I would like to first off say, every household is different… every experience and environment is different. And with that, let’s start with what I expected it would be like to have a child in the United States. Essentially, my expectations versus the reality.
I come from Uganda, where there is a communal raising of a community’s children. It is not only the common custom, but vital. The aunties, nieces, nephews, and your moms (the grandmas) – just to mention a few – are going to help out with raising your child. However, in most cases, this is not so in the United States… or any other developed country for that matter. Instead, you learn to be on your own and do things on your own. Of course, if you have enough money, you can hire a live-in nanny or a babysitter, but those can get expensive as time goes on.
Therefore, very early on in my motherhood journey, with the help of my husband, I realized we were on our own. No one to help us cook food, do laundry or even run to the grocery store. Here, it would be an individual versus a community mindset in the raising of our child.
But guess what?!? We did it! We figured it out… And you can too!
With that being said, here are 5 resources that I found useful (and that I hope will help you too!) as I navigated raising a child in the USA – especially in those early months with a baby.
Please hear me out on this. When I first joined Instagram, I followed everyone and their mother, and after awhile I noticed that these people I was following social media were not actually adding value to my life. So I began again. I unfollowed them, and I started deliberately following people I care about and who I found inspiring. When I became a mom in an unfamiliar world, I turned to family and mom bloggers who had experience in parenting. I would watch their Youtube content, read their Instagram posts, and watched their Snapchat stories. By doing this, I knew what worked and did not work for them while developing my own parenting style. I gathered ideas and bits of parenting styles from each one, incorporated my own beliefs and values, and in turn I was able to develop own parenting style.
Your Local Community Groups
Join your local community groups. And do not just join one, join multiple. Find ones where you fit in, and those matching your parenting style. Usually these community groups have first-time moms who are just like you: looking for new mom friends, so you can bounce off ideas from each other. Some community groups schedule activities centering around kids. For example, when my boy was 6 months old, I enrolled him in one of those mommy-and-me music classes. I met a bunch of mommies, and we bonded over the love of our babies and music.
Online Articles & Podcasts
Gone are the days of your auntie sitting you down to walk you through the joys of raising a child, at least here in the U.S. Instead this is the era with seemingly endless articles on parenting. As a first-time mom, you might not have the time to sit down and read. However, you can listen to a podcast while breastfeeding, or washing bottles. You can listen to peoples’ testimonies and experiences, and in most cases, you will realize you are not alone and that you are doing a great job
If you are into going to church, find a one that aligns with your beliefs and values. There are so many denominations. Go to different ones and see which one works for you. You do not have to stick to one. Just like you surf the web, you can surf around for a church. You can get advise from the leaders and the parents who go there. Also, most churches have babysitting hours during services.
Your In-laws & Friends
Chances are, you have friends who are also moms, or in-laws who are also parents. Do not be afraid to ask them questions and, most importantly, help. Even though everything here is so individualistic, people are actually willing to help you, but you need to ask for it. People here are not mind readers, you need to speak up and ask for help, otherwise you will drown.
Lastly, I want to mention something I found shocking…
Cloth Nappies vs. Diapers
My youngest sibling, who is now 19 years old, wore cloth diapers. And I remember washing them every morning. That was my job (and I actually enjoyed it at the time!). So, when I became a mother, I had decided from experience that this cloth diaper business was not going to work for me, because I did not want to have to hustle in the middle of the night cleaning the mess.
But then I found out there are companies who deal with cloth diapers. You sign up with them, and they deliver cloth diapers to you every 3 days or so, and they will also do all the washing and cleaning for you. How cool is that?! Granted, even with this perk, I shall not be partaking in it. However, if you are into this sort of thing, and look out for the environment, you can opt for this option!
I hope this gives you some insight into raising a child in an unfamiliar territory, which for me is the United States of America… a long way from Uganda. If you have any question or there is anything I missed, please leave it the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time! Enjoy this beautiful summer and stay hydrated.