Parenting is hard no matter how you slice it, but sometimes we do things without knowing we are actually making it harder. Here are a few tips to consider if you are looking to take a few shortcuts.
- Babywearing– When I first saw someone babywearing I thought it looked way too advanced for me. I thought these people were a special type of hippie and I was just not born into the right crowd. But I quickly learned that I too could wear a baby, even in one of those complicated looking wraps! I watched a few Youtube videos and practiced in the mirror. It really turned out to not be all that difficult. Everything got easier; grocery shopping, traveling, getting to playdates, cleaning up, cooking, you name it. Get your partner involved too! And when you learn to breastfeed in a carrier the world becomes your oyster. You can do it, you really can.
- Give up– Don’t try. Seriously. I mean you will try most of the time because you are a loving parent, but allow yourself to give up sometimes. If your day starts off crappy decide to have pajama and junk food day. If you are in a battle with your child decide to let it go. If you’re tired and don’t feel like it then don’t. We put so much pressure on ourselves as parents. We are like ticking time bombs. Most of this pressure comes from wanting the best for our kids, but sometimes this pressure comes from a societal level; expectations, how others see us, culture, upbringing, etc. We are consumed by anxiety to do as much as we can in a day or be perfect all the time or get the kitchen clean or eat perfectly or look like we have it all together. None of us has it all together. Let’s be real. Let yourself off the hook. Take a more laidback approach to this parenting thing. Your kids will thank you and so will your mental health.
- Breastfeeding- I’m not going to lie, breastfeeding can be very difficult. But it’s just the beginning couple of months that are really hard. There are a couple of things you can do to get through those dark days. Find a lactation consultant before you have your baby. But be sure to contact one at any point you are struggling. (You can locate one here or here.) Breastfeeding problems addressed early by a lactation professional (not your doctor) are often problems that pass quickly. Breastfeed your baby on demand, stop looking at the clock, trust that your body is nourishing your baby just as it has done all through you pregnancy and call that lactation consultant! Those early days seem like they will never end when you are in them, but it won’t be long before they seem like a distant memory. Once you get the hang of breastfeeding there is no better parenting hack than this. No bottles to pack, no formula to buy, no cleaning. No matter what comes up breastfeeding will solve the problem. No matter where you are or what you are doing!
- You first– We are wired as parents to put the needs of our children first. But this will bite you in the ass in the end. You will be running on empty before the first smash cake. When mom is tired no one wins. You are now totally responsible for another human life. That’s heavy stuff and you can easily be consumed by it. Find things in your life that help you remember you are a part of this equation too. Start small like showering, clean underwear, lipstick or peeing alone. Build up to time away from your kids so that you can fill yourself back up. You can’t meet the needs of your child if your cup is empty. You know the saying about the oxygen mask on the airplane, put yours on first before helping others. You can’t help anyone if you are unconscious. Lost sleep and temper tantrums will be much easier to deal with when you fill your own cup first.
- Co-sleeping– Sharing a sleep space with your baby is going to save your sanity. Trust me. Whether you share a bed with your baby (yes, you can do it safely!) or push their crib next your bed you will save time and sleep. You won’t be lying awake wondering if that bump in the night was your baby waking up. You won’t have to go all the way to the other room to check. You won’t have to slither down the wall like a ninja once they are asleep to get safely back out of the room. When you share a sleep space with your baby you just slip your boob in their mouth as you both drift back to sleep.