Do I have a piece of advice for new parents? Heck no! I am flying by the seat of my pants, making things up as I go along, convincing myself I am doing it the right way until I find out I am doing things completely wrong. I haven’t subscribed to a parenting magazine and I don’t listen to parenting podcasts. Maybe I should do one of those things. I know I would learn something, but then there is always the time.
Do I have the time? No. Sometimes. I don’t know. I probably do have the time, but remembering every little thing I am supposed to do during that time–when she is sleeping or at preschool–is very, very difficult. Many of the tasks seem overwhelming or too time-consuming, like if I take time to peruse through a parenting magazine for an hour and London simultaneously takes a short nap, all I can say about my day is that I read a parenting magazine. Forgive me, but I want more out of my precious free time. By now I have probably given you the impression that I have no interest in learning about parenting or becoming a better parent. That is just not the case.
What got me on this topic of advice was a question a friend asked me months ago. It was not a blanket appeal for advice for new parents. The question was broader than that. What have I found to be helpful? What was a waste? What would I do differently? It was a multi-parter, but without the requirement of answering each part. I have got a simple answer for one part.
What have I found to be helpful?
Write a few words about every day you have with your child. When you are in the thick of it, you can think to yourself, I have no time or energy for this. This is often true. It’s okay if you get a few days behind and have to write an entry for a few days back. But there is another excuse, I’ll never forget this. Oh, how wrong you are. There is so much happening each and every day that there is no way to remember each and every day. Your kid can say something hilarious one moment and then the next you are rushing to get out the door and by the time you get back home you know that something great happened that morning but you can’t recall what it was that happened.
So, my advice, if you want to call it that, is to buy a one line a day journal that covers five years. I have written about these journals before. I just bought this one for my baby boy…arriving any day now. Name suggestions anyone?
For the days of firsts, you will likely have photos and videos of crawling, walking, talking, and maybe even sitting on the pot. But if you don’t write it down, you will forget your kid’s reaction to his first popsicle, the name of a friend made at music class, or that day your kid takes a glorious three-hour nap (September 10, 2016).
Do not fret if you don’t write something every day. I do write something every day, but it took me a while to get into that habit. There are too many blank days in London’s first year and a half of this journal, but better to get into this habit later than never. Now, I am on a streak of 2+ years and her journal has become one of the most-prized possessions in my entire house.
If the house goes down in flames, I am getting my family out and then going back for this journal and, if I have the time, a backup of the hard drive on this computer (photos!). Everything else can be replaced.
But do not forget the journal. Even the sharpest of minds cannot bottle up all the precious days of infancy and toddlerhood.