This is not one of those posts that tells you all the practical things you need to be ready for your baby to arrive on the scene. The title says SUPER IMPORTANT MUST HAVES. Trust me when I say that the crib and diapers are not the super most important must haves. They are not even must haves for your baby. A crib, rock n’ play, dock a tot…nice but not necessary. Definitely not most important.
I won’t fight you on the fact that diapers are a necessity. However, the hospital will give you some, so you could give birth without a single diaper in the house. You will want to send someone to the store to get a box pretty quick after you get home I admit. But there are plenty of places in the world where diapers as we think of them don’t exist. So they aren’t most important either.
Here’s what is truly most important.
Seriously, this is the single most important must have for baby. This is the must have of all must haves for your baby. You might think you are a fairly patient person right now. But you are going to be tested my friend. You are probably going to find you have a lot less patience than you thought you had. For 13 years, I was an elementary school librarian. I taught 700+ pre-K through 5th graders a week. You would think that I was a pro at having patience with kids. I thought so too. Ha, ha, ha! Nope. I have been tested and I have been found wanting.
Parenthood is one life long exercise in patience. And it starts from day one. So many nights you will find yourself sitting in a chair you thought would be a comfy and lovely place to rock your baby to sleep. You will grow to hate that chair. You will desperately want to be out of that chair, anywhere but that damn chair! It takes patience to stay in that chair, night after night.
You will have to be patient with your child, patient with your family, patient with your spouse and patient with yourself. Thankfully patience is a skill like any other that you can develop and strengthen.
Start now. Pay attention to those moments in life that make you impatient and change how you react to them.
To Improve Your Patience
Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that whatever it is won’t last forever. Stuck in traffic? It will move again. In the slow line at the store? You will get your turn
Distract yourself. Stuck in the checkout line at the grocery store? Grab one of the magazines and read a new recipe or the juicy gossip. Pull out your phone and check your email. Somebody you know has a birthday coming up…try to figure out the perfect gift (or at least a gift of some sort.) In the car? Turn up the music.
Make a change. Okay, so switching lines to the one that is moving faster doesn’t always work. But sometimes it does! So give it a shot. If you miss your turn, make a right and circle back to where you needed to go. I always feel better if I’m moving, even if it’s in the wrong direction initially, to get me back on track.
Remember what I just said about driving in the wrong direction to get back to where you need to go? That’s being flexible. Sitting and fuming won’t get you there faster. It won’t make you feel better. It just digs you deeper and deeper into an angry frustrated hole. Find an alternate and own it. Don’t gripe about it. Say “This isn’t what I planned, but it’s still going to work. And I’m good with that.” Move on from your frustration.
I was 100% certain I was going to breastfeed. Then my milk didn’t come in. The pumping schedule the lactation consultant gave me left zero time for sleep. And not a thing was coming out of me anyway. This was not what I had envisioned. I couldn’t see myself as a formula mom, but I was not succeeding as a breastfeeding mom either.
So I started being flexible in small ways. I dropped some of my scheduled pumping sessions to rest. Rest always helps. It allows you see things more clearly. I talked to my husband and mom. I dropped even attempting to breastfeed or pump for a day. My next step was to re-frame in my mind what it meant to provide sustenance for my child. Then I made the decision to give up breastfeeding entirely.
This was just the first of many many preconceptions about motherhood that I learned to be flexible about. And the first alternate solution I learned to embrace.
Find Your Thing
What resets you? What helps you get a moment of peace? What makes you laugh and moves you past the bad moments? You must have something that breaks the cycle when your baby is pushing every button you’ve got.
It can be different things at different times for different problems. My go to is always a lovely cup of tea. Tea is ambrosia, the nectar of the gods. If I can get in a cup of tea, I can most likely survive anything. And let’s not forget it has caffeine in it. Good stuff, caffeine.
I watched all 15 seasons of ER when my kiddo was really small. It was my thing. I could watch while rocking her, pacing around with her, changing diapers, feeding, playing on the floor. It made me happy and more able to find patience and flexibility.
Remember that comfy chair that you learn to loathe in the middle of the night when your baby just will not fall back to sleep? I read in that chair a lot. I got a book light, attached it to my Kindle and settled in for the long haul. 3 AM is not my favorite time to read, but I was up anyway. And the time passed a lot more pleasantly.
What are your things that help keep you centered? Try lots of them until you find what works best. Change them up as necessary.
Motherhood is a totally life altering event. There are so many parts of motherhood that no one can ever truly explain to you or prepare you for. You just have to live them. But if you develop patience, flexibility, and find your things that keep you centered, you’ll have some great tools to help you get through the good times and the hard times.