Tag Archives: Parenting

My Parenting Philosophy

23 Mar

There are a lot of debates – both on and off line – on parenting philosophy. Which made me think – what’s mine?

[Let me preface my musings by saying that I am not judging any other parenting philosophies… I am merely trying to formulate what is mine – and why it works for me)]

Attachment parenting is most definitely not my thing. In part, because I have never seen it up-close, so it feels weird and foreign to me. All babies I know were NOT raised through AP and they turned out just fine. But then it depends on the baby, too – I guess. Preemies, I bet, simply NEED this type of parenting. But that’s just a guess.

Anyway.

While I was pregnant, my main focus was on staying calm. My deep belief is that if I am calm – the baby is calm, too. And the pregnancy period is the foundation of the baby’s temperament. So I focused on staying calm. I watched positive movies (e.g. romantic comedies and cartoons), I read positive (or at least not negative/bloody) books. I refused to get too worked up about things, relationships, etc. I stayed calm. (Well, thankfully, my pregnancy was smooth and there were no real reasons to worry).

And Timothy, indeed, was born a big and calm baby. He has great appetite. He eats well, he sleeps well, he interacts well. He has his fussy moments, but all in all – he’s calm.

And I am still focusing on staying calm myself. I HAVE seen how my mood affects him, so I keep it under control.

What keeps me calm? Having “me” time. I don’t get worked up about dust bunnies under the bed in master bedroom (Timothy and I sleep in his bedroom). I would rather sleep or read or relax. I pick my priorities.

I don’t spend every waking minute with Timothy. We play and talk and sing. I read him books. But he also spends plenty of time on his own, in the playpen or bouncer. And I don’t think spending every minute with him will do much good to either one of us. He certainly gets tired of me (turns his head away, starts crying) – and I get tired, too. I need time to recharge my batteries.

So far, Timothy is a very reasonable baby – and I treat him as such. He goes to bed without complaints 95% of the time. Well, most of the time because he falls asleep on the boob, but even when not – he lies quietly until he actually does fall asleep. He plays on his own quite happily for short periods of time.

And I have time to take a shower, or cook, or just put my feet up and read. Happily.

And then I am happy and content for Timothy and for hubby. How do they say? Happier wife, happier life? I don’t yell at hubby because I am tired. I don’t demand he takes Timothy away from me because I’ve spent the day with him. And DH is actually happy to play with Timothy, because Timothy is quite calm and happy, too. And I am happy to cook dinner for us while they play.

That’s my philosophy – to keep EVERYONE in the family happy. Not focusing on Timothy 100% of the time – but focusing on all of us. Cooking dinners for hubby. Taking breathing breaks for me. Reading and cooing to Timothy. I believe that’s the way it should be. There are too many families that fall apart because their kids become centres of everything – and they forget about each other and about themselves. One day they wake up and realize they became strangers to each other.

I think providing happy and loving parents for Timothy is just as important as playing with him and teaching him to raise his head. He will raise his head anyway, you know (that’s just an example… Timothy’s been raising his head since birth).

I don’t want my family to fall apart. I already had one marriage fall apart. So I will keep working on preserving the healthy balance.

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On Raising Kids

31 Aug

I spent about three hours talking to my sis today. To me, she is the perfect mom. I like the way she deals with her kids – and I like how her kids are turning out.

For example, her older one – who’s already 20 – is awesome. He has wonderful relationship with his parents. He shares a lot with them – for he knows they will never disclose it to anyone else or judge him. He never even went through that teenage phase of conflict! It went all smooth. It says something, right? He even offered me to introduce me to his girlfriend a couple years back when I was visiting.

The younger one, she’s 5, is also a very calm and nice child, no unreasonable tantrums, no nothing.

So I recently started asking lots of questions on raising kids.

Granted, it’s still too early for any of the disciplining or anything for me (my baby isn’t even born yet!)  – but I want to wrap my head around the concept. And it looks like it all is coming down to respect. What my sis does so differently from our parents – and many other parents I know – is treating her kids with respect. I’ll give you a few examples.

Example 1.

