Once you have a kid you realize every random person you meet on the street has an idea about how you should raise your new baby. My husband’s favorite was people who would say, “That baby isn’t happy,” or “Your baby is crying,” when our daughter was crying. “Really?” he’d ask stone-faced and then work hard to squash his desire to punch the interloper in the face.
You also realize how much bad parenting advice there is out there: Have you tried local honey? A woman at the farmer’s market asked me in regards to my infant’s cough. Honey, lemme tell you something about honey: it shouldn’t be given to a child until they are one year old or you might have an allergic reaction. She’ll sleep through the night better if you give her cereal in her milk. No, but she might just develop celiac disease, thanks. And half my Southern family tried to get me to rub down the 4-month-old’s gums with bourbon when she started teething. No thanks, but I’ll be happy to slug down some myself.
Whether it’s good or bad, parenting advice is as susceptible to trends as blue jeans. Some years it’s skinny (cry it out!); some years flares (don’t ever let them cry!); but most of the time you are okay if you just wear straight-leg 501s (sometimes babies cry).
Reading through one of my mother-in-law’s baby books, I found a chart detailing how much orange juice to give an infant each day. Yes, OJ for infants. Try finding a pediatrician to back that today. Might as well offer the baby a Snickers bar.
In just two short years—the amount of time between my two kids—so much of what I did for the first baby was proved wrong. When we started feeding her solids, I limited it to one new food a week, waiting till she was a year old to give her citrus, eggs, nuts—all per doctor’s orders. Each food was pureed down to a paste, which I carefully spooned to her eager mouth. By baby #2, the advice was to let her eat whatever she wants, except for honey, and don’t puree it. If she can bring it to her mouth, she can probably figure out a way to chew it and get it down. Seriously?
Sleep, potty training, even sunscreen—I worked so hard to get all the “right” info so I could do it correctly with my first kid, and then, there I was two years later with parenting advice that was so outdated it was like wearing last season’s jeans. I might as well have just given my new baby the two teaspoons of OJ the 1956 chart suggested.
So when it comes to parenting and jeans, I’m here to tell you this: trust your instincts. Today’s stone wash is yesterday’s two-tone. Stay open to change, but stick to what you know to be true: boyfriend jeans are always comfortable (babies love to be held) and blinged-out pockets are always bad (don’t give the infant a Snickers bar).
There’s the National Lampoon’s version that is essentially the nightmare trip that only gets worse, or on a lesser scale, your parents only embarrass you half of the time in public, your whole family gets caught in some storm and has to sleep in an airport terminal overnight and/or the airline only loses your luggage versus the rest of the family’s. (Happened to you, too?) And you’d definitely need to recover from that kind of vacation you wish you never took.
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum when you have such an amazing time on your family vacation, so incredible, in fact, it’s like those commercials that feature that ridiculously happy family exploring amazing, faraway places — that you would usually totally dismiss as fiction and think, “yeah, right!” like it was an impossibility. I just came back from two weeks of the latter and I’m now a believer.
My teenage, ungrateful, rebellious self could not allow such a moment, rarely looking forward to or enjoying that thing called a “family vacation,” unless one of my friends were in tow. My husband can relate: “I didn’t want a vacation with my family when I was kid, I wanted a vacation from my family.
I’m admitting to this now and asking for my parents’ forgiveness for all the times my teenage (and preteen) self ruined ours with endless complaining, scowling faces in photographs, and overall poor behavior. All of you kids (and adults) who have this same tendency to ruin family vacations, please don’t do it!
Again, Mom and Dad, so sorry for all those times. I totally get how important that time is now that I’m a parent. I’m so thrilled at the prospect of spending 24/7 with my daughter and husband, eagerly counting the days to the family vacation, how sh*tty would it be for my kid to act like a jerk during it? I’d be crushed.
I’m not going to brag to you about all the details of our recent family trip overseas to see even more family (100 plus at a reunion), because this lovely beach you see is just a small glimpse into what was an especially dream vacation care of my generous parents (thanks to all of you friends and family who made those discounted rates and cool adventures possible!). And you’ll just hate me if I shared more photos of glorious tropical sunsets as you look out the window at snow, rain, etc.
But to be honest, even if you took away ziplining over the China Sea (no toddler in tow, then!), the fancy meals someone else paid for, the whirlpool bathtub, private Shetland horse ride, etc. Take that all away, and I’d still be saying I had an amazing time, because the best part of the whole trip was because of that one thing: family.
Underwater Auntie-Niece Bonding
Credit: Felix Perez
Because it’s not every day you get to spend two weeks straight with people you love — immediate family and extended family and family friends included! (I believe it had been almost 15 years since my sisters, parents and I had gone on a family vacation before this trip.)
Much of our weeks are usually filled with loads of dirty dishes and laundry, stressful hours at work or in traffic, paying bills or pretending they don’t exist, trying to get our kids to sleepor to wake up for something, and people who don’t give a damn about you, along with those random strangers who go out of their way to help you.
