When I think back to my babies' first six months of life, I honestly can’t remember much about it. I do know that I had high hopes and high expectations. And, to be honest, I didn’t end up accomplishing even close to what I thought I would. (Baby book, I'm talking about you). Fortunately, I've learned that, for the most part, everything people say you have to do with your baby before they reach 6 months old are optional. Unfortunately, it took birthing three babies for me to finally learn that lesson.
Now, I am not saying there aren't essentials — like taking your baby to the doctor, getting them vaccinated, or trying to get them to sleep in their crib for longer than five minutes at a time — you'll want to cross off your proverbial "to do" list. But most of the other stuff? Yeah, not important. At least, not as important as your sanity or getting some damn sleep. So cut yourself some slack and, you know, enjoy your baby before they aren't a baby anymore.
You should learn what’s actually essential, and actually fun, for you and your baby, rather than doing the things people tell you you’re supposed to do or like. In my experience, those suggestions will end up stressing you out. As someone who’s survived those first six months of baby life three times, I can tell you that there are some things you definitely want to do, and some things you can totally skip.
So with that in mind, read on to simplify your mom life and set reasonable expectations for your baby's first six months in the world:
Take Them On A Road Trip
All of my babies were way more portable when they were tiny squishes than when they were 1, 2, or 3. My advice is to take trips now, while they are still likely to sleep through the trip, and before they start asking "are we there yet?" every five minutes.
Push Them In A Swing
Taking older kids to the park can totally be a hassle, but while they are little and super portable, my babies enjoyed being pushed in swings for hours. It gave me a break, and made them laugh, and that's what I call a "new mom win."
Take Them Swimming
While most extracurricular activities with babies completely suck, taking a baby swimming is so amazing. From seeing their eyes widen with wonder at the new experience, to hearing their laugh while they splash away, I've always found swimming with a baby to be so much fun. Swimming with a toddler who is terrified of water, though? That is pretty much an unnamed level of Hell I do not want to visit. So yeah, take them now and while they are still little. Trust me.
Leave Them With A Babysitter
I wish I had been brave enough to leave my youngest with a babysitter sooner. As a result of my reluctance, he's now a 1-year-old who cries whenever I leave the room. It sucks. If you are breastfeeding, this is also a great way to teach them to drink from a bottle, which is essential if you want to take a break once in a while.
Get Your Snuggle On
I know the experts say you should never rock your baby to sleep, or let them fall asleep on your chest, but I say IDGAF. Seriously. Your baby will literally only be little once, and once they are older they may never want to snuggle with you again. Enjoy this time whenever you want.
Dress Them Up Like An Animal Or A Type Of Food
There's nothing cuter than a baby dressed up like an animal, food, or mythical creature. They're only small once, and willing to serve as a model for cute costumes.
Take Their Hand & Footprints
While your baby is still small, take their hand and footprints. Whether you turn them into Pinterest-worthy art, or just keep them to remind you of a time before tantrums were a common occurrence, it's totally worth the mess.
Teach Them To Blow Raspberries
The return on investment of teaching your baby to blow raspberries is extremely high. Totally worth any time it takes to impart the new skill. Trust me.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.