It’s late evening, time to go to bed. My niece is watching a cartoon. There’s about 10 minutes left. My mom (her grandma) simply says “ok, time to bed” – turns everything off – my niece throws a tantrum, everyone is unhappy, although my niece gets in bed right on time (whether she falls asleep easily is a separate question). What does my sister do? She says: “okay, honey, it’s time for bed. I see that you’re watching something really interesting, so let’s finish watching it and then quickly get to bed”. That’s it. No tantrums, no hysterics. When the cartoon is over, my niece quickly undresses, brushes her teeth and goes to bed.

And that’s the way it has always been – if, for example, my niece watched short cartoons and asked for “one more” – my sister usually would say “okay, but just one” – and after that, firmly but gently get my niece to bed.

She always respects her wishes, her interests. You can’t – or at least shouldn’t – just force someone to do something.

Example 2.

My parents bought my niece a new toy – huge plastic horse. The horse isn’t too sturdy, so they kept telling her and disciplining her “don’t climb on it, don’t knock on it, don’t do this, don’t do that”. And complain to my sister that she doesn’t listen. It all ends up with a horse’s broken leg. My niece is, of course, in tears. What do my parents do? They say “see? told ya!” – over and over. To really drive home that this all happened because my niece wasn’t listening to them. My niece who’s already in tears because her favourite horse is broken, gets even more hysterical.

What does my sister do? She tries to calm her down. Tell her that they will go and look at the horse. Let’s put the blanket over her, while we look for the first aid kit. Let’s see if we have bandages to fix her leg. My niece calms down.

My sister believes that once she bought her daughter a toy – the toy belongs to her and she’s free to do whatever she wants with it. My sister respects that. Of course, she’ll warn her daughter that if she handles the toy this way, it might break – but she will never force or forbid her anything. If it breaks – the girls will still learn her lesson.

My sister believes that restrictions should only be used in situations where her daughter can harm herself – like touching an iron or an electric jack.

Example 3.

There’s a need to bring my nephew to the dentist. My sister consults my nephew: when would you prefer to go? When is it convenient for you? She tries to work a time that suits all of them.

My mom gets impatient: why do you even ask him? Just grab him and go!

But no, my sister respects the fact that he might have his own plans and does her best to schedule the dentist trip around it.

Conclusion.

I really want to learn from my sister. And because deep inside I am programmed to follow my parents’ model, I will have to consciously work on it. So I am starting to learn from my sister – and keep notes of her words of wisdom here. For my future use.

And how do I know that my parents’ model sits in me? From my first marriage. I behaved just like my mom. A lot. Which really, really wasn’t good for our relationship. That’s not why the marriage didn’t work, but I learned my lesson – and I changed my ways.

I hope I will be more successful with changing for raising kids – from the first try.

Sources of Joy

9 Aug

I mentioned some time ago that I felt so anxious throughout the first weeks of pregnancy, that I almost forgot I am supposed to be enjoying it. I made a conscious effort to switch – and it’s working!

What’s contributing?

First off, sharing the news. Accepting congratulations. Talking to people about it, answering their questions – how do I feel, do I feel the baby yet, do I know the gender yet, have I had an u/s, etc. This all makes it real. This all is one big external confirmation: yes, I am pregnant.

Which is great – but still feel a bit… blah. Why? Somehow, the connection between “pregnancy” and “baby” doesn’t quite happen in my brain. I don’t know why.

I was feeling sort of the same as before: waiting for the baby, just not going through the motions of TTC. Weird, huh?

So what helped me to finally connect with the “baby” idea behind my growing bump and pregnancy questions?

A book.

My friend gave me a book she was given at the hospital when she delivered her third child. I am keeping it in the bathroom – to force myself to read it slowly, let the info sink in. And the book is making it real.

Phrases like “make changing your baby the opportunity to bond, touch the baby, talk to him, explain what you’re doing – it will soothe the baby and help you bond; it will turn changing into this special time”.

Paragraphs on how to choose clothes, how to change the baby, how babies don’t like anything being pulled over their heads – and pictures of babies in pj’s.

Explanations of nursing as bonding experience.

How rocking your child will remind him of the time he spent in your belly.

