10 Things You Learn In Year 1 of Parenting
if your child is happy and healthy – you’re doing just fine
Having a child is legit hard. Like, honestly. How many words are there in the English language and the best I could do to describe being a parent is legit hard? I hope that proves that 90% of your daily vocabulary is spent trying to explain why licking a window isn’t the best choice they can make – several times. So, yeah. We’ll stick with legit hard.
It’s been well over 365 days since I’ve given birth to my daughter. So, why am I choosing to write this now? Well, it’s because you also tend to be behind on your schedule once you have a child.
Whether you have a child, plan to have a child, don’t want anything to do with children or love to admire kiddos from a distance, I think this post will have something in it for you. Because more than we teach them, babies teach us a lot about the value of a life.
In these past 14 months, I’ve learned some really wonderful lessons and I want to share them with you.
1. Comparison truly does steal our joy
From the moment a child is born, they are compared to the average. Weight, height and head size are the first things we start to measure, and they all correlate back to a chart designed by medical professionals that explains whether your child is on track with the average numbers. It’s hard not to worry if you aren’t right down the middle of your chart. From there, it’s an ongoing competition between parents to prove that their child is the best. Unintentional or not – we all do it. I learned very early on that attempting to compare my child to another is the most useless part of our human nature. I promised myself that so long as she was learning, loving, happy and healthy, it would mean nothing else I would attempt to do to advance her was going to help. In fact, it would probably hurt her developmental milestones instead.
She needs to learn at her own pace.
2. You don’t have to be happy all the time
Parenting comes with a multitude of emotions. Some days you are over the moon happy and cannot even contain the love that you feel for your child, and other days you are frustrated and upset that things aren’t the same as they were yesterday. Just like life without a child, there is no manual for what to do when things go wrong. Therefore, it’s okay to feel however you need to feel to get through your day. In fact, it’s important you let yourself feel those emotions so that your child knows they can do the same. If they are sad, impatient, angry or curious – that’s because they are learning. The more you stifle your emotions, the more likely you’ll end up not knowing how to process those feelings.
Let yourself be as emotional as you need to be.
3. Convenience is the real MVP
True with child or without, nothing beats something that makes your life more convenient. Ramps for your stroller? Automatic doors at a shop? Car seat that clips in and out? Pouch filled with ready-to-eat dinner? You name it, you’ll need it. Year one is stressful enough and I’ve learned very quickly not to be ashamed.
I’m always going to opt for whatever is most convenient, regardless of the cost.
4. Routine and consistency are key
You often hear that there are parents who think kids cannot have a routine and that there are parents who think kids cannot function without a routine. Nice to meet you. I’m pro-schedule. At the start of our parenthood journey, we weren’t sure a schedule would ever be possible. Now I’m not sure we could live without. Our routine has made our daughter much more patient and understanding. Not to mention, she does very good with her sleep schedule – which has been crucial to ensure she is healthy and developing. We learned very early on that our entire lives would revolve around nap times and bedtime, and to be honest, I’m so glad we stuck to this consistent lifestyle.
You might have to skip a few events to ensure your baby is rested.
5. Every moment is precious – regardless of the outcome
It’s hard not to think of a day that doesn’t spark some sort of memory in my new life as a mom. The first time she smiled, the first time she said mama, the day she took her first step, the first time she bonked her head and the first time she clipped herself into her carseat. Every moment that happens, good or bad, is something that I will always cherish.
Every challenge makes both of us a stronger person and a tighter unit.
6. Not every moment has to be yours
As a parent, it’s hard to imagine missing any one of those moments I’ve mentioned above. After all, who wouldn’t want to be the first to see every milestone? The thing is, you’ll never be able to be there for every single moment. I’ve had some meltdowns because I’ve felt robbed of a moment that I thought was mine and mine only. However, the reality is, these moments are no ones moments but hers. I am fortunate to have seen so many. Sometimes she needs to hit a milestone on her own, and celebrate a new skill without her mom around – which hasn’t been easy to digest.
Let others enjoy their firsts, too.
7. Kids are extremely intelligent
You never truly realize how quickly human beings grow and learn until you spend each and every day with one from the day they are born. It’s gotten to the point now where my daughter recognizes every single task, wants to help with each chore, and is engaging in conversations with us (whether she’s saying words or not). Children are more aware than anyone might realize, and it’s so valuable to include these bright minds in your life whether you think they understand or not. Chances are, they do.
Treat your child as though they are your equal.
8. Your environment matters
One of the major differences I’ve found between children and their personalities is that they are very similar to the environment they live in. If a child thrives in chaos, they might come from a home that is always on the go. If a child lives in a quiet and calm environment, they might struggle to engage in busy settings. We’ve made a point to try and introduce our daughter to as many different types of environments as possible in the hopes that she is comfortable and feels as though she can be herself no matter where she goes.
Create safe spaces in every situation.
9. Sleep training = essential
I might get a lot of hate for this one, but if there is anything I’ve learned in year one it’s that sleep is everything. For you and your child. In fact, it’s so important to me I already touched on it once when I spoke to the importance routine has had in our lives. Before we jumped into sleep training, things were hard on all of us. If there is one thing I’m thankful for, it’s that we stuck it out and taught our child how to self-soothe.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
10. I ate balogna and yogurt every single day and I turned out just fine
If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, this was literally my childhood. I was extremely picky and stubborn, and would only eat two things. Balogna and yogurt. Nowadays, there are way too many judgmental people in the world, too many rules and too much pressure on parents to do everything right all of the time. Personally, I don’t like it.
As I always say, if your child is happy and healthy – you’re doing just fine.
Having my daughter has helped me grow, learn and embrace life with a positive perspective on what is to come for our family. These lessons are I’m sure, just the start of what I’ll definitely learn once I have a toddler turn teenager, but hey. I guess I’ll take my own advice and remember that every moment is precious, regardless of the outcome.