How To Tackle After-School Meltdowns

As parents, we’re used to navigating a busy lifestyle.  Regardless of how well we think we’re doing, we can all agree that life keeps us busy.  If we stop and think about it, the lives of our children aren’t entirely different from our own.  Let’s take a quick look at the facts:

Kids work a day job.  They do their own paper-pushing and they answer to supervisors (their teachers and other school faculty).  They endure performance evaluations (tests).

Kids struggle with having no control.  Somebody else makes their schedule and tells them what to do (unless you’re self-employed, you probably know how that feels).  What’s more, kids must ask permission to take care of their own basic needs, such as getting a drink of water and going to the bathroom.  

Kids wrestle with social anxiety.  “What do my peers and my supervisors think of me?” 

Kids wish they had more time for fun.  There’s so much to do in a day and not a lot of time left over for things that they’d rather be doing.  Between school, chores, and their parents’ schedules, some days there might not be much to look forward to.  Even kindergarteners have more expected of them than we did when we were kids–nap time isn’t a thing anymore, their curriculum is a year or two ahead of ours, and recess isn’t mandatory!  

All things considered, it’s no wonder that children (and their parents) suffer from after-school meltdowns.  Adolescents are still developing the coping mechanisms that adults (well, some of them) already have. Let’s also not forget anatomy: when a child is young, his hippocampus–which is responsible for emotion–is more developed than the prefrontal cortex–which controls logical thought processes and decision-making.  

What can parents do to help?  Here are some fantastic ideas from seasoned parents:

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1. Help your child decompress.  When your child gets home from school, let your child know how happy you are to see her.  Set aside your to-do list and eat a snack together. Don’t make her do homework or chores right away–just let your child relax for fifteen minutes or so.

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2. Ask thoughtful questions about your child’s day.  You won’t get much of a response from questions like, “How was your day?”  Instead, you need to pay attention to what’s going on in your child’s life.  “What did your classmates think of your show-and-tell object?” “What special class did you go to today?  What did you do there?” If you ask enough of the right questions, you will begin to uncover how your child is feeling and he will get into the groove of telling you more about his day (which may not happen all at once, but randomly as you go about the evening together).  

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3. Be careful how you respond.  Don’t scold him for mistakes that his teacher has already corrected, lest he learn to keep secrets from you.  If his teacher asks you to address something personally, don’t forget to show empathy and communicate that you are not against him.  When it comes to performance, praise the effort he put into his work rather than the grade he received.

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4. Make adjustments.  If your child is struggling in school, it might be time to have a conversation with his teacher in order to move forward.  You might also consider doing small acts of kindness to remind your child that he is loved, such as enclosing a note or his favorite treat in his lunchbox.  

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5. Have a routine.  Nothing is worse than being blindsided by work when you thought it was time to relax!  If your child has homework and chores, try to keep your evenings as routine as possible so that your child knows what to expect.

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6. Give your child something to look forward to.  I don’t know about your kids, but when mine know that their grandmother is coming over to watch them so that Daddy and I can have a date night, they are more cooperative than usual.  You can keep it simple: “If you get your work done, you can watch TV after dinner.” Playing the long game helps, too: “Not only do you have TV to look forward to this evening, but on Saturday we’re going on a family date to the zoo!”  Again, even adults are motivated by weekend rewards.

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7. Consider your child’s health.  If they’re not getting enough sleep, they’re sick, or there have been big life changes in your family, your children might not have the capacity to carry out your normal routine.  In such cases, it’s best to simply focus on making your home a safe and comfortable place. Whether they need space or or they want cuddles, always remember to prioritize their physical and emotional health over work that needs to be done.  You can always write a note to his teacher explaining why homework wasn’t finished (assuming that the issue is short-term).

Remember, Parents–you are not alone when it comes to after-school meltdowns.  They are so, so common! Kindergarteners are especially susceptible to them, as they’re still getting used to a full day of school.  The fact that you’re even reading this article shows that you haven’t failed as a parent, because you care about the wellbeing of your child.  

Moms and Dads, what tips would you add to this list?  How do you personally tackle after-school meltdowns?

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5 Baby Products That Would Have Been Awesome for My First Baby

Happy Saturday, everyone!

If you’re an older child like me, you know how it feels to be the guinea pig.  We were the ones who endured our parents’ lack of experience.  For some of us, this meant we were sheltered from everything–no sugar, no screen time, no chewing on dad’s car keys.  Then Mom and Dad started having more kids and suddenly we were allowed to eat candy-coated cereal for breakfast, watch Saturday morning cartoons, and play in the mud.  With every child, our parents got a little more tired wiser.

