Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Whatchu want? Baby, I got it.

When you are preparing to have a baby, the universe inundates you with an enormous list of items you supposedly need. It is a scam, really. You don’t need even a third of that crap. And there are many tricks, substitutes and sneaky ideas you can employ to save time, money, sanity or all three.

First of all, if your baby will spend his first three months in hot weather, all you need are short-sleeved bodysuits and short-sleeved t-shirts.  They can be plain white, too, because your baby can’t read and he thinks that his clothes are neither cute nor cool.  He will just poop and puke on them, anyway.  You can save a boatload of money by going to your local bulk club warehouse store or discount retailer and buying only these ordinary items for his first several weeks.  The bodysuits are good for daytime as they won’t ride up in the stroller, carseat or crib.  At night, you will save a few precious moments if you use t-shirts as diaper changing will be so easy with nothing to snap, clasp or move in the dark.  If your baby, however, will spend his first three months in cold weather, all you need are footed pajamas.  Save yourself some trouble and get only ones that zip.  Snaps are too obnoxiously annoying at 4 am.  He can sleep, play, eat and scoot around in pajamas all of the time.  And, outfits are cumbersome as they have too many parts you’ll need to keep your baby warm.  You will need a bodysuit, pants, sweatshirt and socks.  Too much.  Just put him in PJs.  They’re sweats and socks, but all together in one piece.  You’re welcome.

Next — you do NOT need a diaper wipe warmer.  Your baby really will not care about the temperature of the wipes.  I promise.  Don’t waste your money.

Okay — here’s a tip:  you don’t need anything before brining home your baby except a car seat and a safe place for the baby to sleep.  The hospital will give you a long-sleeved t-shirt for your baby to wear.  They will even swaddle her in a flannel blanket and give her a hat.  I was even given a small container of baby bath gel, diapers, diaper rash ointment, wipes, formula samples, changing table covers (paper ones), and a comb.  You can’t leave the hospital without a carseat, though, so you do have to get that key item.  Unless, I suppose, you live next door to the hospital, in which case you could probably walk home.  And, you may not need a crib at first, even, as many babies don’t want to sleep in something that vast when they’re very new and small.  You can possibly get away with a bassinet, swing or play yard, as long as it is safe.  Please refer to pediatric guidelines to find out if your device will provide a safe place for your baby to rest.

Once you get home, you may feel a panic about needing to go out and buy some items you forgot, didn’t know you’d need, or didn’t have time to purchase before your quick delivery. is a nice site and it offers free 2-day (or faster) delivery if you spend enough–  at least $49.  It is not at all hard to spend $49 or more on baby items, either.  A case of diapers will get you close.  And, while we’re on the topic, skip newborn-sized diapers and go straight to size 1.  It’s what the hospital will put on your kid, anyway.  And, if your baby is born big, newborn diapers may not even be appropriate.  Or, if your baby gains weight quickly, newborn diapers may not get you very far.  Whatever sizes or items you choose, can deliver them to you often within 24 hours.  They’ve got everything, too — diapers, wipes, soap, baby bathtubs, clothes, humidifiers, formula, sheets, decorations…  Spending ONLY $49 is more of your problem here.

Now, everyone loves to buy them, but you do not need hooded towels and the cute, matching baby washcloths.  Whatever towels you’re using in your bathroom right now are just fine.  The hoods are unnecessary and the towels are pretty small, so if your baby grows quickly like mine both did, they’ll be too small to wrap around them by about 9 months, anyway.  Baby washcloths are no different than regular washcloths, except for the fact that they’ll be rendered useless after about a year’s worth of use.

And, speaking of unneeded fabric items, baby bedding is an enormous industry scam.  The adorable, expensive 5-piece (plus) sets you can buy can often set you back a few hundred dollars.  Here’s what you need:  a sheet.  Yep.  That’s it.  A sheet.  If you’re trying to make things easier for yourself, though, you’ll get a few sheets and a few sheet protectors.  Layer one sheet, then a protector, then a sheet, then a protector and so on.  As your baby soils or wets a sheet in the middle of the night, just peel off the dirty stuff and there’s a clean sheet underneath.  No wrestling with changing a bed a 3 am.  Blankets, pillows and quilts are cute, but aren’t even allowed to be in your baby’s bed at all due to fears of SIDS.  And, diaper stackers are a frivolous, unnecessary accessory.  Put your diapers in a basket or box.  For no money at all, you can upcycle the box your diapers came in with some Mod Podge, pretty cut or torn paper or cards and ribbon left over from your shower gifts.  You can keep your diapers, wipes, lotions, etc. in that.  And, it is a cute reminder of your celebration with your family and friends.  Or, for less work (I mean, really, did I just recommend decoupaging with a newborn at home?  WTF?), just put your diapers on a shelf or in a drawer already in the room.  Frankly, you may end up finding that changing your baby on the floor is plenty easy, anyway, so you can just set a few diapers in the corner, for crying out loud.  But, please don’t buy a frigging diaper stacker.  YOU DON’T NEED IT.

