10 things I learned during my first year as a parent

Clip Art Illustration of a Girl Toddler Holding a Teddy BearNot long ago, Little C was on her play mat, reaching for the toys hanging over head, but missing like a dental patient on laughing gas. Now she’s this little person — a girl who makes goofy faces when she’s being scolded and who spontaneously laughs at herself, and others. She has favorites — toys, people and places. I’ll often find her in her hiding space (between the chair and side table in her room) reading.

I have … a toddler.

When she burst into the world I was terrified to take her anywhere. On our first trip to the mall, I brought my mom. My heart palpitated when she (C, not my mother) squealed (in delight, mind you) in Pottery Barn. I was convinced people were thinking “why is there a child in here and why is said child making noise?!”

When my husband and I took her to Manchester for shopping and dinner, I ordered before our coats were off — and requested the check be delivered with the meal. I was convinced it would be impossible to dine with a three-month-old at the table.

Now, C and I traverse the northeast, shopping and sightseeing and visiting friends and family. We cross state lines and venture out at all times (as long as it doesn’t totally mess with the oh-so-important ‘schedule’) and in (most) types of weather. I lug her in and out of the car several times a day to The Little Gym and reading group and take her places, like a local electrical supply center, where the staff exclaims “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby in here.”

But she’s there, and just about everywhere with me. Some things I’ve learned while out, and at home:

10: Restaurants are doable. Bring toys (preferably quite ones so the people at nearby tables don’t gripe about you on social media), snacks and a highchair cover. Those restaurant seats are coated with more sticky, greasy grime than the floor behind the bar during happy hour.

9: I don’t need 75 percent of what’s in my closet. Cashmere and leather (RIP) are out for at least the next couple of years and heels are impractical when you spend much of your time on the floor pretending to be some sort of animal. Which brings me to …

I'm a scheduler, but not so much that I have it written down.

I’m a scheduler, but not so much that I have it written down.

8: Animals are hard to copy. My dog, horse and elephant all sound the same — like a wounded animal, suffering on the side of the road (possibly after being hit by a parent who is near-comatose from lack of sleep).

7: Spending money on myself is not a priority. If I have a gift certificate, or rewards dollars, I’d much rather buy something — like a restaurant-appropriate toy or cute clothing — for C.

6: Sleep is awesome, and perhaps underrated. I’m a much kinder, happier person since C grew out of those middle-of-the-night feedings.

5: Speaking of sleep, you don’t stop worrying if they’re breathing at night even when they can stand up and/or climb out of their crib. Or, well, maybe you do, but I haven’t.

4: Schedules are oh-so-crucial. Before having a child, I couldn’t understand why my friends were ridiculously adamant about what time we’d meet. “12:22 works, but not 12:59 — that would be too late,” they’d say. They’d “need” (air quotes and eye rolls — from me, not them — included) to get their child home for a nap, or bedtime.

Why, I wondered, did our plans have to revolve around a person who’d been on this planet but a few months? Couldn’t these moms and dads just shift the shut eye for their little ones by an hour … or three.

Now I get it — and I’m the one irritating those who have the same “is that really necessary” attitude I used to sport.

3: You expect every telemarketer, solicitor and every everyone, really, to know you have a toddler and to know when that toddler is sleeping and to know that when that toddler is sleeping and you call the toddler is likely no longer sleeping which gets him or her off the schedule which makes life unpleasant for everyone in the house because sleep is so damn important for you, her and everyone, apparently, but the person on the other end of the line. You then wish your phone only dialed out, or that you didn’t have a phone at all. You want to yell “I hate people” and moan like a wounded animal.

2: You talk, and think, about poop — a lot.

1:  You have a natural bond with other parents — even people you’ve never met, or those you don’t particularly like — because you’re all going through the same sleep, play, poop, laugh, eat, repeat glory that is being a mom or dad.


5 thoughts on “10 things I learned during my first year as a parent

  1. Stephanie

    Agreed agreed agreed agreed agreeeeeed – on all of it. Especially the almighty schedule! Literally cannot function if the schedule is off by more than 20 minutes!

  2. Kathleen Kiernan

    Love reading your blog post today, Kristi. It reminds me of the days that my son, Daniel, and I did the same…and it was so much fun…very doable!

    He is a freshman at Nyack College now, and life goes on in a wonderful way for all of us. It is a time to reflect on the many things that went well for our family – some by choice, most by the grace of God. It sounds like all is moving in that same happy direction for you and yours. Enjoy!

    Kind regards,


  3. Rick Slevens

    So true, Kristi. When Danielle, Paul and baby Olivia come over for dinner, usually at 3:30 on Sundays, I know that they will be bolting for the door like thieves in the night at 5:00 to get Olivia home in time to begin the bedtime ritual. It usually involves a bath, quiet time, preparing the room and a story from one of her favorite books. This usually ensures at least 9 hours or more of sleep if she finally falls asleep by 7.

  4. Rose

    I once went out and stopped an ice cream truck that came up our street during nap time every day. I asked him to please turn off the music when he came on our street…and he did!

  5. Tara

    The mighty schedule was one I never fully embraced. Although, my children all had a set times for when they would sleep, I never made it a priority to be home for nap. As a result my children would nap where ever we were. When they got tired they napped, regardless of the sounds around them they would just go to sleep. I remember attending a meeting in a very busy loud office and my daughter falling asleep in her stroller completely unfazed by anything around her, My children were not sensitive to sounds while sleeping and it made life much easier as I didn’t have to worry about environmental sounds bothering them.

    Unlike most 13 year old kids my daughter is in bed by 8 pm and asleep within a few moments. It is rare for her to bed awake later at most she may make it to 9:30 pm on weekends. She is awake by 7 am at the latest without fail. She can go to a friends house or have them over and it still applies.


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