Years ago I remember thinking that if I were going to offer advice to someone about to be parent, it wouldn’t be ‘sleep while the baby is sleeping.’ Did any of you get that advice a lot? I got it several times and I never was able to apply it. If the baby was sleeping I wanted to do something that was much easier without the baby. Like enjoy a cup of coffee. Besides, when I became pregnant with DDR 6 weeks after DSI was born* all I could do was get DSI from his crib in the morning to the baby proofed family room before I needed one of those pregnancy naps on the sofa. I slept when my body was like “You’re going to sleep now.” And there was nothing I could do to convince it otherwise.
So my pat advice to newborn parents is take the kid everywhere before they become a toddler. Seriously. They are so portable compared to when they are going to want to get down and walk on their own or scream for the whole mall to hear until they get their way. When I had three all under the age of four, my biggest regret was that didn’t take myself and DSI out more when he was 6 months old. I could have gotten a lot done. I should give myself a break on that – now that I think about it, I was on the sofa in a pregnancy-related narcoleptic coma afterall.
But – I know new parents hear that one too. Truth is – no one can adequately prepare you for being a new parent. It’s very individual – not only to your style of being a human being in the world – but also your new kid’s. They come out with their own personalities. It’s the craziest thing. You learn pretty quickly what makes that-in-particular 8-pound lump of bodily functions that doesn’t speak English happy and you take it from there.
This is the hard won wisdom I never heard though:
Get a library card. Use it. Use the library building itself for a change of scenery from your baby-proofed family room. Wear your pajamas there. At 10 o’clock in the morning on a Wednesday, no one is going to care. If you stay in the kid’s area, who’s going to harass you about your very loud kid? No one. But at the same time, it’s a great illustrative way to teach ‘inside voice’ to your kid. It wasn’t until my youngest was three that I really started utilizing the library. And he’s the only one of my kids who responds appropriately when I yell at the top of my lungs “INSIDE VOICES!!”
Sleep with your kid in your bed all you want. When my youngest was first born until he was 18 months old, he had to share my and DH’s room because we were finishing an addition. When he would cry in his crib in the middle of the night for whatever reason, more often than not I settled the situation by plunking him between me and DH and WE ALL GOT ON WITH THE BUSINESS OF SLEEPING! I didn’t do this with my first two because I didn’t want all the negatives the expert books scold you about and how I wish I had just given myself the permission. My youngest is now 10 years old. I can’t remember the last time he insisted on sleeping with me and DH. So don’t think your kid is going to come home after his pizza delivery job in 16 years and insist on climbing into your bed for the night. Be safe about it. Have some common sense about it. And everything is going to be okay. Get some sleep.
Buy too large costumes at after Halloween sales to use the whole year through. We had the costume box of envy in the preschool set. It made for some extremely fun birthday parties – having a costume available to every kid who came. And made for some extremely long bouts of pretend-play with their siblings on rainy days. And on those rainy days, I could actually sit back and watch them while I enjoyed a cup of coffee.
*(yes, I know – I’m convinced she’s the Christ child as it may not have been exactly a virgin birth, but I sure as hell can’t remember going about getting pregnant the traditional way while I had a six-week old’s spit-up constantly in my hair and my hands smelled like mustard seed baby poop. Yikes, sorry. That’s not a visual any of us wanted.)