Recently I was doing a late-night social media shuffle when up popped “The 36 must-have items every new mum needs”.
Anything that uses the word “must” gets me all twitchy around my rebellion-reflex but it also got me thinking that while all the bouncer, nappy bin and buggy recommendations are great, they are ultimately a bit pointless during the day-to-day demands of being a new parent.
Some days are joyous, some days are shit, but every day underlines the small people’s ferocious appetite for time. They just suck that tucker right up.
So here are my “Top five have-if-you-want-to items every new mum might consider” for saving some time, some tidying up and some sanity.
Hack 1: baby wipes. This one is as old as the hills, but is so good that it merits revisiting. For the first
four years few months of your child’s life, you may find it useful to mutter the mantra, “No one died because the hoovering didn’t get done” on repeat, and adopt the attitude that if the surface is smooth and non-permeable, a baby wipe is all you need.
As far as I am concerned, in the habitat of every hairless hobbit, the TV, furniture, wooden floors, door handles, doors, sink, bath and mirrors have at some point received the baby wipe treatment.
And never forget that when the longed-for night out-out finally rolls around, and you have approximately 7 minutes and 46 seconds to get ready, it is perfectly acceptable to baby wipe the day’s detritus off your jeans, shoes and hair using just a Huggie and hotfoot it out of the door.
Hack 2: changing station. Just don’t bother. With the station, that is. I’m pretty sure that even the worst parents are aware of the need to wipe the small person’s bum every once in a while. But just don’t be conned into thinking that a changing station that matches the wardrobe and cot, and has storage for the nappies, wipes, muslins, scented nappy bags, Sudacrem, Bepanthon, Metonium, distraction toy, and which also offers the perfect place for the nappy bin, and gin, is necessary. Especially if you have stairs.
Think it through – when the baby drops a bomb every seventeen seconds do you really want to be dragging your sleep-deprived, stitched-up, sore-all-over-self up a flight of stairs? All you really need is a box, a folding nappy mat and a small table to tuck the lot under. Repeat x the number of rooms the baby will be in (your bedroom, the living room, the bathroom are a good bet) and you are set for every nappy changing need.
Hack 3: plain cot sheets. Ok, let’s call a spade a spade, this one is sliding towards slovenly BUT don’t judge me, I’m trying to save you time. Time = sanity and possibly more sleep, so you know, slovenly ain’t always that bad.
The idea is that you don’t want any sheets with pattern which identifies the top from the bottom. Why change the sheets when they’re covered in spit-up, slobber and snot when all you’ve got to do is turn the mattress round?
Minging? Maybe. But if the only thing that is going to be sitting on the small-person’s dried up slime is the seven
useless snuggly soothers your childless friends have bought you, then what’s the problem? I’m not suggesting you don’t wash the sheets, just use them for double the time. Win.
Hack 4: scissors. A decent-sized, really sharp pair. The kind of pair that you can use to
gently stab your child’s father when he fails to wake up in the night ever cut up pizza, spaghetti, sausages, lasagne, fish fingers and any kind of carb-heavy-meal that are the life blood of most new parents. Scissors win over knives all day long as they are quick and can be used one-handed while you are holding the baby who won’t be put down. Your food can then be eaten with a spoon, so you can carry on holding the baby who won’t be put down.
Hack 5: sleep suits. Generally speaking, the most sensible sartorial choice day and night for a very small baby is the sleepsuit. As the child gets older however, the lure of two-piece pyjamas, can prove too cute to resist, especially when it means avoiding wrestling with an errant toddler while attempting to match up multiple poppers. I realise that this sounds appealing, but I have two words for you: false economy.
A separate top and bottom provides unparalleled access to the nappy and the gleeful grab at the nappy sides is best avoided at bedtime. As is “exploration” which can result in a scene reminiscent of a dirty protest in a prison cell, or the odd willy appearing over the top to wee. To be avoided.
During the day, it’s worth applying the same strict “poppers-only”policy as small people do not have an accurate barometer of what constitutes anti-social behaviour. Suggest they might eat a broken biscuit and they will remind you of your duty to uphold high standards at all times and offer only the perfectly spherical snack. Just minutes later, however, they’ll be sampling the cigarette butts from the pub floor as though they the classiest canapés. It’s not worth the risk of a turd being tossed around, or rolling under the settee. Just grit those teeth and press those studs.
So that’s it – my 861 words worth on the matter of what a parent might choose to do to save some time – no must, no should, just might. These are things that have genuinely occurred to me over the last almost-four-years of parenting, and while opinions may differ whether they are parenting hacks, or parenting slacks, as always I’m just being honest.