10 Parenting Tips for New Parents

Hudson is here!

Hannah and I are over the moon excited to welcome our new little guy into the world. We can’t wait to see all the adventures we’ll go on or who our little man grows up to be. We’ve been on the receiving end of a ton of good advice as we’ve prepared to be parents for the first time. Some of it has come from parents and grandparents and some has come from books we’ve read. I’d like to share some of that advice with you here.  

Some of these tips are for new parents, and some of them we’ll just have to tuck in our back pocket for down the road. Regardless, my hope is that you’ll find a nugget or two to take with you.

Treat your spouse like she has a life threatening disease. Protect her rest and serve as the gatekeeper. People visiting the house during those two weeks is exhausting. Tell your friends ahead of time you’ll let them know when you’re ready for people to come over. They’ll want to be helpful and come hang out but it’ll be too much for a while.   

Put baby on a schedule. Your sanity is important.

Let their childhood last as long as possible. Some burdens are too heavy for children. There are topics and conversations they aren’t ready to handle or shouldn’t have to until they’re older. Carry those loads for them until the time is right.

Don’t discipline out of anger. There are going to be times when your temper gets the best of you, but don’t let that be the norm. It's’ better to let something go, than to react out of anger in the moment.

Get a date night without baby as soon as possible. It will be easy for both new parents to get cabin fever and feel isolated. Getting out of the house helps provide relief. Also good to learn to leave baby early on. Gets harder the longer you go without leaving them.

Prioritize sleep. Sleep is scarce, get it when you can.

Have Dinner Together - “Families who eat dinner together,” Duhigg said, “seem to raise children with better homework skills, higher grades, greater emotional control, and more confidence. Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget. It’s not that a family meal or a tidy bed causes better grades or less frivolous spending. But somehow those initial shifts start chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.”

You (dad) are not there to serve the baby, you’re there to serve the mom. Mom will be intently focused upon the needs and well being of the baby. The best way to love your child then, is to love your bride well. Look for ways to take as much pressure and distractions off your wife’s plate as possible. Make sure she is comfortable, refill her water, pray for her, do the laundry; these are all ways you can show her your love and serve her well.  

Our work is not to distract us from our children, our work is to provide for our children. Work is important because it makes so many of the other things we are responsible to do for and with our children possible. It puts food on the table and gas in the tank, but it can also become a distraction. Parents must fight hard to ensure that it doesn’t. Go home and spend time physically, emotionally and in all other ways present with your kiddos. Work is something we do for our children, but it shouldn’t keep us from them.

The goal of parenting is not control of behavior, but rather heart and life change. “As a parent,” Paul Tripp said, “you have been called to something more foundational than the control of the behavior of the children that God has entrusted to your care.” So much of the parenting advice well meaning parents give revolves around behavioral control. That’s always struck me as strange. If what I understand about Christ and the gospel is true, then we are after something far bigger than behavior modification—not just with our kids, but with everyone in our lives. Changing how they act is down river from the heart, just as politics is down river of culture. Don’t get me wrong, we are responsible for helping shape their behavior, that’s just not the most important thing on our to do list.


How To Work With Your Spouse Without Killing Each Other

Several years ago, a friend asked my wife Hannah to capture her wedding day. Little did we know the vast impact this simple ask would have on our lives. Great things often reside on the other side of the opportunities that appear to fall in your lap. "I've always been an artist (not a writer),” Hannah says. “ever since I could hold a pencil in my hands. But the moment I shot my very first wedding I knew I had found my passion. The fast pace of the day, the anticipation & excitement, the true genuine joy that surrounds every single person, the details from the flowers to the borrowed veil from grandma. I was instantly in love.” Cottonwood Road Photography hasn’t been the same since that beautiful day. What had begun as Hannah’s photography business, was now ours.

Since then we’ve worked hand in hand to build a successful business. Perhaps you’re in the same boat. You work day in and day out with your spouse, or you want to. Working with your spouse might be a dream come true on many fronts, but you’ve got to be careful. If you take your eye off the ball, for even a second, it could ruin your marriage. Building a business isn’t worth it if you have to sacrifice the health of your marriage to get it. Your kids won’t thank you if to reaching the top of the mountain blows up your family. I don’t want that to be you anymore than you do. What follows are the five secrets Hannah and I keep in our back pocket as we navigate life and work as team Hagaman.

Daily Abide With Christ

“I am the vine,” Jesus said, “you are the branches. Whoever abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” The key to working with your spouse, is remaining connected to Jesus. He is the source of everything you’re going to do well at your job, without ruining your marriage. The ability to extend grace, love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and remain self controlled when you feel like losing it, flow from your connection to Christ.

