As much as I love What To Expect When You're Expecting, they really left out some key points when it comes to being a new mom. Moms are usually glad they read up on parenting and baby while pregnant but after finishing all of those thick books and blog posts, most are left feeling unprepared for the many not-so-joyous aspects of motherhood.
Don't worry, I'm here to help. If you're expecting a baby soon, keep reading your gentle parenting books. But you don't want to miss my tips for handling motherhood like a boss. I don't have all the answers (no one does), but at least you'll be aware of what your future looks like. I hate to break it to you, but not all of it is pretty.
Why does no one talk about some of these things? I'll never know. But it's real, and it's common. You might understand exactly how to handle gentle sleep training or what brand of bibs to buy, but you're probably missing out on some very important skills that will make your life easier. Let's take a look at 20 things you won't learn from any parenting book out there.
20 How To Make Coffee With Your Eyes Mostly Closed
This is a skill that really comes in handy. Sure, you've probably made coffee while half asleep before when getting up for work early. But after you have kids, it's on a whole other level. It takes some getting used to, but after a year or two of wandering around the kitchen warming bottles and making coffee, you'll totally get it down. It's not a skill anyone plans on acquiring and it's definitely not something that can be taught. It just... happens.
I can't tell you how many times I've stopped and thought to myself, 'How in the world did I get here?' I used to be tired from working, going to college, and partying. Now I'm tired from being woken up with crying every night for almost two years straight. At least I can make coffee and get a few moments of rest at the same time. That's something.
19 How To Be Nice When You Really Don't Want To Be
I wish someone would have warned me just how cranky motherhood can make you. Seriously, why isn't anyone out there teaching new moms how to be nice when they feel like ripping their hair out. I know I'm not alone in this. I feel like I'm always on the verge of snapping at someone, but with time and lots of discipline, I've learned how to keep it in. Some days, it tricks me into being positive when I feel like breaking down, and other times it's all just a charade. But it's part of being a wife and mother. We're allowed to feel, but we can't react to every negative emotion we have, or the house would be complete chaos.
18 How To Put On Eyeliner While Someone Screams At You
I've gotten quite good at this one. It's something you don't really consider until you're already in the thick of it.
But one day it happens. You're putting on makeup (as quickly as you possibly can) and a toddler or kid wanders into the bathroom and screams at you for the remainder of your mirror time. You're already too far along in the process to stop, so you rush through the rest. It takes patience. It takes skill. Serious, hardcore mom skills at their finest.
There are a few techniques, such as distracting your kid with your box of tampons, or giving in and letting them unravel the entire toilet paper. I've found that the best method is to let them destroy the bathroom and just accept that you'll have to clean it all once you're done.
17 How To Change A Blowout
I used to be a preschool teacher and nanny for infants. I've seen my fair share of blowouts. But there's a major difference between caring for someone else's child and caring for your own, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You're going to deal with a ton more incidents than when it comes to your own kids. And when it happens in the car seat, you don't just have to clean the child, you get to spend the next two days scrubbing their chair. You have to deal with stained clothes and play the "should-I-throw-it-out?" game. It's not fun, and it's not easy. And it WILL happen at the most inconvenient times possible. That's just how it works.
16 How To Fold Laundry With A Toddler
If you think folding laundry with your baby around is easy, you just wait. Mark my words. Let them get to about a year and a half old to two years old and you'll be wishing they were newborns again. No one ever brought this up to me and I totally wish they would have. It's frustrating, it's difficult, it's all-around awful. As if laundry didn't stink enough, right?
Learning how to successfully put laundry away while someone goes behind you and throws all of your folded shirts on the floor and wears your underwear as a hat takes patience that you didn't know you had. You have to dig deep for that strength and learn how to redirect a miniature version of you that wants to be a part of everything you do.
