For one hour, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., our house runs as efficiently as a Swiss train.
Here’s how it works: Luke, the Mrs., and I return home after a brisk two-hour walk in Prospect Park. As soon as we uncork Luke from his stroller, my wife starts his bath while I heat his bottle. After the bottle warmer beeps (our lives are governed by beeping machines), I place his dinner beside the feeding chair, collect his bear-themed towel, and together Mrs. Tepper and I extract Luke from the bathtub. We dry him off, fasten a new diaper, and I give Luke the bottle. Five ounces later, Luke, now safely ensconced in his swing/chair/bed, softly cries for ten minutes and slips into blissful unconsciousness. My wife and I praise all that’s sacred and pure and holy and collapse onto the couch.
Weekdays are more difficult (there’s only one of us), and sometimes I’ll make the bottle too hot or cold, and occasionally he’ll sob hard more than he cries soft. Still, most days, most of the time, run smoothly. And after he’s sleeping, after the Mrs. and I have put our feet up, we often look at each other and think the same thing: How the hell did our parents do this?
Not how were our parents capable of caring for us when we were infants, but rather how did they do it without 21st century conveniences? How did they put us to sleep without such miracles of engineering as a sound machine that emits an oscillating bird call.
Modern millennial parents, especially city-bound ones, have battled one economic hardship (high student loans, soaring rents, the freaking Great Recession) after another. Child care has never been more expensive, and we both work 50 hours a week in order to pay for our life.
Boomer parents fortunate enough to have the means to help their kids (and grandchildren) often don’t know how to most efficiently allocate their funds. Well, your eternally grateful millennial children will be over the moon if you bequeath us one (or 10) of these items that could make our lives as parents easier.
1. Upscale Stroller (Cost: $730)
It may seem ridiculous for your grandchild to be chauffeured in a jumble of plastic and rubber that costs about the same as a couple of Bruce Springsteen tickets. But this stroller feels like it can withstand a tornado (or at least the next Sandy) and lets you face the toddler toward you or out into the world.
2. A Mechanical Swing ($140)
This electric-powered swing has five speeds and almost saved our lives. Luke does not fall asleep on his own in his crib, but he will in his swing. Eventually we’ll have to move him to more stationary ground, but that day is not soon.
3. Portable Dishwasher ($219)
We live in Brooklyn, our apartment costs $2,000 a month, and we don’t have a dishwasher. While dishwashing is a personal source of pride, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the onslaught of bottles and baby milk containers teeming inside our sink every night when I return from work.
4. Video Monitor ($102)
Since we live in a two-bedroom apartment with not terribly thick walls, you may wonder why we need a video monitor. Isn’t this a perfect distillation of helicopter parenting? That’s a reasonable question. But I would point out that we are first-time parents. And so were you. Are you telling me that you never woke up at 4 a.m. worried that kidnappers stole your son or that he somehow fell out of whatever he was sleeping in? At the very least the video monitor gives us a sense of control in a universe of chaos.
5. Portable Crib ($100)
If you want us to visit, then Junior needs a place to sleep.
6. HBO Go (Free with HBO subscription)
New parents, obviously, can’t go to the movies without hiring someone to watch the little one. Since all of our funds as new parents go toward buying stuff for Luke, there isn’t a lot left over for sitters and movie tickets. So, grandparents, pass along your HBO Go account to your heirs to ease their boredom.
7. More Leg Room (Depends on flight)
Last month Mrs. Tepper and I visited her family in Florida. Flying with a baby is terrifying, but was made better by the fact that my father-in-law purchased an Even More Space seat for our JetBlue flight home. It cost $50 per person, but we were able to board quickly, stretch out our legs, and cut through the security line.
8. Takeout (Depends on meal)
Cooking is time consuming, especially after the enervating experience of putting your baby down for the night. Want to make sure your kid’s family is eating well? Let them mooch dinner off your Seamless account.
9. Baby Yoga (Depends on class)
It is surprisingly difficult to exercise when you’re charged with safeguarding an infant. That quick jog of a couples of miles or bike ride through the park is now close to impossible. One easy solution, though, is baby yoga. There’s a yoga studio around the block from our apartment that offers an hour-long “Baby and Me” yoga class for $11 (or about $10 cheaper than a sitter). (But your parental judgement is free.)
10. Everything else (Depends on your net worth)
Or, well, whatever you can afford. Your child, and her child, really appreciate it.
Taylor Tepper is a reporter at Money. His column on being a new dad, a millennial, and (pretty) broke appears weekly. More First-Time Dad: