I started this post about 6 months ago, but since I had a 1-year-old at the time it was almost impossible to find the time to finish it. I think the same Dos and Don’ts also apply to my almost 2-year-old, though.
Do: Let your 1-year-old play by himself/herself without a TV screen or an iPad. They need to learn how to entertain themselves sans technology. Why? Do you really want to be stuck in a grocery store checkout line on the day you accidentally left your cell phone at home with a kid who can’t go 5 minutes without being entertained?
Don’t: Feed your 1-year-old curried lentils (unless you want to suffer the poopy consequences later, in which case I highly recommend purchasing a gas mask).
Do: Let him hold the spoon by himself and do not worry when he uses it to fling yogurt all over the walls.
Don’t: Wear jewelry for a while. Anything at all. I have accidentally scratched Small Boy’s face with my wedding ring AND with my stud earrings. He has nearly garroted me with my necklace on more than one occasion.
Don’t: Read the comment section on any websites that offer baby advice. Why? Bad spelling, paranoia, and preachy-judgement, just to name a few reasons…
Do: Go outside. I don’t care if you live in Juno Alaska in January or Tuscon Arizona in July – baby lungs need fresh air. Natural light is good for our bodies and our minds.
Do: Open all of the windows in your house from time to time to air it out because you may not notice that it smells like diapers and sour milk, but everyone else does.
Do: Carve out time to exercise. Too tired? Go for a walk. Do some yoga. Go to a shopping mall and push the stroller around. Endorphins are good for your mental health and it is important to let baby know from an early age that exercise is valuable.
Do: Leave the child locks off of a cupboard or drawer and fill it with tupperware, table linens, pot lids, or something else that Jr. can get into and scatter around your kitchen. Emptying your cupboards makes baby feel less powerless at very little expense to your sanity and your ears.
Don’t: Ignore your spouse/partner like I am doing right now.
Don’t: Ignore your friends who have no children in favor of friends who have kids.
Don’t: Dress your kid in white – it is a canvas for toddler impressionist art, using raspberry jam, markers, spitup, and dirt as a medium.
Don’t: Dress your toddler in onesies. The first time you participate in a toddler-sized battle over a diaper change you will throw out every 12-18 month onesie you own.
Do: Find a way to take some time for yourself. Single moms, working moms, and stay-at-home moms all have trouble with this, but when your cute, wiggly little infant turns into a yelling, running, tantrum-throwing toddler it is more important than ever to be kind to yourself.