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It has been over nine years since I was a brand new mom. Most days, it feels like a lifetime ago. But this summer, as I have been watching my sister go through the transition to being a new mom, it has brought me back to those first days. It was amazing to become a mom, but it also came with surprising challenges…things that did not always show up in the “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” book.
Just like going back to high school, I would never want to go back to being a newbie mom again, but if I did…these are a few things that I would tell my “new mom” self…
- Throw out any and all expectations of yourself, your baby, your parenting, and the cleanliness of your house. You do not have enough energy to waste on feeling inadequate because you fed your child baby food out of a jar.
- You will not realize how sleep deprived you really are until your baby starts sleeping normally. This could last five years, so when you back up out of the garage and smash your rearview window or inexplicably fall asleep in the middle of a conversation, you have a legitimate reason.
- It can be terribly lonely caring for a newborn who just cries, eats and poops. Say it out loud and reference #1.
- It is okay to want time away from your baby, and it is also perfectly normal if you can’t wait to get back and breathe in that “top of a baby’s head smell” again. You know…that delectable combination of baby shampoo and spit-up…
- It is okay to start rocking an invisible baby back and forth in the middle of Target when you actually get away by yourself. Reference #2.
- Buy yourself a new postpartum outfit before you lose all of your baby weight. It is worth the self-esteem boost to get out of your maternity clothes and out of the probably outdated clothes from a year ago.
- Hire a babysitter and go out on dates..often. It sounds cliche, but the ability to have a normal conversation with your spouse is priceless.
- You will think your baby is disturbing everyone else wherever you go. No one cares other than exceptionally grumpy people, and well…phooey on them.
- Your hormones (and sleep deprivation) will send you over the edge…over and over. It is perfectly acceptable to stare blankly at the wall (or at HGTV) and cry for no reason. Reference #1.
- Don’t lose your friends in the swirling fog of new motherhood. Hang onto them for dear life, and grab some new ones that understand what you are going through. Have playdates for your two-month-old so that YOU have someone to hang out with that talks back to you.
My list is obviously unique to my experience…no C-section or preemie or adoptive birth…so I would love to hear what bits of wisdom you would send back to your “new mom self”!
I always love finding new online shops to exercise my PayPal account. I thought I’d pass along a few of my favorites to you. Some are for the kiddos, some are for the mamas, some are crazy cheap, and some are more of the ‘this is what I want for my birthday’ variety. Happy shopping!
I woke with a start to the sound of insistent beeping. Disoriented and confused, I sat up and looked across the hospital room to a nurse huddled over my daughter’s IV, and only then did the last 24 hours come flooding back to me. Madi’s puking in the middle of the night, which turned into a trip to urgent care, which turned into a trip to the emergency room, which turned into emergency surgery to remove her infected appendix.
The day had been a blur, everything happening so fast that I barely had time to process until the nurses told me they were going to take her into the operating room. As soon as she rounded the corner, I fell apart, crying all the way into the waiting room. My bravery gone, my positive demeanor demolished, all I could do was nervously sit and stare at the electronic board where her number was displayed…In Surgery…In Surgery…In Surgery…
We had the best possible result; the surgery went smoothly, her appendix was not ruptured, Madi was incredibly brave, and the hospital staff was professional and kind. But it was also terrifying to watch your kid struggle, and not be sure what the outcome was going to be.
Back to 3 a.m. All of that residual terror was washing over me, and I felt tears bubbling up again. But instead, I turned to my practice….of gratitude. I firmly believe that gratitude for God’s gifts is a practice, just like yoga. It is not something you ever perfect, but you have to work at it, day after day. My goal? Turn an occasional thank you into a regular habit and ultimately into a way of life that overflows with gratitude in both good and bad, in times of blessing and in times of pain.