Am I geeking out on family and clinging to my family vacation nirvana because now I’m a mother? Maybe. Is it because I’m older and realize how these moments can’t be taken for granted? Most likely. Or is it because I was so touched seeing the joy my daughter and niece brought to my parents’ faces when they all played together on the beach/in the hotel room/at the airport/at meals/in the mall while my sisters and I were in the distance. Hell, yeah.
So, yes, I’m suffering from the worst family vacation hangover. And there’s only one cure for it: plan the next one.
For more travel-related posts, click on an image below.
I was raised in a home where raising our voices (aka screaming at each other) was the norm, but not in an abusive way! It’s how we communicated. Still do. (We all have selective hearing.)
For those who come from less vocal homes (aka, my husband and my sister’s husband, anyone not in our immediate family, actually), our volume level could probably rattle you, but for us, it’s normal. We do love each other a lot, and even when we do express such a sentiment, we say it loudly. As my dad says, “I’m not screaming, this is the way I talk.” (File that one under “Sh*t My Dad Says.” )
So I’ve been doing my best to not pass this on to my toddler, but it appears she’s fitting right in with us. Because especially when you’re the youngest kid at preschool, it seems you have to scream to be heard, in her book. But as an adult speaking to a child, whether a parent or not, when is it okay to raise your voice?
My husband isn’t dramatic and is fairly quiet, cool and calm. This carries over to how he talks to our daughter. He rarely raises his voice to her or anyone, except if she is putting herself in danger. Sounds reasonable, right? But it’s pretty tough to keep your cool about just the big things when you’re sleep deprived, trying to multitask, etc. And I’m referring to my kid here.
So I’ve employed the counting technique to help the both of us chill out versus resorting to a time out. We hold hands and just count to 20 when we’re losing it or about to.
When do you think it is okay to raise your voice?
And what cool-down techniques do you have when someone big or small raises theirs?
I’d love to hear from you. And you might want to participate in these conversations as well.
You know, the ones spotted with yesterday’s dinner, or baby’s spit up, or what you thought were semi-permanent markers . . . or much worse.
Here’s our Rocking Parent Tip for what to do with that stained clothing that, if you’re creative, can make them even better!
1. Pin it! Whether it’s the classic punk-rock safety-pin treatment or buttons as we’ve done here, it’s easy to cover up a stain or rips by just covering them or folding fabric over them and pinning! Notice we also cut the bottom of the dress for extra edge.
2. Fringe it! If you have stains at the bottom of a shirt or dress, just cut up the bottom for a little ’70s flair.
3. Patch it up! You can get some iron-on patches and cut out a fun shape to cover the spot, or sew on a felt image. Like our warrior-inspired touch?
4. Tie-dye it! And here’s the ’60s treatment that will add a new psychedelic dimension to your wardrobe.
5. Draw over it! Have someone artistic in your family or circle of friends, give that clothing to them to give it new life.
For more of our DIYs, check our Pinterest board or browse our Rocking Parent Tips.
We don’t need the New York Times to tell us that not growing up has its benefits.
#NeverGrowUp #RBwisdom @brooklynkids
Just spend a couple hours with a baby or toddler — doesn’t even have to be yours — and see the world through their eyes, and, trust me, they’ll change your perspective on things. Try lying on your back below a colorful mobile, looking up into the sky on a stroll, walking on your knees or crawling on the floor — the view looks different from there.
Just wonder, wander . . . it’s Friday, you deserve it. Go find your extraordinary, baby.
What would life be without books? Not a life I’d like to live!
No video games or tablets or any electronics can replace the feeling of holding an actual book in my hands, writing my name in ones that I own (made me feel so special as a child, owning a library), flipping through pages, even ripping them!
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, here is a set of children’s self-help books from Joy Wilt that I just rediscovered at my parents’ house. Do they look familiar to you?
Both my parents worked full-time and were immigrants so they did their best to school us on the “American way of life.” This set of books, as well as a couple others (I recall a very comical cartoon book set talking about privates and the birds and bees I’m dying to find!) that was their way of saying, “Hey, life is complicated and you’ll need to figure sh*t out. These might help.”
While I’m definitely more sentimental about Gus Was a Friendly Ghost than A Kid’s Guide to Managing Money, the latter reminds me of the different ways my parents did their best to support and teach me and my sisters — AND that I still haven’t figured my sh*t out. Which is why I’m re-reading the books again, some three decades later.
Which books couldn’t you live without as a child?
See all our book picks below! And don’t miss our own Rockabye Baby book, only available in our release Good Baby, Bad Baby.
Today is a day unlike any other in recent years. For one, it’s slightly rainy outside (rare in Los Angeles). Second, I’m typing this on my phone while I’m riding on the subway, something I haven’t done in a long time; something I now realize, I’ve sorely missed. Third, I’m going on a day trip today that is all about what I want to do.
