When you decide to become a mother, you usually think of all the wonderful, beautiful moments that will come out of the experience. You think about the first time you’ll meet your baby, the warmth of their snuggles, the softness of their skin, that totally awesome new baby smell (which is, by far, more incredible than that overrated new car smell). You think to the future about the first time they'll hold your hand (or finger), their first coos and giggles, the first time they'll kiss you, or the first time they'll say,“I love you.”
And while all that is definitely special and magical, once you actually have the baby in your arms, once you are mothering 24/7, you come to realize that you were probably ill-prepared for some of the more challenging aspects of childrearing. In fact, it kinda makes you wish you’d had some kind of lessons to prepare you. And yeah, sure, some of us read a few childbirth and parenting books, a few of us even went to breastfeeding classes, but some of us long for something more in depth to prepare us for the huge, new, daunting job ahead. Like, wouldn't it have been rad if the classes and workshops we took back in college had showed us the ropes about parenthood? If you happen to be a new mom, or are on your way to becoming one, here’s a list of classes you might find yourself wishing you could've signed up for:
Intro To Gross Things Babies Do
This 101 class will do exactly as it says. It will give you a brief introduction into all the foul things babies do that you (and your stomach) might not be prepared for. You’ll learn about spit up and how to clean it off your couch successfully. You’ll learn about poop (like how to distinguish a regular poop from sick-baby diarrhea), including a seminar on how to avoid getting pooped on in the first place and what to do when it eventually happens. You’ll also learn about pee, what the best mattress covers are (in order to avoid having your bed end up smelling like a truck stop bathroom), and ways to avoid getting peed on (hint: "pee-pee teepees" are a waste of money and have a vaguely problematic name). You’ll also get a brief intro on baby snot and how to get it out successfully (something I am still working on learning).
How To Care For A Sick Baby: From Boogers To Butt Rashes
Sick babies are the worst and nothing prepares you for the first time you find out your little one has a fever or worse. This class will equip you with all you need to know about diagnosing your baby and how to care for them once you know what’s wrong. In this class, you'll cover things like how to hold down a wriggling baby in order to get a proper temperature reading (without completely traumatizing them), ways to distract your baby into allowing you to suck snot out of their nose (plus a side-by-side comparison of snot-sucking devices on the market), the various ways to lower a temperature (including info on dosages for things like acetaminophen and ibuprofen depending on child’s age and weight), and a workshop on distinguishing different types of diaper rashes and things you can do to alleviate them. You’ll also be advised to keep a notebook handy with your pediatrician’s phone number and emergency line in order to call and inquire about whether an appointment (or even a hospital visit) is necessary.
Making (Really Cool) Mom Friends 101
When you become a parent, you know your social life is going to change drastically. But what you might not know is that you will seriously long for fellow mom friends to commiserate with. You might have a wonderful network of child-free friends whom you will still be close to and adore, but you will also want a support system of friends who are also parents. It's important to have people who won’t be grossed out when you tell them about a recent poopsplosion or will totally understand your ongoing struggle to get your child to sleep through the night.
It’s not that your child-free friends won’t be willing to listen (although many eye will probably glaze over as you rant and rave about your child’s obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine), but they are definitely less likely to have insightful wisdom about said subjects without having first-hand experience themselves. Plus having cool mom friends means you can set up playdates (with a little wine) or mom’s nights out (where you can have fun skill-shares like knitting, baby wearing, and learning how to sneak a flask into an elementary school recital).
Sleep Deprivation Boot Camp
You might (hilariously) believe that you understand sleep deprivation prior to becoming a parent, but you most likely do not. At all. Because new-parent sleep deprivation is on a whole other level. It isn’t just pulling an all-nighter before your chemistry final; It isn’t just spending a weekend partying your face off and taking long afternoon naps before doing it all over again, fueled solely by the powers of vodka and Red Bull — New mom sleep deprivation is so, so much worse than this. It is literally being woken up every 2-3 hours by a screaming infant, whom you can sometimes sooth by breast or bottle feeding, or by changing their diaper. It is getting your ass out of bed or off the couch and picking up this tiny little creature as gently as possible while your heart races in fear that you aren’t supporting their head right or that you’re maybe burping them a little too hard (or not hard enough and then they’ll wake up gassy! Crap!)
This boot camp-style course will be just two weeks long, but you will not be allowed to sleep for longer than two hours for the entire time. You will be required to heat and wash baby bottles, do tons and tons of laundry, clean poop off of random items, go days without showering, and frequently be placed in room full of noisy booby traps that you must (in your sleep-deprived state) avoid touching or stepping on in order to allow yourself 15 more minutes of sleep. At the end, you’ll be allowed four full days of sleep in order to give you some rest prior to actually becoming a parent (after which point, you will never sleep again).
Keeping House While Parenting (The Never-Ending Battle)
By the end of the first month of parenting, you’ll have quickly realized that your house is in a perpetual state of hurricane aftermath now that you have a kid. This course will teach you how to efficiently use your time to clean (what you can) while your baby sleeps and/or is entertained. It will give you tips on how to keep your baby busy and happy while you do things like sweep the floor, vacuum the rugs, dust shelves, and change bedding. It will also show you how to prioritize your cleaning routine (for example: do change the cover on your baby’s changing table frequently; dusting the space behind the entertainment center can wait). Once you pass the course, you’ll also be given the phone numbers to local cleaning services you can use in a pinch.
Lullabies That Will Totally Knock Your Baby Out
Who doesn’t love taking a good music appreciation class in college? This course will introduce you to a number of lullabyes that your child will love. Some will be classic lullabies (a la Rockabye Baby), while others will simply be theme songs from all of your favorite cartoons growing up (who here that was born prior to 1985 hasn’t sang the Ducktales theme to their kid?) You’ll also get the lyrics to the theme songs of your baby’s favorite TV shows, like Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. At the end of the course, you’ll be given a list of really great YouTube lullabye channels as well as a few burned copies of the Rock-A-Bye Baby CDs (including ones that cover Bob Marley, Nirvana, and the Pixies).
Senior Seminar: Relaxation Techniques For Moms (So We Don’t Run Away Screaming Into The Night)
If you’ve passed all these classes, you’re ready for a treat. This seminar on relaxation for moms is so, so important. New moms have a tendency to completely lose themselves in their babies (because babies literally suck all the energy out of us). This seminar will teach you various ways to steal some time back for yourself, whether that be hiding in the bathroom (pro tip: make a “relaxation box” and keep it under your bathroom sink for safe keeping), taking a drive to get “something from the store” (keep a box in your trunk for things you might need from the store and bring one item back, and instead take a trip to the library, park, salon, whatever), how to find a reliable sitter, and meditations and yoga to do after baby has gone to sleep for their longest nap of the night. Now you're ready to graduate. (Annnnd now you're a little sad that these classes aren't actually offered at colleges. So am I.)
Images: nikolayhg/Pixabay; Giphy(7)