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If I were to do it all again …

Despite a bit of hormonal panic in my youngest daughter’s first year, I’ve decided I’m done having kids.

Yes, each baby is as squishy and snuggly as the last, and yes I could fall in love with new ones over and over, but for our family, our hands are sufficiently full.

But what if I were to do it all again? Would I do anything differently? Sure. And there’s some things I’d do even more.

strollerTo start, I’d stop trying so hard (don’t laugh, people who have been to my house in the past 3-1/2 years) to keep the house from falling into utter chaos. Let it slip. Just scoop it out of the way so no one trips and enjoy longer snuggles with those newborns while they’re tiny and extra dance time when they get older. It’s a losing battle and I’d much rather have back those snuggles I missed, now that my babies are too wiggly to sit on my lap.

The time I would take, however, is a little more time with the husband. Something we’ve recently gotten better about, but something that is so important. Forget the laundry, let’s sit and actually talk for 15 minutes instead. And let’s go ahead and cough up the 40-plus bucks for a babysitter and go to a movie. Momma needs to go hold Daddy’s hand sometimes and remember what it felt like to be 21 and hearing “I love you” for the first time from her future husband’s mouth.

And all that baby gear? Hell, I’d buy/register for even more. Anything to make parenthood a little bit easier. That side-sleeper thing I debated purchasing while trying to survive both girls’ newborn phases? Should have just bought the thing and slept a bit easier. I also should have tried a Rock ‘n’ Play sooner. Those things are magic.

What I’ve found is that there’s a great aftermarket for all of that stuff, so you’ll get some money back in the end, and you’ll get a good amount of use out of most things before you sell.

Your first kid hates the bouncer seat? Your second kid probably won’t, and you’ll be glad it’s been sitting there waiting for that fussy little munchkin.

If I did have a third kid, I probably wouldn’t bother with a nursing cover. Forget stressing about trying to keep a blanket over my kid’s head while I feed her. Yes, those are boobs and they’re actually designed to feed little ones. I don’t plan to wave them around before I put them in my kid’s mouth, so I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.

I’d still call the pediatrician anytime I felt something wasn’t right, no matter how many kids I had. So many new parents feel guilty or stupid calling the doctor when they’re unsure, but they really shouldn’t. Nine times out of 10, you’re probably not the first person to ask them that question, but I bet you feel a whole lot better knowing the answer then diving into the abyss of Google and WebMD. Never be afraid to be your kid’s advocate. If you think something is wrong, it very well could be. Just ask.

And finally, though it pains me to admit, I’d definitely be a LOT less mental about baby clothes if No. 3 came along. I went completely crazy with both girls, and wasted so much money. Lord, the money. Thankfully, those have a decent resale value as well. But in hindsight, I would have treasured the special pieces a whole lot more if I hadn’t bought 20 of them at a time.

Some quick tips for those of you just starting out:

For the early months, buy mostly one-piece rompers and jammies, preferably with foldover cuffs to keep them from clawing at their face. Take it from someone who has jammed a newborn into a stiff, fancy dress with real, hard-to-button buttons only to have a blowout 10 minutes later: it’s not worth it.

Do not buy a ton of dresses and skirts for the 6-12 month range. I lost a lot of money as I failed to realize that’s when kids start crawling, skirts and dresses completely get in their way. Wait until they start walking around 12 months.

Crib shoes. No. Just no.

As sad as it makes me at times to realize my “baby” is now a walking, kinda-talking little lady, I’m also enjoying every minute of this adorable toddler phase. Now that I know what 3-1/2 looks like, I’m even more eager to soak up this drooly, giggly fun time and stop worrying about things I didn’t do when she was tiny.

Our moment is now, and we’re living it up. And if I did do it all again, I’d start doing that even earlier next time.

About Caley Clinton

Caley Clinton works in PR and is mother to two girls under the age of 4. She can be reached at caleyclinton@gmail.com.

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