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We also have to consider all of the latest research on raising children and how much advice has changed over time.  Two recent conversations come to mind: one was with my mom, and it was about how I barely remembered riding in a car seat, whereas my own children will have a booster seat until they’re at least 4’9.  The other conversation was with my pediatrician.  When I had my first child, the rule was to wait until his first birthday to introduce peanut butter.  Now the rule has changed and I can feed it to my 7-month-old (which I haven’t brought myself to do yet).  I wonder how much these guidelines will change in the next five to seven years.

When I think of the baby products on the market today, I must say that I’m relieved.  They’re so convenient!  In some ways I think I’ve grown wiser in my decision-making this time around (cue memories of a baby spa tub that went unused because we didn’t know it needed EIGHT “C” batteries).  But for the most part, I give credit to the marketplace because there are some really awesome products available right now.  What a time to have a baby!

Here are my five favorite baby products and where to find them:

 

1. Fisher-Price Sweet Snugapuppy Dreams Cradle ‘n Swing

 

This swing has been a huge life-saver.  You would think that baby #3 would be the easiest because, you know…been there, done that.  But in our case, our third child has been almost as difficult as our first.  (Yes, child #2 was our easiest, and we can try to avoid gender stereotypes all we want, but “she” caught on way faster than the other two.)  Even so, we’ve been blessed with the most patience this time around, and the Snugapuppy swing has been perhaps the single most helpful baby gadget we’ve purchased to date.  It rocks, it pivots, it plays music, and it has a mobile for baby to look at.  Baby doesn’t want to sleep?  Pop him in the swing.  He’s sick and needs to keep elevated?  The swing will give your tired arms a rest.  Much like our minivan, it was a purchase that I debated for longer than I needed to.  We use it sparingly now that baby is 7 months (and using a door bouncer) but it can hold up to 25 pounds so it’ll be a while before we store it away.

Available at Target for $119.99.

 

2. LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf

 

LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Breastfeeding Cover Ultra Soft Premium Jersey Polyester- 100% AZO free and Safe for Baby (Light Grey Pattern)

 

I don’t use these much anymore because it’s cold and I don’t often leave the house, but they were so useful to have when baby was a newborn and it was hot out.  If you’re having a late-spring or summer baby and you prefer to cover up while nursing, you need a couple of these scarves.  They are paper thin so baby doesn’t get hot, but they also give you the privacy you need.  Not only are they practical, but they’re cute, too!  They’re simple enough to pair with almost any outfit.  I wore a lot of nursing camis to stay cool, so these scarves came in handy for covering up if I was particularly engorged on that day (which happens a lot those first couple weeks!)

Available at Amazon in Blue & Grey for $9.99.

 

3. Baby Deedee Sleep Nest Wearable Blanket

Baby Deedee Sleep Nest Sleeping Sack, Warm Baby Sleeping Bag fits Newborns and Infants, Khaki, Large 18-36 Months

This puts all other sleep sacks to shame.  Once my baby could roll over, it was time to say goodbye to swaddling and hello to arm-less sleep sacks.  The transition was rough, but I wonder how different it could have been if only I’d discovered this sleep sack sooner.  It is ridiculously comfy–imagine turning a down comforter into a sleeping bag with a zipper on the front.  Might I add that the zipper glides up and down effortlessly?  It doesn’t snag at all.  Can you tell I’m obsessed?

Available at Target in Small, Medium & Large from $39.49 to $49.49.

 

4.  Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play

Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play

Three kids later, I’m convinced that no child enjoys tummy time…at least not at first.  I could be wrong, but it seems like it’s something that comes with repeated exposure and practice.  I didn’t bother much with tummy time with my first two, to be honest, and they turned out fine (my firstborn was a crawler) but I’ve spent more time on the floor with our youngest.  I’m just curious to see how much of a difference it makes!  I like this tummy time mat because it comes with a little pillow to prop up his chest.  He doesn’t use it anymore, but the pillow came in handy when he was still a weak little thing.  The mat has colorful ribbon tags, a mirror, and other dangly toys to keep baby interested.  Maybe we could have done without the luxury of this mat, but I feel like having another “fun” toy has helped me bond with baby.

Available at Target for $20.99.

