Lauren and Kevin McDermott are entering Year 7 in the NFL but are still navigating their rookie campaign as parents.
The Vikings long snapper and his wife welcomed their daughter Campbell in December and have been enjoying all of the "firsts" that come with this new season in life: from first smiles and new discoveries to their first vacation as a family of three. Or four, if you include their beloved white Lab, Cash.
We recently caught up with Lauren, during a trip to Hawaii, for her perspective on valued parenting advice, living long-distance from family and what she's learned about herself since stepping into motherhood.
Q: What has been the best part about being a new mom?
A: "I think the best part for me is that having Campbell has made me, in a way, just slow down and enjoy the basic things in life. You have a baby, and you start to see everything from his or her eyes. Just little things like walking around and showing her flowers or trees or animals becomes super exciting because you're seeing it through her [perspective]. The TV's never on anymore. I think you just slow down and see the beauty of the simple things in life because you're seeing it from your baby's eyes."
*Q: Have you been surprised by any parenting advice you received? *
A: "My mom told me, 'Don't set goals.' That was her advice for me: 'Don't set [time] goals for anything,' and I didn't really listen to it. I didn't think much of it. But now after having a baby, I realized how right she was. Every baby's different, every baby does things on different timelines, whether it's sleeping through the night or things like that, and I think before having Campbell, I had these thoughts in my head, 'OK, by 3 months we want her sleeping through the night in her nursery,' and that didn't happen – which was OK. I think it's better to not set goals and just let things happen rather than having it in your head when things should happen. I think that's something I learned early on."
Q: How have you navigated the challenge of living a distance away from family?
A: "It's an interesting situation because if parents were close by, I would definitely utilize that, but we don't have that. In a way, it's very empowering because I've learned to figure out how to get things done by just taking her with me, whether it's walking the dog, going to the grocery store or things where people might have their parents come watch the baby. We just find ways to do it, and I think it's very empowering to be able to do it all yourself, with the help of your partner.
"In terms of keeping up that relationship [with Campbell and her relatives], we use a ton of FaceTime. We're lucky that both sides of our family have visited us a lot, and we've gone on vacations with them. Campbell's traveled a ton. I think this is her fifth trip, and she's only 6 months old. So, we've been able to spend a lot of time with family."
Q: What has it been like to watch Kevin transition into his new role of 'Dad'?
A: "It's an amazing thing to see how your partner responds to having a child, and there was no doubt in my mind that Kevin was going to be an amazing father because he's so sweet and loving with me and with our dog. What's been really amazing is how thoughtful he is in terms of making sure that I still take time for myself, because I'm someone who doesn't do that naturally. He's been a wonderful, sweet father with Campbell, and then I'm very appreciative that he also has been so thoughtful of how I'm doing – whether it's just emotionally, or am I tired, or do I need a break – he's always checking in on how I'm doing as a new mom. I think that's something that not everyone always gets, so I'm just really appreciative of him being that way."
Q: You mentioned learning to slow down; is there anything else that you've learned about yourself since becoming a mom?
A: "I've always thought of Kevin and I as being Type-A people. We like our schedules, we keep a calendar and all this stuff, but we're actually much more flexible than I give us credit for. Because with a baby, you can't control a lot. You have to be a little go-with-the-flow – 'Now we're going to try a nap,' or sometimes we go out to a restaurant and she's just not going to cooperate, and that's just how it goes, right? I think both him and I have been super flexible when it comes to accepting that we're a little bit on her schedule sometimes, and I don't think we realized that we were as 'go-with-the-flow' as we really are. You just kind of have to be that way with a baby."
Q: It's probably hard to narrow down, but as you've watched Campbell grow and develop, has there been a favorite milestone or stage?
A: "A lot of people say the first smile, which that is true – I think the mother bonds so quickly with your baby just because you've carried the baby and there's an immediate bond, and I think I really saw Kevin bond on a new level with her when she started smiling and responding. But then the other thing that was amazing is when we noticed that she started to track things. She'll watch our dog Cash run around the apartment and she's tracking him – it's like the smallest things where you're like, 'Oh my gosh, wow. My baby didn't do that yesterday, and now today she's watching the dog's every movement and sees where he goes.' Or even, babies are crazy about phones, which I didn't realize, and she just noticed the other day that even if I hide something under a cover, it's still there. It's those little things that all of a sudden you'll realize, 'Oh my gosh. I used to be able to hide things from her, and now I can't.' "
Q: Are there any 'must-haves' you would recommend to a new mom?
A: "My first one is our travel stroller. … I think it's amazing because it goes in the overhead, so it makes life so easy. I've traveled with her by myself, and I think having that setup makes it so easy that you can just have the stroller with you. The other thing, in Minnesota it was crucial to have a snuggly car seat cover. I think I got mine from Caitlin Thielen. … Having a cozy car seat cover, because she was born in December, was just crucial because you can't put them in a snowsuit and then in the car seat. We used that the whole winter, and that was big. Those are two items that we used a ton."