"Repeat after me. Say it out loud. It helps. Breastfeeding is really f**ing hard." - Dawn Dais
I first encountered the hilarious world of Dawn Dais when reading her book, The Sh!t No One Tells You, after having my third child. Her words, conveying the immense difficulty of having a baby while at the same time making light of the trying period of time, brought laughter to my middle of the night newborn baby feeds and our dinner table, when I shared them with my husband. They also helped me feel normal and not alone. Her words helped me feel that I was not the only one in the world who did not have my sh!t together all the freakin time. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
Rather listen to our conversation? Check out our podcast here.
Why Not To Wait To Start Fertility Treatment
"I went into the doctor when we decided we were ready for children because obviously we needed medical intervention to get pregnant."
Dawn lives with her partner Becky and they sought fertility treatment to conceive their children.
"If it was a straight couple they say try for a year before coming into the fertility specialist, which I think is absolutely ridiculous. I just finished a book on pregnancy that’s coming out in the fall, and one of the things that is really important is to not wait a year to seek treatment. I feel like the second you feel like you want to get pregnant, you want to start down that road, then go to the doctor, get the tests, make sure all the bits are working, so you don’t waste a year. And that can be really, really hard, infertility can be really hard emotionally for both people in the relationship."
So if you are headed to the fertility specialist and the fertility specialist turns you away, saying to come back in 12 months, Dawn urges you to not heed this advice and decide to go forward immediately.
"The fact they’re like wait a year before you come and see us, that’s 12 months of getting your heart broken. And that can really, really start weighing on someone and the relationship. if you want to get pregnant, go in, get everything checked, because who knows what other issues you might have that might not be conducive to carrying baby the term. But not everybody does that, so I just think it’s a really good idea."
How To Understand That "It Will Get Better"
Dawn discusses those weeks and months after bringing home her first child, Vivian. She says,
"I was so overwhelmed by everything as it was happening and it felt really endless, like she’s never going to sleep.”
Her advice to other moms in the same situation?
“It feels like forever because when you’re not sleeping, even like two days it can feel like years, but it’s not forever and it’ll get better, it’ll get better, it’ll get better. Eventually the child will sleep, and I can’t make you any guarantees of when that will happen, but eventually that tooth will come in, eventually they’ll poop in the toilet, everything eventually will come to pass."
How To Use Comedy To Deal With Imperfections Of Parenting Life
Dawn, a perfectionist by nature, shares how there is no place in parenting for perfection. Comedy has helped her accept that parenting is an imperfect process by bringing laughter to these imperfect situations. In addition to coming to terms with the imperfections of parenting,
"I went into parenthood as somebody that is a perfectionist by nature, I like to be good at things, I like to figure out how to do things, even if it takes a long time and I just keep doing them that way, and being really good at them. And that is completely useless in parenting. You have to at a certain point throw up your hands and realize that perfection is just not going to happen and having a sense of humor is probably the best way to deal with your imperfections. Just realizing there are things I’m going to always be really bad at doing, like I’m never going to be a Pinterest mom, it’s just not going to happen. And so I think about what am I good at doing. For example, I can show up and I can make sure that they know they’re loved. And I have a sense of humor and make sure they have a sense of humor. We do laugh a lot.”
Why Not To Compare Yourself To Your Friend's Social Media Feeds
Dawn shares the stress that can come from comparing yourself to fellow Mom's crafty Pintrest boards.
"I know everybody’s got their own thing, but for me, Pintrest and craft boards are not my thing. To me that just stresses me out and I just think the whole time I could buy this at Target for $4. I would much rather be watching Netflix. My kid doesn’t care if I buy it at Target or if I spend 12 hours making the stupid cupcakes."
Dawn urges us to not compare ourselves to the unrealistic portrayal of parenting found in fellow parents' social media feeds. She discusses how comparing yourself to these feeds that portray only the top 5% of parenting life can further lead you to a "feeling of isolation".
"Stop comparing yourself against everybody’s social media feeds. It’s everybody’s curated version of their life. I wish that people would post the hundred photos that they take to get that one perfect photo. You sit there looking at these feeds and it can add to your feeling of isolation. You’re seeing how perfect everybody is and you are like barely holding it together."
Dawn acknowledges that there are moms who love Pintrest and for some of them, it is a release for them, but that's not Dawn. Dawn finds her release in writing and creating stories. In her words, "to each is her own." She continues,
"There are people that love Pintrest, and if that’s your thing and you like it, that’s great. I know some moms where Pinterest and crafting is actually a release for them. I just hate it when I see moms that feel like they have to do that because if they don’t do that cake or if they don’t do spend 12 hours on the cupcakes their kid is going to have some horrible version of their childhood in their brain. The kid doesn’t care. I get my cake from Safeway and put a candle on it. My kids don’t care. I mean what do they care? That is me, but to each is her own."
How To Use Comedy To Help Your Child Navigate Social Situations
Dawn has helped her daughter speak up for herself and come out of her shell to grow more confident and express herself verbally.
