When you have a child, you are swamped with advice, some needed, lots unsolicited. But there are a few tibits that are true and very helpful, and it’s good to weed these out of the ones that are clearly impractical for you. Here are a few things I wish I had done in the early months of my child’s life.
First, if you are not going to be a stay-at-home mom, practice leaving your child for a few hours here and there with a trusted sitter. It keeps you from having separation anxiety when you return to work. You may think it won’t affect you, as I did, but after being with your little one, you develop a strong attachment and you’ll actually miss them when they’re not around. Even if they are too little to know you are gone, or to respond to your returning, you will be able to focus better if you have taken a little time away from them. I spent four months straight with my daughter, and returned to work as a teacher when the next school year started. I physically and emotionally pined for her! I missed her smell, her sounds, the feel of her in my arms; it completely took me by surprise! My family had warned me, but I didn’t believe them!
Second thing I learned the hard way-if you anticipate your child will be going to daycare, start them as soon as you feel comfortable, as opposed to waiting until “they are old enough.” I felt we should wait until my daughter was a year, so we did. Huge mistake! That was old enough for her realize we were leaving her with strange people and she cried hysterically for the first two weeks when I dropped her off. It broke my heart and I felt horrible. Fast forward a year, and she loves her daycare and her teachers, but I’ll never forget how helpless I felt when I had to walk away from her wailing and holding her arms out to me. Save yourself, and them, the stress and enroll them as soon as you can.
Finally, when you decide to sleep train your child, do it early-around 7 or 8 months-and don’t back down. It will be hard to listen to them cry, but as long as they are safe in their crib and not in pain, they will be okay. From what I’ve heard from many people, it only takes a few nights and they begin to adjust to the idea of putting themselves to sleep. I say I’ve heard because my daughter is almost two and I’m still rocking her to sleep. Neither my husband nor I could handle her crying for more than a few minutes. But now that I have to spend twenty plus minutes putting her to sleep, I wish we had remained strong and remembered it was a means to an end.
Even though the many tidbits of advice you receive will run the gamut from helpful to downright crazy, keep in mind your friends and family are just looking out for you, and sometimes (just sometimes) they are right.