Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday's Top Ten [Mommy Advice That Actually Helped Me]

I've been tempted to buy that onsie on many occasions! People are all to willing to give advice, especially to first time moms. I found this extremely overwhelming and frustrating, however, there was tid-bits here and there that I found helpful. Here's my list...

1. Write everything down because you won't remember it. I'm so glad I did that because as I browse her baby calendar I'm finding that I forgot things from a month ago already!

2. Read BabyWise and get on a schedule/routine. A schedule helped me so much. It took a lot of work, but in the end it was so worth it. I wasn't guessing what she needed and when she needed it. As a first time mom who knew nothing about newborns, this was extremely helpful. Babywise gave me an idea of what to do and then I just used their outline to set up a schedule that worked for me. Some parents don't need a schedule and their children thrive, I was not one of those parents.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone in those moments of frustration and exhaustion. Other moms get it and will be willing to give you a break if you desperately need it. I had a friend offer to come over at 3 in the morning to help me with Brielle during her first few months of life. She had colic and when 10 pm hit, she was screaming until 2-5 in the morning. It was exhausting. I dreaded nights and needed help, a sanity break, and SLEEP. Letting down your guard and accepting help will help you more than you know.

4. Ask for advice from experienced mom's who obviously know what they're doing. There are very few moms that I go to for advice. If I'm asking you, it's because I admire your children's behavior, your patience, and I see you taking your "Mommy Ministry" job seriously. If I want to mimic you, I will ask you for your advice. If you see a mom who's methods are methods you like and admire, those are the mom's you should go to. Only ask advice from the people YOU want to mimic. Otherwise, filter the advice and sift through it. You don't have to take everyone's suggestions seriously, because, quite frankly, everyone has a different set of values and beliefs. And everyone, whether or not they have children of their own, freely give advice.

5. Independent play time is just as important as you playing with her. I was so grateful to hear that. I learned it from a preschool teacher, because she was talking about the struggles she sees with some of her students who only play with a toy by themselves or only have fun while playing with others. Each of those "skills" are important and she talked about how evident it was how each child spent their time at home. While setting up Brielle's schedule I included independent play time (giving her fun activities to do) and play time with mommy (and also plenty of play-dates). I loved it because while she played by herself I could do the dishes, or read a book, or sweep the floor, or fold laundry. I did not have to entertain her all the time - she can entertain herself!

6. Be consistent and follow through. If you're not consistent and you don't follow through they will know what buttons to push and how far they can or cannot go. My sister lovingly teased, "Those little brats are smart!" as Brielle was trying to sneak over to the dog dish, eye balling me the whole time, because I would not let her play in the slobbery water.

7. Read to her from day 1! I'm a former reading teacher, so I preached this to parents, but I also heard this from multiple parents on multiple occasions. I'm so so so so so glad I did this because at 15 months old Brielle entertains herself by picking up a book, pointing at pictures, talking to herself, and turning the pages. When I pick up a book to read to her, she seriously screams at me, she's so excited. My sister read to her boys from day one as well and now Gary "reads" to little Hunter all the time (Gary is 4, Hunter is 2). Don't underestimate the power of words.
4 Months Old - Reading with Daddy.
6 Months Old - Reading with a friend from church.

"Trail of Books" (14 Months Old)
8. It goes fast! Everyone and their dog told me this. I blinked and she's 15 months old. They. weren't. kidding.

9. Embrace your specific "mommy" skills. There are some mom's that are really good at doing crafts with their kids, other moms only feed their children organic food, or super-organized-mom, whatever "mommy" skill you possess, embrace it and work on your weakest. Don't expect to be perfect with ALL of them. (Fact: There isn't a mom on the planet who can do it all, even if they give you that impression on Pinterest or Facebook or through their blog, they're either liars or you're only you're seeing their highlights.)

10. Your goal is NOT to be a people-pleaser-parent. Parenting is controversial. No matter what, someone out there somewhere will not like what you're doing. There are thousands of opinions. There will always be judgmental gossips. Ignore it. Your child was given to YOU for YOUR care. If you're doing the best you can with what God has given you, it shouldn't matter. No opinion matters besides that of God's and of your spouse. I heard a mom (who's advice I'm constantly seeking) say that her sole job at this moment is being a godly wife and taking care of her mommy ministry. I like that: "Mommy Ministry," and when I see it that way nothing else matters to me. So I ask myself daily, "How am I being a parent who glorifies God and teaches my child Biblical truths in a world who has rejected Christ?" THAT is what matters to me and THAT in and of itself is controversial. I have to ignore the controversy and be a God-pleaser, not a people pleaser. So on the day that I stand in judgment for what I've done or haven't done, I don't want to be guilty of ignoring His charge to parenting godly children according to HIS standards (Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 6:7, &etc.) and not my own, or by the woman's opinion across the street, or by Facebook friend merits. Don't be a "people-pleaser-parent" because everyone knows it's impossible to please everyone. The most important question here is, "WHO are YOU trying to please?"

There is absolutely no reason to go into parenting thinking you know-it-all (because you don't) or that you have to write the book. There are millions and kajillions of mom's who are currently "doing-it" and "doing-it" well and millions and kajillions of mom's that have been-there, done-that. Accept the fact that you will make mistakes (because you are human), but there's no reason to repeat mistakes already made. (That was a sermon more for me than for you, haha.) The best advice I have is to simply learn from others. Every piece of advice listed was from someone else and I'm just passing it along. I hope it helps you like it helped me. I'm sure that as time passes my list will grow and change and develop right along with my daughter.

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