So I lay there, watching the nurse work on Madi, and I started to work on my practice by thinking about God’s gifts…
- Conscientious urgent care doctors that sent us directly to the ER
- An amazing Children’s Hospital ten minutes from our home
- A husband who works five minutes away from the hospital
- Free WiFi in the hospital so Madi could FaceTime her best friend
- Plenty of kids movies to distract the kids in the ER
- Family to take Parker and Fiona away from the hospital
- Cassie, the awesome nurse who explained the entire IV process to Madi
- Having time to play chess with your oldest kid
- A capable surgeon who inspired Madi’s confidence
- Lots and lots of ice cream cups
- Borrowed cell phone chargers
- Visitors to raise our spirits
- Doritos at midnight
- A non-ruptured appendix
- Emotional and prayer support from my social media “peeps”
- Patience…lots of patience…
I started to calm down, and was able to doze back off to sleep for a few more hours. Yes, today we dealt with appendicitis, and who knows what tomorrow will bring. But what I do know that day by day, one bit of gratitude at a time, I will be able to face whatever comes my way.
It is the middle of summer vacation around here, which means that school supplies are starting to pop up in the grocery store aisles. I actually bought a few packs of markers today, which my children found very distressing. They are not ready to give up their lazy afternoons at the pool and wild jumping sessions on the trampoline, and frankly, neither am I.
But it did give me the idea to dig up some educational and fun apps for the kids to check out, just to start to tip their minds back towards school. My oldest daughter is in a three-week science camp right now, so it seemed like the right subject to focus my search. Here is what I found…
1. Fish Out of Water (Free for Apple & Android Devices): While this was one of the “game” apps I found, it actually has a lot to do with simple mechanics, as you carefully choose the right fish to launch out into the water and watch how many times they “skip”. We all had fun with this one, dodging jellyfish and fighting giant waves to get a perfect “10″!
2. Weird but True Facts (Free for Apple & Windows Devices): This little app from National Geographic Kids provides fun facts and wacky facts for your curious kids to absorb. You know, things like “A U.S. ice-cream shop sold insect-flavored ice cream”. The perfect nuggets of weirdness for those elementary school age kids. You get one fact pack for free, and can add on more with in-app purchases.
3. Max & Ruby! Science App (Free for Apple Devices): Perfect for the 5 and under crowd, this app focuses on Physical Science with their educational games. Connect the correct water pipes in Water Blast! and adjust ball trajectory with Ball-O-Rama! My almost-kindergartner loves this game. My one complaint…you get five levels for free, but I would have to cough up $3.99 for the full learning games.
4. My Incredible Body ($4,99 for Android, Apple & Windows Devices): I know…five bucks, right? But if your kids are at all interested in anatomy, this is THE app. It has amazing features like being able to zoom inside a 3-D view of an organ to see how it works and animated rides through the systems to see how blood flows or how lungs look while you are breathing. It is fascinating, engaging, and educational!
5. Wild Kratts World Adventure ($2.99 for Apple Devices): Designed for kids ages 4 – 8 (and 8 is probably a little too old), this app hits the life sciences with games in habitats around the globe. Woodpeckers hunt for beetles, dolphins clean up trash, and orangutans swing through the trees. Lots of animal facts, fun stickers, and NO in-app purchases round out the experience. I don’t think my kids will go back to the app over and over, but it’s a good, solid stand-by.
6. Sink or Float? (Free for Apple & Android Devices): All I have to say about this app is that my Mom and the kids spent a good half an hour cackling over this game. It’s simple…decide if the item (cupcake, scissors, eggplant) will sink or float, and then send it into the water. It doesn’t sound like it would be captivating, but somehow it is! We downloaded the free version, but you can buy the complete version for 99 cents.
7. Brain Pop Jr. (Free for Apple & Google Play Devices): We have had the grown-up version of Brain Pop for a while; this version sports kid-sized characters in short animated videos on a variety of topics, ranging from Science to Art to Technology to Health and much more. A new video is available each week, along with quiz questions and activities. My 9-year-old is probably too old for it, but it is perfect for my younger two.
8. Despicable Me: Minion Rush (Free for Apple & Android Devices): This had to make the “fun” list, because my kids are obsessed with playing this “temple-run-ish” game and I am horrible at it. Doesn’t that make it the quintessential kid game? When your parents can’t figure it out…or they think finding the “fluffy unicorn” is ridiculous? My only beef with the game is that they really want you to spend money to upgrade your minion, and I have had to say “no”…loud and often.
Enjoy the rest of your summer…because fall is coming sooner than we think!