 

5. Huggies OverNites Diapers

 

HUGGIES OverNites Diapers (Choose Size and Count)

 

Normally I would consider it a cop-out to throw diapers on a listicle, but these have been such a blessing that I had to share.  I swear my little guy pees larger amounts than his brother and sister did.  He’s also a diaper-blowout champion.  These diapers have worked for us better than any other brand.  I really like the quilted insides of Huggies–they really seem to hold everything in.  Sometimes I’m tempted to use OverNites during the day.  If only they were cheaper!

Available at Walmart, $24.27 for 92-ct. size 3.

 

Now that you know some of my favorite products, I want to hear yours!  Moms and Dads, what baby products make your job easier?

10 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions for Parents

Let’s face it: when it comes to parenting, none of us will achieve a perfect score.  Even so, every good parent tries their best (and they should) to grow for the sake of their children.  I’d wager to guess that from time to time you mull over a few tweaks you’d like to make to your own parenting strategies.  Now that the New Year is upon us and we’re in the mindset of making resolutions for 2019, here is an invitation to include parenting ideas in your planning.  Here are ten realistic resolutions to consider.

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1.   Be more present with your kids.  This is easier said than done.  Whether you stay at home with your kids or you commute to work, there’s always something on the to-do list.  As parents, we live in this tension of wanting to create happy memories for our children by spending quality time with them, but we are time-broke.  Again, it’s easy to say that housework can wait, but we feel the pressure when Monday morning comes and no one has clean underwear. Perfectionism will have us constantly re-calibrating our schedules to make it all fit somehow, but it never does.  This year, consider adopting some creative solutions to prioritizing quality time with your children: schedule one-on-one dates with each child, create an after-school space for your children to unwind and talk about their day over milk and cookies, or encourage your family to do chores together on a regular basis so that there is time in the evening to unwind over a movie or board game. (Note: training children to do chores is cumbersome at first, but it’s an investment that will pay off down the road.)

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2.  Cultivate passion.  If we pay attention, we will discover that each of our kids possesses a knack for something.  If your child loves to draw, give him the tools to exercise his craft, such as his own desk. If she loves to dance, enroll her in a class.  Maybe they will lose interest down the road, but one of the greatest gifts you can give them is the freedom to explore. (Note: don’t let them jump ship when the work gets tougher.  It’s one thing to lose interest and another to give up! It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference so we need to pay attention.)

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3.   Teach them life skills.  From cooking dinner to preparing taxes, there are a lot of skills our children will need to know someday that they won’t learn from school.  The earlier we begin teaching them, the better prepared they will be for adulthood. Consider setting aside some time every week to practice age-appropriate skills with them.  As they grow, they will feel empowered by these opportunities. Mopping a floor might be tedious for you, but to a child who has few skills it’s a means of feeling capable of achieving greater things.  

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4.   Have more adventures.  Rather than feeling tied down by your kids, invite them along for the ride.  Invest in some quality ear protection and take them to a concert or a monster truck rally.  Plan a cross-country road trip with plenty of pit stops at playgrounds (ones with potties, preferably!)  Don’t keep your parenting years in parentheses. Your next year-end memory book might be the best one yet!

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5.   Get active together.  When it’s nice out, go for family walks, play tennis and go camping.  In the wintertime, go sledding, teach them how to skate, or stay warm in the bowling alley.  There are so many ways to cultivate a love for exercise in children. With a little creativity and a lot of family time, staying fit can be fun! (Disclaimer: this is where I struggle the most right now, but I’ve seen other families do it successfully so I know it’s possible!)

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6.   Have a reading goal.  Personally, I believe that any child who says she doesn’t enjoy reading simply hasn’t found the right book yet!  Set a goal with your children for how many books you will read together in 2019. They will have so much fun picking out books with you and charting your progress that they won’t even realize how much they’re learning in the process.

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7.   Embrace the hard conversations.  Be prepared to talk about heavier subjects such as sex, death and faith.  Know where you stand in your opinions of these subjects. You might want to practice explaining yourself in front of the bathroom mirror, or maybe by writing in a journal or filming yourself on your phone.  Anticipate the kind of questions your children will ask and don’t be dismissive of them. Most importantly, never give your children the idea that it is wrong to ask questions. Many children have grown up angry, confused and apathetic because they were taught this.  

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8.   Get Organized. Whether it’s budgeting for a family vacation, creating a meal plan for healthier dinners, or getting rid of old and broken toys that are taking up space, now is a great time to get organized.  If we’re honest, 2019 isn’t going to be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start it off on the right foot!