The list of things you do not need is very long:  medicine droppers (your pharmacy and doctor’s office has these for free), baby brushes (even if he’s got tons of hair, the free comb you can get in the hospital will do you just fine), a mobile (only permitted in a crib for three months due to choking, strangulation and other health concerns once your baby can grab it), stuffed toys (not permitted in cribs due to fears of SIDS and your child won’t be able to hold or play with one for about a year, anyway), nightlights (toddlers and older children will be thankful for them, but your baby doesn’t know to be afraid of the dark and will sleep better if you help her figure out what “night” really is supposed to look like), burp cloths (just get more swaddling blankets and use them interchangeably as burp cloths, too since some of that spit-up will be too plentiful for the tiny burp cloths you will get), baby-specific laundry soap and cleaning solutions (just get dye- and fragrance-free versions of your own detergent.  It’s cheaper.  And use plain vinegar for cleaning your house.  It only smells bad for a minute and it kills germs and keeps your floors shockingly clean).  Wow.  I could name several more, but instead invite other experienced moms to comment here with their suggestions, too.

Soon, I will let you know about some other items that aren’t vital, but will make your life a little easier, to comment on some of the “dos” instead of just all of the “don’ts.”

I welcome your ideas and feedback!

She’s Crafty, or, “How Pinterest Saved my Life”

Where have you been all my life?

   Honestly, I have no idea how I lived a reasonable life before Pinterest came into my world.

It occurred to me some time ago that the main cause of Disgruntled Mom Syndrome (or DMS) stems from a vacuous feeling of loss of self and a nagging wonder when one might ever have anything of one’s own ever again. Anyone who is a caregiver can get DMS. The causes are well known: you need only have an earth-shaking priority shift from your own, happily selfish life to a life that will not allow you to make your own schedule or have your own interests. Many people who care for children, elderly relatives or disabled family members may feel the effects of DMS. It is often just too hard to find the time and energy to fix cars, paint, dance, jog, yodel, meditate or whittle wood once your primary focus in life is to look after others.

But, there’s hope!

Have you heard about this thing called the Internet? There are, like, a bunch of ideas out there to help you remember yourself again. You can be online while rocking a baby to sleep (like I am right now). You may find that you stumble across some things you might think would be fun to do, make, read or see “when and if you could find the time.”

But, I always assumed I’d never get that time to myself, or I’d forget all of those fun ideas or I’d decide to use any found spare time for Jello shots or sleep. Either one would typically make me more pleasant to be around afterward.

Now, though, I “pin” the cute ideas and don’t beat myself up if I can’t or don’t get around to them. But, when I do have some time, I check my pinboard every now and again. In many cases, I can be inspired at least to start a fun craft or plan a delicious meal for another day. Pretty soon, these small chunks of “me time” have given me my sense of self back. and, before I know it, I’ve made my own glitter shoes and read “The Fountainhead” (but not at the same time).

Tonight, we shall feast on Chicken Tagine. Epicurious gave it 5 stars. And I wouldn’t have even heard about it had it not been for Pinterest. Of course, if it sucks, then I will be back with another blog about how Pinterest will poison your family and ruin your life. I will let ya know.


Follow me…

After my last post, I decided to join the 21st Century in an effort to slow my aging process, act younger and get my shit together. I also drank 3 (Yes — 3!) beers last night with this same goal in mind, y’all.
Join me in my travels through the modern era — @OffDutyMom on TWITTER!!

Isn’t it supposed to be better than this?

So, I am about to turn 35. How the hell did that happen?

Right before I turned 30, I had what I now refer to as my “Quarter Life Crisis.” I wasn’t old enough yet for a mid-life crisis, and was too old for a plain, old tantrum, so that moniker has come to feel most appropriate. But, during my QLC, I really went a little nuts. For a minute. But, I am cool now. Kinda. Umm… Sort of. Oh, shit– did I mention I am about to be 35?  How does anyone get kinda sort of okay about that?

