Bringing a baby home for the first time will change your life in ways that are impossible to describe. Sure, you’re going to get less sleep. You’ll probably have more visitors then you’ve had in a long time. And your Google search history will include things you never ever thought it would. Having two children myself, things were drastically different for me after bringing each of them home. With my first child, I had a lot more thoughts about being ill-prepared. Do we have enough diapers? And for the record, you can never have enough diapers. How am I supposed to know when he wants to nap? Just so you know, more than you think.
I’ve said this in a previous piece, but I am definitely not the perfect parent. I don’t think there is a perfect parent out there but Parenting 101 has something for everyone. You can be as prepared as you want, but there will always be something that happens you don’t expect. All you can do is roll with the punches and do the best job you can! Pretty cliche, but true.
There’s plenty of advice online, from your friends, and from your support system to make bringing a child home easier. You will be great at some things and think you’re the worst at other things. Here are a couple of those things I found helpful!
Things You Will Become an Expert At
You might be thinking to yourself, that’s a no-brainer. But this was one aspect of bringing a baby home that I was most nervous about, so I feel like I need to talk to some of you that might feel the same way. Was I going to be changing 10, 20, 100 diapers a day? Were the contents of that diaper going to be too much for me? All valid worries, right? Not really. I never counted how many diapers I changed in a day and the contents were never “too much” for me.
Sometimes it happens ten or more times a day. Sometimes it’s even a little — a lot — gross. But the amount (whatever that might be) of diapers you change will quickly turn you into an expert. Something you could, and maybe will do in your sleep!
Swaddling a baby is an art form. For those of you that don’t know what it is, it’s essentially wrapping your baby in a blanket tightly so they feel like they’re being held. Sounds easy until you actually see how to do it. It requires very intricate folds and tucks which also require certain timing for all of those folds and tucks. Sounds crazy hard, right? Again, not really! It is another aspect of fatherhood that I didn’t think I would ever master after I failed miserably in the Baby 101 classes I took before we had our first. I would come out of that class shaking my head, thinking it was never going to happen. This was just one of many times in my life that YouTube helped me out. I searched for a swaddling video and I was swaddling like a pro in no time!
So much of what makes a child happy and keeps that child happy is their schedule. When we brought our son home it took me no less than two days to have his schedule memorized, which allowed me to prepare like I never have before. He drank six bottles a day so we went ahead and filled those up before we went to bed so we didn’t have to in the morning. Setting his clothes out the night before and getting a swaddle/sleep sack ready before he went to sleep was a few other things we did on a regular basis. Before kids, I flew by the seat of my pants often. Probably far too often. These days what makes baby happy makes me happy! And if that’s organization, I’m going to be organized!
Things You’ll Think You’re Terrible At
Stopping a Baby From Crying
Life has no doubt prepared you for many things. But there is very little that can prepare a person for a 2 a.m. wake-up call from a little human that can’t tell you what’s wrong or how to help him or her. Holding them doesn’t help. Rocking them isn’t what they are looking for. They don’t want to eat. And they don’t want to play with their favorite toy. What options do you have left? You’ll run out of options and that’s okay. I once read a tweet that said something to the effect of “a baby could be crying because he/she is awake, and the reason he/she is awake is because they are crying.” Think about that for a minute and it will cause you to look that 2 a.m. wake-up call very different.
Being a Parent
We all realize that being a parent is going to change us as adults and change our lives just the same. We can prepare all we want for the things that could possibly “go wrong.” Buying things just in case this or that were to happen. Filling our little one’s closet with clothes before they are even born because we think they’ll actually wear all of them before they are too small. But there will always be things that we are not prepared for. There will always be things the little human laying in that crib will do to make us feel incompetent. Whether it’s crying, a rash that won’t go away, or the kinds of food that they won’t eat. They seem to find a way.
Parenting comes with the good and the bad. Mostly good, but there will be some frustrating times. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no expert. I have trials and tribulations just like anyone else. If there’s one piece of advice I can offer it’s that no matter how many frustrating times you have with your kid(s), the good times far outweigh the bad! I wish you all the best in your parenting journey, I know you’ll do great!
Adam lives in Grimes, IA with his wife Sara, son Asher and daughter Avery. Adam is also a Technical Recruiter for Beacon Hill Staffing and co-founder of Sprout Media. He enjoys networking, connecting like minded individuals, and the Northern Iowa Panthers.