When I was pregnant, I was hit with a barrage of parenting advice from everyone I encountered. Whether I was standing in line at CVS, at a family gathering, out to dinner with my husband, Jason, or even in the fitting room at Macy's. Many came from parents who shared their thoughts on their child's sleeping habits, eating routines and what their baby likes and dislikes. I never had so many strangers offer me tips and advice -- some people shared horror stories of their colicky little ones which made me cringe while I silently prayed that my baby would be perfect.
Jason and I went out on Valentine's Day last year, about a month before Maggie's due date, to a higher-end Italian restaurant. At the table next to us, a little girl, who I thought to be about 3, was out to dinner with her parents. I remember whispering to Jason saying in a month's time, it's not going to be just "us" anymore. The child was playing on her parent's iPad. I enjoyed watching her play on it, as she appeared mesmerized by the high-tech illustrations. Her mother glanced over and smiled at my protruding belly as we got up to leave and she said: "My best advice, get an iPad. It's the best investment for a little one because we can still go out and have fun, but it keeps her busy." I had to laugh.
When I think back to the best parenting advice I received, it had to be when Maggie was a few months old. She was having trouble sleeping and we couldn't catch a break at night. I called my good friend, a mother of two, crying one day venting to her about how my little angel wouldn't fall asleep. She said to me very calmly, this is just a phase and it too shall pass. Both good and bad phases don't last long, they are constantly changing and growing. Give it some time, and it will get easier. Sure enough, within a few days, we finally got our first full night's sleep (that's close to five hours to new parents!). My friend's advice has stuck with me through these past 10 months and I feel as if I'm a lot calmer now when Maggie's routine changes, because I know it won't last very long.
Everyone loves to give advice -- and often times, the tried-and-true tips comes from people who lived through sleepless nights, poopy diapers and all the fun things that go along with being a parent. So I thought I'd reach out to our Facebook and Twitter fans for the "Kids question of the week" to find out the best parenting advice. Here, a list of tips and advice from Long Islanders on how to succeed at parenting:
My mom told me to leave the laundry unfolded and spend that time with the baby instead. The laundry will still be there and the baby is going to grow up too fast.
-Mandi Cerrone, via Facebook
Never wake a sleeping baby
-Adele Baranello LaChacz, via Facebook
As spoken by Mary Steenburgen in the movie "Parenthood," 'Life is messy." Not a day goes by that I don't think of that line.
-Mary Churchill Wyman, Centerport
Kids do fine with "just enough." Just enough love, freedom, rules and attention. Don't try to over-parent -- give them room to grow and don't overorganize their life.
-Terri Cuffie, via Facebook
Life doesn't end when you have a baby ... you just find a different way to live it.
-Corinne Campbell, via Facebook
No kid is perfect.
-John Patrick, via Facebook
Follow your own "mommy instincts" and do what works for you. And not to compare your child to others. Every child goes at their own pace.
-Megan Daniels Huber, via Facebook
You can't sculpt your child into what you want them to be, but you can help them achieve the best they can be.
-Kimberly Siemasko Somers, via Facebook
Keep your children up-to-date with vaccinations, help them eat well, keep them moving, fasten belts and car seats while driving, don't smoke around your children or at all and wash hands to be safe and healthy.
-Melody Anne Butler, via Facebook
The best parenting advice I ever got was, "Don't be overprotective."
-Real Family Time, via Facebook
Let them fall sometimes, it builds character. Stop helicopter parenting.
-Mary McClain, via Facebook
Just breathe ... It's not as easy as it sounds when things become overwhelming and stressful. Take a moment and concentrate on breathing. Then things slow down. And know there is no such thing as a perfect parent. You will make mistakes so just learn from them. That's why it's "life lessons."
-Lori Anne, via Facebook
Everything in moderation.
-Alexis V.M. Hugelmeyer, via Facebook
Listen to them.
-Ellen Sauchelli, Williston Park
Pick your battles.
