What advice would you most like to pass on to expectant parents?

“The advice I would want to pass on to someone entering parenthood is to not take every situation as a personal defeat. A baby will sometimes cry for reasons that are unknown or for no reason. All babies are different. Just because one baby got her first tooth at five months doesn’t mean your’s will. It’s not the end of the world. Don’t take it so personal.”

“Before the baby comes, do two things. First, spend time in a nursery or with a friend’s baby so you know what to expect. Second, have your spouse take a few days off work if he’s able and spend the time together – i.e., sharing a bath or going for walks. For a few days, shut out the rest of the world. You won’t be able to do it again for a long time. Also, it might be a good idea for your parents or in-law’s to stay with you for the first two post-partum weeks.”

“Expect your life to be turned upside down – but also expect to have all the wonders of childhood re-opened for you; and to feel a greater love than ever before. Those little ones love you unconditionally and it fills your heart!”

“Try to look at the big picture, not just your present circumstances. That’s hard at 3:00 in the morning when your child is screaming. But the thing that keeps me going is knowing that `This too shall pass’.”

“Don’t believe everything you hear, even if they claim to be experts, because if you do you’ll drive yourself crazy. Go with the flow!”

“Enjoy every minute! If the dusting or laundry don’t get done one day – so what. Your child only rolls over for the first time once. They are only infants once and need you now more than they ever will again. Don’t let the years go by and then wonder where they went.”

“It is usually very easy for both father and mother to give their best to their children. I encourage parents to save some energy for one another. One practical way to do that is to have a consistent time together each week – a `date’ night. Use this time to talk and listen. Work to empathize with one another’s roles.

This kind of understanding will keep your marriage strong through the inevitable stressful periods of parenting.”

“Be patient, loving and relaxed. Together you’ll make it.”

“Take time out for yourself before the baby comes. Save your money. Look for and develop friendships with other new parents to trade babysitting hours or just to talk to. Develop a support system. Babies are beautiful and they grow fast so learn to enjoy the little things. Try to develop a routine when the baby comes and don’t feel guilty if you have a need to be away from him/her for awhile. Most of all – remember that your baby depends on you for everything. Don’t let him down.”

“Be open minded. It’s like nothing you have ever experienced and it’s impossible to anticipate how you will feel until it actually happens.”

“Make sure you want to be a parent, there’s no turning back. But above all, have fun with your kids.”

“You get back what you give to parenting. Educate yourself on pre-natal care, lamaze, child development and discipline. Your knowledge and love will work together to make parenting one of the most personally rewarding experiences in life.”

“Since we just entered this week ourselves, I can’t give much advice, but that all the difficulties now will only be a memory in a few weeks and the joys will be renewed on a daily basis.”

“Don’t sweat the little stuff or try to be the perfect parent. Sit back and enjoy it, one day at a time. Love your baby and all else will follow.”

“Enjoy and appreciate each new phase of development as much as possible. A child passes through it all too quickly, and it’s never recaptured quite the same.”

“Do many things before you have kids. I find I’m not resentful like many parents because we waited a long time to have kids.”

“Rest while you can. Sleep in every available moment and at the end of the day. Count your blessings (kids….same thing!).

“Just take it as it comes, love yourself and your baby and trust your instincts.”

“Do it. The little daily rewards are few, but if you can look beyond changing diapers, laundry, keeping the kids clean, etc., it’s worth it!”

“Don’t do it without a lot of forethought and without a consuming love for and commitment to your mate.”

“Be flexible and grow. Be good to yourself, accept the mistakes of yourself and your children. Have fun and rediscover the child within you.”

“Exercise when you’re pregnant. Spend all the time you can with your little one – for they grow up so fast. Enjoy every new thing that they do. Give them lots of love and lots of your time. Help them to have a good self-concept. Stay home with your baby for at least 6 months, if at all possible.”

“Be aware of how you impact your children. When they do something you don’t like chances are they are imitating a behavior of your that you’re not aware of. Take time with your child.”

“Most of all, be flexible & loving. Don’t ever say, `My children will never do (be like) that’, because that’ll be the first thing they do.”

