5 Things To Do Before Their 1st Birthday
I have been a mommy for 6 years. These past six years have both flown by and felt like a lifetime. While I am by no means an expert on this whole parenting business, I have learned a few things that may be helpful for those of you mommas who are just entering this profession. Here are five things I recommend beginning before your baby turns 1. Of course, if your baby is 2 or 5 or 16, you can still implement these today – better late than never!
1. Establish gospel centered routines
Some of the best parenting advice I received early on came from Charles Spurgeon. He said, “Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.” Begin as you mean to go on…there is great wisdom in this. I have really enjoyed creating traditions and establishing rhythms in our home. Mommas, we get to set the frame work for what our kids will view as “normal”. That’s pretty incredible! Take a few minutes and dream about what you want your family to look like in 10 years. Do you want to be the kind of family who sits down for dinner together? Then start sitting down for dinner together today? Do you want to be the kind of family who prays together at meals or before bed or before leaving the house in the morning? Then start that today. Your kids won’t remember that first year of their life, but they will adopt the rhythms of the family even in those very early days. My 15 month old just figured out that we hold hands for prayer at the dinner table. We’ve been doing this her whole life but just this week she decided she wanted to be a part of that circle and reached for our hands.
2. Read your bible, pray everyday...
“…And you’ll grow, grow, grow.” Did you guys learn that little song when you were kids? I’ve been teaching it to my children and it has been a great reminder for me. There is nothing like raising a child to make you completely aware of your inadequacies! I was a great mom before I had kids but once I brought that baby home and realized I was not only in charge of keeping it alive but also training him up in the way he should go, I realized I was in over my head. I need help! We need wisdom! James 1:5 has some good news for us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” I keep asking and He keeps giving. God meets us where we are each day and provides for our every need.
3. Learn to say “no”
This point has two parts. First, we need to learn to say no to most things that clamber for our time and attention so that we can say yes to the best things. These years when our kids are little will go so fast. Be present. Be available. You won’t regret it.
Second, it is okay to say “no” to our kids….even really young kids. Have you been to houses where every drawer and cabinet have safety locks? I always wonder what those families do when they aren’t at home. Do they travel with locks and gates and harnesses? In our family, we don’t discipline our kids when they are under a year but we do use the word “no” and teach and enforce boundaries. This requires more work on the front end than a lock or latch because you are constantly having to walk across the room and remove their hands from whatever drawer or item with which they have become obsessed. Several gates or locks may still be necessary to protect your young child from falling down the stairs or getting the chemicals under the sink but for most boundaries, teaching your kids to simply obey when you say “no” is a huge win that has exponential benefits. Totally worth it!
4. Organize your memories
Okay, so this is just a practical suggestion. If you are keeping a baby book, enter the information at the end of each month or else you will forget. You think you’ll remember all those cute milestones but the truth is, all of those days and months will blur together (especially if you aren’t sleeping much)!
Another way that I keep track of our family memories is by creating a Shutterfly book each year. I add pictures to the book throughout the year and they become really fun keepsake items. My boys love looking through those books together. We are always surprised by how young the kids look when we flip through those pages. They grow up so fast! If you’re like me, you probably snap a ton of photos on your phone but rarely print them. A Shutterfly book (or something similar) is a great and easy way to have some of your favorite memories available and organized by year.
5. Find a mom with slightly older, really great kids, and ask to be her friend
I’m laughing as I type this because I did this very thing. There was a gal at our church who’s oldest daughter is 2 years older than my oldest son. Her kids were always well behaved and pleasant and I could tell she was a really intentional, godly mom. I basically invited myself over to her house. I probably approached her awkwardly and said something like, “Um…can you teach me to mom good?” This friend has become a sort of mentor for me who has been a wealth of wonderfully useful information on everything from which toys are well-made to great ways to teach character qualities or memorize scripture etc. It is a huge blessing to be able to talk with someone who is a few steps ahead of you on this journey. Do you know someone like this? If not, start praying that God will provide this person for you!
Did one of the above suggestions stand out for you? Why not start there? And then take a nap….or make a Shutterfly book…