There are approximately one million resources out there to guide us through the scary new frontier of life with baby, but nothing beats getting advice from other moms who have been there. And virtually no one can lay claim to the kind of parenting experience that Michelle Duggar has. After all, the professional mama has 19 kids and a grandchild on the way.
Small wonder, then, that she recently had babies on the brain -- newborns, specifically. One of her Facebook fans asked her what advice she'd give first-time moms, a question I bet she gets a lot. Still, her response was thoughtful and peppered with some excellent, practical tips for those of us diving head-first into motherhood. Here are a few of my favorite takeaways:
Savor the early months. A lot of shade is thrown on the first few weeks and months with baby, and some of it is deserved. Most of us are tired, overwhelmed, moody, sore and -- because infants sleep so doggone much -- maybe even a little bored. But instead of focusing on the negatives, Michelle advises moms to cherish the slower-paced moments with their newborn. "Take lots of pictures and make a lot of sweet memories of that special time," she says.
Go on date nights. A revolutionary idea? Nope, but when you're so focused on caring for your little love nugget, it's all easy to put your relationship on ice. Don't do it, says Michelle. She points out that weekly date nights can strengthen your bond and, as a happy byproduct, bring stability to your child's life. Don't have a sitter? That's okay -- you can bring your kiddo along, she says. (Hey, if Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis do it, so can we.)
Be good to yourself. Being a mom is tough work, and most of us make the rookie mistake of putting our needs on the backburner. But try to carve out some time for yourself where you can. Michelle joked about offering her babysitting services whenever daughter Jill wants a night off from parenting duties. A lighthearted comment, sure, but it's also a good reminder that there's nothing wrong with calling for reinforcements every now and then. If a loved one offers to help out with baby, do yourself a favor and say yes.
In the same vein, the veteran mom also pointed out the need to catch up on sleep—most likely, during one of baby's catnaps. Now is the time to give yourself a hall pass from housework and give your body a break, she says. "You can see everything that needs to be done around the house. You need to catch up on laundry; you need to do some cleaning; you want to do some ironing -- whatever," she writes. "But just take that break and sleep, even if it's just an hour while the baby is sleeping. Afterwards you'll feel so much better and be ready to tackle the world." And she's absolutely right.
Tell us: What was the best piece of parenting advice you received?
Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+
How to Make the Most of Playtime
Image of Michelle Duggar courtesy of Duggar Family Official Facebook page