“Parenthood is absolutely wonderful, but it’s a great deal of work. Realize your life well never be the same. It won’t be worse; it’ll just be different. Also don’t overly romanticize parenthood. there’s nothing glamorous about dirty diapers!”

“Read as much as you can to get prepared, but also know that you’ll never be fully prepared. The books and magazines are nice, for a reference, but real situations take good old fashioned instinct!”

“That each family is unique and try very hard to resist the urge to compare themselves to others. It really doesn’t matter how they compare. It only matters if they are happy and feel that love lives in their home.”

“Enjoy and learn from each day’s events. You can not go back – just forward. Love them and learn from them. Kids are a special gift we give to ourselves.”

“Try breast feeding. Other than that, nothing. Parents get too much unsolicited advice and I get tired of well-meaning friends who think their way is the only way.”

“Hang on. There’s no way to be fully prepared.”

“Get to know parents of other children the same age (from birthing classes or whatever), so you can socialize together – meeting at each other’s houses or parks – just to get out! Also, it is a good way to exchange information and ideas on bringing up the children.”

“Be sure! There is no refund if you find you don’t like it or it cramps your style.”

“Parenting is a very rewarding experience but I feel it is only an extension of the relationship that is between a husband and wife. Don’t feel like your life is incompletewithout children.”

“Realize that raising children is a career (especially for the mother!!) and that the more you invest in your kids while they are growing up (i.e. – love and attention) the better the pay-off when they are grown.”

“Have/take time as a married couple before children. Once pregnant, try to prepare yourself for the demands a child will make on your time and energy (emotional and physical). Sometimes demands are overwhelming so take some time to be yourself.”

“Be happy. Give your child the best growing up memories possible. If you had unpleasant memories in your own childhood, get rid of them, don’t pass them down to your child. Remember, children are mirrors – Set good examples and you’ll get good results. Also, give your child a clean chance (clean air). If you smoke (or must),
do it away from the child, at least a 1,000 miles away.”

“Keep a sense of humor and don’t be rigid.”

“Try to remember what it’s like being a child, and give your child a break once in awhile, (i.e., don’t try to make them perfect, or you’ll be let down).”

“Not everyone should be a parent. Don’t do it automatically or for any other reason than that you really want to have a child. The world is seriously over populated partly because a lot of people are having children automatically rather than by choice.”

“Unless there are medical reasons complicating matters, don’t give a thought to when they walk, talk or potty train. Enjoy them, laugh with them, talk to them like real people. Let them explore, get dirty and develop their ideas on the world around them. Love them unconditionally. I see so many younger mothers caught up in toilet training etc., and taking the fun out of the experience and the discovery the child is making about himself. My older children (22 & 17) have given me a lot of input on how they felt growing up so I’ve had an `edge’ with my 4 and 1 year old’s. My son said that no one has asked him in years & years how old he was when he walked, talked or potty trained! So in the long run, no one really cares and kids grow up very normally and happy. I would also encourage `older’ mothers to share what they have learned over the years. The physical energy sometimes isn’t all there, but my spirit is more willing than when I was 20.”

“Try to relax. Although raising baby is the most important job of our lives, we try to remember that our parents goofed up now and then too. Babies forgive a lot.”

“Cherish each day with your baby. Don’t take your anger out on an innocent baby.”

“Be open. Don’t restrict any ideas you may have on being a parent. Those restrictions only frustrate and pass on unnecessary expectations to the child.”

“Listen to all advice you hear and read, but then follow your own informed conscience when in doubt.”

“Throw the books away and to by your gut instinct. Don’t listen to contradictory advice, but your own heart and mind.”

“Since not all parents can plan a baby, just approach parenthood with an open mind, patience and lots of hugs and kisses.”

“Be prepared for anything and everything, don’t expect your child to fit book descriptions of some `ideal’ child you have in mind.”

“The baby is now the boss. Listen to his/her cues and attend to them when he/she needs it – not at your convenience.”

“You are the only parents your child has, therefore if you use common sense and do the best that you can for them, they will love you as much as you love them.”

“Hang in there. If you can just survive the first month or so, life takes on a emblance of normalcy again. The baby will sleep through the night eventually, and will spend large portions of the day not crying. And as soon as the baby gives you that first huge, bright smile, it’s all worth it.”