By Cheryl Petran
My daughter Daniela turned 15 in April, and with that I’ll be celebrating 15 years with the Pump Station! Over the years, I’ve interacted with literally hundreds of credentialed parenting experts and thousands upon thousands of expecting and new parents. I’ve heard EVERYTHING – so I thought it might be fun to share 15 tips I’ve learned over the past 15 years!
- Build Your Village – surround yourself with people who make you laugh, let you cry, let you vent – more importantly let you be you. As your little ones grows, you’ll find which members of your village will step in and lend a hand when needed. Keep them close.
- Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Moms – “Aspire to Inspire” – I read this on the walls of Soul Cycle many years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. I don’t have to be an inspiration to her all the time. If I simply aspire to inspire her, I will probably be successful. I’m good with that. Parenting is hard; all I can do is my best.
- Don’t take all your advice from self-proclaimed parenting experts or influencers. Don’t get me wrong – we all love our favorite influencers, but understanding the difference between evidence-based information and suggestions or advice from one parent’s experiences no matter how many followers they have, will save you time, money, and more importantly your sanity.
- Speaking of time, it’s finite and it goes fast, so don’t spend all of yours scouring the internet for parenting advice and information. Ask the professionals! That’s actually how I learned about The Pump Station. I walked into my OBGYN’s office and told her how overwhelmed I was with all the parenting advice that was out there. She said “Stop reading! Go to The Pump Station!” I did and never left.
- Sing to, for, and with your little one! No matter how much you may not love your voice, your baby DOES and wants to hear it!
- There is no such thing as a perfect child or a perfect parent. We are all works in progress, be kind to yourself. Stay in the moment. Parent for the day/week that you are in. Some parents want to avoid dealing with something later, so they don’t utilize something when it is appropriate and needed. No need to worry about “bad habits” ie… a pacifier, a lovey, a snoo, a swing, etc.
- No two babies are ever the same, even identical twins. There is not ONE right way. Seek advice. Take classes with your partner to prepare for birth, breastfeeding, early parenting and CPR. A helpful and prepared partner is incredibly valuable (and sexy!). Observe others. Observe and listen to your baby’s cues so you can get to know them better. Respond and be attentive. Your baby is your teacher.
- Your intention is the most important key to successful breastfeeding. Perseverance combined with education and support is another key to successful breastfeeding. Know how to get a good milk supply and how to keep it. Breastfeeding is learned. It is not normal to experience terrible pain when breastfeeding. Seek help early; most things can improved/fixed with appropriate help.
- Savor this time with your little ones! Yes, they can be feisty and challenging, but they will grow up, they will become smarter, they will form their own opinions and beliefs, and they will express them. Let them. It’s right around that time you’ll realize how easy they were as tantrum throwing toddlers.
- When they’re little, have fun picking out their clothes and cleaning out their closet. There will be a day when they won’t let you do that – not without some serious criticism!
- You will not spoil your baby if you pick them up when they cry. You can’t spoil a young baby (Jill Stamm PhD). Attachment is important to develop normal mental health and full potential…and it is simple–Babies require the consistent responsive care of at least one person. (Dr. Allan N. Schore). We need to believe in the language value of a baby’s cry (Dr Willian Sears). Young babies are communicating, but incapable of manipulating.
- There are a lot of things you need to consider when/if you choose to sleep train your child. How does your partner feel about this? Do you have long term breastfeeding goals? Are you just doing it because others are? When is the right time to start? Should you let your baby “cry-it-out”. Talk to an expert, explore your options, and make a decision that feels right for you and your family.
- Taking a parenting class or seeing a therapist does not mean you’re a bad parent. It’s just an admission that you don’t know everything and are willing to be open to learning and evolving as a person and a parent. Know where your helpers are before you give birth.
- Time Flies! Make time for the little things. Too tired to go to the park or zoo or even for a walk? Read a book, play a game, cuddle with your child, make a puzzle, make a mess! Make memories.
- But also, and most importantly – make “Me-Time” a priority. I know, easier said than done, but whether you like to exercise, read, meditate, shop or just binge watch something on Netflix – always find time for yourself. It’s non- negotiable! And, if you’re concerned about what to do with your child/children during that time – circle back to Tip #1 – ask someone from your village for help, more times than not, someone in your circle would love to soak up some time with your little one!
Cheryl Petran is CEO/Owner of The Pump Station & Nurtury™.