As my fellow blogger Gina prepares to enter the next phase of parenthood; you know, the one where you kind of smack yourself over the head and say, 'Oh, my, I didn't think it would be this challenging', I gathered my girlfriends together to share a bit of their valuable wisdom, just for her.
I had to ask my friends because my children are too far apart in age, 10 years to be exact. Gina's little one, er, oldest child, is a toddler, so she and her husband will be doing the parent-dance of raising two kids, a glorious part of parenthood, to be sure, but also frought with sleepless nights, toddler-tantrums, and a lot of love thrown in.
So, to Gina, here's my present, straight from the trenches, as it were. All the best to the four of you, and keep us posted on how things are going!
Tip #1: Invest in the best sling or front pack you can possibly afford, or, at the least, the one that's the most comfortable. Retaining the use of one arm is valuable, especially since you'll be confined by your little nurser/bottle-feeder for quite a few weeks. Trust them on this one, you'll need that spare arm, which, as I understand it, will also grow by four or five inches as you manage to reach across the living room to retrieve the spilled apple juice.
Tip #2: Get some fresh air everyday. This tip came from my sister-in-law in Seattle, and I found it very insightful. Fresh air can be a wonderful tool for tiring out toddlers and giving mom and dad a new view on things, as well as a healthy way to clear one's tired head. It doesn't have to be a long time, just walk down the street with said oldest child or get out in the yard for a few minutes and toss some snowballs.
Tip #3: Have your arsenal of activities ready for the times when you are feeding the baby (and isn't that all the time?). Some friends found a stash of stickers, cheerios, photographs, and even the I-Phone to be kid-pleasers during the nursing hour. And don't forget books! Read to your child and you'll all benefit, even baby.
Tip #4: Accept the help, in any way that it is offered! Some suggested paying the grandparents to live with you, but that might not be practical in today's economy. However, when someone asks if you need anything, respond in a clear, loud voice, "Yes, please take so-and-so to the park for an hour and let me sleep!"
Tip #5: Don't forget Dad. Use him, every chance you get. Send Daddy and big boy or girl to the store together and make it an adventure. Have the two of them help with diaper changes, laundry folding, and even dinner prep. Helpers are good, and Dads can make anything fun!
Tip #6: Remember to take care of YOU. As my SIL said, "Happy Mommy = Happy Family. Carve out some you-time, even if it is only to take a shower with the radio up loud. Give yourself a facial, moisturize, rejuvinate. And celebrate; you've got a lot to be thankful for.