One year later, here are my first small pieces of advice for new parents

A common joke I’ve heard among parents goes something like “The only parenting advice to take from other parents is to not take any parenting advice from other parents.

Yes, you can get too much advice; yes, each kid is a bit different and every family dynamic has its own quirks. But I really did get value in speaking to lots of friends and family before the birth of my first child a year ago. Granted, we spent the last year in a pandemic lockdown, so much of our experience won’t be recreated.

Exactly because of that, I won’t be overdoing it with advice. Still, I do think a few short pieces of advice were most helpful for me. Take it or leave it.

Here are a few notes:

  • Pregnancy itself is absolutely magical
  • I found the first three months pretty brutal. Such little sleep (and remember, we were in complete early-pandemic isolation), and everything was so new. We’ve been in a really glorious honeymoon phase nearly since. Prepare yourself for that first big hurdle, as I found it was more difficult than anything since.
  • Sleep training is worth it. There are lots of books and many coaches (most charge in the range of $300-$500 for a few consultations and personalized guidance). However you handle it, I am a strong believer that investing in sleep isn’t some new-age nonsense but a really valuable way to save yourself time and your child comfort. (Many of the trainings say there’s nothing to be done the first 6 weeks of your child’s life, before some prep in the 6-8 week window, and then you begin as your child comes to her third month of life.)
  • Your baby is joining your family, not the other way around. While of course your life changes like never before, you still can have a life, and you should. In 12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks, Suzy Giordano makes this very point.
  • Some conventional wisdom is true, lots of it is not. Author Emily Oster has made a career out of writing books dissecting the data of that advice. Her books are great.
  • Baby sign language is cool. Around six months or so, your kid is picking up basic vocabulary and start to sign. Get a book, it’s pretty dope.
  • Give baby attention when she is content and quiet to reward good behavior not attention only when acting up
  • Stroller walks are really grand.
  • Take all the hand-me-downs: Sort them out later. Pay it forward later still.
  • Set up a diaper caddie (or two) in your house beforehand: SACMW did this and it made a big difference to have a simpler, more accessible way to change diapers.
  • Work in shifts: Divvy up set and predictable time with your partner to allow time for errands and rest and personal space.
  • Have a few quiet house projects you want to accomplish. Yes, sleep is the first priority but we did find time to get several house projects done while baby was sleeping.
  • Maintain your own independence
  • Plan for a few habits to be dropped: Work events; TV; social media, or what have you. Cutting or planning to cut what you can will make this a less painful transition.

It really is a joy.

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