20 Lessons from our First 20 Months

Well, I blinked and our little one is 20 months old. People always said that time flies when you have a kid, and man, they weren’t kidding. I’m amazed at how much a person can learn, both me and our little guy. And as I’m reading through them again now, its interesting to see how much applies to life in general, not just life with a kid. So let’s dive in and see a few of the things that I’ve learned…

  1. It’s important to pay attention to all the little things – Everyone focuses on the milestones; when they started to walk, what their first food was, first words. What I’m missing now are the little things, and without paying attention to them, I may never have noticed I was missing them. Things like what it felt like for him to fall asleep in my arms, or what it was that made him laugh. When he’s grown, I won’t remember how old he was when he first rolled over, but I will relish in the memory of how he smelled right after a bath, or even after a good breastmilk poop. 
  1. The dishes can wait – and the laundry, and the floors and everything else. The time when he was little enough that I held him almost all the time was fleeting. I don’t think I was fully recovered from our birth before he was rolling over and wanting to be more independent. I’m glad that I didn’t stress so much about getting the chores done right away, because now that he’s on his own all the time now, I don’t remember once that I had a full sink or an overflowing laundry basket. I do remember rocking in the chair for hours with a tiny baby in my arms who was mine. I don’t get that anymore, so I’m glad I soaked it in while I could.
  1. I can love him more every day – the first moment I laid eyes on him, I didn’t think it was possible to love anyone anymore. And then I woke up the next day, and I did. And then the next day and the next day. I find it overwhelming how much I love him. And then he smiles or runs to hug me, and I love him even more. How is it possible???
  1. And I love my man even more too – I remember thinking that I was the luckiest woman in the world. I had a supportive partner, who makes me smile, who shares my values so deeply, who encourages me every step of the way. And now I get to see a whole new part of him, and I love him even more. He is the most amazing father and I’m falling more deeply for him too as every day goes by. How is it possible???
  1. Your parents love you way more then you could fathom – you have no idea how much your parents really love you until you can grasp how much love is possible. I apologize now for all the stress I put my parents through. I should have called you all those times. Sorry.
  1. Waking up early is awesome – I’ve started waking up before Gabe, and it completely changes how my day goes. Instead of feeling disorganized, I have things in order. Instead of feeling guilty about scrolling through social media instead of playing with my kid, I find I’m tired of it and moving on to more productive things before I even finish my tea. I feel ready to take on the day instead of playing catch up the whole time.
  1. Breastfeeding is not easy at first, but it’s worth it – There are so many health risks that go along with formula feeding, I knew that breastfeeding was the way we were going. I have tons of training, so part of me assumed that we wouldn’t struggle as much as others. But even with all the extra knowledge and experience, we still needed to have a bit of guidance to get off on the right foot. And now, I am so grateful that I have such an easy way to feed, comfort, connect and put him to sleep. I don’t need to stress about water or bottles or packing extra supplies.
  1. Lazy parenting is where it’s at – I like to think of myself as a minimalist of sorts. I like having few things, I’m loving our small house and I enjoy sharing experiences with those I love. I’ve also discovered that minimalist parenting is my jam. Letting Gabe explore and discover on his own, giving him space while giving me room to still be myself. It gives him the best chance to learn and means I can also get things done. Win-win.
  1. You don’t need much – my best advice is to wait until you know you need something to get it. You’ll be amazed by how little you and your babe need. You don’t need to pump. You don’t need a crib. You don’t need a baby monitor. At least not right away. Give yourself a chance to figure out what is necessary before you spend money or bring more clutter into your home. You can also work with your friends to develop a hand-me-down train. Kids don’t wear out their clothes, so most people have boxes full of stuff that they’re looking to find a new home for. Be that home!
  1. Take all the support – but ask for help with things like cooking, cleaning and laundry. Especially in the first few months, the best thing you and your partner can be doing is bonding with and getting to know your new baby. Sometimes the best meaning people offer to take your baby so you can get things off your to-do list but learn to be comfortable asking for help with your to-do list, not your baby.
  1. Your body is frickin amazing – have you paid attention to the fact that you grew a person? From scratch? And then your body grew so you could protect and feed that baby for 3/4 of a year? And then you birthed that baby. And recovered from that. And now you can feed that baby (don’t get me started on how incredible breastmilk is). And hormones do crazy things so you know how to respond to and love that baby. It boggles my mind! You are AMAZING!
  1. Sometimes you don’t immediately love your baby, and that’s ok – this was a hard one for me to learn. It took me some time to process that the baby is my arms, was the baby I birthed. I loved him because I knew he was mine, but it took a bit of time for me to grasp that I was a parent and that he was truly mine. It’s hard to describe, but if you’re feeling this way too, just know that it’s ok. If you feel like you need help, reach out, but if you didn’t get ‘that feeling’ right away, know that it doesn’t make you a horrible parent.
  1. Your happiness is important – this was another hard one to learn. Taking the time to focus on your wellbeing is caring for your child. They see how you treat yourself and they feed off of your energy. They learn what’s important by watching you, so make sure the priorities and the values you’re showing them are what you want them to learn. You want them to be happy, so you too must be happy.
  1. Try to get outside when you can, because you won’t always be able to – take those nice days when you can get them because you’re not going to want to take your little out when the wind is taking their breath away, or when it’s so cold it hurts your face. Embrace the weather when you can. Dress warmly on cold days, put on splash suits on wet days, head to the shore on hot days, find shade on sunny days. Get outside as much as you possibly can.
  1. Research, advice and guidelines change – it’s hard to know the best decisions for your baby. It’s important to do your research, ask questions and pay attention to the recommendations. It’s also important to listen to your gut. You need to be comfortable and confident in the decisions you make.
  1. Travelling makes a good traveller – It’s not always easy when your baby isn’t an easy traveller, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. Give them the chance to learn to travel, and they may grow to love it.
  1. Use the resources available in your community – family resource centres, public health, breastfeeding support groups, lactation consultants, doulas. There are so many people out there who genuinely want to help you and your family as much as they possibly can. Make their day; call them. Go to groups and meetings. Take advantage of the family nutrition supplement and free snacks at events. Take your kids out to see other kids. 
  1. Love should be the guiding force in your decision making – base all your decisions on love and you won’t be disappointed in the outcome. You will do the best things for your family if you focus on how to best love your child.
  1. It is amazing to see how fast they learn – it will blow your mind to watch those wheels turn in their little heads. You can see them noticing new things, connecting concepts and objects, leaning about relationships. And then the world opens up to them. Pay attention to what and how they learn and you will be blown away by what you may have overlooked.
  1. You are not alone – our villages look a bit different from how they used to, but I guarantee you still have a village. Sometimes people are far away, or you don’t talk often, but they still love and support you. People will come running if you need help, you just need to give them the opportunity. Also, no matter what you’re going through, someone else has been in similar shoes. Find those people and lean on their experience. You are not alone in this journey.

I hope that my experience helps you all to see the small wonders in your child’s day to day. Even if you don’t have children, many of these lessons I’ve learned still apply. Enjoy the small things, get outside, reach out for support, your body is amazing, you don’t need much, travel more, some things are hard and that’s ok, and love, love and more love!

 

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