5 Lessons ALL New Moms & Dads Learn the hard way

No matter how much warning, preparation and natural instinct new parents have, nothing prepares them for parenthood quite like their own child.  NOTHING! Below are my top five of twenty, hard lessons learned, so far, as a new parent.

Lesson 1: SLEEP

  1. You are not EVER EVER EVER going to sleep well again. EVER, for the rest of your life, (Bonus Lesson 1.1 Set your expectations low, so you will find sweet solace once in a while)
  2. During the first few months, if you sleep more than 3 hours solid you should buy a lottery ticket, because you are the luckiest person alive that day.  And I mean THAT day, because it will not happen again, any time soon.   
  3. Don't even think you are going to get a "good night sleep," during the first few months either.  You are just going to get some sleep, at some point, for an undetermined amount of time. Your baby will wake up after going to sleep just for shits and giggles (It will give you the shits, he will giggle) at any hour he feels, as many times as he wants.  
  4. Months 3-6 you may sleep more than 3 hours at this point, but it will never be during a set routine time. You are welcome to give the Cry-it-Out method a shot, but unless you have the heart of serial killer, and the ears of a deaf mute, it's probably going to tear you apart inside to hear your baby screaming, so, for the time being, just learn to love the sleep where you can get it. 
  5. The cry-it-out method is from hell.  You are to put your baby into his crib and leave to let him cry himself to sleep. Normally, this lasts for ten or more minutes, three or more nights in a row, before he learns to self soothe himself to sleep. You will insist you will never try this.  Until you lose your mind from the crazy sleep cycle, break down and give it a go.  Depending on your pain-threshold, you may not be successful at sticking it out the first hundred times.  Seek support. This method is highly recommended, so at some point you will most likely face this road from hell.
  6. If at any point you let your sweet bundle of joy into your bed with you for consecutive days, you are screwed.  Your sweet bundle will become a bed hogging bastard.  Yes, I mean bastard, because your partner will cease to exist in your bed, you will find him on the couch getting the only good night sleep in the house. 
The Silver Lining: While you will not ever get a good nights sleep again, you will get good at not sleeping!  If you do not have a coffee addiction yet, you will soon.  No, there is no Coffee IV Drip available on the market yet, but some genius parent is out there working on the invention now.  Welcome to the Sleepless Parenthood Club.

Lesson 2:  Learning to deal with the Three P's: Poop, Pee & Puke

Either get used to being covered in the three P's for the first 8-10 months of your baby's life, or invest in a full HAZMAT suit. (HAZardous-MATerials)

Your beautiful baby will become a spewing fountain of bodily fluids the minute the baby pops out.  There are no options here. None.  Get used to it, or get used to it. From day one, you, the nurse and the doctor will get hosed with some spray of something, most likely pee, but black tar shooting from your baby's butt is not unheard of either.

You are going to be elbow deep in the three P's for at least the first 3 months.  If you get a baby who loves to spit up, or God forbid, has acid reflux, go ahead and buy the HAZMAT suit so you are not constantly soaking in, and reeking of, puke.

Babies also like to use the Three P's as a sort of hazing ritual. So if you think your baby is hosing you on a regular basis to "mess" with you, you are probably right. Oh, and if you have a boy, point that fire hose down!  There is no diaper available with a fire wall that can withstand his side-ways and up spray.

Silver Lining: Feel free to leave the house in a shirt covered in spit-up.  All Parents  do it, that's right dads. you too.  Some draw the line at 5 stains, others draw the line at 10 stains. You be the judge.  Tip: Buy tops with lots of crazy colors, think paisley patterns, they hide the stains well.

Lesson 3: Post Pregnancy Weight Loss (Dads this should be noted too. Your lady needs time to return to being, your lady.)

*If you are, or have, 2 or more of the following, skip this lesson because you are special. (Everyone else read, SUCK!)  1. Filthy rich 2. Have a home gym 3. Personal Trainer 4.Nutritionist 5. Personal Chef 6. Have won the genetics lottery

If you are still reading then that means you are the completely normal.  Welcome to the ugly reality of postpartum weight loss.  It took you 10 months to transform  your body into a baby growing machine, so it is probably going to take, AT LEAST, 10 months to transform it back into something resembling what you started with before baby.  And I say 'resemble,' loosely.

There are a lot of variables that you are working with, including your larger feet, rounder booty and of course the sexy "pregnancy pooch" you are tucking into your  maternity pants. Yes, we all rock our maternity pants well after delivery... and I mean WELL after delivery.

Give yourself a break.  Loosing your baby weight is a PROCESS not and EVENT! Give yourself and body, at a minimum, six-weeks to three-months to just relax and unwind from being a baby making. At some point after that go for a walk and eat a sensible meal, then the next day go for a longer walk, eat a sensible meal and cut out a bad snack habit. 

Silver Lining: Use this opportunity as a ground floor way to create healthy habits for you and your family.  Diets and crazy workout routines are for losers, they never win the body and lifestyle they want.  Seriously, diets and crazy workout routines end, make a healthy way of living last.

LESSON 4: Over buying for baby

Even if you are royally wealthy, you will never be able to buy all of the stuff available on the market for your baby.  I mean it, you may not run out of money trying, but you will run out of space. Between the clothes, docking stations, cribs, change tables, baths, toys, books, and other assorted crap, you will go crazy trying to pick out just the right thing, and then when you finally get home with 'just the right thing,' your baby will grow out of it the next day, or worse have nothing to do with it.  So what's the solution you ask...

Simple... GRACIOUSLY ACCEPT EVERYTHING AND BUY VERY LITTLE! That's it.  That's the answer to the hard lesson.  The first year your baby is a growing machine, find someone with a child a few months older and graciously accept everything, and buy only the necessities.  Baby furniture is a huge waste of money too, buy big kid furniture, your baby won;t know the difference, but your bank account will when you do not buy two sets of furniture for your child in three years.

Silver Lining:  All parents buy too much stuff.  You are not the only fool who over spent.

LESSON 5: A mobile baby is like a bull in a china shop

This may be the most painful lesson to learn, for both you and baby. For  most the first lesson in baby becoming mobile is the spill off the couch or bed.  It happens to 99% of us.  The day comes when your baby is no longer where you left her when you come back into the room.  Once both of you have dried your tears, the first part of the lesson has been learned, baby must be watched at all times, and start baby proofing your ass off!

The minute your baby starts to crawl nothing is safe or off limits anymore.  Nothing, not the electrical cords or outlets, your shoes, the dog and cat, the corners of the table, cups, chairs, I mean nothing in your house that the baby can reach.  It's a whole world of hurt for you and baby. the more you can pick up and pad the easier this stage is for everyone. Still, this lesson is the hardest because there is nothing you can do to fully protect your baby from bumps, bruises and tears.

Silver Lining: Your baby starts off slow and low.  You have time to  baby proof, literally from the ground floor up. Plus, mobility means your baby is one step closer to being useful!  For example, it's just a matter of time before he can go get you things, take out the garbage, mow the lawn...

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Two confused parents=One amused baby Hopelessly we are trying raise a baby who is clearly smarter than both of us. April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com