New mothers have to rely on on-the-job training and expert advice--and the best advice comes from other mothers who have been through it all.
A group of mothers, with children from 5 to 19, were asked by Esther Davidowitz in the current issue of Redbook for the single piece of advice they would give a new mother. Here are some of their answers.
Don't worry so much. Worrying about a child's health, diet, sleeping, etc., wastes time and energy and won't make your child any healthier.
Find other mothers to talk to. It's a relief to learn yours isn't the only baby who cries for a solid hour every afternoon.
Scale down your goals and expectations. Don't try to do everything. As Jackie Rummel, mother of two children, said, "I no longer cook meals that take more than 30 minutes. I haven't baked breads, pies or cakes in six years. And I don't let a messy kitchen or an untidy utility room bother me. As a result, my family and I are much happier."
Don't compare your baby to anyone else's. Every child is unique. "Look at it this way," advised Carol Christian, mother of three. "If your child is still in diapers when he gets married, it'll be his wife's problem."
Give yourself a break. Every once in a while get someone to watch your baby and take time out for yourself.
Involve your husband early on. Mary Quigley, mother of two boys, says it is nonsense not to trust your husband with the baby, adding, "If you're not there to hover over your husband when he's caring for the baby, he'll develop confidence in doing it on his own."
Keep a journal of your child's progress. You really do forget baby's milestones unless you write them down.
Set limits. Break your child of the "buy me" syndrome by making simple toys for him--a caterpillar made by stringing empty rolls of toilet paper or drums made of empty oatmeal boxes.
Remember you're in charge. Children want their parents to be in charge--it makes them feel more secure.
Never do chores while your child is asleep that you can do while he's awake. Save nap time for yourself.
Teach your children good habits at an early age. It's a lot harder to change bad habits when kids are older than to establish good ones when they are young.
Get help. Enlist the aid of a relative or hire a babysitter when things get too tough. Otherwise, you may take your resentment out on your child.
Remember children go through phases and things such as temper tantrums are just a developmental stage, not a permanent personality trait.
Plan for the future. Kids grow up fast and it is never too soon to start saving for college.
Be a good role model. Decide what kind of person you want your child to grow up to be and behave accordingly.
Give yourself credit. Raising children is an enormous responsibility and you should stop occasionally to remind yourself you are doing a good job.