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What a New Parent Really Needs

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Preparation for parenthood involves lots of stuff. Cribs, car seats, bottles, onsies, etc. There are so many things to buy (or register for) as you prepare for one of the biggest changes of your life. But the next time one of my friends announces she is pregnant with her first, I’m not buying her something she can unwrap. Nope, I won’t be checking online to see what she’s put on her registry.

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For my next baby shower, I am going to get new parents something they can really use. Here are my top four gifts for new parents—each of which is there because of something I’ve learned in my four years of parenting. Anyone can go buy a swaddling blanket or a pack of BPA-free pacifiers, but only a veteran parent knows that you really need some of these:

1. Improv Classes. Sure, most parents take a CPR class or a birthing class to prepare for their new baby. But improv classes are going to be way more handy. How often do I have to pretend I know what my kids are talking about even when I have no idea? Um, try, every time I speak to them. How often do I have to switch gears in a split second as my kids volley between ecstasy and devastation? Only during every meal and every transition from the house to the car. Had I had a little more improv training, I would have learned how to act as if my son’s 14-minute story about some superhero was interesting, or that my daughter’s thesis on Abby Cadabby was riveting.

How could new parents know that their little one will one day be asking them to draw pictures of Spider-Man or Hello Kitty?

2. Professional Organization Classes. I want to communicate to new parents that knowledge is power. And knowing how to organize stuff is one of the most helpful tools in the box for a happy household. What a new parent doesn’t know is that her baby is going to have zillions of presents that have to be stored somewhere. Then, that precious little thing is going to start outgrowing her clothes, onesie by onesie. Where are you going to put all that? You can’t donate all of it because 1) it’s precious and 2) what if you have another baby? Knowing how to organize, label and think through complicated storage situations is a skill that every parent needs.

3. Art Classes. How could new parents know that their little one will one day be asking them to draw pictures of Spider-Man or Hello Kitty? They don’t know that their failure to produce a reasonable facsimile of their child’s favorite superhero may lead to pouting or a hissy fit. A few art classes would have saved me and my children from many a meltdown spurred by my utter failure to properly render Dora and Boots with a crayon.

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4. Cross Fit. Everyone knows someone who’s into this addictive, cult-like exercise regimen. It’s a great idea for new parents whose little 7-pound bundle of pure joy is likely to grow into a healthy toddler, who, on occasion, is going to want to be carried around in his full snowsuit and both snow boots. I want to help my friends build up their core strength now, because once junior comes, it’s too damn late.

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