Baby Gear for the Road
There's a lot of nifty baby gear available today, and all of it can look tempting, but there is such a thing as equipment overkill. When I had my first baby, for example, I bought a super-duper deluxe portable changing table. It was cool the first few times I used it and then it just became another cumbersome object to lug around.
As you become more experienced, you will learn that the less you have to pack and carry, the better. Monitor your own use of the items you're toting in your diaper bag. If you don't use it, stop packing it. On the other hand, if it is something you really might need, don't hesitate to take it along. If you are going shopping and assume the mall will have a stroller for rent you may be sadly mistaken. You'll regret leaving your own stroller at home when you're trying to shop and hold a baby at the same time.
When you pack for the baby think of basic needs: Food, clothing, water, cleanliness, and transportation. As the child grows, add “distraction” to your list—things to keep baby occupied. Good preparation gives you the mobility that can be an emotional life preserver during your baby's first year.
The Benefits of Breaking Out of the House
When you're out of the house, you can still work with the schedule you've established for the baby. For example, if your baby usually naps at a certain time, make sure he's in his stroller or carrier at that time—that way he can catch his nap while you are out and about.
With a little planning, you can take your baby everywhere you want to go. He'll adjust. If he gets too fussy while you're out, you can always just leave wherever you happen to be. Chances are he will fall asleep in his car seat and you will find your peace that way.
Building a Social Network
Many women who become stay-at-home moms after being in the work force do not know where to begin when it comes to developing a daytime life with baby. Unless you are truly a homebody you will want to get out of the house as regularly as you can. Unless you meet women in a similar situation you are going to feel very alienated. You can always hang around the formula-and-diaper section of the local supermarket but it may be more rewarding for you to take some proactive steps on your own behalf.
Generations ago, families lived close to one another and were directly involved in each other's lives. But today, many of us lack the support of close-by relatives to teach us the ropes about child rearing. Even though we resist many of the old ways, it is a shame we do not have the built-in societal network to tell us how to handle simple situations. Instead, we're forced to turn to strangers, or to professionals such as the pediatrician, for advice that used to be passed down from one generation of moms to the next.
A play group is an informal, regular gathering of a small group of women and their children. If the children are old enough they play together. If not, the women swap information and snacks while the babies do very little. Usually the location varies from meeting to meeting.
Play Groups: for Mom and for Baby
Today's society may be more fragmented than that of earlier generations, but there are still many opportunities for meeting people, if you are creative and open-minded. Try checking at your community center, church, synagogue, and the like to find the names of women with children around the same age as yours to form a play group. You can initiate contact and then delegate some of the responsibilities to the other women in the group. If you find some compatible people, it can be well worth the effort. You do not need to find people with exactly the same background as you. Babies are the great equalizer—no matter how educated, sophisticated, or well-dressed their mothers, all babies behave in ways that are relatively the same.
Forming a play group is something you do for yourself as well as for your child. Even though moms today are creating new rules, we all could use some consistent information and the chance to learn from the experience of others. If you have the chance to get involved in small play groups of women with children around the same age, you can make your world seem a little bit larger and can get some great tips.
Your baby is going to be a part of your world for a very long time. Get out and enjoy life together. Your only limitations are those you set for yourself.
More on: Babies
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood © 1999 by Deborah Levine Herman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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