Welcome to the fourth and final of our LV Moms Panel stories, brought to you by Dove.
What's that, you ask?
Throughout the summer, we have asked five amazingly accomplished moms to chime in on the topics that are near and dear to all moms' hearts. So far, they've chimed in on bullying, the ways we could be holding girls back from reaching their full potential and the old-school habits we should be teaching our kids to ensure their success. Today, they'll be discussing the things they wish they knew about parenting before they became moms.
Meet our moms below, read what they have to say about their own take on the topic, then get to know them better by joining the discussion here!
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With pregnancy comes an avalanche of unsolicited parenting advice.
Some people—your family, coworkers, the passenger next to you on the bus—just can’t help themselves. For example, a woman at my old job stopped by my desk every day to say things like, "You’ll never sleep again!” (actually that’s true) and, "Never leave your baby alone!" on the bed, changing table, fill in the blank.
After a while, you start to wish your belly wasn’t such a beacon for well-meaning big mouths. The thing about raising a kid is that women can't truly understand what it's like until they actually have one.
That said, here are a few things I wish I actually had known before I had my baby:
1. Cozy Is Convenient
Babies come with a lot of gear: Strollers, swings, bouncers, activity gyms, bottles, Boppys, car seats and high chairs. As gifts arrived and Baby’s new furniture got assembled in our small one bedroom apartment, I could feel the walls closing in on me.
Where would I practice yoga?
How could we puzzle my husband’s golf clubs into the corner where we kept the boxes of wipes and diapers?
Would we survive our cramped quarters until we traded in the apartment for a house in the 'burbs?
Like most families living in Manhattan, we made it work—while dreaming about our future digs and watching a lot of "House Hunters." I coped by taking frequent walks to the park, putting some belongings in storage (AKA my parents’ basement) and buying toys that I could fold up and tuck away. But now that we’ve moved into a two story colonial, I realize that apartment living was actually the ideal way to cohabitate during my son’s first five months—no racing up and down the steps to retrieve a rogue pacifier or make a midnight bottle. When your changing table, dishwasher and couch are all within 600 square feet, baby chores are a breeze.
2. Organic Overload
While I was pregnant, I fantasized about giving my son an au natural childhood. An idyllic youth untainted by chemicals, pesticides, synthetic fabrics or off-gassing.
Then I went shopping.
Organic is everywhere—bibs, bottles, baby carriers; even spoons made out of corn—and it’s almost always more expensive, especially when it comes to clothing. And unlike food products, the fabric industry isn’t regulated. Manufacturers might label a onesie with just one stitch of untreated fabric as organic. I splurged on a (mostly) organic mattress, which I like more for its firmness than its materials. If buying organic is important to you, then buy organic baby food. Because once Baby starts rolling and crawling and socializing, it’s harder and harder to control what he comes in contact with.
(We've covered organic stuff for Baby before: Check out this piece about how to buy guilt-free, affordable organic clothing for your kids, see how Jessica Alba is shaking up the eco-baby industry here and read this for the easy way to keep your baby toxin free.)
3. Mommy and Me for Free
Soon after my son was born, my husband began to freak out about college tuition. I, on the other hand, fretted about the crazy cost of baby music classes, many of which required us to pay tuition for a semester-long block of classes. My singing voice would have to do, I thought.
Then, when my son was around four months, I discovered that many mommy and baby organizations, like Gymboree, offer free trial classes. A friend even found a gratis infant gymnastics class for babies 0-6 months. If you’re still wary of paying for playtime, try free story hour at your local library or start your own playgroup.
4. Step Away From That Cute Romper
When you’re nesting, it’s hard to resist buying for baby. Every teeny tiny piece of apparel had me sighing and saying, "Awwwww." But before you snap up that pint-sized designer fedora, remember that Baby will probably outgrow it before you remember to snap a picture. And aside from basics like onesies and pajamas, your little one’s wardrobe will likely be furnished entirely by friends and relatives for at least the first six months. I made the mistake of stocking up on cute little towels with animal hoods. My son will need to bathe right away, I thought (of course, I only gave him a sponge bath a few times a week in the beginning). Then I promptly received ten adorable hooded towels as gifts, most of which I’ve never used thanks to my trusty washing machine.
(Check out the other money mistakes a first-time mom made here.)
