Go down the swaddle aisle at any baby store, and there are countless styles and patterns to choose from—enough for stores to justify dedicating a whole aisle to swaddles. You never know what your baby will tolerate before they are born, and some kids love certain swaddles and totally hate others. After trying nearly everything on the market between my two kids, I came to the conclusion that the good ol’ fashioned simple square-piece-of-fabric swaddle is the most versatile and easiest to care for. Learning to swaddle the old fashioned way can be a bit tricky at first, especially when you are sleep deprived at 3am, but with a little practice you will be a swaddling pro in no time.
This swaddle is so big I couldn’t get it in the whole camera frame without becoming Spider-Woman and sticking myself to the ceiling. Just trust me that it’s diamond-shaped.
Recently, I flew across the country with two kids for the first time. My husband was with me, but our kids are three and one and often after 8 hours with them I feel a bit insane—and that’s when I have an entire city at my disposal in which to drag them around. Spending several consecutive hours smushed between them, trapped in a narrow metal tube with 150 other people sounded like a very special punishment for all the stupid things I’ve ever done in my entire life.
I was so freaked out about the entire trip that a couple of weeks before I sat down and wrote an item-by-item list of things to pack for every person in our family. It was color coded by person and which piece of luggage each item would be packed in and everything, and if you knew how incredibly unorganized I usually am (once I lost the baby monitor and eventually found it in the refrigerator, because DUH, where else would it have been?), you’d appreciate how much I was stressing out to the point where I’d do something like that. Then I hit up the dollar section of Target and threw whatever looked semi-interesting into my cart. Usually I like quality toys, often wood, and carefully budget for them, and don’t (often) bribe my kids with junk food, but this time I strapped them into the front of the cart and shoved Icees into their hands to distract them from seeing the sheer amount of crap I was tossing in the basket. I am sure every other parent in the store was glaring judgmental daggers at me.
How is it that when you travel, you always feel like you’re bringing way too much and not enough at the same time?
“Come in,” said my neighbor, flashing me a shy smile as she held open the door with some hesitation. Her 9 month old and my then-2 year old and 6 month old were having a playdate. “And, um, I’m so sorry about the mess.”
I looked around as we entered. The floors were swept clean. Her kitchen counter sparkled. A small box of toys sat in the very corner of the room, behind a couch. All the toys were actually in the box. The 9 month old sat in a jumpy seat and looked up at me as she gnawed on a stuffed bunny. She grinned and the bunny fell onto the crumb-less carpet, followed by a trail of drool. My neighbor was in front of her daughter in a flash, wiping the drool up and tossing the bunny back into the toy box. “I didn’t really have time to clean up much this morning,” she apologized again as my two year old ran straight to the toybox, dumping everything out, and my 6 month old promptly spat up onto the floor.
“Play-based learning.” Also known as, “OMG, I was only in the bathroom for TWO MINUTES, where did that paint even come from?!”
Last week, I visited another neighbor, who has a 4 year old and a 20 month old. “Come in,” she said, opening the door, “and, um, I’m so sorry about the mess. We were doing our once-a-month cooking last night and didn’t get a chance to clean everything up and then the kids—well, anyway, you know.”
I’m a good mom. I’m a good wife. I try to keep a clean house and even (gasp) decorate. There are a few perfect settings that just don’t fit into my world right now. I’m okay not winning awards in these categories this year.
Best Potty In Show Award
We all know that one woman who has a guest bathroom that looks like a work of art. She has a full set of towels draped gracefully over the towel rack, a basket full of tiny soaps sculpted like sea shells and rolled up wash cloths. If that wasn’t enough she also has reading material on the off chance you get bored looking at the art work on the bathroom wall.
I have a travel size body wash for hand soap, a couple of paper free toilet paper rolls that change places on the floor and, when we are very lucky, a towel hung up to dry our hands so our children won’t wipe their hands on their pajamas. We do have some art on the wall, if you count the crayon mural our two year old was inspired to create for us. Throw potty training into the mix and I definitely won’t be beating this woman.
Secret Backyard Garden Award
You step into this woman’s backyard and around the pool it looks like a little tropical oasis. Or you find an English rose garden fit for a miniature castle. There are little walk ways and stepping stones. There are even beautiful little benches to sit on and enjoy the garden.
Children can do and say some crazy things sometimes. It’s part of their charm. Sometimes the things they say and do make us have to stop and question our priorities and points of views. If we are really lucky we can even change a few of our points of view to find the joy in life that comes so naturally to the small ones in our lives.
Be Excited About Life
An apple is worthy of a jump up and down celebration in my child’s point of view. So are new pajamas, taking the trash out, and watching a favorite television show. We are talking about uncontrolled bouncing shouts of joy. If we all celebrated the little things like a two year old the world would be a happier place. The opposite, however, does not apply. We would all be very unhappy if we all had toddler like meltdowns instead.
After about six months of trying to convince my son to use the potty, and cleaning up the aftermath, we have found a few potty training hacks we agree on (because when your toddler isn’t cooperating with potty training it feels like herding cats to a toilet) that have turned the tide in our potty war and resulted in a truce.
