I’m just going to note down the stupid things people say that i have found no help whatsoever in my parenting journey. Then I’ll give you a couple of good ideas I have found useful.
1. Sleep when your baby sleeps.
And if he doesn’t?
Or, let’s say he sleeps in 45 minute blocks. Sleeping 45 minutes on and off all day makes me
a) look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards
b) feel like I have a two day hangover
Not to mention the fact that when the little bugger goes down, I might need to
a) go to the toilet because I’ve been holding in a pee for three hours
b) eat something because if he sleeps on me any longer I may start chewing the couch
c) attempt some modicum of personal hygiene ( cleaning your teeth at 3pm, anyone?)
d) shower and remove vomit stained clothing in case there’s a slim chance I don’t win the award for least attractive wife, ever.
e) organise an evening meal as a bunker against the evening screamy session which coincides with meals, like always.
f) attempt to look like I give a crap about housework.
Plus I really hate of hub-in-boots arrives home and I’m drooling unconscious on the couch still in my pyjamas teeth uncleaned and hiding behind a collection of dirty mugs. It just doesn’t look good, you know? I’m always worried he’ll open the front door, take one look one evening and just bugger off.
Maybe we should translate this to drink when the baby’s sleeping?
Update: since this was first drafted, my little hero sleeps about nine hours a night, five out of seven nights. So no complaints here about the micro sleeps all day, I’m drunk on the good stuff… Precious shut eye.
2. Have a plan b day
These are, according to the scary butch dyke clinic sister, days where baby misbehaves and it’s better to throw up your hands and wave the white flag, stay home, and do what baby needs you to do. Which is great advice, unless you have an appointment with the paedeatrician you’ve waited two weeks for, or it is the day of the only social outlet you’ve had in, oh, 11 weeks, or the plan b days start to outnumber all the other days, say, 5:1.
I’m pretty sure this clinic sister has pictures of fluffy bunnies on her desk. At mums group she read out a job ad for a team leader/ counsellor/ cleaner/cook/ teacher, which, quelle surprise, was an amusing ad to be a mum. Oh, the humanity. She even left copies of it for us to take home. So….moving. Kind of like prunes. I am thinking this woman was sans career at the time of her impending parenthood. There was another amusing clever tale too, but you know, it might make you want to gauge out your own eyeballs with a fork.
Lovely idea, get that cleaner in, peeps! Stupid advice. That whole single income family since January thing. Nannies are also a wonderful idea. Shame about the bank balance.
4. Have a date night. Get time as a couple every week, and get “me time” every day.
Really. REALLY? Are you insane ?
Clearly, if I can see these words coming out of your lips, your kid ain’t like my kid. No no no no no. Date night is the five minutes we sit, three feet apart, unblinking, on the couch together in front of Top Gear, when hub-in-boots has settled jman down, just before the little tacker wakes up again, screaming.
The closest we got to a date last week was hub-in-boots holding up random pieces of my clothing out of the laundry hamper and asking if they had to be washed on normal, delicate, or hand wash. (ha! I remember hand washing). That was quality time together. (We do have tickets to Weezer in January though. Is that too long to wait for a date?).
“Me time” is eating breakfast before midday, returning one of several unanswered phone calls from two weeks ago, or driving out alone for three minutes to fill up the car with petrol. You stupid stupid people. Enough with the me time.
I have to amend this now, as since I first drafted this post we’ve had two unreal nights out thanks to my fantastic family members and their babysitting services. Eat my words !
5. Forget the housework
This seemed like great advice, til we ran out of plates and clean underwear, and if I’d seen that leaf, on the carpet right in front of where I feed, one more time I would have punched someone.
What they should say is:
1. Can you make it out the front door with bub in under four hours without needing to breathe into a brown paper bag? WIN. Big tick for you.
2. Have you had more than a 24 hour period that has not involved you weeping into a bowl of breakfast cereal or screaming randomly at your partner? You’re a superwoman.
3. How long have you spent researching cities you could buy one way tickets to? Under five hours a week and you’re doing well.
Things that I have found useful:
1. Lower your expectations. About, well, pretty much everything.
It saves a shitload of heartache and worry, and you just might be pleasantly surprised on the odd occasion. (It’s actually good advice for us type A’s for life, not just parenthood).You need new ideas about levels of housekeeping, what constitutes a good day, personal space, cooking, fun, time to yourself. If you keep those expectations nice and low, well, it takes the pressure off. You could view this period as wading through six months of crap. (After my previous six months of crap).
2. They really don’t sleep in two or three hour blocks in the daytime after six weeks of age.
So don’t believe the stupid books. The jman forgot to read the books, and is unclear about what he should do.
3. Believe what they say about night feeds
Keep these feeds dark, free of chatter, and keep it moving. The exception: you’ve just had a sleep through the night miracle. Then just let the little tacker tap dance at 5am if he wants to. He’s earned it.
Try and resist the urge to wash up at 3am after a feed. It’s just, well, insane, really.
And try not to fantasise about smothering your ‘sleep through the night off in la la land partner’ with a pillow in the morning, when he says, geez I’m tired. Explaining that 2 hours sleep + 1.5 hours sleep + 2 hours sleep does not, in fact, equal 5.5 hours sleep, well it’s just going to fall on deaf ears until men have boobs. So suck it up, princess.
4. Swaddle, swaddle,swaddle.
The jman visibly relaxes when he’s swaddled tight. Its a relief not to be responsible for those pesky limbs. If i’m offering “second boob”, i swaddle him first so i can shot him into bed quick smart when he drifts off into milk drunk land.
The timing of nappy changes is also crucial…as they tend to wake the jman up and he tends to fall asleep on the job, we’ve found mid feed is best on most occasions.
Dancing is tiring, especially when you weigh 6 kilograms. So dance, little dude, dance. Shake your tail feather with yo mama vigorously and often. And then sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
6. Tummy time
Tummy time is vital but can so easily turn into a nap if you don’t pick your moment wisely! I get down on the floor beside bub, and use the time to strengthen my core and regroup the chaos that was my pelvic floor.
Daddy is not a food source. So he’s better at settling, unless bub is scary upset (and then the boob works wonders). His shoulders are better at de-windy-fying. He’s better at bathing (bigger hands), and he can burp bub without the insane tantrums that occur when I attempt to remove the food source from the jman’s vicinity. Like any workplace, we need specialisations to get the most out of the staff.
My sister has also wisely advised to say ” dad dad dad” to the jman a lot. If dad dad dad gets called, it’s dad dad dad that will have to get up to him. Good thinking, 99.
8. Half time, change sides
Never underestimate the value of a handover, a fresh perspective in the “what’s wrong with baby” game. Just get dad to remember baby isn’t a car, so bub isn’t always fixable. Sometimes you’ve all just got to ride it out.
9. It’s a game of changing fortunes
Just when you think you’ve got that little guy figured out, the game changes and the new routine doesn’t work!
And as you despair your lot in life, the jman sits on the couch and laughs in a Machiavellian manner about the next twenty years….but how could you not love this face, eh?