3 things you should be prepared for before your first child comes along
From the day you make the announcement of your pregnancy, the one thing you hear from everyone, whether they are superstitious old people or entirely scientific-minded, is that your life is about to change big time (small secret though: it doesn’t change that drastically – it changes, yes, but it mostly remains the same if that’s what you want it to do).
For a woman, especially, the changes are not just in her surroundings but also in her body and mind. These changes are of course huge, and most of our traditional practices take these into account. What isn’t taken into account is the thing that no one likes to talk about. Actually, three things that no one talks about, and that’s what you’ll hear about in this piece.
Believe me when I say your house is not going to be the same, no matter
what kind of help you have and what kind of space you have. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to want your house in an exactly kind of way. Your table should be free of random things, your sofa should be angled exactly at 45 degrees, your carpet shouldn’t creep up beyond the second tile from the wall… you get the picture. But once the baby comes, believe me, you’re not going to have time to look after your space and keep it the way you want. Your bedroom is going to be taken over by baby things, even if the baby has a room for itself. Your kitchen is probably the only room that’s going to be the way it used to be, unless you are the one who does all the cooking. Then it’s best to lower your own expectations of yourself and your kitchen and clean up when you have the time for it. Your balcony is going to be full of baby things that are drying and need the sun. Your drawing room is going to be possibly unvisited because you’re rarely going to use it once you’re busy with the baby. The whole house is going to smell different, you are going to smell different. Temperatures and light brightness is going to be according to your baby’s comfort. There’s a lot you need to get used to, and it’s a good practice to keep your mind open to the changes. That way, when they do happen, you’ll be more accepting of them.
This is a big one. Most parents-to-be and their families rarely talk about money outside of what it’s going to cost at the hospital when your child is born. I want to shake them all up and say, listen idealistic young people, you’re going to be spending a lot of money, so make your decisions before you baby comes. And plan your money before too. For example, after six months, the money you’re going to spend on baby food is going to be pretty high. So choose if you want to do packaged baby food or homemade baby food exclusively or a mix of both for convenience. Planning this in advance will help you budget right by the time you are used to having a baby.
In the first few months, the things you will spend most on are doctor visits and/or laundry and diapers. If you choose to go all cloth diaper, your washing machine is going to run high, as will electricity as well as special detergent for the baby cloths. You’re going to spend a little less if you decide to use disposable diapers for your newborn at night, like a lot of parents are now doing. This is a very good idea, in my opinion, because while in the daytime you are going to be up and about to change the baby’s soiled nappies, at night an extra-small diaper for your newborn is ideal. I also suggest that you buy diapers in bulk for the first four weeks. Indian parents spend anywhere between Rs 900 to Rs 1400 a month (at an average of three diapers a day) on newborn diapers, and more once the child moves into disposable diapers completely. Buy a trial pack for the first week, perhaps while you’re still in hospital, so you know what brand works for you best. And honest advice? Don’t go for something that’s very cheap. A good diaper is a blessing for mum and baby. And since you’ll be using disposable diapers for at least two years, it’s ideal to stick to one brand and budget a sizeable chunk for it every month. Really, when money is taken care of, almost everything between the new parents is easier.
3. Focus and concentration:
No one tells you this, but I think it’s one of the most important things that mothers — and dads — need to know. Your focus and concentration levels are going to be at an all-time low, and not just for a couple of weeks but a good two years. Your mind is constantly going to be on your baby and all that needs to get done. So if you find yourself unable to sit down and read a good book, or your mind drifts when you watch a TV show, don’t go thinking something is wrong with you and start worrying about that! I always think if someone had told me this when I had had my first child, I wouldn’t have been so harsh on myself; I would have given myself more room to be a little lost and then slowly worked back towards my focus. At this point, I must also mention that it’s a great idea to maintain a baby book. Because you think you’ll remember all the precious moments forever, but suddenly your child is six years old and you can’t remember what it was like when he was five months old because pregnancy brain! Keep a baby book or journal or take notes on your phone to keep track of all the things you enjoy about your baby. This is also a good way to start focusing and regaining your concentration.
My suggestion? Forgive yourself before your home starts to become less than ideal. Plan the money right down to the last detail. Chill a little about your lack of focus, but start working on it when you have control over your new routine after the baby arrives. Good luck!