Hand Held Entertainment
I don’t let my children play with my Kindle Fire as a rule. This has resulted in making it one of the most coveted items for my children to play with. I can see their little wheels turning over how to play with it without getting in trouble. There is one way mommy will share her toy. On the potty. If my child is on the potty, he has five to ten glorious minutes on the Kindle. If he has a stubborn bowel movement, he gets more time. To get his hands on the Kindle he will even tell me when he has to go.
I set a fifteen minute timer on my microwave to make sure I hold up my part of potty training. My part would be to ask regularly if he needs to go. I have a seven month old, work from home, and do house work. Naturally I am going to forget. Setting a timer, however, makes me remember. I just have to make sure to drop everything and ask otherwise I’ll get sidetracked and forget all over again.
My mom feels that I stress out too much about child safety. After all she didn’t do or did do a number of things that are considered dangerous now. Nothing happened to me. Why am I stressing out over issues that haven’t been issues until recently.
You Turned Out Fine
Yes, I did turn out fine and I know that was because of mom’s care. I know I drank out of the water hose and lived. I am aware that I slept just fine on my stomach. She put cereal in my formula bottle. She gave me a numbing gel when I was teething. She even put me facing forward in my car seat. It wasn’t a big deal then.
It is now. Studies and statistics have come out telling us how to better care for our children. It’s not that she was a horrible parent. I’m not trying to make her feel silly or guilty. It’s just that now we have more information on keeping our infants safe.
They Change That Information Often
It’s true. A few years back babies were supposed to sleep on there tummies to keep them from choking on spit up. Now they are supposed to sleep on their backs so the don’t obstruct their breathing should they cuddle with the mattress. The fabric rail guards were to keep children from getting caught in the slats of the crib. Now we have a new crib format and have done away with the crib bumpers.
It may even change again by the time I have grandchildren. I most likely will be wondering what my daughter is doing strapping her infant into the safety ejection pod built into the car in case of accident. Right now, however, these are the current safety guidelines and I intend to adhere to them until they change.
When my child started talking I expected long philosophical conversations about the color red and flushing the toilet. What I hadn’t expected was to have a mirror held up to my own personal verbal habits. While I’m not a swearer and I am careful not to use derogatory name and titles I found I had a few other verbal habits to work on.
I Apologize Too Often
I knew I said the word “sorry” often, but I had no idea how often until my child started saying it for fun. He apologizes for closing doors, his blocks falling over, and when he decided he didn’t want to use the restroom. He apologizes because he isn’t going to eat his dinner. He apologized once because I had discovered I had gained a few pounds on the scale. Now I am working on not over apologizing. I thought I was being polite, but now I realize it’s not my fault it’s raining, and I don’t need to say sorry for that.
I’m Obsessed With Safety
I am told to be careful by my two year old every time we come to the stairs. I am told if something might be too hot or too cold. I know he has gotten this from me. I don’t want him to be afraid of adventure and healthy risks, but I don’t want him to get hurt. Ever! I fluctuate back and forth between keeping him safe and letting him explore life a little. I don’t think that will ever change.
Love Is The First Response
The other day I dropped and broke a glass and my little guy told me it was okay and hugged my leg. I then had to delicately fight him off as he tried to help me clean up. I realized that he got this from me as well. He helps me because I am an example by helping him. Each time I respond with care (though, unfortunately it’s not every time) he is being taught this is the way we react when things go wrong. I know I will never be a perfect mom, but I feel like I’m not doing terrible.
What have you learned from your little mimic?
Medical situations regarding your child can be stressful and frustrating. A good example is you take your baby to the doctor after three days of constipation only to have this professional (who is charging you) let you know that your child is constipated. You leave feeling like the doctor should have done something more than tell you to spend a few more days monitoring your child.
Constipation in a baby can be a serious problem and when it persists it should be dealt with by a professional. But with that said here are a few things you can try on your own.
An Ounce Of Water
Water is the most natural laxative available to mankind. That’s actually why we don’t give it to babies. Their new little systems don’t handle water well. It washes everything out of them. When a four to twelve month old is not regular giving them a small amount of water for this very reason is okay. Make sure the water is clean and warm, and don’t give more than one ounce of water every two hours. If you don’t feel comfortable giving your child straight water, you can also water down their bottle if they take formula.
If your baby is already using food products other than milk or formula, try giving him or her a little pear juice. Avoid apple juice. This will only cause more constipation.
It’s no secret: I nursed both of my kids.
According to the Internet Moms of today, this is the Correct Way Of Doing Things. I don’t really care about the Correct Way Of Doing Things much (perhaps it’s the Catholic schoolgirl in me still being a bit rebellious), but I did find myself, over the past three years, having to defend my decision to nurse my kids. While I never got kicked off a plane or humiliated in public, I did have to deal with a family for whom breastfeeding was not “normal,” and the few disgusted looks occasionally thrown my way in public. Still, I nursed my eldest until she self-weaned at 19 months of age, and I intended to nurse my youngest until he weaned as well.
I was pretty certain he’d wean early. Already at 9 months he was an amazing eater of solid foods, cutting back on his milk feedings, and eating as much as his 2 year old sister at mealtimes (sometimes even more, if she were going through a spontaneous picky stage. Actually, he often finished her meals, too). What I wasn’t prepared for was for myself to be diagnosed with a condition for which medication was not nursing-safe when he was only 11 months old.