How to help super-competitive kids relax—without the struggle

Playlistening and staylistening can make all of the difference.

How to help super-competitive kids relax—without the struggle

"My son seems like he's in the midst of a contest every moment. He needs to be first to get to the car, first to choose his seat, first to finish his dinner. He also needs to be best. What can I do to help him not be one of those super-competitive children and just live his life, rather than try to prove over and over again how good he is?"

There's not a quick fix for your son's fixation on being first and best. If there were, we would have a much more peaceful world. This "need to be best" mentality is actually endemic in our society. We are trained to be competitive from early in our lives. Some of us can see that there are many attributes that each person, each city, and each country has that can be appreciated, and that there's always going to be something a person, city or country can learn from another. But many of us have grown to need to be on the "winning" side of every issue, in order to feel okay.

The root of the strong need to win

Often, the root of a child's competitive behavior that shows up time and time again is some early difficult time in his life. Something like a hospitalization, a severe illness, a separation from a parent, or some other grinding tension at home can leave a child feeling alone. That feeling sticks with a child. It is kept under wraps in the child's emotional memory, but the effect of it shows up in how they interact with others.

With that early emotional ache still held fast inside him, a child sets out to try hard to make himself feel better. When he feels like he is in control—he's first, or best, or the boss—the ache doesn't seem so bad. He carries the emotional memory of desperately needing attention, the attention he couldn't feel when he was ill, threatened, or when his family was under stress.

So, under the guise of proving himself every 15 minutes, a child will make repeated bids for the attention he didn't get, way back then. There's no crisis now, but the feeling of needing attention immediately is insatiable. No matter how much attention a child gets for being first or best or the boss, it never feels like enough. He needs more, ever more!

Super-competitive children will often sign for your help

Super-competitive children need attention, but not in the way they are seeking it. They need their parents to come close, to show them affection, to show their love. But they don't need to win all the time! And they don't need to be first, or the boss, all the time.

What they do need is a chance to offload the emotional hurt that's left over from early helpless times, so that they can feel closer to those around them, and more open to the give and take of life. A parent is in the very best position to relieve the sting of early hard times that's at the root of the super-competitive behavior. You don't really need to know what makes your child so competitive—you might have a guess, but no analysis of the root of the problem is necessary. What is helpful is the use of two very powerful listening tools: Playlistening and Staylistening.

These tools help your child secure laughter (that's not forced by tickling, but is encouraged by nuzzling, wrestling, and affection) and great big hearty cries, with your support. These emotional release valves let the tension out, and let your child feel you are caring. They help heal the hurt, as long as you are there to pour in your love and your confidence that your child's life is good.

Playlisten to reassure your child that they're loved and to secure laughter

Playlistening is playing to evoke laughter, but without forcing it—in other words, no tickling allowed. With a super competitive child, two kinds of Playlistening are helpful. In one, you lose again and again and allow them to win. You playfully keep trying, you playfully never give up hope, but your child is the victor. You watch for what makes your child laugh, and you keep doing that, and variations on that theme.

The older and more capable a child is, the more of a contest you have to set up with them, but don't try to be skilled at a sport. Set up contests that let you show affection. "I've got 100 kisses for you" is a good one, where you chase him and catch him and try to land a kiss, and your child gets away Scot free often, but not all of the time. You keep trying. "Come on, feel the love!" is what I tell my grandson when we're playing this kind of affection game. You can complain that your kisses need a place to land, a lovely place to land.

Or, when your child arrives first at the kitchen table at lunch on Saturday and announces it to make his sister feel bad, just say, "Okay, I get to hug the guy who got here first! Yes, I do!" and chase him all through the house, giving him a good contest. Matter of fact, you can do that for many of the "wins" he announces.

You can vary your affectionate response. "The prize for First is a noogie on the head. Come here, you handsome Champ, you!" or "Yay, you came in first at the car door! The guy who comes first gets to be lifted into the car upside down! And the girl who comes in second gets lifted into the car right side up!" Or, "Hey, look who's first again. You know what I do with the one who's first? He gets a great big snuggle from me!" followed by a really big squeeze. You give an affectionate squeeze to the child who's second, too.

This kind of response will get laughter going around being first and will help you bring your super-competitor your affection and energy many times a day, warming up your relationship with him, and beginning to fill that aching need for reassurance that lies underneath his drive to be first. As laughter rolls, he's receiving your attention and affection. It reaches his emotional center. It helps heal the hurt.

When several children are playing together, and your super-competitor is loudly announcing that he's first, again and again, join the game. Come in last, and let the children all laugh at your last-place finish. "Hey, Joey is first! Helen is second! Ray-Ray is third, and, oh no, not again! I'm last??!! Yikes, last again!" will help them play together without feeling less than.

