Raising kids is one of the hardest jobs ever, am I right? Especially that first year, when everything is so new and so confusing (and you are so exhausted). My uber-sweet, young mom friend Katie is currently buried in all things baby as she navigates her first year as a mom with her sweet boy, Sam. We thought it would be fun to do a then vs. now comparison of what our lives were like with babies—20 years apart.
1. What’s your favorite activity to do with your mom friends and their babies?
When my son was a baby, I joined a mom’s group for playmates (and my sanity). We met at a different park each week, spread our blankets on the grass and spilled our guts about all things parenting. One fun outing we did was Stroller Skating! The roller rink opened early one morning a week for moms to skate and push their strollers around the rink. Seriously, it was hilarious—and would probably be considered child abuse now.
I was all about the disposables, as were the majority of my friends. Even though we lived in a pretty progressive area of California, I remember it just seemed too icky and too much work to cloth diaper. Only one mom in our playgroup used cloth, and she was kind of hippyish, so we all assumed that the two were related.
My son didn’t sleep a six-hour stretch until he was 6 weeks old (still not bad!) but those first weeks were hard. My husband took him out for a late-night drive several times, just to get him to sleep. But then we had to pray that the car seat to crib transfer went smoothly, or we were back at square one.
4. What parenting gadget would you NOT give up for anything?
The Diaper Genie was totally a new thing when my son was a newborn, and we used the crap out of that thing for years. Pun intended.
5. What’s your biggest health concern for your baby?
Mine was SIDS, hands down. It was 1994, and doctors were just starting to promote the “Back to Sleep” campaign and encouraging new moms to have their babies sleep on their backs. Even then, I remember sneaking in to make sure he was breathing.
OK, here is where parenting has changed for the better—we were pre-digital, people! I would guess we took a few rolls of film (yes, film) each month at best, then had them developed and got double prints for relatives. We shot video too, and those old clips are some of my most treasured things ever.
8. TV: yes or no?
I was a very big “no” on this when mine was a baby. It started the first time I was nursing my son while watching some random show to pass the time (because no smartphone). Suddenly he noticed the TV and pulled his head away from nursing, and I swore his eyes glazed over. From that point forward, I rarely had the TV on during the day, and even when he was older he didn’t have a regular show he watched. But I did have a great collection of VHS tapes that would buy me a half hour to myself here and there.
9. How long did you wait until you regularly took your baby out in public?
We were dying to get out! I think we spent the first two or three weeks at home, and then started venturing out on a regular basis.
10. Where did you primarily shop for your baby's clothes?
Back in the day, I had to haul my son around to stores in the mall, like Macy's. I also loved the Carter’s Outlet and the Osh-Kosh store for those adorable overalls. I can’t even imagine if we had Internet shopping back then. Pretty sure the college fund wouldn’t have survived.
Oh, I loved the bedtime stories! This was always a favorite time of day for me. We read lots of Dr. Seuss, like "Hop on Pop," and we both loved "Goodnight Moon," which I can probably recite from memory even now.
12. Branded characters or no?
Since I didn’t have the TV on that much, my son didn’t see too many branded characters when he was little. But I had some VHS tapes of Sesame Street, and he loved Oscar the Grouch! I guess the first real branded characters he latched onto were from "The Lion King," one of the first Disney movies I bought.
13. Posting pictures on Facebook or privacy settings on lockdown?
Um, I have no idea. Because no Internet. (Let that sink in a bit.)
Before. Like seven years before. To the point where people were asking when there would be a baby.
15. Nanny or daycare center?
I quit my job when my son was born to care for him, but I did have a brief stint as a contract employee when he was about 18 months old. I enrolled him in a “school”-type daycare center a few mornings a week. It felt so odd to drop him off! But the teachers were kind and I felt like he was really safe there.