Whenever I hear about someone I know having a baby, I immediately want to swoop in and tell them everything I’ve learned! I mean, I’ve successfully raised my child for almost 2 years. Of course that makes me qualified to advise new parents and parents-to-be!
The only problem is, there’s so much to tell! As I’ve written this guide, the information that I want to share just overflowed my original draft. As a result, there are multiple parts to this guide for you to browse through. In addition to my top tips in this post, I hope you’ll check out my extra posts about Stuff, Resources, and Cloth Diapering.
My #1 suggestion – Join a PEPS Group
Program for Early Parent Support, or PEPS, is a lifeline for the new mother (or father) in the Seattle area. When you are getting ready to have a baby, you know everything is going to change (and everyone will be constantly reminding about this, too, so it will be impossible to forget)! You just can’t realize the scope until later, though.
One of the biggest changes for us was in our social life – no more late nights out seeing a band or wild holiday parties. Do you realize how few parties start before 8:00 pm? If you’re like us and many of your friends don’t have kids, you may find yourself feeling a bit isolated. BUT, if you sign up for a PEPS group, you’ll find needed support, new friends (don’t worry, you can still keep the old ones), and something to hang onto when you’re sleep-deprived, physically and emotionally stressed, and not sure what you’re doing. Do it – it’s worth the fee, and if you can’t afford it, they do have scholarships. Eventually you’ll be ready to get a babysitter and hit those parties – they’ll always be there!
#2 Tip – Educate Yourself!
You have a lot of options for childbirth these days. You can stay in a hospital or birth center or have a home birth. You can go drug-free or get that epidural. Water birth, anyone? What about a doula? Whatever you choose, it’s your choice. Just make sure you know about your options – The Business of Being Born is a great documentary on the modern childbirth arena. There are several books in my resource section that I recommend as well. Sign up for a childbirth class. Ask a lot of questions. Make a birth plan. Pregnancy is not about buying cute maternity clothes and glowing health (though those are both excellent side effects). It’s a life-changing experience, and it can be wonderful or not-so-wonderful. You may not have control over every aspect of your child’s birth, but you can control your knowledge, and that could make a difference.
#3 Tip – Demand Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – in fact, you should just demand it. Friends want to visit and meet the new baby? No problem, just make sure they bring dinner. There are several online programs where your friends can sign up for meal delivery – it may seem weird, but trust me, no one will mind. Family members want to come “help”? Make them help – have them do dishes, laundry, sweep, cook. Sure, your friends and family will really want to hold the baby, too – take advantage of that to eat a real meal or take a shower.
You may not realize exactly how exhausted you will be, but you have to use every available moment to take care of yourself and your baby. Let someone else handle the dirty work. Stay in bed all day if you have to, just get that sleep! I think I spent my entire maternity leave staying in bed until noon. I spent much of that time nursing and pumping and snacking, but it was what we needed to do. You do what you need to do – dishes and clean floors can wait. If they can’t, splurge on a housekeeper.
You’ll probably be overwhelmed with gifts at first – clothes, toys, books. Hopefully someone will gift you with the larger items you’ll need, too (I am ever grateful that we received essentials like an infant car seat, pack-n-play, and co-sleeper as gifts). For everything else, why spend more on new when you can get high-quality, gently-used items at a consignment event like the JBF Sale? Held twice a year, this event includes a huge selection of clothes, shoes, toys, books, and gear.
First-time parents can get a pass to a preview sale (great if you really need to find something specific), and on the last day of the sale, most items are 50% off! I always go for half-off day and outfit my boy for at least the next six months. There is always plenty of selection, and everything is in great condition. There are many of these kind of events around the Seattle area, but this is my pick. Seattle boasts a lot of nice consignment stores, too, like Me ‘N Moms in Ballard. These have lots of great, used items, like toys and gear. This would be a great place to start trying on products like carriers, too.