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.
Mechele has worked in the field of early childhood and education for more than 25 years. She owned and operated two successful preschools for 16 years in the Silicon Valley, where she trained teachers in best practices and the Reggio Emilia philosophy of northern Italy. In addition, Mechele worked for the San Francisco Unified School District for nine years as a resource teacher, working closely with children with autism and children with learning differences. She has also designed and implemented afterschool arts programs for school-age children and served as a children’s program director for the YWCA in Memphis, Tenn., and in Palo Alto. Mechele is a graduate of Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in child development/education.
EMAIL: MecheleP@jfcs.org PHONE: 415-359-2443 (San Francisco)
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What an awesome article! Whether you planned it or not, you've got a handful when you bring that baby home. I'm pretty sure that every first-time parent feels overwhelmed in a huge way. There are just so many things to do to care for a baby (or triplets) that people are bound to sacrifice whatever they have to.
But the article does a fantastic job of reframing the experience, because there is nothing like the feeling of being there for a child's first, for being bathed in the adoring, fresh gaze of a child, or to be able to comfort a crying child until he or she is ready to laugh again. These moments, while fleeting, are the life-changing ones that make life worthwhile.
My favorite tip - don't sacrifice sleep just to clean the house!! It's just not worth it if you want to remember anything!! :)
Your webinar on positive discipline looks great - I'm going to check it out.