The other day a coworker asked me for some recommendations on what toys to buy for her infant daughter. I had a moment of panic because I knew the RIGHT answer was wooden toys, recycled books, and gender neutral organic cotton dolls. But…Mia doesn’t play with any of those things. Her favorite toy is plastic phone that lights up and plays music and talks in Spanish (at least it’s multicultural…).
It got me to thinking about all of the lofty proclamations I made about parenting before I was actually a parent.
Here’s a sampling of them:
“I’m going to have a natural labor with no drugs and no interventions.”
“My baby will NEVER have screen time – not even at a restaurant or on an airplane. That is just lazy parenting.”
“My baby will only play with wooden toys – that’s what babies played with for hundreds of years and they were happy!”
“I will read 10 books to my baby every day, she’s going to be an early reader.”
“I will never swear in front of my child.”
“I won’t give bottles until she is 8 weeks old, and she will never use pacifiers.”
“I will not call the doctor over every little thing – my mothering instincts are enough.”
The list goes on.
If you aren’t already rolling on the floor laughing, here’s a little scorecard for how I measure up so far to each of these pre-baby proclamations.
Plan: Natural Labor
Reality: Epidural, Internal Fetal Heart Rate Monitor, Internal Contraction Monitor, External Heart Rate Monitor, Oxygen
Plan: No Screen Time
Plan: Wooden Toys
Plan: 10 Books a Day
Reality: Sometimes we play “throw the books in the bucket,” which is the closest Mia gets to reading books. She hates books. Occasionally I read them to her while she’s asleep because I’m terrified she’s going to be illiterate.
Plan: I will never swear in front of my child.
Fuck. Oh shit, sorry. Fudge.
Plan: I will not give Mia a bottle until 8 weeks – and no pacifiers.
Plan: I will not call the doctor about every little thing.
Reality: Me: “The umbilical cord fell off, and it’s nasty and bloody!” Doctor: “So what is the question?”
The thing people don’t realize before becoming a parent is that parenting isn’t a methodology – it’s survival. It’s real life and it doesn’t give you a time out or a do-over or a day off if you’re sick or tired or just got run over by a minivan. So while in theory it sounds perfectly reasonable to keep your toddler away from technology for 2 or more years – when you have the flu and your child is sitting on your face, yanking your hair and bawling their brains out, you just might reconsider handing them an iPad in exchange for 2 minutes of peace and quiet.
In fact, you might reconsider it while trying to make a cup of tea as your toddler scales the coffee table and leaps toward the couch.
I know that some parents are better at sticking to their guns than others, and some, according to the moms discussion board on “WhatToExpect.com” are absolutely perfect. If you’re one of those parents, you know where to shove it.
But, back to the point. What you think you want and need for your baby before they’re born is very different from what you will wish you actually had when real life strikes. So below is my list of things that you should put on your baby registry or christmas list or credit card that will make all the perfect moms gasp, and all the regular moms nod and smile.
Been there, resorted to that.
So without further ado – 8 things you probably never thought you’d need but you really do:
They are ugly, bulky and cost $89 – but they are the only cases that enable your iPhone to survive a dive into the tub, a launch over the couch and a crash into the cement sidewalk. What’s that? You aren’t going to let your child hold your phone? Yea…talk to me in 12 months.
2. Diaper Genie
Believe me, I get it. $50 bucks for a diaper pail is absolutely absurd, and they’re all the same anyway so who needs the brand name? Well, I’ll tell you who – anyone who is living with a child that makes bowel movements in a diaper. If you know me, you know I am the cheapest person ever and yet I coughed up the $50 bucks and $17 per refill REAL QUICK as soon as Mia started solids. Unless you’re into eau de 3-day-old poop, you definitely need one of these. The actual Playtex Diaper Genie brand. Not a knock-off. Because when it comes to poop, you DO NOT (I repeat – you DO NOT) want to mess around.
Like me, I’m sure you’re going to be making all of your baby’s food from scratch. I mean, it’s not that hard to just throw stuff in a blender. But try to steam, mash and blend all those wholesome organic veggies while nursing, folding laundry, washing dishes, vacuuming cheerios out of the highchair and oh, make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps! You’re a supermom, I know, but – you’ll see.
I mean, really, who created this toy? Aren’t we supposed to be teaching our kids NOT to spend the entire day attached to their phone? Unfortunately, even if you’re determined to avoid it – someone will gift your child this toy. Or they will come across it on a play date, or at the library, or in a toy store – and that will be the end of that. They will become obsessed. They will become incapable of even a 5 minute car ride without it. They will scream and cry and FREAK THE EFF OUT if you take it away. And then when you finally cave they will smile and put it up to their ear and say “Hi, Gam-pa?” and your heart will melt, and render you incapable of ever taking it away again.
5. Drive Thrus
Yea, I don’t eat fast food either. But as soon as Mia graduated to the carseat that doesn’t come in and out of the car – drive thrus it was! If you think I’m waking up a sleeping toddler just so I can get fair trade espresso beans in my latte, you are sorely, sorely mistaken.
6. A Spare Bedroom
This one is a little bit difficult to put on a registry – or even a credit card for that matter. But if you already have an extra bedroom, thank your lucky stars. You’re gonna need it. I know you’re thinking now that it’ll be a cold day in hell before you let your husband sleep in the spare room while you wake up every 45 minutes to nurse. But the first time you finally get the baby to go back to sleep and your husband rolls over, whacks ’em in the face and wakes them back up – you will send said husband to the spare bedroom faster than you can say “f%^ing idiot.”
These things are so ugly they should be recalled. Believe me, I get it. I was adamant that I would not be purchasing one of these hideous monstrosities to clutter up my meticulously styled living room. Unfortunately my husband, my mother (and all other parents across the country) told me I had to get one. And they were right. Mia loved this thing – and she still does. The brighter, uglier and tackier the toys the better as far as babies are concerned.
I know what you’re thinking. “The rest of this stuff, maybe. But there is no way you can convince me that a one year old NEEDS a battery operated car.” All I can say is watch this video – and then see how long you can wait before getting your little munchkin into the driver’s seat of one of these babies!
Ok mommies – what did I miss? Anything else you never thought you’d need and now can’t go without?