As we celebrate Violet’s first birthday this week, I wanted to take some time and look back at what we’ve learned in her first year of life—the only time she’ll ever be a baby. I hope these little lessons help other new parents out there.
1) A FLEXIBLE Schedule is King. I read something before quitting my job and following my husband to Vegas (read more here) that stay-at-home moms can become too obsessive about scheduling. I thought “Yeah, right!” Then it happened. My girlfriends asked me to do lunch one day and I told them that I had to grocery shop. What? Why? Because Tuesdays at 11 (after Violet’s morning nap) is when we go to the grocery store. I quickly called them back and told them I’d be there. I went to the grocery store at 3 and we both survived. On the other hand, I’ve seen moms not put babies on a schedule at all and it seems too chaotic. Without a schedule, how do you know when your baby is hungry verses tired or just cranky? Your baby needs a schedule, but you need to live life, too. I really believe a flexible schedule…one that you stick to, but can bend the rules sometimes too, is the best medicine.
2) SLEEP Makes the World Go Round. When you first have a baby…you are pumped. You run on adrenalin. The baby wakes up every 3 hours, no problem because you’ve got this! Then…that adrenalin runs out. For me it was around 6 weeks. At 7 weeks we started sleep training Vi and it worked like a charm. Get this book “12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks Old” and get it now! I knew it was special when she was 10 weeks old. Andy and I put Violet down for the night, we went down stairs and his parents (who had 3 babies) said, “That’s it?” They were amazed that we could just put her down and she went to sleep…and stayed asleep for nearly 12 hours! You have to let them cry it out at first, but it’s better (and healthier) for everyone once the baby is sleeping through the night.
3) Carve out Time for your Baby. As Violet turns 1, I’ve been having a lot of “Did I soak it all in?” feelings. You know what? I think I did pretty well. Babies are babies for only a year. I’ve heard that a lot. It’s true, even though the days can be long, it still goes by fast. Once all of the craziness of Violet’s first few months was over (quitting, being homeless, being separated from Andy and a cross-country trip) and we moved to Vegas, I knew I needed to make sure I was really enjoying her and that she really got quality mommy time. So, each morning she gets 1 hour of my full attention. No phone, no computer, we do nothing but play and learn until it’s time for breakfast. That way I know that no matter what happens that day, I appreciated her and all of her baby cuteness.
4) Buy a FEW Outfits you Love. This one may seem kind of random, but it’s one thing I would change. If you don’t care what clothes your baby wears (and there’s nothing wrong with that) skip to number 5. Violet has some beautiful clothes, most of them were gifts. I hardly every put her in play clothes. By that I mean, I bought some cheap outfits (or received some cheap outfits that I didn’t take back) that she has never worn. Because of that I have major guilt when I look into her closet. If I could do it over again, I would buy a few nice (but comfortable) things from stores I love and do her laundry more often. I know this will change as she gets older and starts coming home with popsicle and grass stains on her clothes, but babies are so fun to dress up…and again, they are only babies for a year.
5) Make the Best Plans…Then LAUGH on the Days They don’t work. You have to plan ahead once you have a baby. You can’t go grocery shopping if it’s time for the baby to eat or sleep…and when you do go to the grocery store you better have a paci, diapers, wipes and maybe a burp cloth or two. You have to plan ahead in order to avoid little disasters. However, some disasters are unavoidable. You’re going to get peed on at some point…or even worse. Your baby will have a public meltdown. She will projectile vomit on a relative. These things happen and there’s no sense in worrying or making a big deal over it. Your life isn’t awful because your baby decided to be a baby today. Catalog the memory and remember that one day it will make a great story.
And remember this “Comparison is the thief joy.”