New Moms Guide: 101 Things Every New Mother Should Know
All those joys, all those woes, all those "I gotta go wee wee" - isn't it great to know you're not alone? But there are sooo many awesome mom tips out there, and you have to prevent the next disaster! So here are 101 things every mom (and mom to be) should know, cut up into little itty bitty bite sized bits so you can wrap your time-mouth around it a bit easier.
- Your life will change forever.
Kids will forever change your life. You can expect that nothing will be the same, and your life will no longer be your own. This is probably not the first time you are hearing this.
- Politics become more important.
Keep a close eye on politics and stand up for yourself and your children. Politicians write the future of the nation, and your children will have to live in that future. If that isn't enough incentive, maybe losing your children for a political agenda is a better motivator.
- Your decisions effect people.
The government is not perfect. There are a lot of things that fall through the cracks. It is up to you to make better decisions than whatever gets thrown in front of your face on TV.
- Recycle when you can.
Although it can be fun to watch the kids rip off wrapping paper, it is a bit more sensible to package things in something they can actually re-use once they get the gift out of it.
- Save early and often.
It is never too early to save up for your children's future, but it can easily be too late.
- Enjoy the present (while they're little)
It is also a great idea to take advantage of the fact they're immobile while they still are, and make really cutesy things.
- Enjoy the present (even when you're tired)
When you feel "too tired" to play with or read to your children, remember that in 10 years, you won't have so many prime opportunities to enrich their lives. Good habits and behaviors start early! If you feel particularly burnt out, take a "mom is off" vacation.
- Stay at home if you can.
At some point you will realize that staying home with the kids was the best decision you ever made.
- Praise over punishment.
It's more important to praise than to punish. Even if you sound like a broken record, praise your child for every little thing they do right - from not pulling down all the books in a library to keeping their food on the plate (ok, that's too much to ask - how about on the table?).
- Be a kid again.
One of the best ways to enjoy your children is to enjoy your own (extended) childhood. Be a kid again, revel in their joy of seeing things for the first time, and open up that box you have been living in.
- Let kids make mistakes
While it is important to make sure your children are safe, being protective has big downfalls. Coddled children become closed-minded and naive adults, and they are much more likely to end up making bigger mistakes than they would have if they messed up (or went through something terrible) with supervision and consultation.
- Conversely, being too loose leaves too much opportunity for life-long and unsurmountable regrets. Set up very specific boundaries to protect what is really important - life, sanity, and for a time virginity - and be prepared to let those boundaries slide so long as they do it under your roof.
- Don't be overprotective.
If that isn't incentive enough to let your kids make their mistakes, at least realize how other people view over-protective parents.
- Keep yourself happy first.
Then again, no matter what you do, you can't please everyone all the time. Everyone has different ideas about good parenting - best you can do is please yourself.
- Explain things to your children.
Don't think of any topic as being "too complicated" or mature. The tough questions are the most important to answer (and honestly!), even if you only give a simplified synopsis. If they don't get it from you, their curiosity might lead them to other, perhaps less healthy, sources.
- Bad marriages are worse than bad divorces.
Never ever stay together for the kids. Even a bad divorce is better than a horrible example of a relationship.
- Kids are always watching.
Act like your kids are always watching, because they are. It is truly amazing what kids pick up on and really think.
- Include your kids.
If your kids truly are excluded from what you are doing (work, travel, etc), you can really make them feel special with creative ways to include your children.
- Remember their childhood.
Someday, your kids will ask about what they were like when they were still, you know, kids. Write love letters to them now so you don't kick yourself later.
- Don't worry about the dowry.
If you don't have the resources for a dowry, you can still pass on a bit of forgotten romantic customs with a memory string.
- Teach your geneology.
You should know your family history, and you should teach it to your children. Not only does it help them gain a sense of family and history, but it also sets the foundation for how they find good role models.
- Give them role models.
Oh yeah, and with currently living role models - aim high.
- Understand your body.
It's important to have your health first. Sorry to start off with this, but it's quite important - you don't have to have a lump to have breast cancer.