15 How To Bribe A Screaming Toddler
Bribery is bound to happen. You may go into motherhood thinking that you're above it. That it doesn't teach strong values. That there's no way you'd ever be pushed down to that level. Just know, if and when you do it, you're not alone. Parents everywhere bribe their kids into being good when the going gets tough. Even Kate Middleton has admitted to bribing Princess Charlotte with sweets and television time when they have big meetings or events. Sometimes reasoning, redirection, and sweet hushed tones just are not enough. When you're at your wits' end, giving your toddler a candy bar may just save your sanity, and because of that, I'd consider it pretty important.
14 How To Dress A Wiggling Toddler
I've been through a lot in my life. I've conquered hard tasks and faced many challenges but nothing, no parenting book or mommy blog out there could have prepared me for dressing a wiggly toddler.
As soon as you get one leg through the pant hole and you go to work on the second one, they kick it off and bust your lip in the process. You think you're almost done? Think again. They'll flip over so quick you'll pee yourself a little and want to curse out loud. You'll start making excuses as to why they don't need to wear clothes today anyway. I mean, you're not going anywhere, so really, is it worth all of the trouble?
13 How To Get Stickers Off Of... Everything
Why do companies make stickers targeted at young toddlers and kids, and then think it's a good idea to go ahead and make the back like superglue? Seriously, whose idea was that?
I let my son play with stickers all the time and every time, without fail, I end up regretting that decision. He sticks them on bookshelves, his bed frame, the doors, the walls, the television. And every time I have to sit and scrub with soapy water for about 10 minutes just to get the goop off.
Pro-Tip: Always have Magic Erasers around. But watch out, that stuff can literally rub off the paint on your walls if you scrub too hard.
12 How To Not Lose Your Mind
Who knew being a mom meant listening to the same song five times a day for years at a time? If someone would have told me that, I might have reconsidered having children.
But in all seriousness, it's tough. It's bad enough that you can't watch adult television during the day, but your kids take things too far. They never like the cute show that you can tolerate. No no no. They fall in love with the most obnoxious shows of course. And they'll like them so much that they'll make you listen to them on repeat for months at a time.
How do you keep your cool? You better get some discreet headphones and crank up some Cardi B.
11 How To Enjoy Movies Without Waking The Baby
Even the simple act of watching a movie after bedtime is full of mommy skills. After a while, you start to be able to anticipate when the loud parts of the movie are coming. It's like a sixth sense. I will never understand why the volume has to vary so drastically from scene to scene. It's probably some trick the producers use to keep you engaged, but good Lord. It's enough to make me want to turn the television off. One moment it's a scene with hushed conversation, the next moment your speakers are about to blow out. You know if you wake the baby up, it's over. You can kiss your in-home movie date goodbye.
10 How To Get Yuckiness Out Of Car Seats
Who knew getting vomit out of car seats would be so difficult? Before having children, you might not think much about it. You figure when the time comes, you'll handle it. Sure, it won't be fun, but it can't be that hard, right? WRONG.
Car seats have so many nooks and crannies, What To Expect When You're Expecting should have dedicated an entire chapter to helping new moms scrub vomit and various other fluids out of the depths of their baby's car seats. I've tried it all, folks. Old toothbrushes, dozens of rags, and all kinds of sprays and cleaners. And to make matters worse, chances are that the kids will be screaming while you clean. Have fun!
9 How To Take Care Of The Baby While Sick
Everyone knows that moms don't get sick days. You can't call in to get out of your parenting duties. Unless you have an awesome friend or parent with plenty of free time, chances are you'll end up taking care of your kids while you're extremely sick at least a time or two. I wish I had advice for the new moms out there who haven't experienced it yet, but the truth is, everyone just wings it. You pull out every classic lazy mom hack there is, you pray for it to end, and you cry. A lot. I hope you're okay with screen time and a trashed house.
8 How To Actually Keep Them Entertained
In case you don't have kids yet, I feel the need to tell you this: toddlers don't play with toys.
Shocker, I know. You'll keep buying toys for them though, in the hopes that this will be the one that keeps them entertained for more than five minutes. But it pretty much fails every time. There's a reason people say that parents are way more relaxed by their second child. You've been around the block, and you know they don't need all of those fancy gadgets. Give your toddler a toilet paper tube and some pom-poms and call it a day, Mama.