When your child loses, or when you set limits on their bossiness, staylisten

As you get laughter going in your household, and pursue affectionate contests and playful responses to your child's hunger for winning, his sense of emotional safety will build. You'll notice that he becomes more explosive when little things disappoint him. This is a sign of progress! When he is upset, you have a golden opportunity to move closer, and to pour in the love and reassurance he so badly needed earlier in his life.

The disappointment over a sandwich cut wrong, or a video game he is not allowed to finish because its bedtime will be enormous. And all that emotion is there, not because he's lost his mind, but because that was the size of the emotional hurt he sustained when he was much smaller, much more vulnerable, and deeply in need of someone to listen to him.
So, listen. Stay close. Don't give in to a sensible limit you have set. "I know it's hard to let your sister have her turn at that game. She doesn't do it the way you would," is what you say while your child fights and kicks to get away from you, wanting to run and grab the game away from her. You stay. You keep her safe from his intrusion. He cries and fights, safe but very unhappy, in your arms, while you say now and then, "I know you don't want her to touch it. But it's her turn, and you'll get another turn in a while."

Allow him to feel desperate. To feel like his world is so unfair. To feel like nothing is right. To feel like everything is ruined for him. These are feelings erupting from the past, splashing onto the present in a big, messy way. This is what heals the hurt that makes it hard for him to accept others and to play with others, rather than against them.

As you stay with your upset child, he may become panicky. "I need to get out! Don't hold me here! I need to breathe! I can't breathe!" or "I'm burning up!" or "I'm thirsty, you have to get me some water! I need water now!" This panic is a key part of releasing fear. He needs you to guide him through his panic, without trying to fix it. He may indeed be hot, but he's not going to die. He may indeed feel thirsty, but another few minutes without a drink will be OK. What he most needs is your confidence that he's going to make it, that his life will be good, and that you're not going to leave him stranded.

Don't get too busy trying to fix anything. Just lift his shirt and blow on his tummy if he is hot. Or offer to carry him in your arms to get water, if he's thirsty. Usually, a child who is panicked will refuse to let you carry him to get a drink. Being carried continues the closeness you provide, and it's no escape from facing and feeling how frightened he once was. He knows he doesn't need a drink that badly. If he does, he'll let you carry him there.

When you have listened enough, and his mind is finally free of the grip of stale-dated emotions, he'll be glad to be close to you. He may cry some, but not while fighting you. He'll lean in for support and love. And whatever the issue was that set him off will resolve in his mind, usually without rancor toward anyone. He'll be able to let it go. And you will most likely see some changes in his behavior that signal that he's gained a little flexibility.

He showed you how bad it felt once. You received his feelings, listened, and stayed through the storm. His need to prove himself goes down a notch, though he may have to show you his feelings a number of times before he can become a truly less-than-super-competitive child.

A listening partner will help you listen and play well

Things will progress even faster if you can create a Listening Partnership for yourself, so you can talk to a non-judgmental parent about your feelings about your super-competitor. You may feel like he's "bad," or feel like he's ruining your family's peace and serenity, or worry that he's never going to learn to play well with others. These feelings need to be heard by someone who will just let you have your say.

It will help to talk about your pregnancy and the birth of your child, and how things went during his first year or two. If you find things to be angry about or to cry about there, go ahead! Or if you're tempted to yell at or lecture your super-competitor, a Listening Partner is the ideal person to do that with. Letting off your own emotional steam will make it easier to play affectionately so that laughter ensues, and to listen to your child when he feels the chips are down so that he is ever surer of your love.

Originally posted on Hand in Hand Parenting.

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Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn on how they’re ‘sneak teaching’ kids with their new show "Do, Re & Mi"

The best friends created a musical animated show that's just as educational as it is entertaining

Amazon Studios

This episode is sponsored by Tonies. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn have been best friends since they met as young singers and actors more than 15 years ago, and now they're collaborating on a new Amazon Original animated kids series called Do, Re & Mi. The show, which follows best birds Do, Re and Mi as they navigate the world around them while also belting out catchy tunes, is just as educational as it is entertaining.

On the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, Bell and Tohn talk to Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about how they're "sneak teaching" kids with their new show and why music is such an important focal point.

"It was basically our mission from the very beginning to 'sneak music education' into kids' lives, hands, brains, all of it," Tohn admits.

