PROGRAMMABLE COFFEE MAKER. We have one, but we weren’t always using it. As a new mom, first to wake and last to lie down, I have been elated to find coffee already brewed starting at 6:45 in the morning. I’d add my precious milk steamer/frother, but that’s an extra. It was the best wedding gift we ever got. (Thanks, Brigette & Corey.) And, yes, I do make the waking baby wait just 120 more seconds while my milk steams. I subscribe to the Happy-Mama-Happy-Baby philosophy.
PUT THE GIZMO DOWN. When Larry Smith of SMITH Mag asked me what my one piece of advice for a new parent would be, these four words comprised my answer. He is the curator of Six Word Memoirs, and the amazing new THE MOMENT, so my impulse was to keep my answer brief and essential. This is it. Whether you’re nursing or whether you’re a dad, make sure your child gets your undivided attention for 30 minutes a day—at minimum—if possible. Before the verbal stage, a child reads physicality, more than we know. Where is your gaze focused? Admittedly, I’m tethered to my iPhone, including and especially while breast feeding, but I make sure every day to leave it in a different room, or put it aside when the baby makes a play for my attention. It should be before the baby cries out or gets a boo-boo that you’re paying attention. Also, there are these ghouls who haunt me in the streets; older women who pass me and whisper (for the hundredth time), “It goes fast.” They seem so nostalgic and regretful, like they didn’t appreciate precious infancy in-the-moment. I’m determined not to become one of those people.
SPEND TIME NAKED. Both you (hint: have some sex) and the kiddies. Or maybe just luxuriate in the bath. Naked is our natural state, and my favorite line is, “We are all naked underneath.” Diaper-free time for a baby seems right—we want diapers to fit tightly, but the body needs to breathe. I let our baby play naked for five minutes after the bath. What’s the worst that can happen?
GET OUT OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
DO SOMETHING NICE FOR A[NOTHER] NEW PARENT. Attend that bris or naming ceremony, deliver that meal, lend that book, place an unexpected phone call.
GET FRESH AIR. Even if it’s a walk around the block, even if it’s wintertime.
INTERVIEW AT LEAST TWO PEDIATRICIANS. If you don’t, aside from the pediatrician who gave you shots, what comparison do you have? We’re trying to find time to interview our third, though our current lady is “good enough”—she has a warm bedside nature with Adela, and enables us to make health decisions for our child, but isn’t supportive enough of breast feeding. She doesn’t use the breast-fed baby growth chart made available by WHO in 2006 and recently recommended to pediatricians by the CDC. Her answer to one question, “Because I’m the pediatrician,” was too patrimonial for my taste. (Actually, when she overcharged us and said, “Most people think my services are worth it,” that’s when her ego overwhelmed me, but, I’ve been putting off the search for a new doctor. Please remind me it’s time when we return from El Salvador.)
FIND A GOOD DOCTOR FOR YOURSELF. Whether it’s a general physician, physical therapist, or psychotherapist you’re trying to find, whether you live in a big city or small town, don’t settle for a doctor who rubs you the wrong way, if you have time and flexibility to evaluate your options. If time’s your only limitation, make the time. Maybe we’re karmically paired with our doctors?
With that, I have to run to the dentist to have my first cavity in a decade filled. Wish me luck! If you’re looking for a fabulous dentist in Manhattan, email me.