My son is turning one at the end of the month and I am full of many emotions. I can hardly believe that a year ago we welcomed our sweet little baby boy into our lives. I’m sad to say goodbye to the baby stage, but I’m also excited to move on to what’s next. In a year that has taught me lots of lessons, little and big, I am reflecting on the most important ones that I’ll carry with me.
- Every child is different. It’s so easy to compare your baby to others, especially when your little one isn’t doing the same things. At almost a year, my son is barely crawling and not even close to standing. I have learned to take a deep breath and try to remember that every baby and every child is different. My son will get there when he’s ready.
- Trust your instincts. There are tons of books, websites, and unsolicited advice on how you should raise your child. But as confusing as all of that can be, I’ve learned that no matter what, my husband and I know our son better than anyone else. Trust deep down that you know what’s right and wrong for your child.
- Embrace the help from family and friends. I have learned that no matter how much you want to be supermom, you sometimes need an extra helping hand. Sometimes it’s been hard for me to ask for help, but those extra cooked meals, babysitting hours, and reassuring words of wisdom have meant so much.
- There will be hard days, and it’s okay to make mistakes. Unfortunately, there will be some days that you will just want to curl up and go back to bed and never wake up. Sometimes babies can have bad days and I always worry that a mistake will have a lasting effect on his growth and development. With the help of family and friends along the way, I have learned that we all will make mistakes and that’s okay. As long as we’re all happy and healthy, then the small mistakes are okay.
- Keep multiple outfits in the diaper bag and an extra shirt for you. You never know when your baby will have a diaper blowout or throw up all over you! There have been days when we’ve gone through three outfits in a just a couple of hours. If you’re not close to home, it’s not fun to continue the day with a baby in just their diaper or with you in a soaking shirt. I have learned to always be prepared.
- Babies don’t need as much new stuff as you think. Since little ones outgrow everything so quickly, I have learned not to buy so much stuff at once. My son didn’t even wear half of the infant clothes we had! Take the time to decide what you really need and only buy those. Also, some items, like swings and bouncy seats, are only used for such short periods of time that they never see much wear and tear. Many times you can get these items gently used from friends or a consignment shop.
- Document moments. I think record-keeping is super important and I enjoy it as a hobby. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, and it can be as simple as writing down those funny things your baby did or when they took their first steps. I personally chose to take weekly pictures of my son, and I have learned that my husband and I cherish these the most. We look at them almost daily and compare how much he’s grown and changed by the week.
- Slow down. This is always hard with a busy life, but I have learned to slow down and enjoy the moments. We make sure to always spend time with extended family and friends, but will save some time to hang out as a family. My son will only go through these stages once, and I want to enjoy them to their fullest.
- It’s okay if you don’t get everything done in a day. I am a list maker and get great satisfaction from crossing things off! At the beginning of each week, I make a to-do list of things I need to get done. But sometimes I don’t get everything done that I would like to every day. Some days I don’t get anything done because after a full day of working, I have a baby who needs my attention. And that this is completely okay! Don’t feel bad if dinner isn’t ready when your husband comes home or if you still have three loads of laundry to do before you go to bed. It’s okay not to finish everything that you wanted in a day, because the most important thing is to spend time with your baby and be a good parent.
- Always make time for yourself. It’s easy to get wrapped up with your baby’s constant needs, but it’s important to make it a priority to make time just for you. Even if it’s a few minutes to wash your hair or to listen to your favorite song. Better yet, when you can, ask a family member or trusted friend to help out, and try to get away for an evening! It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby, but it sure does feel great to be able to take time for yourself. I have learned to schedule date nights with my husband and mom’s night out with friends. Once it’s scheduled and on the calendar, I’m more likely to go. It’s nice to have time away from my son and recharge.
This past year I have learned more about myself, my family, and the world around me than I ever thought possible. With the lessons of year one in my pocket, I’m feeling really ready for the next chapter. I can’t wait to see what year two will bring us!