Today on the blog I’m featuring a guest post from Erica Johnson at Inner Parents! I can say that her points hit home for me. If you’ve followed my adoption journey, you know that we chose not to prepare a nursery, and got ready for baby with only seven days’ notice, so I totally agree that babies don’t need much (check out this related post on what we did do to prepare). And as someone who just recently went from working mom to work-at-home freelance writer, I also concur that you can’t get a thing done with a toddler … well, toddling around. Enjoy the post!
Whether you’re planning on children, or raising your first or second child (or still counting), one thing is certain: Parenting is full of surprises.
The truth is, no matter how many baby forums, parenting books and article tell-alls you read, nothing will prepare you for every situation you come across as a parent. If I had a chance to chat with myself all of those years ago, here’s what I would stress:
1. You Don’t Need a Lot of ‘Stuff’
When you welcome a new baby into your life it’s easy to get caught up in all of the things your friends, family and media swear that you need. Babies are big business! Burp clothes, bibs, teething rings, sleep hammocks, play mats, bouncy chairs, swings, playpens – the list goes on and on!
The truth is, infants don’t do much but sleep, wake up, cry, eat and fall asleep again. Even toddlers don’t need much in terms of entertainment – because they are entertained by everything! I often wonder why I didn’t simply create blocks, pillow forts and toys out of toilet paper rolls rather than wasting money on toys that they lost interest in quickly anyway. There is no shortage of DIY entertainment ideas on Pinterest.
It works similarly with clothes. While it’s fun to buy adorable little shoes for an infant who can’t even stand up yet, some of the outfits I bought and received were rarely worn before they grew out of them. If I could do it all over again, I would stick to sale and used items during these first stages of life.
2. You Can Work From Home (but only to a certain extent)
Working from home with a child is completely possible, but it only really works during two stages of life:
- Before you child is walking
- When they are old enough to understand that you’re not always available
When children are great at entertaining themselves, working from home is a breeze. It’s when they start moving around and demanding your constant attention that getting things done is almost impossible.
For working moms, the upside is that you may be able to extend your leave by working some from home during the early months, if your company is flexible and open to such an arrangement.
For stay-at-home or work-at-home moms, part-time childcare arrangements such as flexible preschool schedules can provide your child with stimulation and enrichment once they are in a stage requiring more entertainment, while giving you time to actually get work done.
3. Developmental Milestones Will Come in Time
My sister’s daughter didn’t talk until she was almost 3 years old! While this was extremely stressful for her, my niece did come around eventually, even surpassing the vocabulary of most her age in her first year of school.
Looking back, I realize that every child develops at his or her own pace. While my niece wasn’t learning how to talk, she was using her energy to learn how to walk, run, understand and create things.
The best advice I can give to an expecting parent is try not to stress the small stuff. Of course, be aware and seek a medical opinion if necessary. But remember that every child is different, and your maternal instincts between what is right and wrong for your child will come naturally. Last, but not least – enjoy the journey, they all grow up too fast anyway.
Erica Johnson is the main editor at Inner Parents and a proud mother of two who’s passionate about the latest parenting tips and baby products.