All of this is doing its magic – I am finally believing it – I am visualizing it. I am seeing myself as a mom, caring for my baby, cooing, singing lullabies, stroking and rubbing my baby.

I am filling with joy. Getting peaceful. Happy. Amazed. Wondering.

It’s pure magic.

And here’s the recent page from my pregnancy artbook, to illustrate my sense of pure joy 🙂

Self-Education

6 Aug

While I started focusing on ‘how to choose’ questions (stroller, carseat, etc.), people reminded me I also need to read. About breastfeeding, about birth, about, well, just plain raising the kid.

All of a sudden, I am feeling overwhelmed. There just SO much I need to learn. And if things like how to bathe or change a baby someone can show me (my sister is coming for a month to stay with me to help me with everything), I still need basic understanding of troublesome signs of ailments, the shots, the feeding…

Like, I remember someone telling me you have to start rubbing your nipples with a rough towel a few months prior to birth – to prepare them for breastfeeding. Apparently, your nipples can all crack up to a point your baby will be giving you a blooded smile while breastfeeding *shudder*.

Or someone else insisted you should rub your vagina and perineal with wheat germ oil – to avoid ripping. And to rub belly – to prevent stretchmarks.

There’s just so much stuff you hear, and it’s all confusing, and you want what’s right for baby and you, and it’s all coming at you at once, and it’s all so confusing and overwhelming… And no one on this continent I can truly talk to about this.

And my husband doesn’t quite get it. He shrugs his shoulders and says: well, women did this for centuries without any books.

Argh. Panicking.

Time is Relative

4 Jul

“Only 3 more weeks until I am off progesterone” – that’s what I said yesterday and, all of a sudden, realized that my time perspective is changing.

Only recently, I was living from one cycle day to another. Only recently, the two-week-wait was unbearably long. Only recently, the 2 weeks from one ultrasound to another felt like an eternity.

And, all of a sudden, at 9 weeks I am starting to feel a bit more sure. A bit less worried about the upcoming u/s next week on Wednesday (1.5 weeks away!!!). A bit less impatient for the second trimester to start, to be off progesterone – and to reveal the secret of our pregnancy to the world. Now it’s “only” 3 weeks away. I can wait.

I started thinking of the nursery. I got a looking-after-a-newborn book from my friend. I am imagining our life with the baby, feeling a bit sad it will be the coldest month of the year – February.

I am still scared that something still might get wrong. But it feels now more like “anything can go wrong anytime” – like a brick can fall on my head and kill me, I can’t protect myself against that. I don’t feel a heightened risk of the early weeks anymore. Perhaps, wrongfully so – but that’s how I feel. And I think I am thankful for feeling such inner peace.

Oh, and the bloat was almost absent over these past 2-3 days. Maybe, for good? I sure hope so 🙂 Anyway… 3 more weeks until we move into the next stage 🙂

Moving Along the Timeline

24 Jun

It’s been 4 weeks since we found out we’re pregnant. Hard to believe. It feels like I’ve been pregnant for ages. Well, pregnant with knowledge, anyway (I don’t really feel pregnant… still find it hard to believe there is a new human being growing inside my belly).

I am thinking of the journey still ahead of us – summer, fall, winter… We’re due on Feb. 5th. It feels so long. It feels so far away. And yet – 4 weeks have passed already. And our Blueberry will be 8 weeks on Sunday. So time is moving.

And I am thinking: do I really need a pregnancy book? I have one – which my friend gave to me. I receive weekly emails from a couple of websites with updates of what’s happening inside me. Do I really need to know more?

I sure need to know more about labour – but signing up for prenatal classes later on will take care of that.

So. What I really think we need – is to start reading books about parenting. To start building our point of view on whether a crying baby needs to be addressed immediately, or should be left alone to build its character and cry itself to sleep every now and then (sounds brutal). Take the baby to bed? When to transfer the baby to a separate bedroom? For how long to breastfeed?

Just as I found myself utterly unprepared when I found I was pregnant (I knew so much about each of the 28 cycle days and NOTHING about week 5 and further) – I am worried that we might find ourselves totally unprepared for when the baby is with us.

What do you think? When is it time to start reading about raising a child?

And – what books would you recommend?