Make it a better 2017

I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was not a banner year. 

I don’t want to get too specific; we were all there.

Sure, it’s tempting to say something Minnesotan — “Oooooh well, that sure was something, huh? Guess it can’t get much worse than that now, can it?”

But I can’t summon the energy to fake some sort of Midwestern obliviousness. 

We’re currently living in a world of great uncertainty. And here we are in Baby on Board — your monthly one-stop-shop for all things baby-related. 

Sigh. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my five years of parenting, it’s that “uncertainty” plus “babies” isn’t a winning combination. 

Babies need to feel safe and loved. They need consistency in their daily routines, and they need help getting to sleep. 

That’s where you come in! 

It’s up to you to create an environment in which your baby can explore, develop and grow. And it isn’t just about babyproofing the kitchen and attending Music Together classes. 

I’m talking about all the things that come together to make your family’s world what it is — the friends, family, daycare centers, medical providers and more that can make all the difference. 

As a rule, I think New Year’s resolutions are a bad idea — especially for new parents. 

But this year, I’ve decided to make a couple vague resolutions to help guide my way in the year ahead. Perhaps they can provide some inspiration for your own vague resolutions:

Take no S%!$

This one is very broad and can be applied to many situations. You can start by noticing how people treat you. 

Take your pediatrician, for example. Let’s say you have a question about some rash on your baby’s skin. Does she listen to you and take you seriously? Or does she laugh dismissively and brush you off as a “newbie parent” who is “jumpy about every little thing?” 

If the response tends toward the latter, it might be time to shop around for a new pediatrician. 

Remember to apply these high standards in your own life, as well.

If you’re struggling with exhaustion and dark moods, for example, bring it up at your postpartum checkup (or schedule an appointment if it’s after the six-week checkup). 

Your concerns should be taken seriously. If your health-care provider just tells you it’s the “baby blues” and doesn’t pursue any inquiry beyond that, see someone else. 

As for me, my decision to “Take no S%!$” this year also includes a general goal to avoid toxic or tiresome people. The strangers on the street who offer un-asked-for parenting advice? I’m done trying to engage. 

My racist relative? No, I won’t “critique” your bigoted poem. 

The mom at the park who suggests I should try “clean eating” as she gives my abdomen the side-eye? A cold stare in return. 

Note to postpartum mothers: I strongly suggest you avoid any and all people who try to push clean eating on you as a way to lose the baby weight or whatever. The idea of clean eating is, in my opinion, toxic.  

Minimize freak-outs in front of the kids   

From election angst to personal struggles, 2016 was full of freak-out-able situations. As a general rule, however, I tried to keep my meltdowns strictly after hours, as far as my kids were concerned. 

Do my children need to learn how to express their feelings and deal with knowing their mother experiences tough emotions, too? Of course. 

Do they need to watch me weeping into the steering wheel while waiting at a red light? I don’t think so. 


Shannon Keough lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to skeough@mnparent.com.