She shares how she has taught Vivian to speak up for herself and how comedy has played a critical role.
"Vivian always has been so shy, so we got her into preschool just for the sake of socializing her and getting her used to being around kids, but even then she was pretty much quiet the entire time. I kept going over with her what to say in situations with her peers where she was not comfortable. You can start with “please stop that”, and then “thank you, I’m not having fun”. That’s a huge one, because the other children have no idea if you are not having fun. And it’s not their fault that they’re all playing having fun and you don’t like that game, so tell them. You don’t have to be crazy and say “I’m going to go to tell the teacher on you”. That’s not a solution for life, you can’t just go tell on them, you need to deal with it. Of course, if her peer does not listen after she talks to him, I told her to tell the teacher, but there is a lot we could do before that step. I tried to also help her use humor so it wasn’t so blatantly like, “Stop, I’m not having fun,” We created phrases like “Back off, Bucko”, “Slow down Sally”, “Slow your role, Man, “ that kind of thing, and just give her like funny things to say too. It is a way to be like dude chill out, and not totally cause a scene."
How Raising Siblings When Growing Up As An Only Child Can Be Extra Loud
Dawn grew up as an only child. She says of raising siblings,
"It’s been a lot, it’s been really hard for me because I am an only child and came from such a quiet little household, but they’re good kids, But it is loud, it is very loud. I wrote a book called The Sh!t No One Tells You About Baby #2, and that’s all about the craziness that comes with multiplying the children in your house."
Key Principles For Raising Children: Why Showing Up For Your Kids Is So Important
Dawn and I discussed her key parenting principles for raising her children. She shares hers,
"Show up, work hard, be kind, have a sense of humor. Kindness is number on that list. But you have to show up, and a lot of times, especially this generation, we coddle them, I know I coddle my kids way more than I probably should, and that doesn’t do great things for the show-up part. You’ve got to show up, you’ve got to work your butt off, and you have to be kind to the people around you and have a good time."
"It’s hard because you’ve got blank slates, and you’re trying to teach them to be this perfect person, and you’re so deeply flawed. So it’s like ‘do as I say, not as I do’. That’s a big part of it too, is trying to demonstrate how to be kind, how to be a good person, how to make the right choices. That’s a big responsibility, but I think our big thing with them is just doing the showing up part, making sure we’re there for them every day. We have meals with them and we have a ridiculous bedtime routine that is obscenely long."
Why Taking "Me Time" Is Necessary To Cope With Parenting
Over the last 9 months, Dawn has not had a nanny. Oh and also during this time, she’s written a book and continued her design work.
“It was it was more than a little stressful. But we survived.”
So what does she do to cope with the stress?
“Every once in awhile I go to a hotel down the street and just sleep just sleep, that’s all I do, I just watch Netflix and sleep. People are like, why don’t you go on vacation, I don’t want to fly somewhere, that’s wasted time, I should be sleeping. I can slow down, I can order room service, I sleep in, like this is all I need in my life. And that’s good, it recharges me so I can come back and be good for them.”
Best Resource For Parents: Fellow Parents And How To Find Them
Dawn's resource recommendation for new moms? Fellow moms.
"It’s always good to have someone that’s traveling the same road as you. Some moms will have advice, but more than anything they will just confirm that you’re not completely crazy or like it’s the worst parent that ever existed. Having someone who will say I’ve been there, I’ve done that, you’ll be fine, you'll get over it, they’ll be okay. It helps a lot. And if you don’t have friends you can talk to or text, there are always online communities."
How Social Media Can Be A Force Of Good
Social media offers a place for moms to connect, which can be hugely beneficial to combat feelings of isolation so many of us experience in the newborn and childhood raising days. Dawn says,
"I think social media is really good for is the connecting with people. I think at its best it’s a way for people to connect. There are moms’ groups all over the internet and on social media that are really supportive, and that’s always the place you can if you have questions. I’ll tell you, moms really enjoy giving their advice. Make sure to get different opinions though and make sure you’re not only taking only one side. "
Yes, there are wonderful ways social media can improve our lives when used in a positive way. For example, you can laugh with Dawn on her social media feeds. :)
Want to bring more laughter into your home? Check Out Dawn's Books
The Overly Honest Baby Book - The book itself is designed as a beautiful keepsake and the content includes the normal things a parent would record for their baby (head circumference etc) but it also includes the messy reality of parenting in Dawn's humorous tone. It's a great gift for an expecting parent and will help them laugh (instead of cry) about being pooped on and swearing during the delivery process. Get yours now here on Amazon for $8.80.
A page from The Overly Honest Baby Book
The Sh!t No One Tells You - The cartoons in this book will have you laughing out loud for years! $7.42 on Amazon
The Sh!t No One Tells You About Baby Number 2 - $12.05 on Amazon
The Sh!t No One Tells You About Toddlers - $11.69 on Amazon
The Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy - $15.99 on Amazon
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