10 Things I Learned the First Year as a Parent

First Year As A Parent

In a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating our son’s first birthday. I wanted to do a compilation of things I’ve learned in my first year as a parent to help out those who are currently expecting, or just welcomed home their first bundle of joy. I’ll break this up into multiple sections, the first covering the emotional side of things. I hope you find some reassurance along the way.

  1. No one actually knows what they’re doing. When I was younger, I was convinced that when I was born they forgot to add the baby and toddler decoder package into my set up. I watched as everyone around me delightfully exclaimed “She’s hungry!” or “Sounds like someone’s tired!” How did they know? What was I missing? For twenty-seven years of my life I decided I was broken or must have been missing that maternal hardware everyone else seemed to have. But then my own baby was born, and I quickly learned that this “I know what they want” thing is 110% guessing. Sometimes its educated guessing but it is still guessing. With a splash of arrogance and overconfidence. Sorry guys, but I’m totally bringing your secret to light. I had family and friends over when my son was born and was on the receiving end of “Your baby needs/wants/feels” – and you know what? 90% of the time they were absolutely wrong. Which brings us to… Lawn Photo
  2. You will know your baby better than anyone else. You will soon learn their routine, their sleepy cries, their likes and dislikes. I suddenly felt like the baby whisperer when a relative (and veteran parent) couldn’t get my son to calm down and I came over and immediately fixed what he was fussing about. It was like a magical, glorious moment of triumph for me. But I also understand that it’s because…
  3. Every baby is different. You’ve heard the snowflake saying, but that totally applies here. Every single baby is different. Your child will like and dislike things that others don’t. They will master things faster than others, and be slow on the get-up on others. Read any baby item review (especially with swings, jumpers, toys…) and you will see the vast differences between one post and the other. Someone will exclaim “this is the best thing ever, my son LOVES it” and another will post immediately after “My daughter absolutely hates this. I have tried many times but she refuses to use it.” You will quickly learn what he/she favors and doesn’t. But sometimes…
  4. Sometimes, there is nothing you can do. You’ve been tending to your baby while he/she scream cries for 5 solid fucking hours in the middle of the night. They’ve eaten, had their diaper changed, been burped, been snuggled and cooed at, you name it… and yet they are screaming as if you have stabbed them in the gut. This is not your failure. Let me repeat that again. This is not your failure. Sometimes, you can provide absolutely everything and it still won’t fix the problem. You are not failing as a parent. There are rough patches, but they are temporary, I promise.Soft Light
  5. There will always be someone doing better than you. We all know the mom you’re friends with on social media who always is looking fresh and clean, is toting around a permanently smiling baby, and has all these wonderful, candid photos. She reports that at two months her child is sleeping through the night already. You know, the one you want to bludgeon with your overflowing laundry basket. Remember that there will always be someone who is doing some part of their life better than you are. But remember that…
  6. Social media is showing highlights of someone’s life. You CHOOSE what you post to social media. In fact, I’ve had several people comment on my posts that “your son always looks so happy”. Which is great, and makes me smile inside, but I will be completely honest when I say I make an effort to only post the good stuff. Because at the end of the day, those are the memories I want to remember. So please, please keep this in mind when you are watching someone else’s life through the goggles of social media. I guarantee you they are having as much ups and downs as you are behind the veiled curtain of that internet screen.
  7. Comparison is the thief of joy. Stop comparing your life, or your situation, to someone else’s. Especially if you’re comparing someone’s highlights to your every-day moments. It’s okay to need a break from social media if comparison is stealing away your joy. The other day I looked in the mirror and was happy to find that the extra loose skin on my belly was finally firming. There was a moment of elation and hope, until I signed into Facebook and saw another mother (who gave birth very close to me) sporting her washboard abs. Not a single stretch mark. No sign of extra skin. You wouldn’t even know she had a baby had she not been carrying her child in her arms. And I cried – deep, sobbing tears. Don’t do this to yourselves. Refer back to #5 and #6 if you need to.
  8. It doesn’t last forever. I can remember within the first month or two after bringing our son home, I was sitting on the bench in our room at 3am, holding my son who had yet to sleep longer than 30 minutes in his entire life, sobbing so hard that my entire body was shuddering with the effort while my husband slept peacefully. I wish I had someone there to tell me this won’t last forever and that it gets better. I promise you, it gets better.Me & Max
  9. You are not alone. There is someone out there going through the same thing you are (or someone that has gone through it). Connect with other parents, a support group, even a counselor – anyone to help you through it. Find the people that are willing to help you when you need it the most, even if that is them just listening to you so you can vent.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Raising a child really does take a village. I’ve been feeling the pains of this while living 800 miles away from all of our family and friends without support while we’re stationed in Utah. When we move back to Oregon and have our second kid, you can guarantee I’ll be taking advantage of those offers of help. Let someone watch the baby. Let someone cook for you. Let someone come over and do your laundry. It’s okay to accept help from others.

 What are some of the things you learned in the first year as a parent? I’d love to hear in the comment section below. Don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a post!

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