"There's so much science and data to support that [music] helps kids, their brains grow with math, with social skills. It literally can change your neuroplasticity. You can put music of their favorite genre or timeframe on, in an Alzheimer's ward, and they will come back online for a couple minutes. I mean, it's crazy," Bell, who has two daughters of her own, adds. "You know, music can bind a lot of families together. It can bind friendships together. And it's just a show that you can feel really good about. We want to get it in front of as many kids as possible, because I don't like the fact that some kids won't have exposure to music. Their brains deserve to grow just as much as everyone else's."

The first season of Do, Re & Mi premiered on September 17th and its creators recorded 52 different songs for the show that range from reggae and pop to country, blues and jazz.

"That's what's so exciting about this show," Tohn gushes. "Not only are the lessons we're teaching for everyone, but every episode has a musical genre, a musical lesson and an emotional lesson. And so there really is so much to learn."

Elsewhere in the episode, Bell tells Tenety about how she made literal toolboxes that carry different regulation tools to help her kids calm down (one is "find a song you love and sing out loud") and why having a village is crucial to surviving motherhood, especially in a pandemic, while Tohn details her special friendship not only with Bell, but with her daughters, too.

To hear more about the show, Bell's experiences in motherhood, and her enduring friendship with Tohn, listen to The Motherly Podcast for the full interview.

Entertainment

12 baby registry essentials for family adventures

Eager to get out and go? Start here

Ashley Robertson / @ashleyrobertson

Parenthood: It's the greatest adventure of all. From those first few outings around the block to family trips at international destinations, there are new experiences to discover around every corner. As you begin the journey, an adventurous spirit can take you far—and the best baby travel gear can help you go even farther.

With car seats, strollers and travel systems designed to help you confidently get out and go on family adventures, Maxi-Cosi gives you the support you need to make the memories you want.

As a mom of two, Ashley Robertson says she appreciates how Maxi-Cosi products can grow with her growing family. "For baby gear, safety and ease are always at the top of our list, but I also love how aesthetically pleasing the Maxi Cosi products are," she says. "The Pria Car Seat was our first purchase and it's been so nice to have a car seat that 'grows' with your child. It's also easy to clean—major bonus!"

If you have big dreams for family adventures, start by exploring these 12 baby registry essentials.

Tayla™️ XP Travel System

Flexibility is key for successful family adventures. This reversible, adjustable, all-terrain travel system delivers great versatility. With the included Coral XP Infant Car Seat that fits securely in the nesting system, you can use this stroller from birth.


Add to Babylist

$849.99

Iora Bedside Bassinet

Great for use at home or for adventures that involve a night away, the collapsible Iora Bedside Bassinet gives your baby a comfortable, safe place to snooze. With five different height positions and three slide positions, this bassinet can fit right by your bedside. The travel bag also makes it easy to take on the go.


Add to Babylist

$249.99

Kori 2-in-1 Rocker

Made with high-quality, soft materials, the foldable Kori Rocker offers 2-in-1 action by being a rocker or stationary seat. It's easy to move around the home, so you can keep your baby comfortable wherever you go. With a slim folded profile, it's also easy to take along on adventures so your baby always has a seat of their own.


Add to Babylist

$119.99

Minla 6-in-1 High Chair

A high chair may not come to mind when you're planning ahead for family adventures. But, as the safest spot for your growing baby to eat meals, it's worth bringing along for the ride. With compact folding ability and multiple modes of use that will grow with your little one, it makes for easy cargo.


Add to Babylist

$219.99

Coral XP Infant Car Seat

With the inner carrier weighing in at just 5 lbs., this incredibly lightweight infant car seat means every outing isn't also an arm workout for you. Another feature you won't find with other infant car seats? In addition to the standard carry bar, the Coral XP can be carried with a flexible handle or cross-body strap.


Add to Babylist

$399.99

Pria™️ All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

From birth through 10 years, this is the one and only car seat you need. It works in rear-facing, forward-facing and, finally, booster mode. Comfortable and secure for every mile of the journey ahead, you can feel good about hitting the road for family fun.


Add to Babylist

$289.99

Pria™️ Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Want to skip the wrestling match with car seat buckles? The brilliant Out-of-the-Way harness system and magnetic chest clip make getting your child in and out of their buckles as cinch. This fully convertible car seat is suitable for babies from 4 lbs. through big kids up to 100 lbs. With washer-and-dryer safe cushions and dishwasher safe cup holders, you don't need to stress the mess either.


Add to Babylist

$329.99

Tayla Modular Lightweight Stroller

With four reclining positions, your little ones can stay content—whether they want to lay back for a little shut-eye or sit up and take in the view. Also reversible, the seat can be turned outward or inward if you want to keep an eye on your adventure buddy. Need to pop it in the trunk or take it on the plane? The stroller easily and compactly folds shut.


