New mamahood sometimes seems akin to stepping into an amnesic vortex: you feel as if you’re spinning in a whirlwind of chaos and activity, but at the end of the day, you can’t recall how you spent your hours. Or rather, perhaps it’s just that the “little things” you’ve done all day don’t seem as noteworthy as your frantic working girl episodes. Never mind that many of those little things result in keeping another human being alive.
The truth is, to stay sane, the little things that don’t revolve around keeping baby alive matter just as much as those that do. And lucky for new moms who have few degrees of freedoms left in their brain to conjure up ideas on what to do as a newbie, there’s The Rookie Mom's Handbook by Heather Gibbs Flett and Whitney Moss, the moms behind the website Rookie Moms. I’m reviewing this diaper bag convenient compendium as part of the Parent Blogger’s Network Rookie Moms campaign.
When new moms ask me for coping strategies, my first line of advice is to do at least one concrete thing each day, aside from the diapers and feedings that will otherwise consume their hours. And when I say one concrete thing, I do not mean reading The New Yorker cover to cover (which, quite frankly, I can’t even manage to get through in a month) or finishing off that grant proposal. I am referring to the small and tangible stuff, like taking a walk around the neighborhood, meeting a friend for coffee, taking a shower, or doing a short set of yoga poses to calm you mind.
Rookie Moms shares this philosophy by offering new moms 250 activities to do with and without baby. The book is divided into chapters with the tips and tricks arranged for each of the first 12 months of baby’s life. And if you do the math (which I in fact did, in addition to verifying a roughly equal number of entries per chapter/month...old data collection habits die hard), they essentially offer moms a concrete idea for every weekday of baby’s first year (major national holidays excluded I assume). The ideas cover everything from basic baby interaction, to keeping connected to loved ones, to nutrition, to easy crafts, to fashion, to fitness, to reconnecting with your partner. I won’t give away all the goodies here, but a few of my favorite entries include #6 (call grandma to connect over her childbirth experience), #8 (write a ‘did do’ list where you jot down and check off the myriad baby care and other tasks you accomplished during the day), #150 (have a baby food puree swap party), and #247 (create an alphabet inspired DIY collage for your child).
In short, Rookie Moms is a great little gift for new moms. Gibbs Flett and Moss’s writing is candid and cheeky, and no doubt will provide a welcome dose of reality to new mothers who feel inept in the face of the glowing, breezy postpartum celebrity photos they see in the US Weekly issues they’re browsing while nursing all day.
And truly, rookie moms, if you read this book and still doubt whether you're accomplishing enough, consider this: While dealing with a blowout from your child’s diaper may seem less consequential than dealing with a blowout with your boss, just think about how effectively and efficiently you can wipe the slate on the former. You can, in fact, check that one off your ‘did do’ list immediately.
Note: For those who would like to share their favorite rookie mom tip over at PBN and thus have a chance to win a bunch of baby/kid swag, click here to learn about PBN’s blog blast.