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A Newbie Grandma's Tips for Hillary Clinton

Dear Hillary,

Baby and dog
Still life with newborn and dog.

Congratulations on the birth of your first grandchild! That photo of you and Bill gazing adoringly at Baby Charlotte warmed my heart. As a rookie grandmother myself — I've got you beat by one week — I can totally relate. My life has turned upside down (in a good way!) since the arrival of my own little Charlotte two weeks ago.

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If you're anything like me, you'll want to take a break from your day job and move in with your daughter and her husband for a time to help out. I've just returned from my own stint in the newborn trenches, and I'm still on a grandma high. From one wiped-out, war-torn but utterly besotted boomer grandmother to another, here are a few things I learned.

  • Don't expect to get any work-work done. I naively brought my laptop along, thinking I'd take care of a few business matters during my downtime. Silly me. There was no downtime. When I wasn't pacing the floor with a squalling infant, I was folding laundry, buying groceries, cooking dinner, shopping for breast pump accessories or picking up the dog's medicine (don't ask).

  • Expect to spend more time on housework and errands than child care. You'd probably like nothing better than to scoop up that precious little bundle and rock her to sleep, but you'll be of more use focusing on the practical stuff (see breast pumps and dog prescriptions, above).

  • Download a season or two of a TV series you've been meaning to watch. You won't have a two-hour chunk of time to watch a whole movie, but you'll be able to fit in an episode of Parenthood while lying semi-prostrate on the sofa with a conked-out baby on your chest.

  • Remind your daughter how awesome she is. Raging hormones, lack of sleep and general new-mom anxiety can make even the most competent of parents feel useless and inadequate. It's hard for them to relax and enjoy these precious early weeks, so keep accentuating the positive. Baby crying for hours? She's got a great set of lungs! The little varmint wants to nurse every hour? Savor the extra bonding time! Dog ate the pacifier? Sorry, couldn't come up with anything for that one.


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  • Finally, for those first few horrible, sleep-deprived weeks, consider giving the new family the best present they could ever imagine. Yeah, I'm talking about a night nurse. A trained professional who can get them through those dark hours can make a world of difference, allowing all three members of the new little family to get some rest — and wake up ready to embrace the day.


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