Before we get into my five parenting hacks, I want to share an exciting personal update. (Skip to the fourth paragraph if you are not here for this.) In my inaugural blog post, I wrote, “Granted, it did not help that I discovered I was pregnant eight days after my position at work was eliminated…” Since then, I was fortunate to accept a new role, while pregnant. The downside? I would have not worked there for 12 months by the time I would give birth, thereby making me ineligible for FMLA/12-week maternity leave. I was permitted six -week leave of absence and I thought we would be OK with me returning to work full-time after six weeks.
The week before I was scheduled to return to work, I packed the daycare bag, with all of the bottles and supplies labeled. I packed my work backpack and pumping bag. I tried on my first-day-back non-athliesure outfit.
I thought if I went through the motions of getting all the “stuff” ready that would help me to truly feel ready. It didn’t.
As I sat breastfeeding our 5-week old baby, I burst into tears. Right around this time, Wisconsin COVID-cases were spiking and even though our baby and myself are not in a group that is considered a “vulnerable population” in terms of COVID-19, my postpartum body was still physically vulnerable and psychologically, we were not prepared to detach.
After lengthy family discussions, I resigned. Gratefully, my boss was incredibly understanding and supportive. So now, I am fortunate to be doing a couple of things: one, be able to stay home and continue bonding with our baby, and two, work on my online brand consulting and freelance writing business. I’ll be ramping up my marketing business towards the end of this year, after, of course these 12 important weeks, the ones I will never be able to get back or ever take for granted have been savored.
Whew! Onto the parenting hacks!
1. Find a Routine
If you’re a routine person like me, find a sleeping and feeding schedule to suit your family. I like MomsOnCall; “Most babies thrive on routine.” – MOC. When I have a target (granted, I’m not 100% in control but I can aim for designated nap/feeding times), I can often count on dedicated time for other activities of daily life (napping, laundry, writing this blog.)
2. Write it down
Grab a notebook, jot down the routine; leave it visible in the common living space so your partner can be on the same page. "If grandma is coming over to help with baby, write down how the morning feeding/sleeping went and ask her to do the same while she is watching baby." – Karen, Lactation Consultant
3. Diaper Tips
“For blowouts, soak in dish soap before washing.” – Colleen, friend. Also, ruffles out helps keep contents in the diaper. (For some reason whenever I am making sure the diaper has ruffles out, the words “LACES OUT” from Ace Ventura come to mind and I start laughing to myself. Who knew having a baby would reawaken my inner goofball so much!?) Anyway, find more diaper tips here.
4. Keep ‘er Movin’ – Charlie, fellow Wisconsinite.
Some of our favorite things to do with baby include baby wearing, dancing and singing along to music, walking, rocking, swinging, bouncing and anything to keep ‘er movin’.
5. Give yourself grace
“The first two weeks are survival mode.” – Sarah, friend. I felt overwhelmed by our (huge) family who all wanted to visit immediately after we got home from the hospital. I was barely getting any rest and our home felt like a revolving door of visitors for whom I needed to be “on”. One way I started giving myself some grace was by saying no, which is hard for people pleasers to do! Another way to help me be a better version of my new mom self is by going for (stroller or baby carrying) walks while listening to an audiobook or podcast or catching up with a friend. The fresh air is great for napping baby and the exercise and mental stimulation are great for parents.
What parenting tips would you add to this quick list?