When you are a new parent, everyone from the mailman to the woman at the deli counter has advice to offer you, like it or not. You somehow seem to have an invisible sign on your shirt that reads, “I’m new. Advise me.” And everyone else can apparently see it. They mean well. Really, they do. Okay, some of them are just arrogant jerks, but that’s a topic for another day. In my nineteen plus years of parenting six children, some with unique needs, these little gems of advice are the worst I’ve been given.
#1 "Sleep when your baby sleeps"
For me, this one is laughable. Sleep? What’s that? Five of my six little ones were the absolute worst sleepers ever, as infants. If they slept, it was usually only when cradled snugly in someone’s arms, and usually only if that someone was gently swaying. And if I tried to do the silent, bendy pretzel woman routine to gently place the sleeping baby in the bassinet or crib and tiptoe away, holding my breath, without touching anything in the room that might make noise…nope. Wide awake baby.
I tried the other methods too. Making lots of noise to try to condition my babies to sleep through it. Letting them fuss just a little before picking them up. Major failure most of the time.
Looking back, I’m not quite sure how my husband and I survived those years. I guess I was so sleep-deprived that I just don’t remember much of it. I do remember consuming a lot of caffeine and wondering if I’d ever know what it was like to sleep through the night again in my lifetime.
#2 "Take care of yourself first"
I assure you, I am not in support of neglecting self-care. Really, I’m not. But I’ve seen this advice taken to extremes. There must be a healthy balance between self-care and taking care of your child.
When your fearful toddler is going through a particularly difficult time and is terrified of something happening to mom and dad, that’s probably not the time to take a weekend trip. When your teething baby is extra fussy, a trip to the salon might need to wait a day or two.
Anyone caring for small children needs regular breaks, and some pampering is a huge plus too! But I really think this advice should include “…when possible” at the end of the phrase.
#3 "The housekeeping can wait"
This is one that isn’t always terrible advice. I mean, ultimately, the moments we spend with our children are far more important than any load of laundry, clean toilet, or freshly made bed.
But, we also need clean homes in which to raise our children. I can’t imagine telling a pre-K teacher, “Sorry for little Johnny’s stinky, grease-stained shirt. I was too busy making memories with him to do the laundry.”
And what about when mealtime comes and there are no clean dishes? Sorry kids! Just eat out of your hand. Or when you trip over the toys piled high in the living room and break your tailbone? I’m pretty sure it would be hard to make a lot of meaningful memories while in pain from a broken tailbone. Ouch!
Obviously, we must be very choosy about this piece of advice. I would never miss any of the big moments because of housework, and sometimes the big moments are the small ones.
#4 "Ask for help when you need it"
Now why didn’t I think of that? Let me just get out my phone and scroll through my list of sitters and housekeepers on standby and willing to help. Insert eyeroll here.
Not everyone has a long list. For some, there is no list at all. A lot of families live across the country from anyone they know well enough to trust with their children or anyone that would even consider stepping up to do a little housework or anything else to relieve stressed out parents. Some live just minutes away from extended family and friends but just don’t have any support on which they can rely.
This particular advice might be better given by saying, “I will help you when you need it. Call on me, and I will be there.”
#5 "Things will get easier"
If you are talking about physical requirements, then this is most usually true.
As your baby becomes a toddler, you will carry them less. Once they are out of diapers, you won’t be wrestling an adorable alligator anymore. When they can feed themselves, you won’t be performing show-stopping contortionist feats to nurse, bottle-feed, or spoon-feed them any longer.
But as they age, things may become more mentally and emotionally challenging.
The good news is that you are often at a point by then where you are feeling much more able to handle it because you are getting more sleep and using less physical energy.
Each stage of parenting comes with its own unique set of challenges, and it’s important to have realistic expectations.
As parents, we learn every day. We develop new skills based on what our child needs at the time. We adapt. Things don’t get magically easier in every sense – just manageable, with age and experience.
What's one piece of parenting advice you're tired of hearing?
Let us know in the comments below.
Our next reco: 5 Pieces Of New Mom Advice I Actually Used