I’ve been a planner all my life. I tend to know what my day will look like a week ahead. It’s not that I’m especially organized. I just like to have an idea of what’s coming. Now, obviously you can’t plan everything in life. There are plenty of curve balls thrown our way, but when it comes to some things, I think you’re better off with time to prepare. And for me, one of those things is having children.

That said, I’m getting ready. I’m nesting, so to speak. Family planning is in my near future (sound the alarm, mom). I’ve been bit by the baby bug or as some say I’ve come down with a case of baby fever. Something changed in the last year. Lately when I walk through the aisles at Target, I gravitate to the baby department to peruse the section. There’s the adorable onesies and tiny shoes for tiny toes. Then, there’s that strange pumping device, which I can only guess is used for one thing. Also, I used to cringe in fear when someone handed me a baby, but now I find myself opening my arms for the little tykes.

In preparation for this life-altering event, I’m reading — a lot. And some of what I’ve read has left me feeling, “nope, this isn’t for me.” Birth is a beautiful thing, they say. Well, generally speaking that may be true, but from the photos and videos I’ve seen, it can be quite terrifying. In fact, the whole idea of being responsible for a living, breathing creature is terrifying. Yes, I’ve raised cats and dogs, but this is different. This is the biggest, most important job in the world. If you mess up, there are no redo’s.
As I get ready to begin this next chapter, I’m seeking the wisdom of friends and relatives who are parents.

I asked them to give one piece of advice to new moms and dads out there. Here was the response:

“Give yourself a break. Babies need to be changed, held and fed. That’s about all. All the rest of it is not that important. And accept all help that is offered.” — Aimee Bowlin, Shreveport

“Tune out all the advice and do what feels right for you. And don’t be hard on yourself. Kids just need you to spend time with them, be truly present with them.” — Kim Webb, Shreveport

“I’ll just echo the idea of being present. Don’t catch yourself saying or thinking stuff like, ‘I can’t wait until he…’ or ‘I wish he still…’ Do your best to enjoy every stage as long as it lasts, and move along with them. You’ll both enjoy the ride a lot more.” — Scott Anderson, Shreveport

“Trust your gut instinct, don’t overthink. And everyone has a different opinion about everything.” — Ben Wolosick, Woodstock, Ga.

“After 14 years, there’s no magical parenting book. There’s not even a decent manual. Everyone is going to give you his or her advice. Don’t feel obliged to take all or any of it, if you don’t want to.” — Melissa Netherton, Shreveport

“Throw away baby books. If your kid doesn’t fit ‘the mold,’ doesn’t nap like it says they should, it’s not your problem. Every kid is different. They aren’t programmable robots. And get OxiClean and Amazon Prime. — Emily Bass Nycum, Shreveport

“Sometimes it’s best to just leave the mess for later and instead spend time with your kiddos because you aren’t always guaranteed tomorrow.” — Chelsea Yates, Haughton

“You are going to make mistakes but if they feel loved, all will turn out ok.” — Carolyn Huggins Simmons, Shreveport