As much as I’m looking forward to meeting my new baby (just 22 more weeks!), I’m also a little petrified. Now that my daughter is almost 4, I’ve gotten used to certain perks that come with having a walking/talking kid vs. a helpless infant. It’s not that she’s easy to manage, what with the diva tantrums, fear of monsters, and liberal use of the word “no” — but hello, I drop her off at school every morning and get hours of alone time! Parenting a self-sufficient preschooler may have spoiled me for babies.
Here are 7 things I do with my kid that I definitely can’t do with a newborn:
1. Use TV as a babysitter
I followed the rules–no screen time until age 2. Then all hell broke loose. My daughter is well-versed in the entertainment offerings of PBS, Sprout, and Nick Jr., not to mention the many Disney movies she has memorized and can’t stop rewatching. If I need to take a shower, all I have to do is set her up in front of The Little Mermaid and I can be reasonably confident that she will not get into any trouble, as long as I’ve put away all the Sharpies.
2. Multitask during bath time
Bathing a newborn ain’t easy — they’re so vulnerable, tiny and insanely slippery! (For a refresher on the terrors of baby bathing, all I had to do was watch Carrie on “Homeland” nearly drown her unwanted infant.) While I’d never leave my preschooler alone in the tub, I can certainly free my hands up to floss and moisturize at the sink while she soaps up all her plastic princesses. Bath time’s become pretty easy and relaxing. That’s all about to change.
3. Know why she’s crying
When my kid gets upset, there’s no mystery to solve because she communicates beautifully. She’ll reveal a new boo boo, complain that she’s not ready to leave the park, or bemoan the injustice of bedtime. I can’t always fix the problem (because bedtime) but at least I don’t have to guess what’s wrong. They say babies have five different kinds of cries; I find words way more helpful.
4. Travel light
With my preschooler, I could walk out of the house empty handed and we’d be just fine, as long as I had money for snacks. Babies require an insane amount of gear, from diapers and wipes to pacifiers and “please stop crying” toys. Alas, it’s time to start schlepping that big, ugly diaper bag again. It does look pretty good with sweat pants though.
5. Serve whole fruit
I don’t miss slicing every blueberry and grape into fractions before snack time. My kid’s got teeth, and she knows how to use them. It’s been ages since I’ve had to stock baby food jars or sterilize anything. I’ve got it good for now, but not for long.
6. Be complacent about baby proofing
The child-proof latch on the cutlery drawer broke about six months ago and I still haven’t gotten around to fixing it. That’s because my almost 4-year-old knows better than to mess with the knives, and she’s beyond the stage of touching (and licking) everything she can get her hands on. Glue and glitter are another story — gotta keep that sh*t locked up tight.
7. Enjoy pockets of me-time
I like taking my preschooler on playdates, especially when I’m good friends with the mom. It blows my mind that my once totally dependent daughter can now be so engaged in play with a friend, she practically forgets I’m there. That leaves the grownups plenty of time to swap stories and laughs while we help our girls in and out of dress-up clothes and referee the occasional Candyland spat. It’s been a while since I raised a baby, but I seem to remember constant vigilance, even during sleep because I didn’t trust her to keep breathing.
So you can see why I’m nervous. Not only do I need to remember proper baby care, but I’ll have to switch on my hawk eyes 24/7 again. The one advantage I’ll have with this baby? I doubt I’ll have to work as hard to entertain her. She’s got the best show in town playing right in her own home — her big sister.
Photo: Amy Wruble