Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Learning from the First Year- What Works for a Working Mom

Recently my DH and I had dinner with another couple expecting their first child.  This couple asked us if we had any advice, as we are one year into parenthood.  At first I was taken aback by being considered knowledgeable, as I feel like I spent this past year not knowing what I was doing AT ALL!  However, I did have a lot of "advice" (if you can call it that) that I was able to share with the expecting couple and I figured I would share it will all of you!

*  The "Extinction Method" from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Weissbluth works- when Baby A was two months old, I had one more month until I needed to go back to work so I was desperate to get her to sleep through the night so I could make it through the work week.  On the first night my DH and I sat on our bed holding hands as we endured 26 whole minutes of blood curdling screaming and crying out in protest of this new bedtime routine (according to the method, you are not suppose to go back into the baby's room AT ALL- you are to let the child cry it out until the crying becomes "extinct").  These minutes seemed to last forever as I bit my lower lip to stop from crying and nervously paged through Weissbluth's text to make sure I was following his instructions to a T.  The next night the crying lasted a painful 19 minutes, and by night three she protested with only a murmur.  People say I am lucky that I have a child who has been sleeping through the night since she was two months old, but I really think it is the "Extinction Method" the proved to work!    

*  Take your baby everywhere!  Baby A has been to the nicest restaurants and her table manners are excellent, haha, not really, but she is pretty well behaved as long as she has people to watch and something to play with- like bread.  She is an extremely social baby and I think my DH and I have conditioned her to be this way by immersing her in social environments since an early age.  

*  Have a schedule, but train your child to be flexible-  Our household is predictable and on most days, mealtime, playtime, bath time and bedtime have specific time slots.  I think it's good to get into a routine because expectations are set up and that way, when your child has to go to bed, it is expected and not a battle.  However, I am not too rigid with our schedule, especially on weekends and during vacations- it's okay if your little one is up an hour or two past their bedtime every one in a while.  This past Summer Baby A had some late nights especially during the weekends when spending time with family and friends was more important that following our schedule.  This occasional irregularity in bedtime proved to be helpful when we went to California because it wasn't a big deal if Baby A was up latter than normal- she goes with the flow!

*  Another great book that was given to us by experienced parents that proved to be helpful is The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Karp, known for the 5 S's (swaddle, swing, sing, sideways, shh) to calm colicky babies- Baby A has food allergies and the first 8 weeks were tough and this book gave great suggestions for calming baby so that most importantly, you can be calmer!  Visiting the website is a must for new and expecting parents and is highly interactive and educational.

*  The 8 week milestone- When Baby A was first born we had many relatives, friends and neighbors come over to meet the little one.  One of our neighbors could tell that I was stressed when she stopped by and she told me that this tough time is temporary and that after about 8 weeks it all clicks in and motherhood become a little easier.  At the time, I couldn't wait 8 weeks, I was exhausted, frustrated and ready for it to "click in" already!  However, time does move fast and she was right, at the 8 week marker I felt myself more comfortable and natural with being a mommy- so ride out the first 8 weeks and just know that it does "click in" eventually!  

*  If you have a baby with a food allergy and need to go on a pricey formula, contact your insurance company to see if they can help pay for all or most of the formula.  Baby A was diagnosed with a soy and dairy allergy and moved through many expensive formulas before settling on the one that worked- Neocate ($139 for a case- four cans- each can lasts a few days!).  My insurance pays 100% of this and I get it delivered right to my door every month.

*  Even though I have a child now, my home doesn't need to be turned upside down with toys tucked away in every corner.  I recommend designating a bin, box, or tote for a select amount of toys to keep in the family room/living room.  Rotate toys monthly so that your little one isn't overwhelmed with play options and older toys become new ones when they are rotated into the toy basket!  It took my DH and I a while to build our sense of style and we spent a lot of money on furniture and decor to make our house a home- we have not lost our sense of style and our house is still welcoming instead of a crazed romper room!  Additionally, no one is in our home during the work week so there is no need to have toys everywhere.

Baby A celebrating her first birthday!  It has been an AMAZING year filled with laughter, tears,  stress, and realizations about love, life and happiness!
Now it is MY time to hear some "advice"- for those experience moms and dads our there- what are some realizations you have come to about parenting?  What works for you?

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