Parenting Pointers: Avoiding making the most common faux pas and foibles associated with parenting
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
Getting pregnant was literally signing up for a position you have NO previous experience in or credentials for. Yet, it’s one of the most gratifying and rewarding jobs you could ever do (or so they tell me).
While your goal is “perfection” you’ll need to give yourself some elbowroom for trial and error, and learning as you go. Accepting this is the first step to keeping stress and mistakes down to a minimum. Here are some additional pointers on avoiding frequently made (parenting) mistakes.
1. Relying (Predominantly) On Advice: Despite the fact that everyone (with children) you know will have good advice for you to follow, you’ll want to eventually formulate your own “style”, tactics, and opinions. Experts suggest taking all advice into consideration, consulting with your child’s health care provider, and combining that with personal preference and intuition. Remember, you’re parents raised YOU, probably with a lot fewer options and information access; there’s no reason you can’t be an equally successful parent.
2. Miscalculating Time: Whoever differentiated the terms working mom and stay at home mom obviously either NEVER had children or didn’t stay at home with them. Taking time “off” from the office doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be working. In fact, professionals are quick to point out that you’ll probably have more than your share of work cut out for you. And, they note that your new life is NOT merely an extension of your old life, plus a new addition. It’s actually a whole NEW experience with dramatically different demands, schedules, and time frames. You don’t even get nights or weekends off….and most days; you’ll find it (initially) difficult to accomplish almost anything at all. This could be especially frustrating if you’ve always (previously) been a dynamic, goal-oriented mover and shaker. Experts suggest setting on realistic goal (to achieve) each day. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t manage to get around to it, and be excited, grateful, and reward yourself if and when you do.
3. Falling Into Spurned Spouse Syndrome: Having a new baby is no doubt rewarding, but especially if you are home with junior/juniorette all day, it can also be draining. By the time your “working” spouse gets home, YOU are probably more than eager to “get away from it all”, including you spouse. While psychologists note this as a perfectly normal response, you don’t want to fall into the trap of making your spouse feel unloved and neglected. Romance and affection should still remain an integral part of your marriage and relationship for mental, emotional and physical bonding. Experts recommend making your marriage a priority and setting aside some time just for the two of you. Put the baby to bed early, leave your child with friends, family or a trusted sitter and get away for a bit of fun, just the two of you and sometimes with another couple or couples. While you will no doubt talk about your precious new addition, authorities advice, focusing on each other and other adult topics and life pleasures.
4. Neglecting YOUR Needs: Women are generally nurturers and caregivers, putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. This becomes especially true for (most) moms, with new (first time) moms being the most notorious about doting over baby. Professionals note, that especially with a new dependent member of the family, there’s rarely enough time to do the thing you “have to”, never mind the things you “want to”. Still they emphasize the necessity to make time for yourself. In fact, they say, it is frequently essential in helping moms maintain their “sanity”, pleasant disposition, positive attitude, and helps them be better wives and mothers. They suggest allocating time to chat on the phone (or computer), go get your hair and/or nails done, go shopping, take an enrichment course, join an exercise group, go out for coffee and/or read a book, take a bubble bath, etc. Anything that fulfills you and makes you confident, peaceful and happy, will only serve to benefit, you and your family.
5. Wonder Woman Syndrome: You may think you are a rock and an island….but in reality you are human just like the rest of us and CAN’T do it ALL on your own. Despite the fact that you may have previously been able to effectively and efficiently juggle a home and career and a few outside (social and benevolence) interests doesn’t mean you can single-handedly (still) do all that plus master the tasks of motherhood. Keep in mind; your new baby is NOT your spouse who can (in some capacity) take care of himself. This new individual is TOTALLY dependent on you for EVERYTHING. While you may not want to “burden” your spouse (after a long day at work), or may not trust his ability to do the job as good as you, try to remember that you did not produce this life on your own, it’s only natural and fair that your counterpart do his part in helping care and raise him/her. Experts note, that while mothers are generally more proficient at childcare due to increased exposure and practice, they should refrain from making their partners feel inadequate and inept. It’s okay to (lovingly) instruct, but avoid being judgmental or condescending. Above all, allow him the same courtesy you afforded yourself, the ability to make attempts, possibly some mistakes and the ability to learn from them.
6. Developing A “Defeatist” Attitude: Some people are just prone to worrying. But often times new parents worry needlessly and are always anxious and prepared for the worst Authorities assert that parenting should be gratifying and rewarding not a traumatic experience that has you heading for the quickest prescription of Prozac. They note that while it’s imperative to take note of any changes with your child, it’s also import to realize and understand that not all changes are significant, abnormal, or a reason to stress. In fact, most experts agree that many symptoms such as “spotty” skin, colic, a cough, diarrhea, etc. are quite common among infants. If you are troubled arrange for a physicians visit, but stay optimistic and enjoy the joys of parenthood instead of being distressed over potential “problems”.
7. Keeping Up With The Jones’s (Baby): Okay, so, you’ve spent your life making sure your home (value) didn’t depreciate or that you didn’t do anything to disrupt the delicate balance of the neighborhood. You may have even become a hippy, a preppy and a yuppie to keep up with social and community expectations. Now you’re inclined to impose your standards on your child. Already inclined to “worrying”, you may find yourself stressing over your child’s progress in comparison to other children his/her age. Keep in mind that even developmental charts are simply a guideline based on averages, and not a standard. Children are individuals, and as such, each unique, and each with a developmental pace of his/her own. With a normal and “healthy” range (one that should be discussed with your doctor) you can relax and maintain confidence that your child is quite normal and no less “capable” than another who may already be walking, talking and reading.
8. Hit The Snooze Button: They say: “You snooze, you loose” but for new mom (parents) some mid-day down time is extremely physically and emotionally important. Parenting is very tiring, especially in the beginning when you are still green and don’t know what to expect. Even very young moms (and dads) experience extreme fatigue. Remember, it’s one thing to go clubbing all night long and quite another to nurture a child, especially while trying to maintain a job, home and relationship. According to research, new parents lose between 400 and 750 hours of sleep during baby’s first year Experts suggest napping frequently (and as needed, unless it becomes excessive) and at least once a day for energy and attitude replenishment. While no one is denying the importance of cooking dinner or doing the laundry, they ARE emphasizing the importance of having the mental and physical energy to do so.
9. Buying Into The Idea Of Parenthood: Most people get all caught up in all the excitement of having a baby. As one of my girlfriends says: “The reason God made babies so cute is because after all the morning sickness, body changes, lack of sleep, etc, no one would ever have them again if they weren’t”. What better way welcome your baby into your home and life than to lavish him/her with all the luxuries and comforts of a loving home? And, if you’ve already begun this process, you probably already know that getting ready for baby effect you just as much (if not more) financially as it does emotionally. According to experts one of the biggest mistakes new parents make is getting caught up in the “glamour” of it all. In fact, it’s estimated that new moms and dads can expect an extra $6,000 plus in expenses the first year. They note that when expectant parents go shopping it’s similar to going grocery shopping when hungry. They suggest taking a seasoned parent with you when you go shopping. They note that experienced moms and dads can effectively instruct “newbies” on essential and practical needs.
10. Rushing The Experience: This is an extremely important and memorable time
In your lives, yet often times new parents get so caught up in “getting past it”, that they fail to fully enjoy this new (and short lived) experience. Your child will only be an infant for a short while. Before you know it they will be full-fledged toddlers and young children. Experts suggest taking the time to preserve the moment and the experience and document each encounter. Professionals suggest taking lots of photos, videos and keeping a journal to look back on in years to come.
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