The 10 Most Practical Pieces of Parenting Advice No One Tells You

Straight from the trenches, tips for tackling motherhood.

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If you're anything like me, you spent your pregnancy (and pre-pregnancy) poring over blogs and websites. You know that dropside cribs are out and that and that date nights with your husband are in. But here are 10 pieces of advice I bet you haven't heard before:

1. Stop making fun of wipes-warmers

Wipes-warmers seem like the most ridiculous thing pregnant ladies register for, the pickle-fork of the baby shower. Well, guess what I just learned with Kid #2. If you have a boy, and it is winter, that clammy wet wipe is going to really piss him off. Who knew? Wipes-warmers manufacturers, that's who.

2. Never make a well-baby doctor's appointment on a Monday

That's when everyone who got sick over the weekend comes in with their grimy big-kid germs.

3. You're going to need a jacket with 80 million pockets

And a raincoat with a hood, because pushing a stroller and carrying an umbrella requires superhuman agility.

4. Get the cup holder for your stroller

People will make fun of it, but only people who don't know what they are talking about.

5. Buy a reusable water bottle

Sounds like I'm outfitting you for an endurance sport, right? That's because I am. Especially if you're nursing, you're going to be thirsty.

6. Talk to strangers

For a few months (or years), baby-related minutia will become fascinating to you, as will a certain kind of conversation you can only have with other mothers whose children are the EXACT same age as yours. Your husband, your mother, your pre-baby-best-friend, no one will want to hear as much about your baby's booger-texture as the other mom you met in the park five minutes ago. Go with it.

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7. Nurture your relationship. With your hairdresser

I never understand the "mom haircut" until my baby was six months old and I realized my hair had been in the same ratty ponytail for, well, six months.

Getting a haircut will become weirdly impossible (it gets filed under the elusive "me-time" along with yoga, journaling and going number two), so when you do get one it needs to be good, and you need someone who knows you well enough to talk you down from the super-short/perm ledge.

8. Buy the best dishwasher ever

I always secretly thought motherhood would be easy for me because I really like children. Turns out, a very small percentage of my day is just hanging out with my cool little kids, and a very large percentage is spent diapering, feeding, cleaning up, disciplining, sleep-training, cleaning up some more, and other things that waste time we could be using to debate the evilest spell a fairy could cast. And this is in a world of convenience foods, vacuum cleaners, disposable diapers, permanent press fabrics, and Google! So even if only to honor those women who used to have to parent while cooking over open fires, avail yourself of as many chore-doing-machines as you can.

9. Join a book club

Because otherwise you might not read a book without falling asleep after 2 sentences for the next 18 years. Priorities!

10. Write down your birth story as soon as you can

That infant is snoozy, but she won't be for long, and let's face it, your brain is mushier now. So take advantage of naptime to write down every crazy detail you can remember of that astounding thing that just happened where you made a human, because surprisingly soon it will feel like ancient history.

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