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The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood
By Jane Buckingham
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright ©2006 Jane Buckingham
All right reserved.
The Mother of All Shopping Sprees
Face it, half the reason you got pregnant was the too-cute comforters and the to-die-for diaper cozies you saw at your girlfriend's house and needed a reason to buy. Okay, maybe it's not half the reason, but decorating a whole new room in supercute baby stuff can make a bad meeting with the doctor's scale a little better. The problem is that some of the cutest stuff out there is the least practical (and the most expensive). I had sterilizers, warmers, things that bounced, things that vibrated, and every gadget available. If someone had told me that buying the Brooklyn Bridge might help me get a baby who slept better, I would probably have handed over a check. I wasted a lot of money and time on unnecessary stuff.
The reality is there are things you need to have, things that are nice to have, and those that are not necessary. And chances are, if you are reading this book in chronological order, you've already stocked up on quite a bit. I can't blame you; I clearly didn't resist the urge either. But the truth is, you don't need to buy up the store before the baby comes. Many things you won't use for several months and you can swap out if space is tight. Nowwhile I've sorted the list into three, you may feel differently about some items. That's your choice; I'm a modern mom, not your mom. So I've included thoughts on just about everything (other than feeding-related products, which you'll find in chapter 4).
Now before you run out to buy everything, you should figure out where you will be keeping the baby and when. Someone once told me (as I stressed about where we would put a baby in our cramped apartment) that for the first few months a baby could easily sleep in a dresser drawer. Yes, and women have babies in fields and go right back to work, but that isn't my scene either. But the truth is that until your baby is crawling around, she doesn't need the space as much as you do. You may even find it more convenient to have the baby in your room for the first few months in a bassinet or (as I preferred) a cosleeper, and discover you barely use the nursery for several months. But assuming you are going to have a separate room or space, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Make sure the room is well ventilated, with windows and a ceiling fan or air conditioning for the summer, and good insulation and heat for the winter. While my son's room was perfect most of the time, it was an icebox in the winter. We had to move his crib, get insulation, and basically have him spend his first winter sleeping in a snowsuit.
You'll be spending a lot of time going back and forth to this room in the beginning, so it is helpful if it is near to your room, preferably on the same floor. Climbing the stairs -- while a great way to get back in shape -- isn't much fun bleary-eyed at 4 A.M.
Invest in a nice, glowing night-light. You can use it to maneuver in the middle of the night while not taking your baby out of "nighttime" mode by switching on overhead lights (and here you thought a night-light was for the baby).
Go with fabrics that are washable. You won't believe how much laundry you'll be doing. If it's dry clean only, regift it to your biggest enemy.
Avoid hanging anything above your baby's crib that could fall and hurt him, such as picture frames, a shelf with knickknacks, or large pictures. Instead, paint a mural or hang something soft, like a quilt.
To save money on wallpaper, paint instead, and then add a wallpaper border to the top of the wall.
Have someone else paint well in advance of the baby's arriving. You should avoid the fumes when you're pregnant, and the smell can linger for up to five days, so this is not the activity for the night before the baby arrives.
Avoid too much stimulation in the contents of the crib, as it could affect his sleep. Instead, opt for it in other areas. My son loved to stare at the striped curtains above his changing table. This made changes much easier in the first six months.
If you don't want to go with a traditional nursery theme, consider:
Blowing up photos of your family and framing them in inexpensive frames. It's a cheap way to cover the walls and make the room immediately feel like home.
Opt for an astrological theme based on your child's birthday or the solar system.
Cover one wall with corkboard (which can be painted so you don't have to leave it brown) and then attach mementos on the wall -- clippings of hair from a first cut, fun family pictures, and postcards.
Paint the wall with giant number and alphabet stencils.
Use chalk paint on one wall and let your child doodle with chalk when she's old enough.
Create a family tree with natural materials such as leaves and branches.
Use a travel theme based on places that are important to your family, or post a giant map with pins pointing out where certain family members have visited.
Paint a mural with favorite children's book characters.
Cribs, Beds, and Planning Ahead
We tortured ourselves over which crib to buy for our son's room. For some reason we got stuck on the notion that this had to be a functional bed that would last him for years, so we ended up buying the crib that converted into a toddler bed, and then eventually becomes the head and footboard to a twin bed. In reality, we passed the crib to my daughter and bought my son a different bed when he outgrew the crib anyway. . . .
Excerpted from The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood by Jane Buckingham Copyright ©2006 by Jane Buckingham. Excerpted by permission.
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