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9.   Spend more time with your spouse.  Before you had kids, it was just you and your spouse.  It’s easy to get so swept up in responsibilities that the romance dies.  This year, schedule more dates together. Parenting often feels like a battleground and you want to have a unified front!  What’s more, the closer you two are, the more secure your kids will feel.

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10.   Make time for you!  I’m not talking about vegging out on the couch and scrolling through Facebook.  I’m talking about making time for hobbies that truly fill you up. It’s hard to lead on empty, and sometimes catching a late-night Netflix show doesn’t cut it.  Not only does your own well-being demand it, but your kids are watching you and learning about life balance from what you do. Do everyone a favor and remember to live your life this year.

 

Remember, parents–you’re only human.  You’re going to mess up in 2019. My recommendation?  Choose one resolution and stick to it.  No one expects you to be the perfect parent.  If you think someone else has figured out everything there is to know about this parenting thing, you’re not seeing the whole story.  Just promise me one thing: when the easier seasons come, and you see another parent struggling, don’t forget where you came from.

 

From my family to yours, have a Happy New Year!  May it be filled with babies for days!

How To Survive Bringing Your Kids to The Grocery Store

Mention taking kids to the grocery store and you’ll see every parent’s eye twitch.

We didn’t used to hate grocery shopping.  There was a time when we waddled our little pregnant bellies around the store, fawning over the little jars of baby food and stocking up on diaper supplies.  Once in a while we’d see a toddler having a meltdown in the candy aisle while a parent pretended not to notice, and we whispered to our partners, “Our kids will never act like that.”

And this is where every seasoned parents laughs until she cries.

When it comes to having young kids, the grocery store visit is a ticking time bomb.  It doesn’t matter how well-behaved your children are–there will always be that one day they didn’t take their nap or you got held up at the pediatrician’s office and lunch time is fast approaching but you don’t have any food left in the house.  Life happens!

If you are tired of fighting with your kids at the grocery store and enduring menacing stares from single people or older folks who have been out of the trenches for a while, here are some helpful tips from parents who get it.

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Technique #1: Avoid bringing your kids at all costs.

This will feel like a cop-out at first, but trust us veterans–you will NOT get a medal for taking your kids to the store!  If you’ve been struggling with your kids, first ask yourself if it’s worth it to bring them, if it’s doing your family any good.  Here are some alternatives:

  1. Have a family member or sitter watch your kids at home, and enjoy some well-deserved solo time.
  2. Bring only one child.  Being outnumbered is exhausting!  You’ll get precious one-on-one time this way, too.
  3. Order groceries online for pickup or delivery.  A lot of stores offer these services for free or with an affordable fee.  What a time to be alive!
  4. Find a grocery store that offers free onsite childcare (yes, they exist!)

 

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Technique #2: Do everything in your power to set yourselves up for success.

If you cannot avoid bringing your kids with you (I see you, single parents!) don’t despair just yet–there’s actually a lot you can do to make things go smoothly.  Here are the dangers you want to avoid and how to do so:

  1. Hunger and Thirst.  Don’t head out too close to mealtimes (you will NOT hear the end of it!)  Bring snacks and small bottles of water (I’m talking 8 oz bottles–any more than that and you’ll have other problems) or juice to give the kids one less reason to complain.  Bring yourself something as well.  You’ve been on the go all day and probably haven’t eaten much.  I’m right, aren’t I?
  2. Missing nap time.  You don’t want to head out too close to nap or bedtime, either.  Sleepy kids are harder to deal with, especially once they get that second wind.  We call it “dark energy” at our house.
  3. Potty Accidents.  Before you even grab that shopping cart, take the kids to the family restroom (or go before you leave the house if you want to avoid the public restroom scenario altogether).  Otherwise you’re going to hear, “I need to go to the bathroom!” Fifty times.  Or worse, you’ll have to clean up an embarrassed child in the middle of the store (sorry about those diaper blowouts, new moms–not much I can do for you there).  These potty visits are annoying, so just get them out of the way before you have to worry about a store attendant swiping your cart or your frozen items thawing.
  4. Boredom.  This is the biggest reason why kids act out in the store.  They pull things off the shelves, pick fights with their siblings, run away from the cart like you’re just a pawn in this game called LIFE…So try to keep your visit as brief as possible!  Make yourself a shopping list ahead of time–not only will you avoid going over-budget, but you’ll keep the cart rolling.  Once that cart stops, it’s like stepping on a land mine!

 

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Technique #3: Make grocery shopping a game.

