Dear Meg, Thank you for asking me to write a post for First-time Moms. My My My I have learned SO much in my almost 11 years of mothering, and am learning more EVERY DAY! Isn’t that a gift? I doubt I will EVER be bored.
I will share my parenting philosophy and approach in bullet points of the most important lessons I have learned. Maybe you were JUST looking for a product list, but I have enjoyed writing this out, so skim if this is not what you were after.
~Empower your spouse from day 1–do not criticize, let him do it his way. If you have a truly better way, lovingly tell him about how you learned that lesson, or just skip it…it’s not about the means, only the end! The best gift ever was Jason being unemployed and a student the first 6 months, and me working from 5-12 weeks of her life…he HAD to be the Dad, and he did such a great job (still does).
~EASY. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this acronym that I learned from a friend who learned it from a book (which one?) Eat Awake Sleep You. The baby eats, then she is awake, then when she gets fussy again (it is NOT TIME TO EAT AGAIN), it’s time to sleep. Then you get YOU time. Too many mothers think that crankiness after awake means they are hungry again and get in a bad habit of nursing their baby to sleep. Don’t do it!
~Sleep Train your baby. I have sleep trained all of mine. I used Ferber for 1 and 2 and COLD TURKEY for 3, starting at 2 months. It is hard to listen to your baby cry, but it is SO WORTH it for your sanity, getting sleep again(!) and their long term empowerment. This blew my mind and helped me make the leap this time. Sleep training is also good because after a sickness or a trip, they need to be re-trained for a few nights…..they remember quickly!
~Any bad habits you have by 6 months, fix! I co-slept with 1 and 3. Mostly out of necessity-they slept better/longer next to me, I could nurse and not really wake up…etc. etc. I got Phoebz out of my bed at 6 months and Pickle at 2 months. Lolly could have CARED LESS about sleeping with me, so I had her in the bassinet next to me. Binkies were not an issue for 2 and 3, but 1 kept hers until she was 15 months. We were down to 1 binky and, sick of replacing them, when she THREW HERS into a HUGE CROWD of people at the Revlon Run/Walk for Women’s Cancers–I said: “well, that was your last one.” She had to be re-sleep trained for 1 week, but we got through it.
~NIGHT TIME FEEDINGS are NOT Party Time. If you want your baby to learn that night time is sleepy time, I suggest the following Night Time Feeding Tips:
-DO NOT SPEAK TO YOUR BABY
-DO NOT TURN ON THE LIGHT (get a flashlight or better yet, a book light that can clamp to your bedside table drawer/bed frame)
-Learn to nurse lying down
-do not change their diaper unless it is super soiled
-don’t leave your bedroom, watch tv, eat….
~Don’t Project or Predict Emotions. This I have learned as a mom and a baby wrangler. If you are faced with a new situation eg. New babysitter, leave them at a new class, the tendency is to WORRY about how the baby is going to react. Usually you think this is going to be a negative experience for baby. Instead of this approach, I find it helpful to be cheery, confident and straightforward. Babies understand a lot. You can actually talk to them about the fact that you are leaving for a little while and will return. I can honestly say, in 10 years of mothering, I have never ONCE had a freak out from my girls when I left them.
~Cliche Alert! Just BE in the moment. It goes by SOOOOOOO fast and then it disappears. Please just enjoy and slow down and be the Mama.
~Babies Heads are like Cocaine. The best words of advice my midwife EVER gave me: “When you’re feeling blue, just inhale your baby’s head…she emits a chemical that has similar properties to Cocaine.” I seriously sniff her head A. Lot.