This may not be the list you expected to see...
I'm not going to tell you how or where your baby should sleep, what the best remedy is for a gassy babe, if or when you should try crying it out, or even the best baby products for your new child. Even though there are a lot of things I won't tell you, there are still 4 important new mom commandments you must follow in order to keep functioning as a new mom:
1. Don't sit down.
No, really! When your child finally goes to sleep somewhere other than in your arms, do not sit down. With my first child, I often made the mistake of thinking, "I'll just watch TV and veg out for a few minutes of me time." Which was great, but then a half hour later my son was waking back up, and I hadn't peed, showered, or eaten anything — all of which I had intended to do during the nap. When your child falls asleep or you are able to put them down, immediately do the quick things you want to accomplish. Then, go watch your TV, take a nap, or do a few things around the house. But — always take care of yourself first (so that you can take care of baby)!
2. Hydrate and snack.
Initially, it is really easy to run yourself ragged as a new mom. You're not focused on yourself at all, as you're figuring out how to care for your child. But letting yourself get run down doesn't help you to be your best for that sweet little ball of snuggles. Keeping water and snacks nearby at all times can help keep you in the best shape you can be! Enlist your significant other to help with this one!
3. Always, always, ALWAYS be prepared.
For me, this meant that I braided my hair and had a clean outfit laid out for myself and my son. There were several days in which we needed to run back to the pediatrician, out to the store for diapers/wipes, or off to the pharmacy with very little notice. The fact that I was already presentable enough to leave the house was really helpful when the pediatrician only had one spot open (and, oh, yeah, it's in 20 minutes and it takes 15 to get there!) to check out our malady. Plus, getting dressed in the morning will make you feel good, too.
4. Find —no, MAKE — time for yourself.
As mentioned above, when you're a new mom, most of the time you're thinking of yourself last. But to keep you happy and sane, you need time to yourself. Schedule a set time every day or every few days with your spouse, significant other, friend, or family member in which you're able to do something uninterrupted for yourself. This can be as simple as taking a shower or reading a few chapters in a book. But do it. You need it — and you'll thank me for it later!