- You'll get through colick (but it isn't fun)
It can be downright impossible to deal with a colicky baby sometimes - lend a helping hand whenever you can. I know it's asking a lot to share someone else's headache, but even just one, peaceful, hot, not-cooked-by-mom meal can be invaluable.
- Laughter is the best medicine.
It's cliche but true. Take some time to laugh and you'll feel better. Have yourself some good news.
- Understand which immunizations are important.
You've heard about the link between autism and immunizations - now you can get the truth.
- Decide if you'll breastfeed.
To breastfeed or not to breas tfeed? Well, you should at least know the facts. General consensus: breast is best, unless you have an extreme case.
- Be functionally fashionable.
There are some things that just have to be handy all the time if you're a mom. How about a lovely necklace that doubles as a teething ring?
- Kick the colds.
You know that cold that just keeps going from family member to family member and never seems to go away? Try checking every possible source of "sticky germs," and don't forget the lip balm.
- Practice good dental care.
Sometimes, no matter what you do to prevent it, your little munchkin might not have the best set of teeth. Cavities can start very young, and even from something as seemingly innocent as an illness in infancy.
- Let them eat fruit (not cake).
You can't really do much for the picky eater. Worse come to worse, let them eat what they want and give them some fruit (apples, widely regarded as a superfood, are best) a couple hours later for "desert."
- Try a taste test.
Of course, you could cut out the manipulation and make it so they cannot possibly be difficult just for the heck of it.
- Get healthy snacks.
Be careful what fruit snacks you choose however, if you're not giving them the "real deal."
- Kids eat free!
There is also the option of going to a salad bar or all you can eat restaurant to save on money and get the biggest sampling. The best part - most of these places let your picky kid eat for free!
- Cut those coupons.
Not to mention now you have all the arsenal you need to plan ahead and really start saving big bucks on your grocery bill.
- A nurished human body is amazing.
Good and nutritious fuel for the body will cure and prevent just about anything, so long as you don't mix foods improperly.
- Diet impacts concentration.
A proper diet can even improve your children's behavior and grades.
- Get a good doctor
Sometimes it is better to be selfish once you finally find a good doctor.
- Protect yourself from toxins.
Everything that touches your skin gets into your bloodstream, which means most school uniforms should probably be recalled for all the toxic chemicals.
- Protect your clothes from toxins.
Avoid using toxic chemicals to wash your clothes too.
- Educate yourself against toxins.
Stay away from organophosphates (a.k.a. WWII nerve gas bombs, a.k.a. common household pesticide, a.k.a. animal growth hormone) at all costs!
- Laughter really is the best medicine.
Although, you probably would do better to worry about others from time to time. Leaving your door unlocked might not seem like a survival tactic, at first - but trust me on this one.
- Learn what the crying means.
It can take quite some time to figure out what all that crying really means, especially when they don't have any English ability whatsoever. Fortunately, someone has cracked the code.
- Help set goals early.
It doesn't take much guess work to figure out what they will be when they grow up. I say "security" for this girl. These signs show up early. Think creatively, and help them move toward something that will be fun and rewarding for them as adults.
- Find a preschool.
Need to find a good preschool? Here is one beautifully simplified way to find out anything you need to know.
- Find other resources.
Every mom needs a good web resource "first stop" for tips and clues about what is to come. There's actually two.
- Use a pizza cutter for breakfast.
Give up with the knife already and use a pizza cutter to simplify bite-size-duty.
- Remember phone numbers.
Those all-important but all-too-easily forgotten facts about where you live and who to call - make it into a jingle to make it memorable.
- Save time.
You don't have to go all "champagne and caviar" baking for school events. "Fake baking" not only saves time, but often works better.
- Little things make big impressions.
You don't have to work hard to impress a bunch of kids. Really, you don't - so long as you're creative.
- Enjoy quiet time.
Keeping just a few little ones quiet for just a little while can be achieved!