Abiding with Christ consists of obeying God’s word. “All scripture,” Paul said, “is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Being intimately acquainted with the word of God is used to accomplish some pretty amazing things in your life. Spend time with it regularly. Marinate your heart in the Bible to such an extent that it flavors everything you do and say. When you do this, it will go well with you.

Establish Healthy Boundaries

Instead of coming home after a long day at the office, you are now sharing that day with your spouse. All day long you’re bouncing ideas off each other, asking questions of one another and working diligently to get your work done. If you aren’t careful, your business will begin to dominate every other area of your lives and marriage. It will be the thing you talk about over dinner or when you go out for date night. It will consume you both and destroy the most valuable human relationship you have.

This happens for two reasons:

  1. Failure to set clear boundaries

  2. Placing too great a value on how hard you work

It seems he drum beat of our culture is hard work. While not a bad thing in and of itself, if taken to an extreme its toxic. Entrepreneurs and business leaders brag about how busy they are, and how many hours they work. Just ask your best friend how it’s going and he’ll reply with some platitude about being swamped, running ragged or things being crazy. To an objective third party it sounds out of control and they’d be right to say so. Working around the clock nonstop isn’t good and it certainly isn’t necessary. Studies over the last several years, have even shown that it might be counterproductive and even harmful. So don’t do it. Resist the urge to define how serious you are about what your building by the number of hours you clock.

Set healthy and strict boundaries around your time and schedule. Create rules for yourself and stick to them. Give yourselves a set work schedule, and don’t talk shop outside these times. Will there be times when this is impossible? Of course, but those times should be the exception not the rule. You’re already trying to do too much, because you’re overcommitted. Don’t worry about that too much right now, everyone else is in the same boat. However, you haven’t worked your tail off to end up in the same boat as everyone else. No, you want to get out of that boat entirely because judging from the national divorce statistics, everyone else has terrible marriages. Flip the script and begin setting healthy boundaries around your work and schedule. It just might save your marriage.

Know Your Role & Help Your Spouse Fulfill Theirs

Building a successful business with your spouse, takes more than setting good boundaries, it requires you to focus on what you do best. You and your spouse aren’t wired exactly the same. You might be good at numbers, and spreadsheets might make you sing, while your spouse might throw up a little just thinking about either. You each bring different skill sets to the table and that’s a good thing. Play to your strengths. Align roles in such a way that you each get to focus the bulk of your time on doing what you excel at. There will be task and responsibilities that just have to be done, even though neither of you are especially gifted at them. That’s just part of life and you get that. The rest of your time however, needs to focus on what only you can do. Ask yourself, what can only I do? What can I take off my spouse’s plate, that will allow them to focus on something only they can do? If you start thinking how you can each free the other up do what they’re best at, you’ll be on the path to not just a successful business but a great marriage as well.

Have At Least One Meeting A Week

Meetings have received a bad rap the last several years, mostly because people do them wrong. They fail to set an agenda, have the meeting before the meeting and keep the reasons for meetings to important matters. The majority of meetings, have become a complete waste of everyone’s time. Time after all is the most precious resource you have. You don’t want to waste even one second of it. Not every meeting however, is a waste. Sometimes they can serve to keep the wheels of progress turning.

Schedule time with your spouse to have a conversation about what you’ve got going on, what’s going well, and what isn’t. It can be as informal and flexible as you decide, but it should have the goal of keeping you on the same page and setting you up to love and serve one another well. Come up with a hand full of questions to ask each other on a weekly basis, and guard that time like a momma bear guarding her cubs. Don’t let other things keep you two from connecting and syncing up your worlds weekly, the consequences could be deadly. If you need a little help coming up with questions, here are a few to get you started.  

Don’t Forget To Dream Together

“In dreams,” Albus Dumbledore said, “we enter a world that’s entirely our own.” Dreaming is as intricate a part of building your business together as invoicing your clients. Don’t think so? Try to go a week or two without dreaming about your life or business. You can’t do it. Dreams are the fuel that feed the fire within. They carry you to new heights and propel you onwards. “I don’t have dreams. I have goals.” You might say. But what is a goal other than the measurable and time-bound expression of a dream. Goals are how you turn dreams into reality. If you’re not dreaming, it won’t be long until you’re drowning. You can’t work weeks and months on end, without a dream fueling it. So go for walk, schedule a dinner or get out of town with your spouse and dream a little.