It’s the Most Demanding Role – and the Most Rewarding. You CAN Do This!!
Once upon a time, you had that idyllic vision of family life with a beautiful little baby. You just knew you’d be the coolest parent and create the perfect home for your little one. Now your baby is here – and everything you thought you knew you’re beginning to question. Reality check. Babies are born every day, and most parents figure it out. because…well…we all grew up. Toss panic aside.
Keep these Top 10 New Parent Sanity Checks close by. You’ll need them.
1. Check your sleep barometer
Before the baby, you could get by on little sleep periodically, but with rest, you bounced back. Now, no sleep seems like a way of life. What if you don’t get those recovery days? You’re cranky, confused and can’t remember why you went to the grocery store. Plan ahead. All your baby’s visitors will offer to help “if you need anything”. Take them up on it – even if it’s just to catch a power nap.
2. Forget the mess – Choose tidy over clean
What’s the difference, right? Well, pre-baby clean meant no dishes in the sink, spotless bathrooms, your bedspread tucked in all the right corners with throw pillows on top, and vacuumed rugs. Fast forward. Now, tidy means most things are picked up in key rooms where people may visit. (No one’s taking a home tour.) Dump your garbage cans. Wipe down the kitchen and bathroom counters, and toss the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Clean them later.
3. Stock up on hand wipes for the home and car
This goes beyond changing tables. Babies are spontaneous. They can make a mess anytime and anywhere. Be prepared. You don’t want your clean up “supplies” downstairs when you need them upstairs.
4. Crying babies get your attention
Yes, but that’s a given, right? Here are some crying “hotspots” you will most likely encounter and a few tips to manage through it. At a restaurant? Take the baby out of the dining area and walk outside, in the entry area, or in the restroom until the little one calms down. On a plane? Options are limited but most people say that giving babies a bottle (even just with water) at take-off and landing helps to relieve their ear pressure a bit. Some medical professionals say babies cry to express themselves. Get to know their cranky cries, food cries, diaper-changing cries or “I’m in pain” screams. It’s a new foreign language. You’ll figure it out.
5. Create your own “how to” parent manual
You’ll realize soon enough that parents with older children can offer both sage wisdom and many ideas for making life with baby a little easier. Some of them push the “you have to get this or do that” program. Their ideas might be helpful to you, but the real learnings come from their stories. Remember they were once in your shoes. If they’re being honest, they’ll share both their panic and humor along with their means of survival. Those are the people to know. But the best advice is trust your gut.
6. Plan adult outings
Calling all babysitters! Get recommendations before your baby arrives. High school and college kids, neighbors or retirees can all be good ideas. If you know other new parents, discuss periodic overnight stay swaps. You watch the kids one Saturday, then they can do the next one. Having that baby/life balance is critical to parenting survival. Plus, your baby can adjust to new people and time away from you better.
7. Stock up on first aid and common medical supplies
Talk with your pediatrician and pre-purchase commonly used, infant over-the-counter medications and dosage gadgets. When the time comes, you don’t want to stress about who’s going to the drug store, if it’s open, or how long it will take for the other person to return. You need it now. Instead, call the doctor, confirm the medications (which you’ll hopefully already have) and get the dosages. Crisis averted.
8. When possible – Stay calm
Babies can sense stress and desperation. If you’re upset, chances are they’ll be upset too. In many cases, you can just hold them, maybe rub their backs and help them through those tough times.
9. Maintain household noises
The baby’s sleeping. Don’t do it! Keep common noises around your baby. They’ll learn to sleep through vacuuming, thunderstorms, etc. Keep things quiet, and you’ll never sleep.
10. Prepare for the future
Look…Becoming a parent is all about defining a new normal. It’s amazing and frightening at the same time. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll have stories for a lifetime. With your new responsibilities, make sure to add one more thing to your to-do list – life insurance. When you’re creating your family, you don’t want to think about not being there to see your child grow up, but it could happen. Now is actually the right time to think about that possibility.
You don’t want to imagine your partner struggle with raising your child or not having enough money to cover child care, mortgage, bills, etc. With children, there’s always something. So look into life insurance, get ideas about how much coverage you might need, and check that off your list. Then, you’ll know that your family should be OK financially if you can’t be there. (You’ll eventually need life insurance but maybe for a better reason – to leave behind for your great grandchildren.)