Expecting a baby is an exciting time inspiring visions of snuggling in rockers, adorable outfits, bottles of milk, and fluffy toys in the shapes of lambs and bunnies. Of course, everyone hears about the sleepless nights and general frustrations, but it’s impossible to truly understand what’s involved when it comes to caring for a baby during the first few months following arrival. Most moms jump into the ice waters of motherhood with both feet, as there is no time to dip a toe in. Easing into the baby days is not really an option; however, there are several things one can do to prepare for baby’s homecoming so motherhood isn’t such a shock. For those wishing to prepare for this world of the unknown, these ten tips ensure moms have a better understanding of what’s to come.

  1. Set your alarm clock to go off once every two to three hours per night. This will help you acclimate to the new sleeping schedule.
  2. Shower once every two days, and wash your hair even less so you can get used to the grunge phase. There is often less time to shower than you think.
  3. Stop making lunches, and just wing it when you remember to eat. Grab a spoon of peanut butter, cereal bar, and a cold cup of coffee around 2:pm. At night try reheating leftovers from your partner’s dinner or a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli in the microwave. Stand near the running microwave and cringe, as though hoping the sound of the beep doesn’t wake up the baby, because that sound definitely appears ten times louder once a sleeping babe is in the home.
  4. Fold pieces of paper towel to make two small squares and soak them in warm water. Insert these pieces into your bra. This will simulate the constant wet feeling you will experience from leaking boobie milk. Tip: If you really want to go hard-core, soak the towels in milk so you can actually get used to the sour smell you will wake up to every morning.
  5. Stop closing the bathroom door when you need to go. Motherhood is shameless, and it isn’t often your bathroom door will be closed, or your time inside uninterrupted.
  6. Wear lots of stretchy pants. You will probably wear your maternity pants for the first month, and then graduate to some form of legging, jegging, or go pantless while at home. Keeping a pair by the door in case of visitors is helpful.
  7. Begin to unapologetically let go of some of the things you used to complete successfully on a daily basis. There will probably be dishes in the sink, rugs in need of a good vacuum and dusting left for later. In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day,” and maybe tomorrow you will get to it. Maybe not. Either way, there is no need to crack under the pressure of former standards because they are about to be replaced by a boatload of other crap.
  8. Practice being late to everything, because just when you think you’ve made it through the front door, baby manages to soil their diaper, you realize your wallet is still on the table, and find the contents of your unzipped diaper bag are spilled across the floor during your efforts for a quick journey out.
  9. Step up your laundry time. Practice ideas include re-washing all your dishrags, old quilts, towels, and table clothes along with your clothing and bedsheets. Laundry should feel endless, well, because it kind of will be.
  10. Buy a seven pound bag of potatoes and practice carrying it around the house, strapping it to your chest while you vacuum, and accomplishing everyday activities without dropping it. Your arms and back will need to feel ready for the juggling, lifting, and bending they are not yet used to performing every day. Having a baby is a workout. Time to train!

While there is nothing that can truly replicate what it’s like bringing a new baby home, there is nothing wrong with feeling more prepared for the frazzled, dirty, exhausting times. Rest assured, this is not all there is. There are plenty of other things to take one by surprise, like the sweet smell of your newborn cuddled up for a snooze, the gentle cooing sound they make when they recognize your voice, and the incredible way every single frustrating task is overshadowed when you look at your new little human in the eyes and know you would do a zillion times more just to see them smile. Here is to the moms out there working their buns off, and the mommies-to-be facing this brave, challenging new world. It’s a tough job, but it’s also the greatest.

Marisa Svalstedt

Marisa Svalstedt is a stay-at-home mom living in her hometown of Bethel, Connecticut, with her husband, and their daughter. She received her MA in English from Western Connecticut State. In addition to writing Marisa enjoys photography, modeling, and crochet.