If you or your partner is pregnant, you've likely uttered these words or ran them through your head along with the millions of other new thoughts that come with the news, "What kind of parent will I be?"
Let me just say, that's a good sign!
You're already considering the ins and outs of "good" parenting before your baby's breathing debut into the world? Chances are you'll make a great effort to be the loving parent your baby needs.
I know not all of you will choose parenting as an option for your baby. Still, for those of you who do, I'd like to send some encouragement and hopefully help you breathe a little easier as you embark on this very unknown and mysterious journey.
There's No Such Thing As Perfect Parenting
This can be frustrating to all my perfectionist friends, but there aren't clean and neat boxes to check regarding pregnancy and parenting. There is trying and messing up, failures and progress, plans and surprises. You might make plans carried out with beauty and ease, but things might not go as you hoped. As you likely already know, this begins with pregnancy and birth. There are always unknowns we encounter along the way, which is totally okay!
Take a Break and Ask for Help
Parenting is no easy task. It can drain you emotionally, mentally, and physically—especially in those early weeks with a newborn. If you feel overwhelmed, easily frustrated, or angry, find a way to take a break. Ask a trusted friend or relative to come to stay with your baby while you do something to recoup and rest. Take a hot bath, go get your favorite drink from QuikTrip or a coffee shop, take a walk, or just take a five-minute breather. Always place your baby in a safe place if you're feeling angry or out of control.
Read to Your Baby
Studies show that reading to kids, even babies in and out of the womb, is highly beneficial. Not only does it plant seeds for developing great language and learning skills, but it can also be a sweet time to build a loving bond between you and your baby. There's no perfect amount of time or schedule to do this, but try picking a time when your baby is quiet and happy so that you will be calm and happy as well. This will create a positive memory and experience between you and your baby. Rhyming books are great for infants and young children.
**Special note for dads: some research suggests that there are unique benefits when fathers read to their babies. So dads, get your library cards ready!
Give Yourself Grace
The one sentence I've echoed more than any other to new parents is, "Give yourself some grace!" With all the pressure from friends, our own families, social media, and anyone else with an opinion, parenting can quickly feel like a big fat failure. The reason it feels so hard at times is that it is hard!
One of the best gifts of parenting is a shared love between you and your child. Despite its challenges, parenting is one of the most beautiful opportunities for a special loving relationship. I've messed up plenty of times with my kids, but they all know I love them fiercely. Sometimes I have to apologize and remember that I'm not a perfect parent because a perfect parent doesn't exist. In those moments, I remind myself to breathe. I remember that I love my kids. I remember to give myself some grace because this is, in fact, a marathon journey of mistakes, pressing on, but most of all, love.