- Give fond memories
Some memories do more for their future than others. If you have your kids in the right environment, everything else will flow naturally from it.
- Break your usual routine.
Cut down your most time consuming activity away from your kids to a few hours, if not zero, for a few days. The difference will astound you. If you're obsessive about cleaning, just cut it down until mushrooms grow in your bathroom.
- Try new things.
Diversify your "input streams" for both you and your kids. It absolutely never hurts to broaden your horizons.
- Blog it.
Blogging is a great way to broaden your horizons too, as it forces you to stay up to date on whatever you're blogging about. Should you ever want to go that route, make sure you know where you're going before you take the first step.
- Balance your time.
If you already are blogging and struggling with that kids / blog balance, one excellent role model has put together a mighty fine blueprint.
- Help the babysitter.
If you ever have someone else watch your kids, you can make life a whole lot easier by keeping a journal.
- Learn saftey tricks.
You're at a restaurant - the little one is too little for a high chair, but the car seat is too big to fit safely. Solution: flip the high chair upside down.
- Feel some joy.
Don't be afraid to enjoy childhood with your kids and feel the same joy they do at every neat "new" thing. Just... try not to go overboard.
- Don't overwork your kids.
Your kids are not employees.
- Keep your kids working.
It is nevertheless handy to get them organized with chore charts.
- Figure out your budget
There are better ways to figure out your budget, if you're up for a bit of Web 2.0 tech.
- Keep your kids organized
Get organized so you can work smart, not hard.
- Take lots of pictures
Cherish the little moments, and get them in print. Look at them daily. They really do grow up far too quickly.
- Take lots of video.
Although, video can be much better, don't you agree?
- Enjoy some holidays at home.
Holiday celebrations don't have to be so stressful. It's not illegal to just stay home - you should try it sometime.
- Encourage creativity.
It never fails. You spend $300 in toys, and they play with the couch. This kind of creativity is a good thing! Encourage it with special furniture or a special room just for them.
- Be ready for LOTS of creativity.
Just be prepared for very, uhm, creative uses of things.
- Let them play like you.
Since it is fairly obvious kids like to play with what their parents use (i.e. "normal stuff," instead of purchased toys), it makes sense to build games out of re-used materials or using (*gasp*) a part of your house.
- Be ready for change.
Let go of your ideals, and listen for the signals your children are sending. Reality will smack you in the face sometime - better that it be sooner rather than later.
- Get reliable transportation.
"Minivan" doesn't always mean what you may think it does, and dealers don't always have all their nuts and bolts together. Make sure everything is in line before you sign the papers!
- Keep communication open.
For all the love that you have for your kids - don't forget why you had them in the first place. Keeping that "connection" in a relationship, although certainly not easy, is absolutely essential.
- Don't stress out.
Stop pulling your hair out over the kids, the weather, or whatever else is wrong with the world and kick back with a good book while your kids have at your pure genius rainy day survival kit.
- Teach them to tie.
Are you prepared to teach your kids how to tie their shoes? There is a wealth of information ready and waiting to make the whole process a ton easier.
- Clip more coupons.
You already know about the saving power of coupons - but who has the time to clip and save? Well, now you do.
- Reduce clutter.
Can't find that paper you were sure was right there on that one table? It's probably time to reduce your paper clutter.
- Keep them entertained.
It isn't hard to find ways to help the rambunctious ones stay actively entertained, yet effectively contained to one spot. Little projects are good too.
- Plan together.
Speaking of pulling your hair out, avoid double booking yourself by holding weekly "family councils."
- Have game night.
A weekly game night might be a good way to bond (and keep them adequately fixated to one spot) too. Although some may call it old fashioned. However, you don't really have to schedule it if you don't want to. Just about any rainy day should do just fine.
- Take time for thanks.
You should also make it a point to, at least once a year, sit down and write everything you find joyous and comforting. Stopping to smell the roses sometimes doesn't quite last long enough, but writing it down really makes it stick and help you appreciate what you have all the more.
- Travel with the kids.
