I’m so glad I’ve been able to have a second baby. It’s really opened my eyes to understand I had no idea what I was doing the first time. I had very little experience with children and didn’t really understand them and what they need.
Here’s my top 9 aha mommy moments on how to be a better parent. Better late than never!
- The saying “Don’t cry over spilled milk” has been passed down through the generations for a reason. This is not a message for clumsy kids. It is a warning for moms everywhere that children spill milk and it’s best to just wipe it up and move on. Not a big deal.
- Use your imagination! I’m a very serious A-type person who doesn’t like games or being silly. Guess what, kids are the opposite! Your little one wants to learn and participate in a fun kind of way. My baby is so much more cooperative when I’m injecting imaginative games into everything. I have to thank my first one for teaching me this. And it’s so rewarding when I can make my little one break into hysterical laughter! The sound of my baby laughing at something I’m doing is priceless :)
- Being a mom is backbreaking work. Literally! This second time around, I am “babying” my back and even bought a brace for extra physical days. Now that my 13-month-old is starting to walk, I get him to walk as much as possible, limiting the strain on me. Additionally, carrying the little man around in the carseat is too heavy and just isn’t worth it.
- Use the buy and sell markets! Back in the day, these didn’t really exist and I usually did a whole bunch of shopping at neighbourhood garage sales. But now it’s possible to make a small initial investment (or just get cool presents from family and friends) and keep selling and buying baby stuff, spending almost no money. We keep a $5’s jar to facilitate the perpetuate buy and sell cycle. No more worrying about money. I am always able to purchase something fun for my baby to keep things fresh and new.
- I split outdoor time into 50/50. Getting outside is incredibly important for both baby and mommy. However, it doesn’t have to be all about the baby. I make sure that when I plan an outing, I make it half about the baby and half satisfying my own needs. For example, I’ll walk to the park and let the baby get his fill on the swings, practicing walking around the playground, exploring what’s on the ground, and interacting with other kids. Then, I’ll commence my power walk with the stroller. Like I said up in number 2 above, I’m an A-type person, and I get my own joy from power walks, hiking, and long bike rides. Usually this kills two birds with one stone because the baby will be tired out from all that playing on the playground and fall asleep for his nap on the way home. That’s what I call a win-win!
- I am more appreciative. Getting to spend time with my baby is hands-down one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had thus far in life. With my previous one, and being in my twenties, I was much more selfish and resentful of the limited time I got to spend by myself or on my own interests. Now, being in my 40’s, I am longing for time to slow down. It won’t be long before my little guy’s in kindergarten and so I’m careful to be in the present moment with him as much as I can and share and celebrate his special milestones together.
- I know how to say no. When my baby was just a couple of weeks old last September, a friend with a 10-month old baby came to visit and the conversation got onto breastfeeding. She started telling me that when she was breastfeeding her baby, she’d pump milk on the other breast as well. Then, she’d donate the milk to a community organization assisting babies in the community without access to breast milk. My mouth dropped open and I’m sure I had this horrified look on my face. Anyhow, she tried really hard to convince me that I should be doing this too. Like hell! Saying no means setting your boundaries, listening to your intuition and feelings, and prioritizing doing as little as possible, so you can be in a strong emotional state to be the best mom you can be.
- Remain centered and calm. No matter what. It will pass. Babies have a way of pushing your buttons and they aren’t even doing it to spite you. Each new thing we introduce to our baby can end up being rejected by the baby at first, causing intense frustration. When I tried to introduce solids to my baby at 6 months he adamantly refused to be fed. This was SO annoying! At the time, this was an all-consuming disaster for me… how on earth would I get this baby off my boobs! Looking back, it was quite the journey, and now my 13-month old is eating like a pro. All of the problems magically resolved themselves and now he’s eating us out of house and home :) It’s like the problems didn’t even exist in the first place. So strange!
- Teach the baby how to do everything so they can be self sufficient. Babies are absorbing absolutely everything we say and do at an accelerated rate. We might as well take advantage of it and build their self esteem at the same time. Right now, my little one stands on the stairs as tall as he can possibly make himself and turns the light switch on and off. He is so proud of himself! And when we go for walks with the stroller, he’ll make a big deal out of helping mommy push the stroller. He tries many different ways of doing it until he finds the best position. This is such a special time and it’s amazing to sit and watch baby Damian learn and grow and develop. It’s important that I let him figure things out by himself and get comfortable solving problems. Hopefully this will counter the laziness gene that embodies my 14-year-old daughter. It’s hard to get her to lift a finger to help out!
There you have it, 9 super helpful tips on being the best mommy you can be. As a generation X’er, it’s my aim to help improve the way in which we raise our kids because they truly are our future. How we treat them will come back on us and I’m curious to observe the differences between my two children (like a twisted personal science experiment) as they become adults.