There’s no shortage of people who claim to have the best advice for new parents. The hospital janitor. The cashier at Target. Your mother-in-law. Someone else’s mother-in-law who you’ve never even met. Caring for a newborn is already overwhelming, but when you add in all the opinions from every expert everywhere, it can get a little out of control.
Since our readers and Spawned show listeners often ask us for our own best advice for new parents, we decided to ask our Facebook friends and fans and Twitter followers to share their BTDT tips, and wow, if only we had all of these amazing suggestions back when we were sitting on our couches, catatonic with newborn #1 in the bassinet next to us!
Take a listen to this week’s Spawned with Kristen and Liz to hear us reveal the best tips each of us ever got, plus a discussion of 14 of our favorite tips and advice for new parents for best parenting advice: What works, what doesn’t, and why everyone is obsessed with sleep.
Listen right now on SoundCloud, or over on iTunes (have you subscribed yet?) — easy.
And a huge, huge thanks to everyone who shared: high-powered executives, stay-at-home parents, best-selling authors, podcasters, producers, media mavens, business owners, musicians, managers, actors, academics, moms and dads alike.
These are some of the most giving, thoughtful, totally not sanctimonious parents we know, and we are grateful for their wisdom. Most of all, we really hope this helps some of you during that long, early slog as a new parent.
The best advice for new parents from the real experts: other parents
1. If you feel like you are not prepared to be a parent remember that nobody truly is. The most important determining factor of your success ultimately is that you care.
– Sean Sullivan
2. Fact: Babies will not know/remember/perceive that you are messing up so don’t be so hard on yourself!
– Christine Koh
3. Trust your gut. And when your gut says to cut off that disgusting onesie and throw it in the trash instead of pulling it over your baby’s head, listen.
–Lisa Hawkins Taylor
4. It just looks like everyone else has it all figured out.
5. Become a free napkin hoarder. Anytime you walk into a Starbucks or McDonald’s or wherever, you need to program yourself to STEAL ALL THE NAPKINS! Then stuff them in your glove box, your work bag, your jacket pockets, basically anywhere there is a hole. Having a napkin stash at arm’s reach is the new parent’s security blanket.
6. None of us have any idea what we are doing so go with your gut and know you’re not alone. And your kids are probably going to be just fine. Probably.
7. You don’t have to be happy in direct proportion with how hard you worked to become a parent or how much you wanted parenthood.
8. You are in charge. Don’t want visitors? Don’t have them. Want a party? Awesome. Don’t be guilted into hosting or taking the baby out if you don’t want to do. Say no, politely but firmly. Remember that no matter how natural, you’re healing and need rest and recovery time for you and your new person.
– Melissa Schober
9. Get out of the house, even for just 15 minutes. And sometimes it’s ok to mute the monitor, pour wine & cry.
10. Learn to forgive yourself. You will likely scream, say or do dumb things.
– Jeff Vinick
11. Learn to swaddle.
12. The guilt of feeling like OH MY GOD I AM NOT APPRECIATING EVERY MOMENT will kill you. Every time someone says, “it goes by in a blink of an eye” and you are thinking, “my god I just want today to be over,” you think you aren’t doing it right. So my advice? It’s okay to hate some of this journey. That’s cool too.
13. Having a baby may not strengthen your relationship with your spouse (at first). My husband and I are still in lots of love, but having children is tough on a marriage.
14. Don’t worry about your lifestyle getting warped because you have children. The second you see your child you will actively, willingly, and lovingly change your priorities. Not because you have to, but because there’s nothing else you’d rather do. It’s quite a magical transformation.
15. Everything, good and bad, is only a stage.
–Angela via Twitter
See also: This too shall pass.
16. For the love of all that is holy, say no to them.
17. Your mother and mother-in-law didn’t really have their kids potty trained by age 1 and behaving perfectly in every public setting. They just missed parts of parenting by letting the older kids “watch” the younger ones in the candy aisle at the supermarket and taking another drag on a cigarette while the kids rolled around in the back of the station wagon without seat belts.
18. Someday you and your little ones will be out in public and it won’t be going that well, so it inspires someone to go on long term birth control…and they tell you this. This is okay. You have bad days. What’s important is you caused a good deed on your bad day. Also, it’s a fresh day tomorrow.
19. Get a journal and commit to make one observation a day. Do everything you possibly can to be present. This level of simple, thoughtful commitment to presence is good for your soul, and maybe even better for your child’s.
20. Start a blog. That way you’ll have a time-stamped record of your kids’ misdeeds.
21. “Patience you must have, my young Padawan.”
Nothing will go right at times. Patience will get you further than frustration.
22. If you’re partnered, set a precedent in sharing the raising of the kiddo from the get-go. Because the day you start taking pride in changing a diaper faster will be the saddest day of your life.
23. Plan your lies and start them early — my kids think they are allergic to face paint. They are 9 and still believe that.
–Jen Levine Drechsler
24. Don’t make it a competition between parents on who is working harder, just keep working together to make it easier on one another. Also find your nearest relatives, friends and get as much help as possible. Meet up groups and moms groups are a tremendous source of support. It takes a village.
25. It gets okayer. Better is a relative term.
26. Especially if it’s your first child, find other new parents who have a child close in age. It’s comforting to have people who are going through the same thing at the same time. Even a few months difference in age can be hard to remember in the beginning.
27. You know your kid best. Everyone else can shut-up.
28. SLEEP. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Go. To. Sleep. When our first daughter was born, we thought it was our obligation to remain awake and on watch at all times. I think we employed a modified swedish naval watch system in order to maintain vigilance. Silly in retrospect.
29. You’ll sleep when you’re dead.
For more awesome discussion about surviving the new parent weeks and months (and even hours!) and some commentary on the tips you’ve seen here, listen to Spawned with Kristen and Liz right here on SoundCloud, or over on iTunes where you can even subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.
If you have ideas to add, we’d love to hear them in comments! Or you can catch us on Twitter (use the hashtag #spawnedshow) or email us with your comments or show ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.