See, the thing about becoming a mother (arguably more than a father) that I’m only really beginning to admit to now, more than two years into this role, is that I have given up a lot of things and pretended/forgotten that they mattered. I hear this from other mothers, too. Maybe because you’re so damned happy to have a baby or you’re too damned busy and overwhelmed to remember. And some of those things may have been really important to you and/or integral to who you are. And, actually, it begins before the kid is even born: if you’re carrying the child, the sacrifices (and anxiety) begin the minute you know you’re pregnant.
Maybe not all mothers see them as “sacrifices” per se, but there’s certainly an extended period of “giving up . . ”
For me, in total, I’ve really been looking at 4 ½ years of giving up various things, as I’ve been pregnant off and on since late 2010.
I gave up pretty much all vices as soon as I found out I was pregnant each time (and, to be honest, picked them back up in between each).
I gave up taking the Metro when I finally got to my third trimester partly for fear of getting sick, but also the klutz that I am was scared of falling down the ridiculously steep stairs/escalators at my two regular stations.
I gave up taking trips because of budget restraints and I simply was too preggers to even enjoy walking at times.
I continued to give up the Metro when my daughter was finally born because her daycares weren’t very accessible by public transportation and, admittedly, for fear of her or me getting sick.
When she reached toddler age, I gave up a couple of my freelance jobs and some personal projects because I simply couldn’t find quality time to spend with her, and give my all to the work.
I gave up any nights alone. (I honestly haven’t spent one night apart from my kid since she was born. Not that I’m complaining about this.)
In some ways, I stopped dreaming big dreams and the dreams that took their place were dreams of simply having a clean house and the opportunity to take a long shower.
You get it, parents, I don’t need to tell you this — we stop prioritizing ourselves. But is that a good thing for our kids? Which brings me back to my adventure today: I am currently heading to a vigil in downtown for victims of recent terrorist attacks in France. My husband questioned why it mattered so much to me to go. It’s not like I’ve been politically active in recent years (save two community meetings: one regarding homelessness and another on crime and safety). And I was incredibly defensive to the point I was driven to tears, unexpectedly. “Why now?” he asked.
Because I’m a writer.
Because I work with artists.
Because I’m scared.
Because I’m angry.
Because I want to be with other people who are feeling the way I do instead of living in this self-imposed bubble I have been living in.
Because I want to be part of something bigger than me.
Because I have had three miscarriages and if there were a gathering for people who were sad about them, I’d go to that, too.
Because I’m terribly upset about cancer and injustice and healthy food being too expensive and want to find time to do something about those things, too.
Because I don’t want to feel alone.
Motherhood does feel that way sometimes. Lonely. For as much love as I get from my daughter and joy from caring for her, I often get confused about who I am along the way, and that’s where the loneliness comes from. I miss me. Now that my daughter is older, I want us both to realize that I’m more than just the one who gets her to brush her teeth, kisses her owies when she’s sad and applauds her when she learns something new. I’m the one who mourns with others, who likes to sometimes act like a child instead of an adult, who wants to fight for things that help more than just our family — a woman we both could be proud of. A woman who still dreams.
Interested in more parenting posts? Click HERE. Or check out the posts below!
We asked our team and here’s a mixed bag of real parent life tips worth listening to — or running from. Really, who wants to admit they listen to their parents? Okay, some hands are going up at Rockabye Baby HQ. We’re good like that.
“It’s the things that you don’t worry about that really blindside you.” And “just decide what you want to do and do it,” which sounds really obvious but is actually kind of genius. — Hannah’s mom
I mostly learned through observation with my parents. They have never given any particular advice other than to contribute to a 401K and save money for the important stuff. My parents are very punctual with everything (bills, mortgage, etc.) and are sometimes so far ahead that they have credits for months on end. I try to model my own financial responsibilities after the way they handle theirs. Also, the common sense stuff like be good to other people and don’t do anything dumb — think of the consequences. — Jennifer’s parents
Always think outside the box. — Scott’s parents
I was a pretty homely lookin’ teen growing up and I got mocked a lot for my looks/body shape. I remember my mom rubbing my back one night while I was facedown on my bed, upset about something that had happened at a party (people were being laughing about my big ass). She just said, “One day all of these *ssholes will see what I see. And one day you’ll see it too.”
Sure enough, a couple years ago, when we were at a bar in my hometown, the main dude shouting his distaste for my large butt came up to me with his tail between his legs and just said, “I’m so sorry for what happened all those years ago. You’re so far out of all of our leagues now.” And blah blah. I told my mom that next morning and she just nodded her head with this smug smile on her face and said. “See, I told ya!” Don’t ever let the bastards get you down. — Ms. Rockabye
Dream big, have a kind & open heart, it’s okay to be weird, and never give up! — Rockabye Grrl’s parents
Parents, do you dream of peaceful nights without baby's cries? Well, the rumours are true: Lullaby Renditions of Fleetwood Mac will soothe those woeful tears. Don't stop spinning these gentle instrumentals - they'll make sleeping fun.