I have a sweet friend who just had her second baby. And, like so many others, she has gone back to work. As I have some experience in this realm, I wanted to offer her words of hope and encouragement.
Here they are: “I know you are tired. So very, very tired. But all you have to do is hold on until that baby is 5. Everything changes at 5.”
You may ask, “Um, wait? What kind of encouragement is that?” Five years is a long time. A very looooooooong time. I didn’t want to give her false hope. I am a real mommy. I am a tired mommy. And there are a lot of days when I am a really tired mommy. I am also a mommy who adheres (mostly) to the path of least resistance. So I thought maybe I should put together my Top 10 cheats for surviving babies, going back to work after a baby and/or having a newborn and a toddler at the same time:
1. Sunglasses are your friend
Get them big, get them dark. They’ll hide your tears and bags under your eyes and provide essential cover for your bloodshot eyes when you squint into the blinding West Texas sun on your way to and from work. My penchant for wearing shades all the time earned me the moniker Hollywood when I went back to work after the birth of my son.
2. Always keep a go-bag in the car (both cars if your partner also drives)
Instead of guns, ham radios, knives, duct tape and pliers, though, I have a more family-friendly version. If you are nursing, carry a neutral-colored blazer or extra shirt and some nursing pads. If you’re gonna experience leakage, it will be minutes before a board meeting or fancy luncheon (don’t ask).
You should also keep an extra diaper or two, an old onesie, a blanket, a bottle of water, baby wipes, bleach wipes, paper towels and a packet of formula. Now, you can finish that first-lunch-out at Jorge’s with a clean and happy baby instead of a naked and screaming one. You will also survive projectile vomitus on car rides and buttsplosions halfway through grocery trips. The go-bag is in addition to the diaper bag. Mine was always empty when an emergency struck.
3. Dry shampoo is a lifesaver
Master a messy bun and a five-minute makeup face, too. An extra swipe of mascara, earrings and a great lipgloss go a long way. On the days when The Hubs was gone and I just couldn’t muster energy for two baby baths, I may have been known to wet wipe a kid all over, followed by scented baby lotion and maybe a tad bit of baby powder inside their diapers. And they lived.
4. Master the oven
An oven is not really made for cooking when you have a newborn. It is for shoving dirty dishes into when the doorbell rings and you have surprise company. Bonus if you have a double oven.
5. Master the dishwasher
Too tired or sore to unload that dishwasher but need to sterilize some bottles and sippy cups? Just cram them into that hole the coffee mugs left and then re-run the whole load.
6. If they don’t carry it at Walgreens or CVS, you don’t really need it.
And yes, your family can live on Lunchables, milk, corn nuts and SlimFast.
7. With food, help can come where you least expect it
Did you know that you can take your casserole dishes to Carino’s and they will bake food in them?
You can have a great meal that looks like you cooked it. This is helpful if you host a dinner party or your in-laws are coming. H-E-B also has all the sides for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Not that I have emptied those into my own dishes and heated them and passed the off as my own.
8. Going to the grocery with two kids is terrible
I will not lie. Don’t be afraid to throw a box of Cheez-Its at your kid or take her to see the lobsters or sing songs. Do whatever it takes to get through the trip. Suckers also work great as do smart phones.
9. Down time is your time
Say you have an extra 20 minutes and think, “Oh, I should vacuum, or call my mom or put all this laundry up while the baby sleeps.” Don’t. Go lie down; rest while you can. And don’t feel bad about it.
10. Be happy
Happy moms have happy kids, even if there are dirty floors and a bunch of dirty plates in the oven. I promise.
I would love to hear your survival tips and advice. Join the conversation here on the blog or on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.