Labor of Love: Parenting Tips from Veterans

. July 3, 2020.
Stock photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.
Stock photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.

After months of preparing for our new baby girl, my husband and I thought parenthood would come easily. I had studied everything from the scientific benefits of early peanut exposure to the environmental impact of disposable diapers. However, when we brought our little angel home from the hospital, we set her down gently in her pillow-free bassinet, wiped her face with a pre-warmed wipe, and looked at each other with absolute panic: “this is not a drill.” 

We have compiled advice from the community to help young parents as they embark on the greatest journey of their lives. 

Take the time to heal

Britney Longarzo. Image courtesy of Tilly and Tuck Photography

Britney Longarzo. Image courtesy of Tilly and Tuck Photography

“As a mom of 3, I learned that the most important thing is that healing your postpartum body is just as important as caring for your new baby. Laundry can wait, cleaning can wait…but you won’t get those first few weeks alone with your baby ever again.” 

-Britney Longarzo, Ann Arbor, mother of 3

Accept help

Theresa Frasca. Image courtesy of Tony Frasca

Theresa Frasca. Image courtesy of Tony Frasca

“Say ‘yes’ to help when it’s offered! Having a little extra time to focus on yourself and your baby is worth gold, especially during those blurry-eyed early weeks and months. Let your friends and family drop off meals or visit to hold the baby so you can shower or nap.” 

-Theresa Frasca, Ann Arbor, mother of 3

Have reasonable expectations

Betsy Nelson. Image courtesy of Kristin Mann

Betsy Nelson. Image courtesy of Kristin Mann

“In those early days, don’t make a monster to-do list with the hopes of crossing every item off your list. Make two separate lists. One is a daily to-do list that has three must-do items. The other list has weekly projects. Some days, your daily list is going to look something like this: 1. shower. 2. Drink a hot coffee. 3. Feed baby. And that would be ok.” 

-Betsy Nelson, Ann Arbor, mother of 4

Set structure but be flexible

Zaina AbuSeir. Image courtesy of Nasuh Malas

Zaina AbuSeir. Image courtesy of Nasuh Malas

Having structure at a young age is important but traveling and unpredictable circumstances can easily throw things off. Develop a routine, not an itinerary. For example, a sleep routine works best when it is associated with a bath and a story rather than a fixed time in the day.”

-Zaina AbuSeir, Ypsilanti, mother of 3

Cherish every moment

Celeste Kanpurwala. Image courtesy of Christy Malene, Open Box Photography

Celeste Kanpurwala. Image courtesy of Christy Malene, Open Box Photography

“Time goes by so fast. Don’t spend your time wishing that your children were a little older or able to do more things. Yes, the baby days were long and hard, but I reminisce on them fondly. Be silly, be inventive, be curious, be fun, but most of all — just be there for them. They will remember this special time that they had with their parents.” 

-Celeste Kanpurwala, Ann Arbor, mother of 2

Encourage always

Kevin McDonald. Image courtesy of Wei Han

Kevin McDonald. Image courtesy of Wei Han

“We learned to say, ‘I love to watch you play’ after our children’s hockey games regardless of whether they win or lose.” 

-Kevin McDonald, Ann Arbor, father of 2

Don’t always react

Katie Jackel. Image courtesy of Sidney Jackel

Katie Jackel. Image courtesy of Sidney Jackel

“As children get to an age when they start to act defiant, try not to react to everything they do or say. Sometimes it’s better to be quiet and observe rather than to react, especially in anger. Our job as a parent is to love and nurture, to teach and guide, and beyond that, some things are not within our control.” 

-Katie Jackel, Ann Arbor, mother of 6.

Don’t expect to be perfect.  All new parents are amateurs, but to your new baby, you are absolutely perfect.