10 things I would have done differently as a new mother: Writer’s Workshop

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Baby fever is in the air. Describe what you would do differently as a first time mom.

Since I am the mother of four beautiful, talented, intelligent children, that makes me an expert, right?? Sad to say, I wasn’t always this smart. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way, as well as some potential pitfalls to avoid.

me and Abby, circa 1995. Thank goodness I learned how to pluck my eyebrows. 
1. Ditch the career, or at least side-track it. When Abby was small, I was all about ‘using my education’, etc. Now, not so much. I love my job, but now, it’s an ends to a mean. It pays my bills, and keeps us in health insurance.

2. Breastfeeding is natural, but not always easy. You need everyone you can get in your corner. Brett was surprised by the fact that I read all I could about breastfeeding while I was pregnant with Rachel, and then again with the boys. I credit him with keeping me going with nursing our children, when I wanted to throw in the towel. I’ve learned that you CAN go back to work, and have a successful nursing relationship with your babies.  You may end up nursing a toddler, or in my case, twin toddlers!

3. Not all babies love swings. Seriously. Abby wore 2 swings out — they were the old crank up style, and Rachel would have sat in a swing until her butt was numb. The boys? Hated them. Pregnant mothers – borrow a friend’s swing before you buy one for your baby to be.

 Modeling a Gap dress I bought at the consignment shop, before she was born!

4. Used equipment/clothing is just fine. With Abby, I don’t think I discovered the joy of consignment shops and Ebay until she was at least a year old. (of course, I was blessed with a mother in law who worked in retail, so that may have played a part!) Scour Craigslist, children’s consignment sales, Ebay, CheapCycle, and yard sales for things you need. Ask around with friends and family. Chances are, you’ll find someone willing to loan you a crib, swing, highchair or more. (Be sure and check for recalls)

5. Most babies don’t sleep well. It’s a fact. You’re not going to be able to lie a 3 week old baby down, and expect them to sleep all night long. If you do, you’re going to be in for some miserable nights. None of my children have ever been ‘good sleepers’ — all have required rocking, walking, or nursing to sleep, and sometimes a combination of all three. Patience, prayer and understanding goes a long way, as well as the mantra, “This won’t last forever”. 

6. Surround yourself with support. I’ve spoken before about how important my friends have been to me, with raising the Kennedy Kaboodle. I didn’t have that circle of support when Abby was a baby. My friends know that I give it to them straight — they know when I’m having a bad day, or a good one, all in the tone of my voice. My children will have lifelong friends as well, thanks to these wonderful women.

 I’m pregnant with the boys here, but I don’t think I knew it yet!

7. Stay true to your faith. I’m a firm believer in taking your baby and small children to church. I know there are many who disagree with me, but here’s the bottom line: How am I supposed to feel comfortable with a church if children aren’t welcome, and encouraged?

Rachel’s Baptism, October 2006

8.Involve your husband. Without his help, you wouldn’t be a mother. Involve him from day one — changing diapers, rocking the baby, packing/unloading the diaper bag. And, don’t worry. If you go off to work, and he dresses the children in something you consider crazy, the world will NOT end, and it’s not worth fighting over. He might even let the baby in the bed with the dog. I don’t make it a secret that my husband is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, and my children. Bar none — I can’t do it without him.

9. Hire a housekeeper. Seriously. I know people consider it expensive, but it’s worth it to me to know that I’m going to have at least 4 hours out of the month when my house will be clean and presentable. There’s no way I can possibly keep up with my children, work, the house, laundry, blogging, homeschooling, etc. Something has to give.

10. Raising children is hard work. And you don’t get paid for it! You may have your daughter tell you she hates you, the younger one tell you she likes her daddy better, and have the twins vomit on you -all in the same day. I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest imagination, but I’m still trying to figure this all out. I know that despite all of the stress and drama, I wouldn’t change this for anything. We may even add another baby to the mix. You just never know!

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