When I went through the QLC, I told my husband that I was moving to London and that he could come along if he wanted. Seriously?  But, he was so sweet about it and very calmly just asked, “Um. Okay. Now, honey, tell me why you need to move to London.” What a gem, really.  He was really patient and just tried to help me through a tough time that just simply amounted to my fear of having to be a grown-up once and for all. I mean, when you’re in your twenties and you sleep until 11:30, get drunk and start a fight, dance in the street for no reason, change jobs three times, or take a trip to Tibet to “find yourself,” people will excuse your behavior as being that of a “stupid kid” and you can all have a good laugh. But, if you do that dumb shit in your thirties, you’re creepy, immature, alcoholic, mentally dysfunctional, a slacker, a loser or a slob.

And, now I am going to be 35:  mid-thirties. I just don’t even know how that happened. I am an old, married lady with two kids and a mortgage and a Jeep and a dog. I live in the suburbs. I still get my news from a paper. I have never tweeted . I do yoga. I watch “The Mentalist.” I go to bed before 10:00. Every night. I had three sips of beer two days ago and worried about how many calories were in it and whether it would make me too tired to stay up long enough to read a chapter of the book I’m working on.

Dirty, angry rock. I hope the fact that I haven't dug this CD out in a long time doesn't mean I've lost my edge.

There was a time in my life when I thought I was wasting my life if I didn’t go out at least six nights each week. I did tequila shots and knew I looked cool when I smoked my Marlboro Lights (which I could buy at the local gas station– three packs for five bucks).  I rollerbladed.   I listened to Liz Phair and owned a discman. I drove with my friends to Niagara Falls so that we could drink Molson XXX at the age of 19. Legally.

Who is this woman now who spends more time surrounded by the dulcet tones of Coffeehouse radio on Sirius than the fabulous noise of The Pixies?

I remember the first time I heard "Doolittle" - I didn't know whether to be terrified to completely MOVED.

If my Quarter Life Crisis occurred just five years ago, what is this current moment of strife?  Whatever it is, it is probably important for everyone younger than I am who is reading this to know that at any age, it is possible that you will be lost, not know who you are, not know where you are going, not know what you want to be when you grow up and not want to grow up much, anyway. I didn’t think much about being 35 as a younger person, but now that that is fast approaching, I can say that it came quickly and quietly – without warning – and I am still not sure what each day will bring.  Except maybe an impending need for Depends, Preparation-H, Epsom Salts, aspirin and a tremendous urge to watch 60 Minutes (which is actually a really good show, y’all!  I mean it!).

I’m just not that kind of mom

After spending three and a half years lamenting the fact that every other mother seems to have her shit in order so much better than I do, I spent an uncomfortably large portion of my day cleaning poop from my clothes, a baby’s clothes, the carpet, my hands, a baby’s bum (and back and leg and foot and neck and ear and hair), tripping over Lincoln Logs, and eating only an ice cream sandwich and a diet cream soda to help provide sustenance for my day.  Right now, my 6-month old is chewing on a dog toy.  But, at least he’s quiet and content.  And, frankly, the dog has never played with it, anyway.

I beat myself up a whole lot because everyone else seemed to do parenthood with much greater success than I.  But, I think I have come to a place where I am willing to admit just what kind of mom I am and am not.  And, I think that I am ready to declare that I simply am who I am.

I am just not that kind of mom who-

Where will the cuteness end?

 *makes cake pops decorated like little brown-spotted cows who have tiny chocolate chips for ears.

 *thinks that going to the grocery store with two kids is a good idea because an outing for them will be “fun.”

 *vaccuums every day.

 *is sad and bored when both children happen to be napping at the same time.

 *remembers to send in valentines/Christmas cookies/Halloween candy/Easter eggs for all the other little kids at preschool.  Seriously, if it is a rule, please just tell me so I can go to the bakery.  Otherwise, don’t look at me like I am a total moron when I don’t show up at 8:00 with freshly baked cookies and holiday-themed Pez dispensers.

 *wakes up in the morning before cries/complaints/whines/taps on the shoulder from one or both children force me to get out of bed.

 *makes a hot breakfast more than once a week (or month…).

 *knows how to say “boo-boo,” “pee-pee,” and “widdle cutie-patootie” without sounding like an idiot.

Moon Sand -- never dries out (and never cleans up -- ever)

So, if you ARE the kind of mom who wakes up every morning, makes pancakes, knows all the Wiggles songs, runs behind a jogging stroller, has time to shower, wears make-up to the supermarket, thinks Moon Sand is fun to play with and sings Julie Andrews songs on-key, perhaps this is not the blog for you…

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