You don't have to give up travel just because you have children! It's easier than you think to help your kids tag along on your travels.
- Travel safely.
However, it is generally a good idea to know what might kill you before hopping along to foreign destinations.
- Reap the benefits of travel.
Either way, family vacations have far more benefits than just getting away from it all for a while.
- Plan for change.
Kids really do not know their limits or abilities. The phrase "sounded like a good idea at the time" are very famous last words in parenting. Always expect a change in plans.
- Understand plans backfire.
You may think it's a genius way to get your kids to do something, but the best laid plans of mice and men... often don't pan out.
- Check the pockets.
Always, always, always, ALWAYS check every single pocket before you do laundry.
- Equal opportunity affection.
Kids really like attention, especially in large groups. Give attention equally and you will have a very peaceful experience!
- Control your reactions.
To a kid, reactions = attention. It doesn't matter whether you're yelling at them or shocked at what they did. Learn to control your reactions (the little ones too!) and you will teach your children to control their behavior.
- Show good habits.
Monkey see, monkey do. Your kids will mimic your every step, so if you make an effort to take care of yourself, your children will pick up the good habits.
- Positively reinforce.
Teach yourself how to talk to kids in a non-threatening manner. "No" is a bad word in my home. I just give the consequences, no matter how complicated, and that usually starts a productive conversation rather than a temper tantrum.
- Make no a game.
Making "no" into a game is an excellent way to skirt the issue with an amusing twist.
- Know when to say no.
Of course, how to say no is second only to knowing when to say no.
- Monitor the net.
Know what your children are doing on the Internet, and at the very least, monitor what they do and make an effort to educate them on what might not be so healthy. It's impossible to block everything negative, so take a "so, what cool stuff did you find online today?" approach over dinner.
- Educate them young.
While they're still really young and impressionable, it's a good idea to turn them on to much better educational websites.
- Teenagers are tough.
Talking to your teen can be a real challenge, but forgive them. It's not their fault - the teenage brain is going through some pretty drastic changes, so getting through to them truly is an art.
- Be ready for add-ons.
And at some point you're probably going to need an addition to your home. You may as well do it intelligently.
- Be ready to move.
However, if you opt to move, here's a neat trick for packing your plates to keep them in pristine condition.
- Pets are fun.
But remember, if your kids don't ruin it, the dog will.
- You'll have to let go.
Mom - you have got to let go sometime. I know I know, it is going to be really hard, but at some point you will have to accept that they are an adult and entitled to their own mind space, make their own decisions, and come crying to you when it all goes wrong again.
- Set boundaries on financial support.
If they ask for money once they are on their own, and you can afford it - give it to them - but with limits. Say something like, "I can't do this often" or "I can only do this for you a couple more times." Just knowing eventually they will have to be fully responsible is often enough to get them out of your purse. Don't forget to actually cut them off at some point though.
- You made it! (have some more babies or raise the grandkids?)
Congratulations - you did it! Now what? Oh, you didn't have any plans besides raising children? Quick - think of something before they're out of the nest so you don't have to meddle in their lives all the time!
The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time. ~Abe Lincoln
The Future is Now
How you choose to live your life will impact your children's. Your life is there future.
Health and Wellness
Make sure you always have your health. Being healthy is a decision that's made every single day. Pay attention to the little things, and help your children to learn just how important there health is.
Health is like munny, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it. ~Josh Billings
The little things in life can one day seem big. These small decisions can impact a lifetime, and it's best to be prepared for them.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
For The Sake of Sanity
Stress can be a killer. Take some time to reduce your stress, and understand the things that stress you out. Keep your sanity, and work on improving your patience - your kids are bound to continually test it!
There is more to life than increasing its speed.
~Mohandas K. Gandhi
They're Not Kids Anymore
It's a sad day when you realize you have to let go, but it can be empowering as well. If you did your best, you should have nothing to worry about, and be able to enjoy your golden years (then have them take care of you!)
"Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next five years, scold them. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like a friend. Your grown up children are your best friends." ~Chanakya