Top 5 Tips for New Parents

My son is not even a year old, and already I am doling out advice like I had six kids who just finished college. Well, with the energy my little one has sometimes it certainly does feel that way. This year I've learned more than I ever thought I would, about the art of parenting, the joy of living and the point to all this madness.

The learning hasn't been easy. Most of the time it was met with some pretty serious tears and the overwhelming fear that I was doing something wrong, or not doing something I was supposed to be doing, that I was--aak! Shock!--a BAD mother.

That brings me to my first tip.

1. You are not a bad parent. You may think you are, but you're not. Britney Spears has given all of us--new and long-term parents alike a good lesson in what that is. And she's not even that bad. People who throw their newborns out with the trash are bad parents. You, because you refused to give in when little Bobby refused to eat his solids, are not a bad parent.

And speaking of solids, I am reminded of the trials and tribulations I went through trying to figure out how to properly feed my son. From day one, I was fidgeting with my boobs. Later I fussed over him getting formula in addition to breastmilk. Then I was traumatized when he didn't take to solids immediately. Like ANYONE prefers that bland watered down rice cereal gruel-stuff to breastmilk. Geez. So:

2. Don't worry too much about what your newborn is or isn't eating. As long as he or she is gaining weight and the doctor is happy then so should you be. Your little one will let you know when it's feeding time. You'll be all over the situation anyway, making sure there are enough bottles or boobies or whatever around, because, as I mentioned in #1, you are a good parent.

3. It's ok to be afraid. And it doesn't make you weak or stupid or silly. It also doesn't have to be attributed to post-partum depression. You can just be scared. Really, it's ok. I remember being on the phone with my mother in tears because I was so darned afraid to let my son sleep. I was afraid he wouldn't wake up. I was afraid to sleep at the same time so I was freaked out of my mind, a new parent, and had had NO sleep. She just calmed me down and assured me everything would be ok. And it was. It IS ok to be scared. And it will pass.

4. Ah, yes: This too shall pass. Everything does, just like the gas coming out of the rear end of your brand new angel dumpling. Having a problem with parenting or crying or the baby not sleeping or whatever? Don't worry--it will go away. Something else may take its place, but it will go away. I almost guarantee it.

5. Sleep. Whenever you can, for as long as you can. Think a disco nap isn't worth it? Think again! Even if you close your eyes for a mere ten minutes while your spouse tries to get your little one to eat his solids already, take the opportunity to sleep. If you have to pretend you are constipated and lock yourself in the bathroom for fifteen minutes pretending to be on the pot, take the time to lay on the floor--preferably on top of your robe or a bath mat--and sleep. And do that thing they tell you to do--sleep when the baby sleeps. I know it seems insane, especially since your baby is so tiny and fragile and precious, but I think "they" were right when they made that suggestion. Sleep is your friend, and your baby's too. And your spouse's (if you have one, and one who helps, and, if not, then you need even more sleep).

There--that wasn't so hard, was it? Now that I've solved all your problems you're off to not worrying and sleeping and getting over your son eating his solids, you can go off happily into the sunset. Oh, wait--I forgot one more, for the road:

Parenting ain't that easy. Nothing can be explained or mastered in 5 easy steps. You just have to go through it, like anything else, learning what you can along the way. It's a good thing, too, because if it were all in a book somewhere parenting wouldn't be that fun! And yes, even though you may be a new mommy or daddy now thinking your life is over forever and that you will never get the proper amount of sleep again (you won't) there will be a time when you exit the twilight zone and start having Fun with a cap "F" as a family. Yep, as a family! Doesn't that sound nice? :)

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