It's been awhile, but sounded like a fun topic nonetheless. Ours came home 8 and 5 years ago respectively, but some of it is still quite vivid.
1. Take help, any help, that is offered. The best thing I did was have my mom come stay with me for the first after each of my kids was born. She came a day or two before their births (scheduled inductions) and stayed for 4 weeks. Since my husband had to go back to work, it was wonderful having the company and the assistance. It also let us not have tons of people in and out of our house. It was just the our family of 3 (then 4) plus my mom. Less people = less germs.
2. Sleep whenever you can! It's probably not going to be when & where you want to, but take what you can get. Ben had bad reflux and was up every 2 hours day and night for the first two months. At that point, any sleep was better than none.
3. Prewash a few things, but don't pull all the tags off the baby clothes. I had really small babies--6lbs, 9oz and 7lbs, 2oz at birth. They both came home wearing preemie clothes. With Faith, we had to go extra and buy a few small items because she was drowning in extra fabric. On the flip side, you don't really need a bunch of NB clothes if you have a bigger baby. Watch the tags & returns! Don't forget the baby detergent for sensitive skin.
4. Set up the equipment in advance--the swing, the bouncy seat, the crib, and so on. The last thing two sleep deprived parents need to be doing is building something that is supposed to keep the baby safe. My dad did a bunch of assembly when he got to our house when Faith was 2 weeks old. He was well-rested and had all his cognitive abilities, we didn't. This is much safer.
5. Try out the car seat in advance and learn how to use it properly!!! This is probably *the* most important piece of baby equipment you will buy, make sure you use it correctly or it's not going to help. We learned that our car seat couldn't be installed in the rear middle seat in my old car, thankfully before we tried to bring Faith home in it. Never buy an old/used car seat either. If you only buy one new piece of equipment, make it the car seat.
6. Meal prep in advance (if you don't have help). I had some things in the freezer and my mom did a lot of double cooking while she was here. We had lots of containers of soups, stews and casseroles for quick meals that involved minimal thinking skills to reheat. Again, very important for sleep deprived people. And no messing around with ovens or raw food with baby around.
7. Do what needs to be done and forget about the rest. The most important part is the baby. Keep them clean, fed and happy. Then worry about everything else. The laundry really can wait a day. SuperTarget sells socks and underwear pretty cheap if you're desperate (not that I would know anything about that). It's not a good time to deep clean the house either, vacuum, dust & call it a day. We had ours cleaned well pre-baby, so that the daily cleaning was much easier.
8. Plan your days. I'm really anti-schedule for babies, but it helped to have a rough idea what we were doing. We let both our kids develop their own routines and we went off those. Ben would wake up, eat, then stay away, eat again a couple hours later, then sleep. We went with that and planned our errands & outings around that time.
9. Let sleeping babies sleep!!! Unless they are jaundiced and you have to feed them, let them sleep. I did not wake my kids for anything when they were sleeping. Sleep begets sleep, and would you really want to be woken up just because someone else decided you should eat? I wouldn't, neither did the kids. They sleep just fine now too.
10. Forget your "plans" for how everything is going to go. It's probably not going to work. We had one kid that hated bouncy seats & swings (no luck for me) and one who only slept with us. Not the original plan, but they are both perfectly wonderful 5 & 8 year olds now, so we did something right!
Would I change a few things we did? Probably, mostly related to unnecessary baby equipment, but the kids have made it well into elementary school with no major errors, so I'm calling it all good.
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