Wednesday, December 3, 2014

15 things I've learned in 365 days of being a parent

Hey there, bloggers! I'm sorry for the radio silence. It's been kind of crazy around here as of late. As some of you might know, we just opened up a new business. With that comes chaos and zero free time!
But I decided that enough is enough.
I had to write something on my blog, mainly so people didn't start to think I had moved to an island with zero internet access [my worst nightmare].

My sweet baby girl turned one on the 25th. Suddenly I was staring at a crawling, babbling toddler who had grown 8.5 inches and put on 16 pounds in the span of a year. How did time go by so fast? It seems like I was just walking into the hospital to see if my water had broken!

Nothing brings back memories like writing [or typing] them down.

Here are some of the bizarre and not so bizarre things I've learned in my first year as a parent:

1. If you think talking about poop is weird, you're clearly childless.
We've had full on conversations about my daughter's poop schedule at the dinner table. I've talked about poop with random strangers before.  Poop brings us together, people.
2. You basically turn into a ninja.
There is nothing more important than entering or exiting a room quietly when your kid's sleeping in there. I have closed so many doors without making a sound. It's actually something I'm considering adding to my resume.

3. Whenever you hear a crying baby now your heart starts racing automatically.
Even when you realize it's not your kid doing the crying, it doesn't matter. It's a parent thing.

4. Your phone storage is no longer filled with selfies or pictures of food.
It's now pictures of your kid doing the same thing over and over. Or movies that will keep them quiet during a meal out.

5. Speaking of meals out:
Once they're no longer in that beautiful "infant sleeping in their carrier through the entire meal" stage, shit really hits the fan when it comes to dining out. Especially when they start eating solids. There's a reason why parents should tip more when they bring an infant out to eat. Kids are like tiny tornadoes, except they smell worse.

6. Any rules you stated before you had kids are out the window.
I swore that I would NEVER EVER IN A MILLION FRICKIN' YEARS let my children sleep in our bed. That stupid statement was made before I had been so sleep deprived I was literally holding my eyelids open. Sometimes you let your kid sleep next to you because you actually cannot survive if you sleep any less. [sidenote: this trend only started when the 9 month sleep regression hit. I wouldn't let her sleep with us when she was little because it was dangerous and scared the crap out of me.]

7. It's not cool to judge other parents.
I know it's annoying when kids start screaming at the table next to you, but just because I have a baby that might potentially have a meltdown at some point in the evening does not mean I'm never going to go out for a meal. Sorry my daughter's crying but I'm trying everything I can to keep her from crying. You being a dick and telling your husband we're ruining your "date night" isn't helping anyone. It just makes you look like an asshole. [Yes, this did happen to us. To be fair, her husband was mortified.]

8. Never, ever wake a sleeping baby.
Remember the episode from Friends when Rachel brings Emma home from the hospital and she's peacefully sleeping in her bassinet but then Rachel wants to pick her up to hold her and Emma cries for the next 6 hours? That's 100% accurate. The 6 hours thing might be a stretch, but as a rule you should NEVER, EVER WAKE UP YOUR CHILD. Just because you read an article online that said your kid is sleeping too much if they take three naps instead of two doesn't mean it's right. Some people are stupid and make shit up. Being a writer on the internet does not make them a doctor.

9. Speaking of Sleep..
In the first year, just plan on not getting any sleep. I'm not kidding. Set the bar low. That way if you do get to sleep more than you had planned, it's like bonus sleep. It always irritated me when people said, "enjoy your sleep now because you won't be getting any when the baby comes!" I'm not sure whether it irritated me because I didn't want to admit I would never sleep, or because people just annoy me sometimes. But those people were right. As much as I hate to admit it, they were spot on. Had our child not suffered from reflux at the beginning the experience might have been different, but if it's not one thing it's another. People gave us tips, I read books, but at the end of the day you just do whatever you can to get through the first year.
I'm happy to report that my daughter is sleeping through the night again! That is until she gets another tooth, or goes through another leap or..she just decides she doesn't want to sleep through the night anymore.

10. Shopping for your child's wardrobe is much more fun than shopping for your own.
I have never been a fan of shopping. It's annoying, I don't like crowds,  and usually by the end of a 'trying on' session I'm sweating. But shopping for my daughter is a blast. I love finding the weirdest/cutest outfits I can for her! Anything on her is cute, so it works out.

11. You learn to weed out any unnecessary baby items.
Facial Tissues? I have a sleeve for that. I don't need a diaper genie because I have a trash can. I don't necessarily need a lot of toys because she prefers to open drawers and empty the contents. It's hard to keep it minimal when people are excited to buy your child stuff, but it could be done. Kids are pretty simple. Diapers, wipes, formula/boob, warm clothes, blankets and you're pretty much good to go.

12. Take the unsolicited advice with a grain of salt.
Because in the end you're going to do what you want anyway. Heed any advice you find useful and throw out the stuff you don't. People really love to share their experiences, so let them. It might be irritating at times, but they're just trying to help.

13. Ask for help.
My mom, sister, and mother-in-law have been my guidebook for parenting this first year. And I know they will continue to be because they're experts. I am not. It's nice to have them around to ask stupid questions and get a non-judgmental answer. It was hard for me to learn to ask for help, but I've since embraced the idea. Sometimes you need an hour to run errands and go to Target in peace, and that's okay. It doesn't make me a bad mom, it keeps me sane.

14. You don't and can't know what you're doing.
Just ride out the storm. Parenting, like many things, comes with time. You will never be perfect at it, but with time and practice, you can suck a little less. When my daughter was sleeping 30 minutes at a a time at around 6 weeks old, I thought I might actually die from exhaustion. My sister told me this: "It will get better." Which didn't really help much then, but she was totally right. It got better. We took it one sleepless day at a time. Matt and I nearly killed each other [exhaustion will do that to you] but we got through that, too. There was a lot of yelling and crying, but we pushed forward. And we now have a hilarious, allbeit stubborn and independent daughter who we could not live without.

15. Your parents were right.
This fact becomes more and more apparent the older I get. And I tell my parents this a lot in hopes that it will make up for the crap I pulled on them when I was younger. My mom used to say it all the time, and it's absolutely true; "You'll understand when you're a parent." When I was late for curfew or when I didn't wear my seat belt or when I screamed back at them in a moment of rage...I understand now why it drove them so crazy.

Nothing is more important to a parent than keeping their child safe. I have spent 100% of this past year worrying about SIDS and choking hazards and incorrect car seat placement and the list goes on. That worry will never go away [so I've heard], they will just change to different worries. Like boyfriends and bullies and safe driving. And I will tell my daughter one day, "you'll understand when you're a parent." I can see her rolling her eyes now, but she'll get it when she's older. She will understand when she holds her child for the first time what it means to be a parent. There is nothing like it in the world. Nothing compares to that feeling.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I will try to be better about updating more regularly, but I can't make any promises. ;)

Tata for now!

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