometimes. Most parents will soon learn that this is one big, fat lie that just doesn’t work as their kid gets older. No, we don’t want to see our kids go through tough times. But if they never face an obstacle as a child or teen, how can you expect them to overcome anything tough as they get older and fly out into the world on their own?
Constantly hovering around your child and being there to pick up every broken piece of life is known as helicopter parenting, which can lead to children who are unable to find their own independence, confidence, or learn basic survival skills. If you pull back on the reigns just a tad, you’d be surprised by how much your child can get through on his own. Be there to support him but refrain from doing everything for him.
2 “It’s Just A Phase.”
If we had a nickel for every time a new parent said, “It’s just a phase!” when their kid throws tantrums to get a piece of candy or learns to roll her eyes at you at the ripe age of 12 months, we’d be rich. We all want to believe our little angel would never continuously do something to be spiteful or get what she wants. It’s just a phase, right? She could never turn out like those other kids!
Wrong-o. Most “phases” are just the beginning of something that could get much worse if it’s not nipped in the bud quickly. Once a child learns that something works, she’ll continue doing it until it doesn’t, even if that means making it worse than it was before. Treat negative behaviors as what they are – negative behaviors – and do what you can to correct them quickly.
1 “If I Make A Mistake, It Could Affect Her Whole Life.”
Making a parenting mistake can seem like the end of the world to any parent, let alone a newbie who’s still trying to navigate this whole parenting thing. The smallest mistake could snowball into some huge thing that can affect your little one for the rest of his life. At least, that’s how your brain works as a parent.
We’re happy to say that, most of the time, your mistakes are just that: Mistakes. We all make them. If they don’t physically or emotionally harm your child, it’s likely something you can overcome. There are going to be days where you feel like a total superhero, and there are going to be other days where you feel like the crappiest parent on the planet. You’re doing your best and, trust us, your kid knows that.
Sources: Babble.com, Psychnet.APA.org, WebMD.com