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$499.99

Tayla Travel System

This car seat and stroller combo is the baby travel system that will help make your travel dreams possible from Day 1. The Mico XP infant seat is quick and easy to install into the stroller or car. Skipping the car seat? The reversible stroller seat is a comfortable way to take in the scenery.


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$699.99

Modern Diaper Bag

When you need to change a diaper during an outing, the last thing you'll want to do is scramble to find one. The Modern Diaper Bag will help you stay organized for brief outings or week-long family vacations. In addition to the pockets and easy-carry strap, we love the wipeable diaper changing pad, insulated diaper bag and hanging toiletry bag.


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$129.99

Mico XP Max Infant Car Seat

Designed for maximum safety and comfort from the very first day, this infant car seat securely locks into the car seat base or compatible strollers. With a comfy infant pillow and luxe materials, it also feels as good for your baby as it looks to you. Not to mention the cushions are all machine washable and dryable, which is a major win for you.


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Adorra™️ 5-in-1 Modular Travel System

From carriage mode for newborn through world-view seated mode for bigger kids, this 5-in-1 children's travel system truly will help make travel possible. We appreciate the adjustable handlebar, extended canopy with UV protection and locking abilities when it's folded. Your child will appreciate the plush cushions, reclining seat and smooth ride.


Add to Babylist
$599.99

Ready for some family adventures? Start by exploring Maxi-Cosi.

This article was sponsored by Maxi-Cosi. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Boost 1

This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

Woodland Snug comforter

Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

$249

Braided Pom Pom Throw

Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

$145

Lumbar pillow

sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

$65

Crystal infused sleep mask

sunday citizen sleep mask

Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

$40

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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10 Montessori phrases for kids who are struggling with back to school

The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here's how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.

No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don't want to go to school. Whether they're saying "I don't like school" when you're home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.

More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It's important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.

Here are some phrases that will encourage your child to go to school.


1. "You're safe here."

If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they'll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you're clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.

2. "I love you and I know you can do this."

It's best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, "It's just school, you'll be fine" belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you're confident they're up to the task. This validates the anxiety they're feeling while ending on a positive note.

After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.

3. "First you'll have circle time, then work time, and then you'll play on the playground."

Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.

It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.

4. "I'll pick you up after playground time."

Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.

If your child can tell time, you can tell them you'll see them at 3:30pm. If they're younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you'll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it's after math class.

Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they'll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.

5. "What book do you think your teacher will read when you get to school this morning?"

Find out what happens first in your child's school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.

If they're in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.

Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.

6. "Do you think Johnny will be there today?"

Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.

If you're not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.

If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.

7. "That's a hard feeling. Tell me about it."

While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.

Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they're really feeling.

They may reveal that they just miss you while they're gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.

Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.

8. "What can we do to help you feel better?"

Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.

Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.

If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they're too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?

Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you're rescuing them, to build their confidence.

9. "What was the best part of your school day?"

Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.

It's easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don't always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.

10. "I can't wait to go to the park together when we get home."

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.

Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it's coming.

It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don't want to go to school. If you're concerned, talk to your child's teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they're in the classroom.

To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.

Back to School

Some parts of motherhood are truly universal—even from species to species. Like teaching your offspring how to properly use playground equipment, for example. Who says slides are just for human children?

In a viral video recorded by a teacher in Asheville, North Carolina, a mama bear and her cub can be seen casually strolling around the playground as onlookers watch (safely from inside a school, of course).

Warning: it's probably the cutest thing you'll see today!


In a move straight out of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, mama bear tests out the bigger slide by zooming on down solo. Baby bear isn't having any of that—the big slide is too scary! So mama makes her way over to the smaller slide and very clearly encourages her baby to have some fun.

According to TODAY, Betsie Stockslager Emry is the teacher who captured the now-viral moment from a classroom at Isaac Dickson Elementary School. You can hear her adorably narrating parts of the video as fellow school staff "ooh" and "ahh" over the amazing cuteness. Unfortunately, school was already dismissed for the day so students didn't get to see the bears in action.

She tells HuffPost she has a 4-year-old son who has "grown up on that playground," and that watching the bears' behavior "straight up reminded me of being out there with my own kid."

If you're a parent, it's impossible not to see yourself reflected in the actions of the mama bear here. It's basically a rite of passage of parenthood and childhood: gaining the courage to go down the slide on the playground.

This video is truly an unBEARably sweet way to end the week!

News + Trending

9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home

There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

We brought our baby home in a confused, crazy haze of new-parent life. We didn't know a lot. Actually, scratch that. We didn't even really know a little. There's so much I wish I could have told you—to give you, this patient and amazing man, a heads up. But I couldn't. I didn't know, either.