If you have a huge grocery list, you’re gonna have to keep your kids distracted.  There’s no way around it.  Parents, I know you’re tired.  I’m tired, too.  I could walk around that whole store and not say a word to anybody.  I would take my time pondering what flavor ice cream to pick out for a late-night Netflix binge as though it were the most important decision I was going to make all week…but the kids aren’t going to let me because shopping is BORING.  They want something to do RIGHT NOW.

Fear not–here is what all the other parents are doing to stop the madness:

  1. Picture Scavenger Hunts.  Kids love to imitate their parents.  Consider bringing a scavenger hunt (with pictures) to keep them busy.  Stick with basic items like bananas and milk if your child is in preschool.  For older children, consider making it a little more challenging.  If they find everything on the list, perhaps let them pick out a treat (you might want to discuss ahead of time what kind of treats they are allowed to choose from).
  2. Make it a learning experience.  There are so many opportunities to educate your kids in the grocery store.  Practice pronouncing words with your toddler.  Help your preschooler identify the difference between healthy food and junk food.  Have your first grader read the shopping list to you.  If your children have their own money, you might consider bringing it along so that they can purchase something for themselves, such as a candy bar or small toy.  In our house, we pay the kids commissions for doing chores.  We put this money in mason jars labeled with their names, and when they’ve collected a decent amount we bring the jars into the store with us.  My oldest kids are 6 and 5, so they still have trouble remembering how much coins are worth, but we still practicing counting their money and they get to ring themselves out at self-checkout.  It’s an empowering exercise that I would encourage other parents to give a try.
  3. Put your kids to work.  Most kids are fascinated by produce scales and will greatly enjoy helping you weigh your vegetables.  Ask kids to grab items off the shelves for you.  Have them load up the belt at the register (but mind the eggs!)  They will enjoy having something to do.  Kids love having the power to make choices as well.  Ask for their advice (and take it!) as you shop: “Do you think we should buy chocolate or vanilla ice cream this week?  Should we get apples or bananas this time?”
  4. Let them have the tablet or Smartphone.  If we’re honest, a little screen time isn’t going to kill them.  If it gets you in and out of the store faster, then it’s worth it.

 

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A Few More Tips to Consider

  1. If you have a toddler, try to avoid registers that have candy within reach (some stores offer snack-free aisles).
  2. Invite a friend along for the ride.  You can divide and conquer your list (and the kids, if they aren’t getting along).  Offer to buy her a coffee as thanks.
  3. Establish rules (ex. stay within arm’s length of the cart) and enforce them. It isn’t fun to discipline kids in public but consistency is imperative!  Otherwise they’ll come to understand that the grocery store is one place where they can take advantage of you.
  4. Treat yo’self!  Parenting is hard work and sometimes we just need a little something to look forward to at the end of the day.  I’m not saying throw out your diet or your budget, but you have my permission (for what it’s worth) to get a little something just for you.

While I can’t guarantee that little Johnny won’t destroy a toilet paper tower when you turn your back, I still believe these tips will nevertheless make grocery adventures much easier for you.  If it happens, I’m not judging your parenting skills.  The bottom line here is that kids will be kids.  Embrace it!  And to the parents of the special needs child, to the parents of the foster kids, to the parents struggling to balance work and home life, to the parents who weren’t parented well and are still trying to figure things out, and to the parents who have bad days like anyone else…

I see you.

 

 

 

5 Truths I Wish I’d Known Before Child #1 Was Born

Before we became parents, we had certain expectations for what life would be like after our first child was born.  Many of those expectations came from movies and TV shows (whether or not we’d like to admit it) while others came from looking through the windows of other families and seeing what it’s been like for them.  If you are reading this because you are expecting your first child soon, then congratulations!  I am excited for you to join the ranks of parenthood and embark on the next chapter of your life story.  It’s going to be quite a ride!  To better prepare you for this adventure, here are five truths that most of us veterans wish we’d known before baby #1 came around.

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Truth #1: Your delivery won’t be like your mom’s — or anyone else’s for that matter.

Every woman’s body is different. Some women labor for days, while others seem to deliver in just a few hours.  There are so many factors to consider, such as genetics, age, fitness, health, position and size of your baby, and pain tolerance.  Just because your mother needed to be induced, that doesn’t mean you’ll need to be as well.  Your best bet is to create a birthing plan and practice techniques such as breathing, massaging and stretching, while keeping in mind that you might end up ditching your plan altogether (which is OK!) during delivery.  Unfortunately, you can’t predict much.

