Cleaning up my laptop files a few weeks ago, I came across a “summer schedule” I created for my firstborn nearly a decade ago when he was four. Every minute was planned out and color-coded in an Excel spreadsheet with what appeared to be my intent to deliver him to kindergarten spouting multiplication facts and reciting Dostoyevsky. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a daily schedule, but this thing was so jam-packed, so ambitious, it could have been the daily agenda for a high-ranking diplomat. Did I honestly think trying to adhere to a rigorous minute-by-minute schedule would make me less stressed? Bless my first-time-mom heart.
Finding that cray artifact got me thinking about the over-the-top, borderline wackadoodle things many of us do as new parents. There’s the newness of it all… and when combined with a dash of hormonal irregularity and a few heaping dollops of sleep deprivation, you’ve got a recipe for some gloriously cringe-worthy first-time mom weirdness.
I asked fellow moms and dads on social media to tell me what ridiculous things they did as new parents. And oh boy, did they deliver.
“I’d heard that a solid nighttime routine was important for them to fall asleep. So nightly bath time included dim lights, spa music, essential oils in diffuser, NO loud voices (only soothing whispers), cell phones silenced, a ten minute lavender massage and GoodNight Moon read in almost a phone sex operator voice. This started at two weeks old.” – Emme, New Jersey
“I would sit on the floor by my son’s crib and he would hold my hair through the crib slats. Then I would ninja myself out his door, rolling out or crawling out ever so carefully—any which way except for standing up and walking out.” – Dyan, Pennsylvania
“I would lie under my triplets’ cribs until they fell asleep and shimmy out on my back…” – Evelyn, Florida
Literal Attachment Parenting
“My son couldn’t be without me for a second, so I remember nursing him while going to the bathroom (and crying). When he was older I would face him away from me, but he was still in my lap because if I tried to go alone he would cry so much he’d vomit and be covered in sweat. I would say the name of things in the bathroom. His first word was ‘door.’” – Katrin, New Hampshire
The Fecal Roster (You knew it was coming.)
“For my first baby, I kept a journal documenting every coo, smile, half smile, fart, cramp, noise, burp, sigh, yawn, poop, pee, and anything else he did or did not do,” said another mom. “For babies number 2-5…NOTHING. NOT. ONE. THING.” – Joy, Illinois
“I had a notebook that has every single feeding with ounces and every single diaper in it,” one mom said. “Circles for wet and an ‘X’ for poop. I did this for an entire year.” – Amanda, Texas
“I have envelopes of hair & teeth. I’m surprised I didn’t put her first diaper in a Ziplock.” – Rachel, Illinois
“I can’t IMAGINE why the pediatrician recommended I get some sleep and maaaaybe relax a little.” (see below) – Mary Katherine, Florida
“I made my ex husband install safety bars on the windows because I was convinced someone was going to steal my baby.” – Anna-May, 40, Florida
Babies Are Spaceships and Need Instruction Manuals
“When Mila was about five months old, I had to leave her for a six-night work trip. I wrote a four-page [instructional] letter for my husband.” – Amanda, New Jersey
“I left a binder full of maps, directions, and printed instructions for each child and pet. It was tabbed, too. Maps of the town with highlighted roads to get to schools. Times to feed the kids, how to wash them, how to lock the house and set the alarm… I was sooo annoying.” – Melissa, New Jersey
“I gave my firstborn a bath following a chart on how to wash her! Like I had no idea how to wash a human.” – Rachel, Illinois
Department of Sanitation
“When my son was a newborn, I had a ritual about changing his diaper when we were out which involved multiple blankets, because I was worried I would fold up the blanket and then put his head on the butt part the next time.” – Adelaide, Texas
“I sanitized EVERYTHING until my daughter was almost a year—I once washed all her toys (every single thing) because another kid had been over at our house and they had a runny nose. My son, who’s three years younger, literally ate dried dog poop once.” – Michelle, 39 Washington
Stepping off the deep end
“I lost my mind anytime ANYONE used a curse word around my first newborn. I was convinced it would ruin him. I was also strict with baby talk. No one was allowed to ‘goo goo gah gah’ my baby. For any reason!” – Sara, Illinois
“When my firstborn was 13 months old his great aunt gave him a cookie at Thanksgiving and I freaked out because ‘none of my kids will have processed sugar until 3 yrs old.’” – Heather, Minnesota
“I remember my first outing to Target. She cried in her car seat — like babies do — and I turned around sobbing and went home.” – Meredith, Utah
“I was very self-conscious about my first’s baby acne. I used to introduce him to new people and loudly acknowledge HE HAS BABY ACNE. I made it weird.” – Karen, Wisconsin
“The first time I changed a poopy diaper I threw up everywhere, like the wall above the baby and the floor to the left and right. In my head I said, ‘just not on the baby,’ and I didn’t. Every time after, I wore a bandana while changing a diaper. I was called the ‘diaper bandito.’” – Michael, 36, Arizona
Hey, It’s Me… Again
“My husband and I got married when our firstborn was 14 months old. While we went on our honeymoon my mom watched him. I would call every hour to make sure he was OK, then freak out when they wouldn’t answer.” – Amy, Pennsylvania
“When my first child started daycare and I went back to work, I would check in every day with the daycare for the first year. Then one day I asked the daycare provider if any other moms called daily, and she said no. I realized then that calling every day probably wasn’t necessary. I made no daily calls for my second.” – Jennifer, Prince Edward Island
Parenting is a tough gig no matter how prepared we think we are, especially with that first kid. There is no bigger change in life than going from worrying only about your own safety and well-being to now suddenly being responsible for an entire other human. No wonder we get a little… extra. And the upside: who wouldn’t be delighted to stumble upon their firstborn’s meticulously recorded poop journal years after the fact? That’s an souvenir you’ll definitely want to keep for the grandkids.
[Responses have been edited for clarity.]