Thursday, July 29, 2010

International Mom tips for the new Mom

My husband's cousin is having a baby the middle of August. As a part of her baby shower, her friends are asking for tips from friends and family to give her as a surprise. The kicker is that she is Brazilian living in Australia.  Her Mother asked me to participate because I'm also an international Mother and family member.  I started writing and found these tips kind of funny. I thought I'd share. I'd also love it if you'd add to the list!  

International Mom tips:

You may feel like you are so ready for your parents to go home after the birth. It's been months for goodness sake and it's time for you and your new family to get into it's own rhythm.  That's true and it's all well and good but be prepared. You will cry. Those damn pregnancy hormones. I was never one to cry for my Mommy but I sure did when she left me alone with a tiny baby. And it lasted for about the first year.  It's ok.  Once you have one, you get your Mom better and it just makes you all the more attached. 

It gets easier every time your family leaves or you leave them. Keep in mind it works progressively so it's pretty hard in the beginning.

Get your baby a passport and use it. Don't be nervous but be prepared. Kids will travel as calmly as the parents let them. If you aren't nervous, they won't be.

You don't need to bring every baby gadget you have when you visit Rio.  We have man power to replace the technology. 

Don't expect your baby to ever be put down when you are visiting your family.  Especially when you are visiting YOUR family!  So many people and everyone will want a turn with the little one.

Only speak in Portuguese to your kid.  English will be a given. It is a part of every day life.  Portuguese will be the exception. Make your home a Portuguese one.

Have your Mom/Dad/Friends bring you all the cool cartoons in Portuguese. Yes, Baby Einstein and Backyardagians are available. 

Have your own traditions and bring your culture there.  My boys have an American Christmas Morning with breakfast, presents, and stockings.  I don't care if they were up partying until 1am and have a lunch later in the day.  They don't either.  It's our tradition and we love it.

Find a good international phone card or long distance carrier.  It makes it a lot easier to call Mom at 4am to ask about the mucus poop diaper, when you know it's not costing you upwards of $1000.  I know you'll have a pediatrician but they aren't your mother.

Here are some regular Mom tips:

Sunday brunch with friends is a great way to see other people and still be in a kid friendly environment. Make it a pot luck and have everyone take turns having it at their place. 

A bedtime routine is priceless.  Mine is bath, book, teeth, bed. For older kids: bath, quiet play or movie, book, teeth, bed. It makes bedtime a known thing. It also makes going to bed while traveling much easier. The familiar is something babies and kids love. 

Have sex with your husband. You may not feel like it but you will be glad you did afterwards. Keep in mind that the "required" trying is only good once a week.  The rest of the time you have to be in the mood or they have to get you there.

If you aren't in the mood have a glass of wine. Hell, have 1 glass of wine a night. Oprah says it's healthy, so it must be.

On a really hard day, have 2 glasses.

There will be really hard days.  This does not mean you are a bad Mom. You rock!  Babies, like adults, have bad days. It is what it is. 

When your kid doesn't sleep don't worry about it. You'll survive. Everyone else did.  It does make me feel better to imagine the day my boys are about 13 years old. I plan to go into their room around 3 am and wake them up just because I miss them and want to cuddle. I doubt I will but it makes me smile just thinking about it. 

And remember, it's your baby. No one knows your baby better than you! If you think there is something wrong, don't hesitate to harass whomever you have to to make it better! And for the same reasons, you don't have to follow everyone's advice.  Do what you know is right for you and yours. 


  1. that blog made me miss my mom so much...!

  2. All fantastic points Rachel!
    (Warning: another long comment!)

    A few other thoughts:

    --if family comes to help (especially grandma), it may take a few days or even a week or so to figure out where she fits in, how she can help best, etc. Be patient, eventually everyone will figure out their place (and grandma will know what is and isn't helpful). Because when a newborn arrives on the scene, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING!) changes, including family dynamics, etc. So it's hard to know magically from Day 1 what everyone's new role is.

    --I would recommend having a conversation before the baby is born regarding expectations of how family (grandparents) can be helpful and what would not be helpful. Because there's nothing worse than being a new mom, a crying baby, sleep deprivation, the new mother's body that has been traumatized by birth, the new mom's hormones, etc. and then having a miscommunication or misunderstanding about how family can be helpful. Sometimes (unwittingly), family thinks they are being helpful, but the new mom thinks/feels otherwise. It's best to iron out expectations BEFORE the earthquake of a newborn arrives. And especially if family is coming to stay with you in the early days, because they are staying with you 24/7.

    --When you're feeling up to it, take pictures of the baby in famous/touristy places and in front of the hospital (if that's where baby was born) so someday when they are older they can see the city where they were born.

    --Keep newspapers and magazines that came out on the day the baby is born. Years later the child will see what was going on in the world the day s/he was born.

    --I was once told that new parents should disregard what they say to each other in the first 6 months of a baby's life. Because those very early days can be indescribably stressful, and we sometimes say things to our spouse/partner that we would otherwise never say to them. So ignore the criticism and negativity that may arise in the very early days. It's so difficult and stressful in the beginning. No new parent knows what they are doing!

    --In the beginning, you'll likely get plenty of unsolicited advice. Sometimes it's helpful, and sometimes it's just plain irritating. It's inevitable. I never figured out a way of dealing with this issue. I still get it sometimes, 28 months after becoming a mom!

    --Your body will never be the same! You have given birth to a human being, so be patient in getting your body back to close to what it was before. Don't compare yourself to other moms. Take your time, eat well, drink plenty of water if you're nursing, and sleep when the baby sleeps!

    --Reach out to other new moms as soon as you feel comfortable. It makes a world of difference. Being a new mom can feel very, very lonely, like you are the only one going through this difficult experience. But you are not alone! I guarantee that probably every new mom is feeling the same way you are feeling! Trade advice, experience, tips, complaints, worries, etc.

    --Ask family to bring board books/CDs in the language you want the child to speak as their native tongue.

    End of verbal diarrhea!

  3. Hahahahaha! Awesome! Sorry, it's my first time blogging... Love it! Great way to get junk out of your system.

  4. I would add that, if you can, explain to the grandmas you need help with everything else in order to be able to care for the baby. Otherwise, they will think they are helping just by hold the baby endlessly and doing everything with the baby while you work your butt off in the house choirs. So when you're finally alone with your child you're so exhausted you won't enjoy being with him/her. So, if you can say it nicely (I never figured out how with my first born, but I will with the next), tell them with what you need help - sometimes it will be with the baby, but most of the times it just won't. That is if they are there to help, my MIL was there to drool on my kid and watch me sweat.
    On another note, get the entire family on Skype, even greatgrandma. Otherwise you'll be working just to pay your phone bills.

  5. I agree Thais I forgot about that one. Good point. Sometimes grandma thinks that the baby is "a burden" for the new mom so grandma tends to the baby instead of the other necessary chores. But it is the opposite. It's the new mom that should be freed of all household burdens so she can bond and get to know her newborn while everyone else takes care of the house, chores, errands, etc.

  6. My wife brought a USB VoIP when we moved to Rio. With a teenager daughter around, the negligible (40ish or 50ish USD/year, i think) fees were a godsend. =)