Monday, November 19, 2012

Things No One Tells You About Parenthood

I know several people who are about to become first time parents, so here is a list for all of them.  You're welcome. ;)

  • The newborn stage: you either love it or you hate it.  I hated it.  I thought I was supposed to be all rainbows and sunshine about it, but my kid screamed 20 hours a day, and I couldn't get more than 20 minutes of sleep at a time. 
  • Oh, and those early weeks?  No sleep.  Endless diaper changes.  Spit-up.  Figuring out a schedule.  Getting to know a new person.  Trying to constantly meet the needs of that tiny, helpless person.  Who cannot give you any feedback, except by crying.  Seriously.  Nothing.  Lower your expectations for awhile.
  • Things you will need:
    • White noise machine.  Seriously.  Best.thing.ever.
    • Twice as many bottles as you think you need.
    • Sleep sacks
    • Diapers
    • GOOD wipes that pop up easily.  We like the Huggies ones.
    • 4-5 onesies per day (especially if you have a constant spitter, like I did)
    • Bibs.
    • A comfortable chair.  Preferably one that rocks.
    • Plenty of television shows.  For those times when baby is only happy if you're holding him/her.  (Also, this will be the last time for awhile that you get to choose what you want to watch without worrying if someone is going to repeat it.  Enjoy it while it lasts.)
    • Someone else to clean your house.
  • Things you probably will not need:
    • Bottle warmers.  We had three.  We never used any of them.  Ever.
    • Wipes warmer.  Seriously, if they're cold, just hold them in your hand for a few seconds.  However, we learned the hard way not to leave wipes in the car for too long when it's below freezing.
    • Cutesy clothing.  Onesies and sleepers are FAR easier to deal with.
    • A plethora of hats.  Find one or two you really like, but honestly?  They probably won't wear them once their hands can find their heads.
    • Ditto socks.  Unless it's winter, and you're outside, they really aren't worth the trouble at first.
  • At the store, Rock Star parking goes from "Closest the door" to "Right next to the cart return".  I'm not joking.  Try returning a cart across the parking lot with a screaming infant.  This was honestly the.BEST advice I ever got pre-baby.
  • Your car, which was once HUGE, will no longer be big enough for everything the baby needs.  Even if you only have one kid.  And if you have to travel, you might as well rent a bus.
  • You will feel like completely overwhelmed by this child for quite awhile.  Actual time varies for each person, but trust me, you WILL feel it.
  • You need at least two diaper bags - one massive one with lots of pockets to keep every little thing you could possibly need.  Leave that one in the car.  The second should be purse-sized and hold a couple of diapers, some wipes, a change of clothes, and a bottle.  That's it.  That's the one you take into the store with you.
  • Even if you're breastfeeding, consider giving the kid bottles from time to time - even if it's pumped breastmilk.  It's a great way to allow Dad to help with a midnight feeding so you can get some sleep.  Also?  Way easier to hold a bottle with one hand and fold laundry with the other than it is to try to nurse and fold laundry.
  • Those little baskets for the dishwasher?  Invest in one.  They save SO much time on cleaning and sanitizing EVERYTHING your precious baby is going to put in their mouth.
  • Buy a hat for yourself and learn to wear it.  That way, no one can tell when you haven't been able to shower before making the store run.
  • Once baby is big enough to grab at things (which is as early as 6 weeks old), stop wearing jewelry for awhile.  Unless you like being strangled with your own necklace. :)
I have a ton more and may write another of these someday (because they're fun).  The biggest thing to remember, though, is that when it comes to advice (even this advice), listen to it all, then choose what works for you.  Ignore the rest.  Your child and your experience is unique.  No one else has to walk this road.  Just you.  So, make your choices and stand by them.  For all the crazy, awful, sleeplessness and horror, parenthood is worth it.  Promise.


  1. Always pack a bit more than you think you need. Think you need three diapers? Take four. Pack of wipes? Take two. If you end up hauling around some extra stuff, it might be annoying, but it is far less annoying than finding yourself in the midst of a large poopy crying mess and short a fresh nappy.

  2. Also,
    - your kid loves you and loves to hear you and touch you. Really. They may be unhappy at points, but that does not change that underlying fact
    - nap when they do, or near to it
    - stimulation is good - it helps them develop. However, stores (especially large retail stores) are designed to bombard you with stimulation. This is hard for adults to deal with; watch that your young one does not become overwhelmed.
    - you are escorting a rock star. No-one wants to talk to you, they want to see the baby. Your job is to keep the groupies from getting to handsy, field questions for the rock star, and keep them on schedule. Seriously on the handsy groupies.
    - realize that someday it will happen; that magical day when you can lay them down on their tummy-time mat with a mirror and a mobile and they will be perfectly happy on their own-ish for fifteen WHOLE minutes! That realization will help when you have held them all day long.
    - Start deciding now what your preferred caffeine source is. You will be singing softly along to glow-worm for an hour or more straight in the dead of night while rocking the little one because their little tummy hurts. Knowing how to make coffee while still mostly asleep is a skill you will appreciate the next morning.

    Net: baby is great, but it will shake up your life. Try not to schedule much for that time. Like projects or plays or anything with a fixed due date.

  3. -You will find you can do so many things while holding a baby that you never thought possible - like making coffee or using the toilet or even washing dishes when the desperate need arises.

    -Enjoy the time of where you are at now while you can because it goes by so fast.

    -Before you have lost all your baby weight people will start asking when you are planning to have another.

    -You are not a bad parent for putting your child down and letting him scream so you can take 2 minutes to pee by yourself. And you are not a bad parent for holding the baby while you use the toilet because you don't want to let him scream.