There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

Here are 9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home...

1. We are both clueless.

I know you've never done this before. But guess what? Neither have I. Just because I'm a woman or I used to babysit in college doesn't mean I know more about what we're doing. This isn't a competition of who knows more or less about babies. The playing field is level. We are both clueless. If you ask me why she's crying again, and I give you a master-level death stare—just understand it's because I. Don't. Know.

2. So help me.

Don't wait for me to ask. Please. Just do something. Change the next diaper, get me a snack, fill my water bottle while I'm nursing, cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry. Remind me to take Motrin. Literally anything will be helpful. And it is such a nice feeling when I don't have to ask you to do something. Like, a major turn-on. (And I'll remember that in six to eight weeks.)

3. Happily take over when I need a break.

When you're getting the feeling that I may need a break, or a shower, or to just sit in silence by myself for a minute—take over. With a smile. Bond with your baby. Talk to the baby. Sing to the baby. Do awesome father stuff. I'll get my very necessary break, and I'll be listening in the other room. #Swoon. ?

4. I'm going to cry a lot.

Over all sorts of things. I got poop on my hands. Tears. I am tired. Tears. My nipples hurt. Tears. I don't understand what I'm doing. Tears. Someone just stopped by unannounced. Tears. My belly is jiggly. Tears. I feel sad. Tears. I have never been happier in my life. Tears. This cookie is sooo good. Tears. ? ?

The new norm? Crying. Get used to it for now. I don't really realize I'm crying over ridiculous things, I'm just in this brand-new world with lots of crying (from me and the baby), a nursing appetite that dwarfs my pregnancy appetite and a baby bump without a baby in there. Let me cry without judgment.

For the most part, there will be zero rationale behind these tears (well, except #hormones... and dang, that cookie was really good). But also, do me a favor and pay attention to signs of postpartum depression. Because I may not be able to.

5. I've never felt so self-conscious.

My baby bump is gone, but I am still carrying extra pounds. Some people think I still look pregnant. I haven't showered yet today. My hair is greasy. My legs are so hairy they're confused as to whether they're wearing pants or have a thick fur blanket wrapped around them. The circles under my eyes are deepening by the second. My wardrobe consists of sizes I'd never thought I'd see, and my maternity clothes don't look like they're going anywhere fast.

Lift my spirits, please. I don't quite feel like myself. Be gentle with me. We can't have sex—and I definitely don'' want to!—but we can cuddle before bed, you can hold my hand and tell me what an amazing job I'm doing, and you can remind me that I'm a badass, beautiful mama.

6. I'm going to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.

You may wonder what exactly I'm doing in there. I may be trying to escape you people for a little while. But I also may just be using the bathroom, which now means also using my new BFF spray bottle, very slowly sitting down on the toilet, very slowly picking myself up off the toilet, putting a new pad on, and hoisting my pants up. It's not the quickest process right this second.

Oh, and when I get a chance to shower... no, I did not get sucked down the drain. I am simply enjoying the peace and quiet while the hot water runs down my back. ? I'm giving myself some time alone to reflect on the fact that yes, this is all happening.

7. I don't want visitors.

Sure, the close family members we agreed on are fine. I know they want to check in on us and want to meet the baby. But please don't invite other people over right now. This is a lot to take in and figure out. My boobs are out 24/7, I'm wearing your sweatshirt and maternity sweatpants and—makeup? What does this word mean?

If you could, just give me a little time and space in our bubble. I'll be ready for visitors soon. Tell people no from us so I don't have to feel bad about it. When the VIPs are visiting, be the overstaying police—if they've been over for too long, make something up so they get the hint to leave. The baby needs to rest, I need to rest, I need to feed the baby, aliens are coming and we need to go into our underground bunker—whatever you need to do. Check in with me privately if you're not sure what constitutes "too long." ⏱

8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

And not just with the baby. ?

With you, too. I need you with me, near me, supporting me and letting me support you. We're in this together, and I desperately need to feel like a team. Let's try to be patient with each other.

But also, if we do have people visiting and I give you the "I-need-my-baby-back" stare—HAND ME THE BABY. Politely ask whoever is holding her if you could borrow her and like I said—HAND ME THE BABY. PLEASE. I LOVE YOU.

8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

We are awesome together. Our baby makes us even more awesome together. This is new to us. Let's try to enjoy this time in our lives. Let's laugh over that poop on my hands (after I cry... and remember—let me cry), let's stay in our bubble as long as we can and let's rocking being clueless parents together. Because let's face it—no matter how much we think we know, we'll never know it all.


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