-Trish Reilly Auerbach, via Facebook
Be self-generated and create your own fun that will help and inspire your child's imagination. Do less pointing the finger and more finger painting. It's not always about correction but more about connection with your children. Take time to view the sun setting and take time to gaze at the stars. Put household chores on hold to play. Kids will remember moments and the way you made them feel. No child has ever said "I owe my success to my extra-tidy house." Help your child be independent and that will entail letting them fall. Your job is to help them develop the tools to rise on their own.
-Natalie Joy, via Facebook
My best parenting advice is to be strong in every situation. This has been propelling me through the years of my life.
-Rotimi Onifade Hezekiah, via Facebook
Never give up on learning. Life is an adventure.
-Christopher Gawarecki, via Facebook
-Karen Grolz Puglisi, via Facebook
The best advice I received was "This too shall pass." The best advice I've given, "Kids will respect you if you respect them" Also good advice, let them be little, they are children for about 15 years or so!
-Mary Thomas Gerard, via Facebook
Nurture their nature and what you resist will persist ... my mantra!
-Liz Lowry, via Facebook
This too shall pass ... It's the hardest job you'll ever have and you're never done. No matter how old your kids are.
-Carol Dean Floreno, via Facebook
You plant string beans, you get string beans. In other words, call your child bad, they will think they are and become bad. Your children are what you want them to be, treat them that way.
-Lindsay Charles, Valley Stream
You need to be an advocate for your child.
-Florence Redmond-Jackson, via Facebook
Cherish every moment because the moments fly by quickly. Let them be independent and let them make their own mistakes. Don't jump the minute they fall, if they are really hurt, they will let you know.
-Brenda Kelly, via Facebook
Less is better. Children should enhance your life, not control it.
-Andrea Dockery Miller, via Facebook
Happy parents make happy baby!
-Carrie Sollin, Lynbrook
Read to them, read to them, read to them! I think people looked at me like I was crazy when I was reading to two-pound babies in the NICU. But, boy do my kids love books now that they're 3-years-old!
-Amy Reynolds, via Facebook
Walk out of the room, shut the door and walk away.
-Rae Anne McLaughlin, via Facebook
Pick your battles.
-Barbara Christian Pirtle, via Facebook
Sleep when the baby is sleeping was great advice. Also, take your children to the playground and let them run wild; then put a nice soft lullaby on the way home and you will have a few hours of peace and quiet.
-Maria Gonzalez-Prescod, via Facebook
When they are a newborn, don't block out all sounds when they take a nap. Otherwise, you'll always be tiptoeing around the house.
-Emily Brewer, East Meadow
Go with your gut instinct on everything ... it never steers you wrong!
-Jennifer La Grande Lania,via Facebook
This one may be a little "old school," but to me it was priceless ... never wake a sleeping baby! My mom told me this the day I brought my first son home from the hospital.
-Yvonne Estile Strube, via Facebook
My GP told me to never wake a sleeping baby, even if you think they need feeding or changing. They will let you know what they need when they wake up. Also, I think running the vacuum and being loud while the baby sleeps, too. Let there be noise lest you'll be tiptoeing the rest of your life.
-Sally Cannon, via Facebook
When my daughter was a baby I was approached by a couple who were expecting their first child. They said they were scared and asked if I had any advice. I told them parents are not born, they are made by the child. As the child grows, you grow as parents. When the baby is born, you may feel a little lost but if you just pay attention and really listen to your baby, you'll learn what cry means what. I also told them not to spoil their kids. Don't give them everything they want just because you don't like to hear them cry or you don't feel like dealing with it. They'll learn to accept it and stop asking. If he were to ask me today I'd add: Never answer their questions with: "You wouldn't understand" or "You're to young for that" and never tell them they can't do something. I've always answered all of my daughter's questions and explained everything she wanted to know and she's the smartest child I've ever known. She was walking and talking at 10 months, could hold a conversation at 2 years old and went into Kindergarten writing her name and started first grade reading to her classmates.
-Susan Soto, via Facebook
What's the best parenting advice you ever received or given? Share your comments below or follow me on Twitter @JenBergerKids.