i thought i may as well start documenting what i know; lessons i've learned and the real stuff i believe in. i've been doing that from the start, but this year i want to pull all my tried and true tips, advice, ramblings into one category. i'll be touching on all kinds of topics. i am already excited for my future self to look back on these posts and see how my knowledge has (hopefully) expanded! here are a few things i know about mothering. this is a huge topic, i know there will be more posts on the subject...
routine. it's no question that i love a plan. but so do kids. i've read that children thrive on routine and like knowing what every day has in store. what a gift it is that we can give them; they aren't out there to make it up on their own. as parents, we cultivate this feeling of safety as we create boundaries, do chores, make games and set daily expectations. my kids know that we have naptime / rest time every day. of course there are days when i stretch out errands or we are with playmates or hanging out at grandma's.. but for the most part, kids like sticking to a schedule. it's no wonder they call it a bedtime routine.. kids need repetition to help them fall asleep and feel safe and secure. i've read that even saying the exact same sentence to them every night helps them fall asleep; they are called soothing phrases. i know a mama who serves green smoothies to her darlings in their ikea circus tent every afternoon! having a routine can be completely fun.
swaddling. we love baby burritos around here. dan and i always say 'we're big believers in swaddling.' i love wrapping my babe up in soft, thin blankets and dan has become a swaddling pro. swaddling works; it helps babies feel comforted, soothed and safe. it helps them feel like they're back in the womb. there is plenty of research out there on why swaddling babies helps them sleep better (and allows you to put them down without their little arms flailing and awakening them)! we like the soothing techniques in The Happiest Baby on the Block book by Dr. Karp (and your library may have the dvd for a quick show-this-to-husband tutorial. be warned, the movie was created a long time ago). dan is famous for holding seth all swaddled up while teaching in church.
it's just a phase. i am learning to NOT sweat the small stuff. by doing so i've relieved myself of many-a mothering headaches. i'm trying to focus on the real stuff and stop stressing about the phases that will pass sooner or later. here is what i mean: you can't celebrate yourself too much for getting your baby to sleep through the night. because, guess what? they start teething or get a cold or whatnot, and need to slug into bed with you and you start the cycle all over. suddenly you wake up with babies in your bed and think wait a minute here, i thought we were past this! i thought i had conquered this phase! i've learned to be slow to praise myself up and down or call my mom bragging about having my child potty trained in a day, etc. (i've learned you can't hang your hat on what your kid does. good or bad. but that's a topic for another time.) now i know that most everything's a phase.
here are some examples: while benji has always adored trains, when he was three he had a phase of being scared to death of (and frustrated by) the little thomas trains that are battery-powered. all of his friends had those and i figured he'd never be able to play with those kids ever again. thankfully in time he grew out of that phase. he also went through a phase of anxiety at the sound of running bath water. of course, you learn to deal with little quirks and try best not to upset your tiny one. i'd have to shut the door and fill up the tub and then turn it off and invite him in. sounds like something out of downton abbey.
even more than dealing with and getting through these inconvenient phases, i have realized not to wish them away. this is the stuff that life is made of. no matter how endless a phase may seem–it will surely (eventually) pass–and you may actually miss it! this is the good stuff of life. these phases are what life is made up of. these phases are important learning devices that make us who we are.
think about it; what do your parents always lovingly recall about you? (it was likely a funny phase you once went through!) remember when marta dragged that doll everywhere and called it pink baby? remember when marta would only wear doll's clothing (i was the youngest of seven kids. my mom was smart enough not to have the fight. in our family slideshow, i am wearing this tiny blue felt coat that was purposed for a doll not much bigger than a cabbage patch.) remember when marta wanted to be so independent that she'd turn to her mom in the department store and make the memorable request, mom, can we pretend that i'm not your daughter? i'm just your friend who's also a midget. i desperately wanted the salespeople to talk to me like i was a serious person, not just a kid. i will never live down the midget request. i also had a pretend friend named–simply–gnome. my mom was awesome and celebrated my belief in gnome. she went right along with it. i vividly remember her pretending to wipe his nose. he often comes up at family events. i'm glad his effervescent personality lives on.