5 things I wish I had known as a first-time parent

We read about parenting. We took classes on baby care. We even swaddled a doll! None of this planning could fully prepare us for the funny adventure that my husband and I have been on since we welcomed our son. As a seriously seasoned mama of 11 whole months, I’d like to share some things I wish I had known as that dreamy Sleep Sheep lulled me into drowsiness at 3 a.m., while my newborn was ready to play.

Let go (and go)

My husband suggesting paying someone to watch our son sleep was crazy. The crazier thing? I actually thought about it. Just breathe, take good care of your baby, relax and repeat. Oh, and check if your baby is breathing 137 times per night, because anything beyond that would be excessive. And once you do put down the mirror, remember that going on a date sans your little nugget does not make you a terrible parent.

When our son was a few days old, my mother-in-law babysat so my husband and I could enjoy all-you-can-eat sushi at Todoroki in Evanston. Sushi was the hardest item for me on the contraband pregnancy list, so salmon nigiri never tasted so silky. When we got home our son was sleeping like a swaddled maki. Quality time as a couple is crucial. Where you go is not as important as the fact that you just go.

Get sudsy and enjoy me time

Shower. No, not shower your little bundle of joy with love and kisses, I mean you. If you’re scratching your head trying to remember your last shower or sniffing yourself, it’s time! Let hot water and soap do what they were intended to do. Time to shower is a hot commodity, especially for the parent who is the main caregiver.

If you really want an extra treat, get a massage at Urban Oasis (a great gift for a hardworking mom or dad). During my son’s first months, I snuck out for a massage and it was a perfect respite from baby boot camp! An added perk of Urban Oasis is the rain shower included with your service.

Leave the nursery at home

When you start to explore with your little one, you don’t actually need to bring every baby shower gift. One of our first family outings was to get a dose of luscious greenery at the Garfield Park Conservatory, but our packing style was insane.

We stocked our car for a weeklong road trip instead of a few hours in one of the city’s most spectacular indoor havens, when all we really needed were a bottle for the baby and a diaper bag.

Things are going to get messy

The newborn days are a blur of beautiful moments and many sloppy ones too, from milk spills to changing table fiascos. Just when I thought I had a handle on clean up, the solid food chaos began. I gave my little guy some berries, and he created an abstract painting with our high chair as the canvas. It was fun to watch, and I laughed along with him. Then I looked around for the mom in charge to clean it up. There is going to be a never-ending flow of messiness, so don’t let it bug you too much.

Give your partner grace

Mommy and Daddy Brain is real. My husband licked an envelope before he realized it was self-adhesive. The next week I was chatting away to him and began to refill my half full orange juice glass with water.

Maybe it’s the crying? Maybe it’s the worry that your mini cruiser will hurt himself on (insert pretty much any household object here)? Who knows? When you or your partner has one of those silly moments, just laugh. Then say the most romantic thing you could to a new parent: “Sweetheart, I’ll watch the baby. Why don’t you take a nap?”

What did you learn the funny way as a first-time parent? Share it with the Chicago Parent community in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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