Something else to keep in mind: No one looks like a celebrity after giving birth, so  embrace the mess.  Even your baby will look gross before she gets cleaned up.  Hollywood tends to skip the whole placenta removal process (spoiler alert: they practically punch you in the stomach to get that thing out) so don’t get blindsided by that experience either.

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Truth #2: Your body will go through a lot in the next 6 to 8 weeks after delivery.

First-time parents are understandably nervous about delivery.  Rest assured, there is definitely relief when the baby’s finally out, but if you don’t know what to expect you might be a little traumatized by the things that happen to your body afterwards.

First of all, there is a lot of blood.  The nurse will help you use the restroom (if you have an epidural, you’ll wait for that to wear off before trying to stand up) and she’ll need to sort of measure how much blood is coming out of you.  You’ll wash up as best as you can and then wear postpartum diapers for a while.  Blood clots are normal during the first week and you might pass some that are as large as golf balls (anything bigger you’ll want to tell the nurse about ASAP).  The blood will lighten up over the next 6 to 8 WEEKS.  Thank God for maternity leave, right?

Your hormones will fluctuate like crazy and you might find yourself crying over little things.  “Baby blues” are normal, but your doctor will monitor you for signs of postpartum depression at your follow-up visit.  If you find that you are feeling hopeless, overwhelmed or constantly sad, let your doctor know and don’t hide these feelings from your loved ones.  Motherhood is tough and there is no shame in needing help.  You are valuable.

Your tummy will look deflated for a while.  Breastfeeding will help contract your uterus, which will almost return to normal by your postpartum visit, but these contractions can be as painful as labor (over-the-counter medications help).  Your bottom might be sore if you needed stitches after delivery or you have hemorrhoids.  I personally never experienced a c-section, but I hear those stitches can make breastfeeding a bit tricky (but there are techniques to accommodate this).

All things considered, don’t refuse any pain relief your hospital offers you.  Talk to your provider if you have any concerns about medication and breastfeeding.  This might seem like an overwhelming time but you will get through it.

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Truth #3: The urge to shake your baby is real.

No parent wants to admit that they’ve gotten this angry at their baby, but sleepless nights and incessant crying can bring out the worst in a person.  These feelings are completely normal, and so it’s best if you make a plan ahead of time for when you’re exhausted, emotional and not thinking clearly, because shaking your baby is dangerous.  Some things to keep in mind: do not touch your baby when you are angry.  Walk out of the room and let your baby cry for a little bit while you calm down.  If you have a partner, ask for help (assuming your partner isn’t angry as well).  Remind yourself that your baby is uncomfortable and has no other way of communicating his needs.  Perhaps looking at a photograph of your baby when he is content will help as well before you step back into the room.  Nap as often as possible during the day so that you are better able to handle your baby’s nighttime episodes, even if it means calling a friend to come over and help with the laundry or babysit for a while.

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Truth #4: Breastfeeding is hard.

Studies suggest that breastfeeding offers the most benefits for your baby.  Your mom breastfed, your grandmother breastfed, your great-grandmother breastfed…basically, you come from a long line of nursing mothers, and so there was no question in your mind that you would follow suit.  It comes naturally, right?

Unfortunately, no.  Although it seems like all there is to nursing is to pop the baby on and let her do her thing, there’s actually a lot that can go wrong.  The baby might not understand latching right away.  Your nipples might crack and bleed.  You can become engorged (mastitis is no walk in the park).  Medications can dry up your milk.  The list goes on and on.

But don’t be scared of nursing.  Just be sure to make time for reading quality literature on the subject ahead of time and take advantage of the hospital’s on-site lactation consultant (or call for one if you have a home birth).  There is no shame in getting help — more moms struggle with nursing than you think.

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Truth #5: You’ll mean everything to your baby.

He’s going to sleep a lot those first few weeks, but once his eyes develop a little bit more and his little body stays awake for longer periods of time, he’s going to start looking at you as though you’re the best thing that ever happened to him (and you are!).  You have permission to get lost in those big eyes instead of doing the dishes.  You might have gone through nine months of discomfort and your body might still be sore from delivery, and someday he’s going to grow up and fall in love with another woman, but for now he’s all YOURS.

This is a bond that is going to change everything you ever thought you knew about life.  Let the tears fall.  You’re going to make mistakes and he’s going to learn how to forgive you for them (when they’re small, their grace is huge).  You will always be his mother.  Embrace this messy, head-over-heels life, hold your baby tight and take the future one step at a time.

You’ve got this, Mama.