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My First Year of Motherhood: 10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without

baby with hat

Credit: prayitno

No matter how much new parents gush about their babies, parenting isn’t all roses that first year. It can be the most fun you’ll ever have, but there is also a dash or two of “Will I ever sleep again?” and a pinch of “I’m doing this all wrong.” Add in the fact that I work from home trying to help run this website, with an increasingly mobile daughter who is weirdly drawn to the dog food dish, and some days I have trouble staying sane.

But I’ve made it! I’ve made it through a year of this website and almost a year of motherhood. And these items went a loooong way in preserving my sanity.

10 Items I Couldn’t Live Without

1. Support. You can’t do it all yourself, and nothing will teach you to appreciate the people in your life more than having a child. From my wonderful husband, to my own been-there, done-that mom, to my in-laws who are always willing to babysit whenever they come to visit. Jenn, my amazing business partner, deserves a special thanks for understanding the chaos that is now my life, as does my wonderful mom-of-twins neighbor who keeps me sane (may she never be allowed to move out of the neighborhood). If you’re a single mom or live away from family, be sure to create a support system somehow that will have your back.

2. Luvs diapers. I was sent home from the hospital with a bunch of Pampers and accepted that as the gold standard. But I finally had an epiphany: Why pay more when absolutely nothing could contain my daughter anyway? So I bought some Luvs and haven’t looked back. Don’t be afraid to try several diaper brands to see what works for you—diapers are not a one-size-fits-all deal!

3. My Boppy. Well, Boppies actually. I credit them with saving my arms and back while feeding the baby, giving her a place to practice sitting, and now, being a big pillow toy that she likes to climb and throw around.

4. My BlackBerry. Not only did it allow me to easily send pictures and video to demanding long-distance family (love ’em!), but it also let me easily look up every baby or breastfeeding question I had in the early days. With the hours and hours I spent feeding my baby girl, I quickly lost the guilt about multitasking.

5. Lower standards. From a messier house to fewer showers and shaves, I had to lower my standards of cleanliness. Sometimes (often, actually) you just don’t have time to clean anything.

6. A healthy respect for poop. I never thought about poop a lot before my daughter was born. But when you have a newborn, it becomes All Important. The quantity. The frequency. The power.

7. Arm and leg strength. Thank goodness I kept up with weight training during pregnancy because holy cow are babies and all of their paraphernalia heavy. I carry my daughter up and down the stairs at least 10 times a day. Schlepping to and from the grocery store—and the requisite loading, unloading of baby and groceries—requires mad strength and endurance. Even getting the stroller in and out of the car will burn and firm.

8. Patience. You love them to death, but the little buggers will test your patience in numerous ways—throwing toys off of the high chair so that you’ll fetch them, repeatedly, is a fan favorite.

9. Coil key ring. I’ve used a coil key ring for years because they’re handy, but now they are a necessity as I’m always afraid of locking my keys in the car with the baby inside. It keeps my keys around my wrist or arm and saves my sanity.

10. Workout DVDs. Time to go to the gym is a luxury I cannot afford at the moment, so my workouts consist of just being crazy-active in my day-to-day life (see No. 7), walking with the stroller and workout DVDs. (See below for a chance to win a DVD prize pack!)

Things I’m ready to retire? My four boring nursing bras. Seriously. YAWN. (For more material goods that I considered baby godsends, see my list of must-haves here.)

Want to win my No. 10 must-have? Comment below to win an assorted pack of workout DVDs! Tell me why you want them—Expecting? Need to shed baby weight?—and we’ll customize the package to suit your needs! —Erin

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