Friday, October 10, 2008

Home Sweet Home???

So back to that jean shopping excursion. Remember, you survived, and last we left you on your way home. Home sweet home! But, think about it, is it really "sweet"? Are you arriving home to a peaceful, comfy and clean house where you can plop down and relieve the enormous pressure on your chest by feeding your baby? Probably not, but do not fret! Here are some minor preparations to help the transition from outings to home:

(Side note: if you already have had the baby before you got your weary hands on this info, all is not lost. You can still manage, with the help of some close friends and loved ones, to make your home a mommy haven. This is a good way to get your moms and mom-in-laws involved but out of your face. They will feel needed and integral in the life of your child.)

-Set up “nursing stations” in front of every TV in the house. If you only have one TV, tell your husband you’ll need more. And if you don’t have cable, you’ll need that too. And a couple of huge, comfy, leather recliners with cup-holders and built-in back massager. Upon hearing this news, your husband will be happier than a kid at Disneyland and, you might even see him cry! This is important because you will find if you are not sleeping, you are nursing, and the only other activity you will have enough energy to do is to click the remote to watch a show or two. Get those cooking/decorating and court TV shows in now because once you introduce the kiddo to a new boob, the Boob Tube, you will never again watch anything that has natural color, sentence structure or tangible reality.

-Have a charged portable phone, a remote with good batteries, one of your many stocked diaper bags and some water and your favorite low-cal/low fat snack at all nursing stations. This way you don’t have to move, except to use the bathroom of course (TV's in bathrooms are vital too, so as not to miss a court verdict or painting technique), and, if you must move to another station, you can do so without much hassle.

Now it's time to get your house clean! Take advantage of anyone who wants to scrub your toilet, fix you dinner, do your laundry or hold the baby while you remember how to use a toothbrush. This is vital for moms who do not know how to put their babies down. I suffered from this phenomenon. Josh would come home and I would be crying. He would ask how my day went and I would sob that I could not get anything done and the house was a mess and I didn’t make dinner and I just couldn’t handle the pressure. He would ask me, “did you put Jacob down?” and I would say, “put him down? What are you crazy?”

If you are low in offers from people to do these things for you, then, at point of contact, you MUST start crying hysterically and babbling while adding just a few coherent words like, “shower” and “moldy dishes” and "nervous breakdown" around everyone you know, and they will begin to help you, if only to shut you up. Or, just put the baby down and get something done, whichever option seems more logical to you.

The next thing you must do is throw out EVERYTHING you own except the TV’s and nursing station essentials. I know that sounds silly but you’ll need the all the room you can find for all the baby toys and swings and bouncy seats and highchairs and play pens and boxes of diapers you will acquire. You’ll never use your stuff anymore anyway, and it will only collect dust, which you will have no time to clean.

At this point laundry and dishes should be the only thing you will do for the next few years. At least that’s how it feels. If you can set up a nursing station next to the washer and dryer and the kitchen sink you will be in business. Nursing stations do not lose their practicality just because you are finished nursing!

But, if you insist on doing more yourself in the first few months, here are some more tips on other household chores:

-Vacuuming: This horrible chore can be made easier by sending your hubby or someone else out to buy as many vacuum attachments for your vacuum as you can find. That way you can duct tape them to the hose and easily make an 8 to ten-foot long tube that can reach any important area right from your nursing stations. The loss of suction created by the long tube is great for dusting and will ensure that you won’t suck up any binki’s you may need later. If you have a central vac system you could just open all the vents and see what happens…

-Window washing can be eliminated by closing all drapes and blinds.

-To avoid cleaning the fridge just order out every night. During the day you can live on protein bars and dried cereal. If you plan right you could shut off your fridge for a few months and save some money!

-Bathrooms are another story, those can get nasty quickly. Mom and mom-in-law are great for that one, but it can lead to negative feedback on your domestic abilities that you may not be emotionally ready for. On-cue crying fits seem to make this problem go away.

-Yourself! Getting a shower in and brushing your teeth was never considered a luxury before kids. Bubble bath with wine and some candles, yes, but a three-minute shower while brushing your teeth at the same time? Sadly, it is something to look forward to and thoroughly enjoy every three days.

If you have any other parts of the house that you're worried about, really, they don’t matter, until your baby starts crawling and it is time to baby-proof the house. Baby-proofing you say?

Most of us would say that we feel safe in our home, and our home is a safe place to be. This perspective changes the minute your baby starts to crawl. Everything, from petrified French fries under the couch, to lamp oil in the bottom cabinet, turns your home into a sinister mommy nightmare. Stairs, light sockets, cleaning supplies and dog food are now perilous, evil death traps! Stoves, unstable bookshelves and your clawed cat keep you up at night as you imagine your precious baby coming in contact with all of them. What do you do? Who knew that under your coffee table there were three exposed screw tips? Do the living room windows really open that far, and that easily? When did the dog get so attached to his frayed tennis ball and why is he growling? Could the cat be polluting your carpet with poo-poo and litter chemicals, you know, the carpet you baby just licked? The list goes on and on, and your concerns soon widen dramatically. Desperately you search for that plastic tube the nurse gave you to measure exactly which toys or household items could become lodged in baby’s throat. You find yourself inspecting every bite of baby food for a potential shard of glass. Your husband holds you back as you check the temperature of the freezer for the 15th time to make sure your breast milk is properly frozen. And the worst assault on your psyche and general mental health, the Internet.

DO NOT LOOK INFORMATION UP ON THE INTERNET! If you cannot heed that advice (I can't!) then make sure there is a responsible, logical, grounded, happy-go-lucky adult around you to force you back into reality, or take you to the nearest mental health facility. Too much Internet surfing on health and safety concerns for your child and you will never again put them in plastic diapers, let them drink juice, play outside, play with animals, be watched by your closest friends, ride in cars, eat food heated in the microwave, watch Sesame Street or eat birthday cake. You will think every surface your child touches is covered in e-coli, salmonella, and the influenza virus, and you will develop violent tendencies toward every individual that coughs or sneezes in your general direction. Thankfully, I got to the point that the information I was reading was so overwhelming and inflammatory (however cleverly written) that I came to the conclusion that none of us should even be alive. And, since we are, obviously by the grace of God, I needed to stop worrying about it…so much…

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