I will never forget how important it was to me that our newborn son had the finest pair of Air Jordans when he was born. He would surely be the most stylish infant to ever drool on this earth! I believe it started when someone gave us a pair of baby boy blue and white, soft bottom, Retro Jordans. Priorities shifted in that moment: he needed to have these shoes to avoid any future bullying from other babies he would encounter! Plus, I wanted him to feel good about himself as soon as he left my womb.
A healthy self-esteem is important after all, right? The poor guy is a child of a therapist, which meant he would inadvertently become part of my little social experiment as I molded a perfectly well-rounded, emotionally regulated, stylish little boy.
Fast forward six years. I now have pregnant friends ask how to do this and that. They want to know how to prepare for a child. I usually tell them that they will never be ready, but I can give them a template. Sound pessimistic? Well, let me break this down.
If you’re a new mom, I’m here to help! A wise man once said to learn from the mistakes of others. So here are five of the many mistakes I’ve made as a mom, thus far. I’m working on finding H.G. Wells’ time machine as we speak.
Mistake 1: Avoiding Daycare
I know what you’re thinking. Most daycare costs rival that of a mortgage payment. I understand that everyone’s first choice is usually going to be the most cost effective. Plus, there are so many dangerous germs floating around in there, right? I mean, the kid will come home with an ear infection one day and a snotty nose the next. Imagine all those things they’ll put in their mouths, right? Gross. This is the gist of what I heard while pregnant. There was an overwhelming feeling of anxiety as I thought about leaving my baby with strangers who would send him home with a new disease every other day!
Looking back, I can see how ridiculous that is. First of all, there are options to assist with daycare costs. Government vouchers don’t necessarily equate to sub-par facilities. I happen to know a few wonderful daycare facilities that take these vouchers. I would tell my past self to explore my options. Knowledge is power and all it takes is a little research. Secondly, there are several benefits to sending a baby to daycare. One of my coworkers told me how advanced and independent her daughter is after being in a class with babies who were slightly older than her when she joined. It appears social and physical development for babies in daycare soar! So, why be afraid?
Mistake 2: Packing Everything
The planner in me likes to prepare for everything. Having my son sent that into overdrive! One trip to the grocery store turned into an ordeal because I had to make sure everything was packed for the two minute ride down the street. I’m sure other parents can relate: ‘He may be a little young to cut his first tooth, but you never know, we could be on aisle 5 and suddenly the bottom one pops out … so we’ll pack the Orajel.’ My bag was consumed with toys, books (before he could read), his blanket AND receiving blanket and more. Dinner time would come and go sometimes with all the time I took to prepare!
I think of the diaper commercial when the woman packs everything and leaves the baby at home, only to scale efforts way back after having baby number two. If I could hop on that time machine, I would definitely utilize more ways to consolidate bags and pack only essentials. Babies don’t necessarily need much. I found that as long as they’re clean and fed, everything else falls into place. With that in mind, I may have been a lot less stressed when leaving the house with my infant.
Mistake 3: Doing Chores while the Baby Naps
Having a baby meant there was a whole different person to care for. Plus there was my husband, laundry, dishes, dinner, etc. Man, I was swamped with new responsibilities I was not ready for in the least! Not knowing how to handle this, I turned to blogs, newsletters, and friends who all told me to take naps while the baby did so. Of course, I didn’t listen. It just didn’t make sense. How was I supposed to get any work done? Side note: I was also working on my Masters degree. And guess what? I. Was. So. Tired! Why didn’t it make sense that my energy level would deplete, resulting in bleached clothes and burnt dinner?
What did I learn? Slow down. Our bodies need rest in order to function at its optimal level. There’s no way we can adequately do every task when another million things are added to the list. As parents, we are caring for another life. Which means we have to be 100% ready to attend to diaper changes, baths, feedings, and most importantly, precious moments with them. We all know kids grow so quickly. It would be a shame to miss something because we fall asleep at the wrong moment.
If you have a partner, now would be a great time to consider how you can work together to tackle baby duty and chores around the house. Have other kids? Think of how big brother or sister can help. I’m not recommending you put the other kids to work – they are kids after all, and should enjoy that. But it helps to have them throw away a diaper every so often so you can get to the next thing. Who knows, it could instill a sense of responsibility!
Don’t have help at home at all? It may be time to explore how extended family can help. Mommy support groups are helpful in this instance too. They are also a great way to build a community of other women who know what you’re going through and could offer assistance!
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this part, but I know I’m in good company, so let’s move on. As a new mother, I was obviously concerned with the well-being of my child over myself. I don’t think that will ever go away. But looking back, I think I could have continued to attend to my hygiene a little better than I did.
I recall a few weeks that I would skip a day or two of showering before my husband had to call me on it! Was it my overwhelming guilt that my baby cried when I left him alone? Was I paranoid being home alone with him, worrying that someone would take him? It could have been a combination of both irrational and logical things. Either way, I’m sure a few minutes to attend to myself would not have harmed the little guy.
This goes back to planning. This can also be part of the conversation with your partner. Perhaps you talk about when you’re going to shower so someone is there with the child. If you are home alone with the baby, consider keeping door open when showering so you can hear the baby.
Above all, pay attention to taking care of yourself. I’ll reiterate the importance of ensuring you do what you can to be your best self for your child(ren). Believe me, a simple shower can be a God-send after a long day with your newborn or infant. Now would be a good time to write a self-care plan. It helps to remind yourself of what you need to be sane, present, and clean when caring for your family!
Mistake 5: Buying New, Expensive Clothes
Let’s revisit this shoe situation; this will be our final stop in H.G. Wells’ time machine. I certainly believe in having good quality materials for a long-lasting wear. But realistically, I found that those things may not be in my budget.
Moreover, I have to consider how my kids will treat those brand new Jordan’s. Some people would say, “Respect the Jay’s.” In reality, our 6-year-old doesn’t know the difference. I’m proud that he is confident to run around in a unknown name-brand pair of sneakers. I believe it says a great deal about his character. The mistake lies in my own hesitance to visit my local consignment shop or thrift store, or just my overall lack of appreciation for second-hand clothes from friends and family.
I recently found the joys in stores like Once Upon a Child. They accept quality things from homes where people obviously took great care of the items. I have friends who like to make a day out of thrifting and finding deals that would knock your socks off!
It’s also important to understand that it literally takes a village to raise a child. The quicker you realize the benefit in taking on someone else’s gift of shoes, onesies, and other baby items, the quicker you’ll see the savings. I found comfort in the fact that most of the things people gave me were grown out of so quickly that they were basically new I got them.
Give Yourself Grace
I’m working on giving myself grace for the things I make mistakes on. Part of that is because I know I will make countless more. My husband and I have a new child. He’s almost 5 months. I like to think that I will do it right this time, but what does that even mean? We have an awesome 6-year-old who grows in every aspect daily. He’s healthy and helps us grow and learn even more. So, no regrets here! We’re just going to stop sweating the small stuff!