It’s Official

It’s official. I’m jobless. Well, other than being a mother, a sock picker-upper, a housecleaner, a cook, a teacher, an animal behaviorist, a taxi driver, and a wedding décor creator.  My one year of maternity leave is now officially up. No more government support (other than child benefits, which hardly cover the cost of diapers and formula). What have I learned in the past year? A lot. A LOT!!  Here are the top ten.

  1. Lower your expectations. Did you read one of my first blogs, where I was going to make a weekly list of items and get them all done? Hahahahaha. Sorry. I hardly have time to poop without worrying what Junior is up to, and half the days I’m still in pajamas until noon. Life is busy, stressful, and exhausting. I’m glad I didn’t give myself too much grief for not being more motivated to do things, and in the end I discovered new places and friends, but it was on a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants schedule, not something I dictated. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of moms, full of energy, who bound out of bed, squeeze in a work out and then learn sign language with their baby all before 8am, but that’s not me.
  1. Plan Ahead. Babies cry, they don’t sleep when you want them too, and when they do finally sleep, it’s probably on top of you, trapping you with their cuteness, and of course you would be out of reach of all books, beverages and bathrooms. Get to know your little one’s schedule and have snacks, books, blankets and bottles ready. I find it crazy easy to change a diaper at 3am if Junior already has a bottle in hand, otherwise he becomes a screaming flailing monster.
  1. Ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help, you probably have everyone and their mother asking if there is anything they can do. Say yes. Do not feel guilty. Hubby has been great helping out with the morning feedings so I can get an extra hour of sleep. My mom comes once a week to help clean up all the projects I’ve half-finished throughout the week.
  1. Cherrios are a lifesaver. If I didn’t plan ahead (see #9), and Junior is screaming for breakfast when my eyes are still half shut as I wander around the kitchen, I can toss a handful of the wheat treats on his highchair table and he (and the dogs) will be content until I can wrestle up more grub. But be cautioned, you will find Cherrios everywhere like diapers and your own bra, you will step on them, and you will eat many of them.
  1. Crawling babies are fast. Be ready. Even before your baby crawls, have baby gates and drawer locks ready to go. Even while typing this blog I’ve had to stop about 8 times now to chase Junior as he heads for the stairs (he loves climbing them and now makes a b-line for them anytime he can).
  1. Save Money. There are a million ways to save, or not spend, and to make, when you are a mom. I bought second hand clothes for Junior (he doesn’t know the difference) and I made all of his baby foods when he started to eat solids (ice cube trays are great portion sizes). You’ll find friends and family will bring you hand me down toys, so just give them a wash and you are good to go. Don’t be a baby snob. Unless you have a swimming pool filled with hundred dollar bills, there is no reason Junior needed to be clothed in the latest baby fashions fresh off the rack. Oh and you bet I did lots of bartering. Trade stuff I didn’t need in the house and asked for kids books, toys or clothing in exchange. I even went to a clothing exchange where parents traded clothes. Did you know you can use regular kitchen garbage bags to refill your diaper genie? Yeah, neither did I! I’ve been spending $10 on a refill each week for the past year.
  1. Breast feeding is awesome, unless your girls don’t work, then it sucks. It was the stress, the lack of sleep, the 3 days in the hospital. I could blame it on a million things but we’ll never know why my girls just never worked and breastfeeding didn’t happen. Do I regret it. Yes. Should I? NO! I tried, I pumped, a drank dark beer, stood on my head and massaged them, but to no avail (I didn’t stand on my head, I added that one as an exaggeration as to the things you should do to get the tanks running). Junior has grown up to be a healthy baby, full of energy and smarts. Formula is great for overnight feeding and let’s Hubby get involved, plus I don’t feel like a bovine. You can plan for it to work, but be ready for it to not and do not ever let anyone guilt you over it.
  1. Socialize. Be it a facebook group, play group at an early years, or just having another mom over for a play date, socialize and get out. Having other moms to lean on and laugh with will make all the difference. You’ll soon find you’re not alone and a everyone is as tired as you are.
  1. Some moms are bullies online. Yup. I’ve had my fair share of judgmental moms tell me how to do things, and oddly its moms who don’t know me, almost complete strangers. I was lectured on an online forum for drinking Tassimo coffee (killing the environment), I was lectured for not breastfeeding, and I’ve watched other moms be berated online from everything from their kids behavior to the type of carriers they use. Don’t become THAT mom.  Get out of your box, get off the internet and live YOUR life, not everyone else’s. I’ve learned to ask friends and family before ever posting on an online forum filled with trolling stay at home moms. Mom the way you want to MOM, not how others want.
  1. Love every minute of it. You’ll have a million people tell you to enjoy it all now because they grow up so fast and they are very, very true. We’re lucky so far, Hubby and I don’t “miss” the earlier stages, instead we very eagerly look forward to the next stages of Junior’s life, but it did go fast. Poof. A year gone. We took a million pictures and learned a lot in that time, but we loved every minute of it. We loved snuggling on the couch, we loved showing him off, we loved building towering black buildings for them to be smashed down by a very giggly 9 month old. I’m even enjoying the fact that Junior is now opening drawers and pulling out everything from within. Yup, right now he has started to pull out every ziplock bag from the box… so I’ve got to go save home before he finds the tinfoil!
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