5. Work From Home Woes
When I quit my job at a magazine to stay at home with my son, I promised myself I’d bolster the family income with freelance gigs. My husband naively imagined I’d be churning out stories during my maternity leave. While I knew that was never going to happen, I assumed I’d be tapping away at my computer soon after. I’ve written a few articles here and there, but trying to craft publishable sentences while Baby is fussing on his floor mat is no easy feat. Doing real work, for me anyway, means hiring a babysitter (which isn’t always cost effective), writing late at night (and trying not to zone out in front of the monitor) or putting my son down for an extra-long nap. I’ve learned to pace myself and say no to some assignments, even when my ambition is screaming at me to say yes. (If you're thinking of quitting your own job, check out these seven things every mom should know before she does so.)
Tell us--what do you wish you knew about having kids before you had your baby?
Here's what the LV Moms Panel had to say ...
Accolades: Founder of Weelicious and author of Weelicious: One Family. One Meal. (September 18th)
Children: Kenya (5) and Chloe (3)
What She Had To Say: "I wish I had known how important a mere 15 minutes of complete and total one-on-one time could mean to a parent-child relationship. We try to spend time with our kids, but end up trying to do too much and not really connecting. Put the phones, TVs and gadgets away, get on the ground and play a game, read a book or just talk to your child for at least a solid 15 minutes. Sometimes that small amount of time can be the most satisfying feeling of your day."
Name: Jenine Holmes
Accolades: Jenine Holmes is author of the blog The Single Baby Mama--Single By Chance, Mother Through Adoption. She also balances a marketing writing career with writing author and book interviews for The Brooklyn Rail. Her essays have appeared in The Detroit News, New York Press and AOL, and her commercial work spans from Pepsi to Dr. Scholl's.
Children: Julia (2)
What She Had To Say: "I wish I learned earlier that schedules are as much for me as they are for Julia. As a single mom, I must arrange time for important projects and myself, and that starts the moment I turn out the light in Julia’s room. Movies are cued up, magazines sorted and ready to peruse. Anything that requires more brainpower, I tackle before Julia awakes in the morning. Before I became a Mom, I read that single mom and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison would rise at 4 a.m. to write before her sons opened their eyes. Like Morrison, motherhood has turned me into a morning person."
Name: Jennifer Perkins
Accolades: Jennifer Perkins is the founder of the blog, book and Etsy store Naughty Secretary Club and is a founding member of the Austin Craft Mafia. Jennifer has worked with HGTV and DIY Network as the host of Craft Lab and co-host of Stylelicious, and is the DIY editor on BlogHer.
Children: Tallulah (3) and Baxter (1)
What She Had To Say: "Before I became a parent I was oblivious to what some people call the 'mommy wars'. Since becoming a parent, I have found myself fighting on both sides. There are times when I have fallen victim to being the bad guy and judging other moms. There have been other times when I felt like I was being judged. I didn’t realize what a competitive breed other mothers were, and the pressure I would put on myself based on the views of others. Now that I have settled into parenting, I don’t judge (as much), and I don’t let other’s judging bother me (most of the time). Prepare yourself early on for unsolicited advice on how best to parent your child, and take it with a grain of salt."
Name: Stacy DeBroff
Accolades: Founder and CEO of Mom Central Consulting, the leading social media consulting firm focused on moms. Prior to this, Stacy authored four best-selling parenting books and launched Mom Central, Inc., a company devoted to providing savvy advice to simplify and enrich the lives of busy moms and their families.
Children: Two teens, Kyle and Brooks
What She Had To Say: "I really wish that I fully understood that what starts out going so very slowly—hour by hour with a baby and toddler—could suddenly pick up speed, going by faster and faster, until suddenly both your kids are in college! Looking back, it seems to have happened in a flash!"
Accolades: Neale is the Chairman of Children’s Financial Network. She was one of the first female executives at The Chase Manhattan Bank, and later, the president of The First Women’s Bank and founder of The First Children’s Bank. In 1989, Neale formed Children’s Financial Network, Inc. to educate children and parents about money. She is the author of 26 books on money, life skills and value issues.
Children: Neale has two children, Kyle, age 29, and Rhett, age 26. She also has two grandchildren, Gavin, 4 years old and Bodhi, 18 months.
What She Had To Say: “No one told me that my kids would just be born with the ‘I want, I want’ syndrome, and that they truly would think ‘money just grows on trees.' I kept saying to them, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are’ and they had no idea what I was saying. I was shocked when I would hear them say they needed a toy. This all led me to start my crusade to teach kids about money.”