7 How To Cope When You Step On Toys
Have you ever stepped on a lego immediately after laying your child down? It's one of the worst things in the world. You can't yell out in pain, and you kind of feel like punching the wall. But of course, you suck it up, wipe the tears of pain from your eyes, and tiptoe the heck out of there before you wake the baby up.
If you're planning on having a baby soon, I suggest you start training now. Buy some legos and lay them out around the house so you can step on them on the way to the bathroom at one in the morning. You'll learn how to avoid them in dim lighting, and it's good practice for later. Your feet might even toughen up a bit.
6 How To Buy Clothes On A Budget
Seriously, babies grow out of their wardrobe every 2 months. If you thought you were going to dress your little one in designer clothes for the first few years of life, I hope you're rich. Otherwise, you better learn how to shop on a tight budget. My son has a handful of clothes that were brand new, but certainly not his entire wardrobe. There's just no way.
Figure out where the used kids' clothes stores are in your area and start stocking up! Look for coupons and buy clothes that are just a little bit too big to get the most out of everything. And unless you're going out all the time, don't bother buying dozens of shoes for your newborn. It's impractical and totally not worth it.
5 How To Lay The Baby Down Without Waking Them Up
Above all else, every mom will learn how to lay a sleeping baby down without waking them up. It's the most important skill you'll learn as a new mom.
Some of it is left to chance, but there is most definitely some skill involved. I won't lie, I'm not good at it. It seems there's a fair mix of holding them close until the last second and a whole lot of holding your breath and praying that they don't wake up. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But when you've been rocking them to sleep for almost two hours, you'll do just about any ninja move you can think of to get the heck out of the room.
4 How To Pretend To Be Interested
I was not prepared for how emotionally draining it is having conversations with little ones all day every day. Before having kids you see other family members or friends kids and their voices are adorable and squeaky. Well, just imagine that sweet squeaky voice on repeat for about 12 hours a day, every day. Yeah, it loses its appeal just a tad.
Don't get me wrong, I love watching my son grow and learn new things. But it takes so much out of me pretending to be totally shocked by everything all the time. "What?! You drew a blue ball again?? That's Ah-Mazing, son." I need some wine.
3 How To Squeeze Showers Into Your Life
Not having the time to shower is a topic that's brought up pretty frequently in mom groups. When my son was a newborn, I shrugged it off. It didn't apply to me, I just didn't get how it was an issue. Fast forward to the toddler years and I feel like a walking garbage can most days. Okay, not really, but you get the idea.
I have to schedule my days out perfectly in order to squeeze a shower in, and if it doesn't work out well, I get a shower buddy. And let me tell you, it's not fun. It's kind of hard to wash your armpits with a two-year-old playing slip and slide at your feet and dumping all of the shampoo down the drain.
2 How To Make Mom Friends
Before I had my son, making new friends was no problem. It was partially due to the fact that I didn't know who I was when I was younger and had no requirements when it came to values and future goals. But it was also because there was nothing to worry about. I worked, I hung out with friends, and that was my life.
Now that I have a son, I can't make mom friends to save my life. When you do find that one golden friend, you hang on to them for dear life. It's hard out there. Suddenly you find yourself looking at potential friends as if you're signing your future away with them. How do they discipline their kids? Are they too uptight? Do they party too much? The list goes on...
1 How To Go To The Bathroom Alone
I never realized how precious those few minutes alone in the bathroom were until I had kids. I can't tell you how many times I think about how I took my potty breaks for granted. I don't know when I'll be able to sit on a toilet alone again, but it doesn't look good for me. If I had to guess, I'd say I won't be able to pee in peace for a good six to seven years, given the number of kids my husband and I want to have.
There are a few tricks, however. You can distract your kid with the television, or give them a treat. The problem is, it only has about a 45% success rate, and it usually ends with hearing a crash or some yelling by the time you're washing your hands. You have to decide whether you'd rather be alone for a moment or deal with a trashed living room.