Some regard parenthood as the ultimate “sacrifice” in life because it requires us to put another life before ourselves.
It’s no secret that the initial sleepless nights with a new baby are difficult. And sometimes this sleep deprivation can go on for months, or even years! It doesn’t make matters any better to think about how easy it must be for friends who do not have children. With some amount of envy, I remember contemplating my care-free, single friends who were living the good life while I was home nesting in an endless, sleepless state, wondering if I would survive.
In most cases, parenthood is a selfless act. We nurture, feed, educate, and celebrate the life of our children and endure many trying times and embarrassments. Like when your toddler has a meltdown in our favorite neighborhood café, with darting looks from others that say, “Can’t you do something about your kid?”
Parenting can seem so unfair when things are challenging. But when your child takes their first step, utters their first word, and reaches so many other milestones, the pain, suffering, and sacrifice disappear in exchange for moments of pure joy.
Each milestone exhausts us, but also makes both child and parent more resilient in a symbiotic kind of way. Our children’s happiness becomes ours and their pain and disappointment is also felt, as if it was our very own.
Here are 12 tips to help you navigate those first years of parenthood.
- When your child is a newborn, don’t trade sleep for a clean house. One is restorative, the other is not.
- Remember that moms and dads do things differently from each other and that we all want to succeed. Agree on the big things, let the little things go.
- Barter for a date night with another family every week.
- Follow your child’s lead and watch and listen. They will teach you who they are.
- Read to your child every day.
- Eat dinner together.
- Remember that a small child is a complete person with all of the emotions that adults have.
- Try to allow for differences. Your child may be your opposite, but we learn more from people who are different from us than from those who are similar to us.
- Keep a good friend close by.
- Support single parents and their children, invite them for dinner.
- Get parenting support from experts who can help you prevent small issues from growing into big problems. Contact us at Parents Place!
- Children are the future. Treat every child as if they were your own and help make the world a better place.
Mechele Pruitt, BA, is the Director of Parents Place in San Francisco.