11 January 2013

what i know / mothering babies



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.



11 comments:

Destri said...

I couldn't agree more on the bedtime routine. We were traveling so much when my little girl was a baby, but everywhere we went if I just followed the same routine, she had no problems going down.
And I love the phases. I find myself saying all day that I'll be so sad when they quit doing one thing or another.
Love this post Marta!

Jessica Haderlie said...

Your boys are so lucky to have you as their mother. I for one agree on each point, the schedule thing especially. I myself am usually a wing it kind of girl but have learned that my kids do so much better when we stick to our routines, whether it be dinner, waking up, or bedtime. Thank you for your thoughts!

Jessi Bridges said...

Baby burritos!! That's what we call them too ;)

And the routine thing is amazing. I have sung the same exact song to my toddler every night before bed while rocking him in my arms for almost 2 years now, which includes the entire time I was pregnant with his baby brother. Now, all I have to do is sing that song to the baby and rock him in the same way and it works like a charm!! He was already conditioned to it because he's been hearing it for 9 months already. It's incredible.

Kelli said...

Routine--Amen. And I agree with the other stuff, too. thanks.

J, K, and L said...

I needed this today more than you know. I am getting ready to welcome baby #2 & just feel like we got into a fantastic routine with our solo kiddo. :) I guess the only constant is change, huh? Need to learn to roll with the punches! Thank you for blogging your thoughts. :)

Crystal said...

Spot on. I've learned not to wish away the less desirable phases, and just love the littleness of my childress. My mother says "Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems". I'm sure one day I will miss the little problems!

mvandyke said...

marta - i so hope that you continue this 'what i know' as a regular appearance on your blog. while we might not be 'experts', we should give credit where due! i love hearing about what works for other families... and what fun to look back on! love it.

xo

Pink Panda said...

Love this! We swaddled all of our babies and even had twin baby burritos! Once I switched their blankets and Josh couldn't tell which was which. We also love Family routines, like Friday Night Movie Night and Special Time with Mom or Dad. They love it! We still have "Quiet time" in the afternoon although I don't know how long it can last!

Melissa said...

I love your comments; all of them are true. I still sing "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" every night to my girls, and they are 13 and 10. They have to have their song. I picked it because I wanted to sing to them, and that was a pretty Primary song I liked. I realize that they know the words so well after all these years, and what great words to know! I had one that liked to be swaddled and one that could squirm out faster than you could turn around. Each baby is so unique, and I had to not sweat that one. The girls are so different and I have often wondered at how I have to really work to figure out what works with each one as they've grown (and tried not to be discouraged that my fabulous idea worked with one and not the other, darn it). One last thing that I did that you may already be doing is to keep a little book close by that I could record cute phrases or word in that each child would say. I figured I would forget eventually, and the things they say are so cute. I only did it for a few years and have just a handful of phrases recorded, but I truly have forgotten and love looking back to remember what transpired from the mouths of my babes.

*Dream Weaver* said...

Dear Marta,
I enjoyed reading this post. I have been married for almost a year and am thinking of starting a family so your "real life" advice is helpful. I look forward to reading more tips from you. I also laughed when I read this "mom, can we pretend that i'm not your daughter? i'm just your friend who's also a midget." It highlarious!!! :)
Have an awesome day ahead.

Valerie - missv05@yahoo.com said...

Marta, I am currently potty training an almost 3 year old so thank you for this. It is just a phase we will get through and remember fondly years from now. I also must tell you that I currently have a doll with the simple name "pink baby" living at my house. She has recently started refering to her by an actual name, and that almost makes me a little sad. Thank you for sharing your beautiful babes with us!

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