A humorous list of survival techniques for parents welcoming their first child.
Surviving Life with Baby
- You may think you have no idea what you’re doing. You don’t, but neither does baby. Baby is just as new at this as you are.
- The “book” may say not to put baby in the swing for more than 30 minutes at a time, twice a day. Other moms say: If it saves your sanity, do it.
- It’s normal to consider selling the baby on eBay. (As my husband says, “SIDS is just an excuse for parents who smother their infants.”)
- Rock, swing, swaddle, sing, feed, diaper. Repeat.
- Week four is easier than week three, and so on.
- For the firsts few weeks, make lists of everything. A “to do” list may include your own basic hygiene. (Hint: conveniently leave list of chores where friends or relatives, who “want to help” will see it.)
- There will be days when you don’t brush your teeth until two in the afternoon.
- Sometimes, running the dishwasher makes it a good day. Sometimes, running and emptying the dishwasher constitutes a good week.
- Make your own rules, then decide which ones to break. (I said no pacifiers, but rescinded for nap time when my mother-in-law babysat, but I insist on the No TV rule. I like putting the baby to bed at a set time every night, but sometimes my friend keeps her baby up if her husband works late so they can have family time.)
- Listen to your heart, not your neighbor’s advice. Same goes for mothers and other relatives. If it doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it.
- You will understand Baby’s cries. Suddenly, around eight weeks, you just know what the baby wants. And you’re not sure when it happened.
- Your life will start to return to normal—in about six months.
- If breastfeeding, remember: It can be uncomfortable for the first four to six weeks. Then, it’s the easiest thing in the world. Even in public. As my friend and peer mom says, “it’s not a breast anymore, it’s like whipping out a bag of potato chips.”
- It’s not just poop. It’s a major event. After a while, it requires a Richter scale. “That’s the biggest 10 I’ve ever seen!”
- Call your friends. Have a friend or relative who you can call at any hour. Or make sure your spouse has a cell phone on. There will be days when you feel like you’re going crazy and you need someone who has had a baby and understands. These days get fewer as baby grows, but they still happen.
- Sleep when the baby is sleeping sounds good but it doesn’t always work. I recommend going to bed at night when the baby goes to bed, even if it is 6:30 or seven o’clock. You may need to do this for a couple months to prevent utter and sheer exhaustion.
- If you cook, double the recipe and freeze some. Label well.
- Prioritize. I do dishes and laundry every other day. But the toilets—I try to do them once a week. If I make every other week, that’s more realistic. Until baby moves, vacuuming is a low priority. (But a good one if visitors want to be helpful. Just leave the vacuum where friends and family will see it.)
- Pace yourself. Even if you feel great, don’t overdo it. Take it as easy as you can until that post-partum check-up. And if your guests/relatives/visitors annoy you—ask for some space or hide. You can take the baby with you or not. Hormones do go crazy. Blame them.
- If baby is inconsolable, go for a ride in the car, a walk around the block or try the swing. Motion works wonders. Sometimes, you need fresh air, too.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: On the very worst days, the baby will do something really cute to remind you why you’re doing this. Don’t forget to watch for it.