Nothing makes the mom of a 5th baby feel like more of slacker than an online moms’ group full of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed first moms. Oh my goodness! The women in my particular group run circles around me. Most of them are 10 years younger than I am and are parenting either their first baby or their second, meaning they have more energy, usually more enthusiasm, and certainly more bandwidth than I do. While I am definitely more chill than my fellow moms, I have also learned a few things from them that I never would have known about before this baby.
- Nothing lasts forever: Is your baby stressing you out because they aren’t sleeping well at night, or they suddenly can’t nap without holding your ponytail in their hands, or they cannot stand to be in anyone’s arms but yours, like, ever? THAT’S OK. It’s a phase! Just roll with it, and before you know it, you’ll be fondly remembering that stiff neck you got from bending your head just so, so your baby could get comfy with the ends of your hair twisted around their sleeping fingers.
- You really can’t teach infants bad habits. It’s so much easier to believe this when you have a pack of big kids who act like regular humans despite taking all naps in an infant wrap, or never crying for a single second all night long, or enjoying a constant breastmilk buffet from midnight to 8 am for like 15 months of their lives. If your baby needs something, give it to them. They are only babies for a second and then you are suddenly buying them the tools they need to shave hair off their face and WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT SWEET BABY? (Puberty. Puberty happened, and it’s kind of like Gremlins, so if Gizmo wants you to hold him, just hold him, you know?)
- If your pediatrician wants you to start solid food between 4-6 months, pick the 6. You have a lifetime to make this baby food it doesn’t want to eat and will throw on the floor. Don’t rush it.
- Don’t stress about nursing. Watching big kids eat Hot Pockets and guzzle chocolate milk from the carton is a real eye-opener in terms of infant nutrition. What they eat for 12 months is so much less important than the healthy food choices you have the next 17 years to battle over. Focus on making feeding a healthy experience for both of you, and do what ultimately makes you happy.
- Stop worrying about sleep, and don’t take it personally. Your baby didn’t take a nap? That’s OK. Maybe tuck them in a baby carrier and see if they’ll drift off while you do some work. You tried to put your baby to bed, but they didn’t want to go? Bummer. Maybe you can snuggle them on the couch while you watch an inappropriate TV show and have a snack you don’t really need. Your baby woke up eleventy billion times between midnight and 7 am? Maybe they missed you or are learning something that’s so cool it makes it hard to concentrate on sleeping. You’re still a great mom if you have a baby who doesn’t always sleep well, so take the stressed-out part out of the equation. (Yes, you can still take care of your other kids/go to work/finish a big project after a bad night’s sleep—or even a bunch of them. You’ll be fine, and you WILL sleep well again someday, so, for now, smell your baby’s sweet head and take a deep breath of pheromones).
- Use the Huckleberry app to track your baby’s sleep. This app was a life-changer at 4 months when I worried my baby had no nap pattern. It turned out, she DID! I logged her sleep every day for a week and saw a clear pattern emerge, and I was able to plan my day around these little nap pockets. Instead of imposing a schedule on my baby and creating conflict for both of us, the app let me just observe her natural tendencies and support them.
- Get a Newton mattress. This mattress is incredible. It’s breathable—like so breathable you can smoosh your face right up against it and breathe normally. If you are going to use a sheet with it (you don’t have to because the cover comes off, and you can wash everything), use a muslin sheet that still allows you to breathe through it. I have these, but the company sells some as well.
- Get a baby toy subscription box. This is the thing that new moms are buying that impressed me the most. Developmentally appropriate toys that just show up on my doorstep? Yes, please!
Real talk? This is for sure my last baby (a weird birth experience, and my age ensure it). She’s also a rainbow baby, and the whole family is committed to enjoying every second of her existence, so it’s easy for me to say that you should take the stress out of the equation. Every second I spend with this baby is bliss, but that’s a perspective that’s made possible by having a million kids.
Give me your best slacker mom tips—I’d love to hear them.