Before I became a mom, I did everything I could think of to prepare for my son's arrival. I read books, asked fellow moms for advice, and engaged in baby prep that ranged from preparing a nursery to stocking a freezer full of ziti and chili. But something I had not prepared for (and that I quickly realized was going to become a very big dilemma in my day-to-day life) was this: Where, exactly, do I put my baby down?
As I sat on the couch realizing I needed to take my dogs out, use the bathroom, or reheat one of the aforementioned freezer meals, it dawned on me that I hadn't fully prepared for what life would be like with a mini human clung to my body almost 24/7. I had never given much thought to the fact that newborn babies are incapable of doing pretty much everything, including sitting up on their own, keeping themselves from rolling off of furniture, or fending off an overly curious pet. In realizing that I needed safe places to put my infant down so that I could accomplish everyday tasks, I discovered the power of the docking station.
After weeks of toting my newborn around nonstop, I began to realize that the key to making my life easier was to set up a variety of docking stations throughout my house. As my baby has continued to grow and is now an almost-crawling four and half month old, this tip has continued to be incredibly useful. I love holding and cuddling my baby, but I also have to put him down from time to time — both for his own good and mine — and life is so much easier now that I have spaces for him set up throughout my home.
My husband and I were fortunate to be gifted a variety of baby gear products by our family members and friends, and have littered everything from a baby swing, to a play mat, to a pack and play, and more throughout our house. While I feel incredibly fortunate to have a wide variety of baby paraphernalia serving as different docking stations in just about every room, this hack can certainly be adjusted for limited space and budgets.
I know firsthand that babies can be expensive. Their stuff also has a way of piling up as your child constantly outgrows different products. Were I to relive the first-child experience over again or offer tips to expectant first-time parents, I definitely wouldn't be quick to run out and buy every item on the market. For those looking to save money (or heck, just space in you home), you don't necessarily have to have a baby docking station in every single room. Instead, consider items that are light and easy to transport from room for room. For example, some baby seats are relatively inexpensive and are light enough to carry with one hand while you carry your baby with the other. Another portable, lightweight item is a play gym. My son's favorite place to be has always been on the floor, playing with his play gym. The mat is easy enough to drag from room to room and it takes approximately two seconds to position the overhead bar and hanging toys.
Another trick I've learned along the way is investing in pieces that will grow with your child. For example, some baby seats also function as chairs for toddlers, and many activity centers can also be turned into craft tables. Buying docking stations that will evolve with your child can make your investments feel worthwhile.
While I've never left my child unsupervised, simply being able to set him down easily has made motherhood so much easier. He sits in his baby seat while I cook dinner, bats at his play gym and "sings" while I play piano, or has tummy time in his crib while I put his laundry away. Having docking stations has given us both a sense of freedom and — I think — brought us even closer together.