My younger sister is having her first baby in October, and it has been so much fun preparing to welcome a new little one into our family. My kids are five and three, so while pregnancy and all things infant really weren’t that long ago, it sure seems like a distant memory! As I prepare for her upcoming baby shower, I think of things I have learned over the last few years since becoming a mom and wish I knew before bringing home my first baby.
There is always the tried and true advice floating around like “it goes so fast” and “enjoy these moments,” but when you are facing the great unknown that is parenthood, none of those vague phrases actually *mean* anything yet. I made a list of twenty things they forgot to mention that I wish I knew when I brought my first baby home.
- Start flossing as soon as two teeth touch. Spare yourself the dental bill for your three year-old’s teeth that will fall out in a few years anyway.
- Endless loads of laundry for the next two decades will be the norm.
- You will somehow love this little person beyond what words can explain, but at the very same time experience frustration to new depths.
- From now on, you will be 15 minutes late to everything, no exceptions.
- You will never relate to memes more than you do now.
- Saying “I will never” and silently passing judgement on others while you’re pregnant and for the first few months of your first baby is a protective response to having actually no control. It will pass and you will accept that you have no control.
- Post as much as you want on Facebook; the “Memories” feature will be priceless in the upcoming years.
- Write a list of questions as they come up for your pediatrician. Nothing makes your mind go blank faster than wrestling a hungry, tired, uncomfortable, and overstimulated newborn/infant/toddler out of and back into clothes while trying to listen and ask questions when you just want to get out of the doctor’s office!
- Avoid Google in the middle of the night for anything. Seriously, just don’t do it. Save yourself the panic of falling down the rabbit hole of “infant rashes,” “newborn sleep habits,” or “when will I eat sitting down again?” Save it for daylight.
- Ask for advice, but never forget that you don’t have to LISTEN to anyone’s advice. Everyone will have opinions from their own experiences, but in the end, trust your instincts and pick and choose as it suits you.
- Write down your labor and delivery story as soon as you can. You truly will forget most of the details as the months and years go by.
- Everything really is “just” a phase. I know they really do feel like they last 100 years and it is HARD, but know that it will end and something else will start.
- Take videos.
- Traveling around with your first baby can be easy and no-big deal or utterly exhausting, depending on the day. Don’t think twice about saying “no thanks” to invitations or cancelling plans at the last minute.
- Get comfortable forgiving yourself. You’ll be doing it often!
- Don’t worry if you never read any of the parenting books you’ve bought. They all boil down to the same thing; love your child and ask for help when you need it.
- Always pack more diapers, wipes, and extra clothes than you think you could ever possibly need.
- Be ready to throw away at least three outfits in a public bathroom because the blowout is just that bad.
- Accept that any and all types of bodily fluid will now be a main topic of your conversations for at least the next six months.
- The state of the car seat and floor area is NOT a reflection of your parenting/lifestyle. The levels of dirty occurring in your backseat will astonish you each time you gather the courage to clean.
Okay, maybe someone, somewhere, at some point in time probably did mention each of these items before we had our first baby, but you can only retain so much information when your whole life changes in an instant! What have you said “I wish I knew” about parenthood, and what are the must-have pieces of advice from your experiences?