Becoming a parent for the first time is life-altering. You probably already know that. What you don’t know is just how life-altering it actually is. There’s no going back. And that’s both really great and kind of sad all at the same time. Here are a few things every new parent should know.
1. Nobody really knows what they are doing as a new parent, we’re all just doing our best.
2. What will work for one set of parents may not work for you and vice versa.
3. You need to cut yourself some slack.
4. Your baby will be okay if he/she cries for a few minutes so you can take a shower.
5. Taking a shower will feel as exhilarating and wonderful as a spa day. Even if the shower only lasts two minutes.
6. You will lose the baby weight but you may never wear those jeans again.
7. Nursing is natural but doesn’t necessarily come naturally. There is a difference. Don’t worry if it’s hard for you as a new mom, it’s hard for us all. Just keep trying.
8. You will continue to get unsolicited advice about everything. Nod and smile and then do whatever you want to do. YOU are the parent now.
9. Your mom or mother-in-law might get pushy. It’s okay to (gently) tell her you’ve got everything under control, even if you entirely don’t.
10. Let your husband/partner/baby daddy do things his own way. It will stress you out less in the long run and give you much needed breaks.
11. You will need maternity cloths to leave the hospital. I promise you.
12. Babies don’t need as much stuff as you think.
13. You and your partner/significant other/spouse will do things differently. That’s okay, just let them.
14. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Seriously. At least once in a while.
15. Baby carriers will be your best friend.
16. As will Halo Sleepsacks. The expensive swaddle blankets you registered for and were on every celebrity’s “list” of must haves suck. Thought they are useful to clean up messes and baby puke.
17. You thought keeping adult socks paired after laundry was hard, wait for the baby socks. Simplify your life and buy one color.
18. It’s okay to live in your pjs for a few weeks after the baby is born. But eventually, do yourself a favor and put on some real clothes. It will help your sanity exponentially.
19. Get some exercise. Forget the crossfit or shred videos, take a walk. Even in the dead of winter you can head to an area mall and just stroll around. Walking is better exercise than you think.
20. The mood swings may be intense. You’ll cry for no reason for a few days/weeks after the baby is born. It’s okay.
21. Look for signs of serious depression and talk to someone quickly if you feel abnormally blue.
22. Two words: Lansinoh products
23. Not all diapers are created equally. Cheaper is not always better.
24. You don’t need a wipe warmer.
25. Read things to your baby that you want to read. Books, magazines, blogs, whatever. The baby just wants to hear your voice. You want to keep your sanity.
26. You may not feel immediately connected to your baby. That’s not abnormal.
27. Visiting with friends is important. Get out without your baby, even for a few short hours.
28. Date nights will be more important than ever.
29. Whatever stage of screaming your baby is in, it will eventually pass. They will stop crying, they will (eventually) fall asleep. Have faith.
30. The baby stage passes much more quickly than your realize. And you don’t realize until it’s already passed. Try to enjoy the quiet and snuggly moments as much as you can.
31. You will appreciate your own mother so much more.
32. You’ll take a zillion pictures but won’t actually have any in your house. Print some once in a while!
33. Take turns sleeping for a while. You’ll both end up better rested.
34. Forward facing baby carriers are bad for baby’s hips. Use a carrier but keep baby facing you (or eventually on your back).
35. You know more than you think you know about parenting.
36. Your baby will puke or poop all over you, multiple times a day, and you won’t even care. Something about it being your own kid, you just feel so bad for them you don’t even care that you’re swimming in filth.
37. You will often have unidentifiable baby “stuff” in your hair. Especially new moms. Hopefully it’s not poop.
38. You’re going to need some help so when people offer it, accept it! You don’t get an award for doing it all yourself.
39. Babies are easily entertained with things you already have around the house. Don’t go crazy with the toys.
40. Baby spit up is totally normal and will happen on a daily basis. It generally is not a reason to worry.
41. You’ll feel extremely defensive. About everything.
42. Google will freak you out about everything. Go easy on the Google.
43. Keep your expectations low for a while. It will help you get through the days.
44. Your old life is gone. Rather than focusing on the loss, think about the potential of the future!
45. Stay at home parents, specifically moms, feel extreme guilt just as working moms, it just may be for different reasons.
46. Parenting isn’t a competitive sport.
47. It’s okay to have a cocktail once (or thrice) in a while. You’re not a nun. And actually, I think even nuns probably get to throw one back every once in a while.
48. You’re the boss! You get to make the decisions about how things are going to work. So do what works for you and your family.
49. Write. You don’t have to keep scrapbooks or journal, but maybe write a note to yourself or your baby. Or jot some notes down in a notebook. What are you feeling? How are things going? Writing is cathartic and, even if you’re not terribly sentimental, you might enjoy reading about these experiences later on in your parenting journey.
50. It’s okay to take some shortcuts at home while you’re getting acclimated to new-parenting. Get a cleaning lady once a month or have groceries delivered. At minimum get an Amazon Prime membership!