Parents conduct Google searches twice as often as non-parents. This makes sense, because babies bring with them tons of new questions.
But as many new parents will tell you, all those extra Google searches aren’t necessarily reassuring. Instead, they’re helping create a culture of parenting panic.
If you’re about to throw a baby shower for a loved one, help armor them against that future panic with a “Parenting 101” shower.
Before you close this tab to search for “fun shower themes,” I promise that this class party will be fun…and no one will have to yell “my water broke!” when they’re just trying to enjoy their cocktails.
Still with me? Great! Here’s a hosting guide to equip your loved ones for parenting in the digital age.
The first difference between a Parenting 101 shower and more traditional versions is that you’ll be showering at least two parents-to-be. There’s lots of reasons to invite men to the shower, chief among them that no one will be forced to eat chocolate from a diaper.
The more inclusive guest list is also necessary if we want to build a world where fewer people are taken in by poorly-written news articles and flimsy research. All parents — all people, really — can benefit from better research skills.
You might hesitate to throw a Parenting 101 shower because you dream of stringing onesie banners or potted plants or whatever other adorable decorations you had in mind. This theme also offers plenty of cute-but-practical decor opportunities.
Think “classroom chic.” Make a dessert table with stacks of books subbed in for cake stands and post-its for labels. In lieu of flowers, fill vases with parenting-staple black Sharpies. Make banners out of pocket-sized notebooks, which can later capture baby’s first phrases as well as notes for the pediatrician.
No shower needs games. If you’ve invited people the guests of honor like talking to, all of you could just enjoy an afternoon of pleasant conversation.
If you must fill the time with games, there are plenty of options that will help the parents-to-be hone their critical thinking skills. Play “two truths and a lie” with strange facts about pregnancy and babies. (You might start with the “longest” recorded pregnancy).
Assign teams to play an in-home version of Mythbusters, solving practical research questions like “Can you drink while breastfeeding?”
Have everyone write a list of things that are true now that won’t be true when the baby is old enough to read, which will act as a little time capsule for the parents and a lesson that facts change over time.
The guests of honor may have already built a huge registry with 200 “must have” baby items, but if they’re lucky enough to have asked your advice, you can steer them toward a slimmed-down registry. Parents-to-be need a car seat, diapers, an Amazon Prime membership, and some kind of camera so they can upload a torrent of baby photos to social media. But they don’t need much else.
Instead of passing an afternoon watching the parents-to-be open gifts that everyone already saw on the registry, shower them with something they don’t know they need: a library. Ask the guests to bring their favorite children’s books or the parenting books that most helped them. If you’re worried about duplicates, setting up a registry will prevent your guests of honor from getting too many copies of Goodnight Moon or What to Expect. Not sure where to start? Check out this list.
Also consider books that will help the guests of honor start new hobbies they can share with their child. Henry Carroll’s Read This if You Want to Take Great Photographs is an excellent primer for people who will soon be taking lots of baby photos. Gabrielle Blair’s Design Mom is an excellent choice for parents who want to learn to decorate their homes with kids’ safety and interests in mind. Knitting books might help new parents learn to make baby hats. Cookbooks might help parents-to-be make inventive meals for their growing family.
You can also encourage guests to think outside the typical gifts and provide parents with research tools. A lifetime supply of post-it notes. A subscription to a newspaper to help teach their children the benefits of reading. If you are a grandparent-, aunt-, or uncle-to-be, consider setting up a college fund and encouraging guests to make contributions.
If all goes right at your Parenting 101 shower, everyone should leave having learned something. Send them home with the chance to learn more.
Pick a range of books according to your guests’ tastes and reading levels. Leave a shelf stocked with adult and kid books near the door and a sign encouraging each family to pick a book. In lieu of gift wrap, create bookmark thank-yous.