We all know no two households are the same and no single parenting style is better than the other, but I see so many opinions and judgment within this new chapter of my life. I want to share a few parenting tips that have saved my husband and I from added stress, anger, jealousy and feelings of failure as new parents.
1. Avoid Comparison
As I mentioned above, there is not one of us who parent better than the other. I've been a new mom to twins for eight months now, and the best thing I have done is to NOT read hundreds of articles on how to parent and what your child should be doing at what age. Of course I skim and am aware on what to keep an eye on, but I'm not forcing anything on my twins. I do not compare them to anybody else -- especially other sets of twins.
I was in Target once and a woman approached me and started chatting with me, confessing that she always wanted twins. We talked about all the normal quick topics you usually have with a stranger. Yet, I felt like she was constantly trying to one-up me. Maybe it was me being subconsciously paranoid.
Here's how the conversation went:
One-upper Lady: "Oh, I always wanted twins, you are so lucky and they are so cute."
Me: "Thank you so much, we are definitely blessed and lucky to have easy-going babies -- so far."
One-upper Lady: "How old are they?"
Me: "A little over 6 months."
One-upper Lady: "Are they sitting on their own?"
Me: "A little, with some support behind them."
One-upper Lady: "Oh, my son was sitting and crawling by 6 months. We just practiced every morning and before bed with him. You should do that to get them moving along."
Me: "Oh, I'm not worried. They are all over the place and play and roll around all day. They will get the hang of it when they're ready."
One-upper Lady: (right into) "Well, are they saying 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' or anything?"
Me: "Nope, just lots of babble."
It went on a few more rounds because one thing I am not good at is cutting somebody off when they are speaking. I remember solid foods being brought up and everything else you can think of because it was about 30 minutes of back-and-forth comparison.
Like I said, it could have been the way I was interpreting it, but her tone and body language wasn't genuine to me.
Mentally, it has been awesome to not feel pressured and to not care what people think if my kids haven't hit the milestone of the month on time. Remember to try not to compare your parenting or your children's progress to anybody else's.
2. Don't Stop Doing What You Love, Adapt.
Of course I believe in making the best decisions for your children in pretty much every situation. My number one fear is thinking about safety. Whenever I do something with my kids I now think, What are the potential risks/safety issues -- what could go wrong?
I'm one that needs to think like that because I can be spontaneous and act without thinking. Subsequently, I don't enjoy the feeling of being held back and didn't want having twins impact my on-the-go lifestyle.
I did receive a piece of advice that stuck with me. A friend suggested to not stop doing what you love to do and bring your kids along.
So that's what we do. From the beginning, we bring the kids along to everything -- as long as it's not dangerous, of course. We have been taking them out to dinner with us since the beginning, we take them out for sleepovers on the weekend and we travel with them often. During the week we have a routine, but if something comes up, it's OK.
Maybe we got really lucky with easy-going babies or maybe our relaxed style is working for us and crafting adaptable kids.
3. Don't Stress
Energy. I'm such a firm believer that the energy you release -- especially around your kids -- can be absorbed. Kids will pick up your stressed out energy, so work to be calm around them. For me it helps to have a really calm husband because I am high-energy. It's not stressed energy, but the always-on-the-go, can't sit down kind of energy. We seldom fight and when we do, we honestly never yell at each other and we never disrespect each other with name-calling.
Besides, think about the times you feel stressed out. Do you really feel better acting stressed out in addition to feeling stressed out? I recommend finding something that soothes you so when you do feel stressed out and feel like yelling or fighting with your husband, you can take a time out with that glass of wine, cup of coffee, dance in the corner, light that candle -- whatever calms you.
4. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don't be afraid to ask for help. It sounds so simple, and yet I know some of you may feel like you have no choice. I live about 45 minutes away from family and friends, and my husband's career demands his attention during certain months, therefore I am home alone quite often.
I thought I would be OK because there are so many others who have more than twins and have survived. So I wasn't planning on asking for much help.
I'm fortunate to have such a great family and amazing friends -- they just showed up to help. After a few months, though, I decided to surrender and ask for help when I needed the help. Sometimes I just didn't want to change a freaking diaper.
Please, find support if you don't have it, make friends, go online and find groups, because we all need help and it's a great thing to be able to ask for help.
Yes, this is another "my two cents, parenting advice" article. I encourage you to be selective on all the theories you read. You do not need to follow my advice or any other advice you come across. In the end, you will discover what works for you. I hope that some of you find them useful and I welcome additional thoughts and comments below.
Originally posted on identitymagazine.net