Benefits of Babywise When Bringing Home a New Baby

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By Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood

I am a proud mother of THREE children. A 5-year-old, a 2.5-year-old, and a 14-day-old. Yes. You read that right. I have a new baby who is currently 2 weeks old and I’m able to sit here and write a blog post. :)

I started Babywise with my first child at a young age and saw the benefits of it right away. I then continued to used the techniques with my second child and am now currently implementing Babywise strategies with my newborn. I have always said that I’d rather work hard in the beginning and reap the rewards of that hard work early on with my children (hello, who doesn’t want to have a baby sleeping through the night as soon as possible?!?!) than take an easier route in the beginning and have to do a lot of re-parenting later on.

One aspect of Babywise that I never fully appreciated was how much easier it makes life when adding a new baby to the family. Since coming home from the hospital our days have flowed very smoothly. Here are some of the ways in which Babywise has benefited our family during this time of transition:

1. Sleep: My husband and I only have to be concerned with ONE child’s sleep. The newborn’s! Both of our older children go to bed easily and smoothly each night and for each nap. They take only a few minutes each to tuck in and we have no night issues or nap issues with either of them. If they wake up early they know to stay in their beds quietly until it’s time to get up. We are able to focus on helping the baby get the best sleep she needs and are able to get good rest ourselves since our older children sleep so well.

2. Flexibility: Because both of our older children have been on set routines their entire lives, they know what to expect each and every day. It makes it easier for them to be a little more flexible as needed. If bath has to be a little earlier in order to have them out and dried off for when the baby needs to nurse, they do fine with that change. If they have to stay up a little later for bedtime to allow me to finish nursing the baby before tucking them in, they also do fine and have no issues when small bumps in the schedule occur.

3. Quality Time: As a mama I naturally feel guilt that so much of my time is spent either with the new baby or trying to rest and recover from delivery. It’s a huge blessing to have my older children on a set routine so I can know when there will be time for me to spend with them. We are also able to make plans for them to spend quality time with others and know they will be at their personal best for those fun events because they will be well rested!

4.  Time for ME: It is so, so important during the early days of postpartum to take good care of yourself. I know I need to soak in the tub. I know I need to take naps. My rest and recovery is essential in order for me to be the best mom possible for my children! By having a solid routine in place for our family I’m able to have that time I need for myself. I know when my children will be sleeping, I know what activities they will have at certain times, and I can work around those times in order to have my “me time” too!

5. Setting Baby up for Success: I am a firm believer in starting as you mean to go on and I start implementing some of the Babywise strategies from birth with my children (you can read about that here). As I continue to add children to my home I have SO many people tell me that I will “throw the schedule out the window.” Instead, I have found that with each additional child, the routine of life gets easier and easier and even more consistent than the child before. My two-week-old baby is already sleeping better, nursing better, and thriving more at an earlier age than either of my older children did. I know that is because I have the confidence that Babywise has allowed me to have and that I do have such a simple routine to my day that it makes it easy to give the baby the very best!

I know my days as a mother of three are just beginning and that there will be bumps in the road along the way. But I also know that Babywise has allowed me a great start to this new phase of life!

How to let our children experience risk without being negligent

By Rachel Norman, A Mother Far From Home

Let’s face it. With young children, everything is risky. The bed, a place of supposed repose, becomes an apparatus from which your 1-year-old will launch herself and break an arm. While your mother watches helplessly on Skype. Even though you were right there as it happened and yet powerless to stop it.

Children can climb into a chair hundreds of times and then one afternoon fall off and chip a tooth. How do we balance letting life happen naturally with protecting our children from risk and harm?

It isn’t like mothers think we should put our children in a padded room never to experience any damage. Most parents don’t say, “I’ll never let my child climb a tree.” When thinking rationally, most parents would even say that letting children discover their own boundaries and abilities is a good thing.

And yet, we are the age of helicopter parents. Always hovering waiting to intervene at a second’s notice to prevent any ill from befalling our children. As we do this we feel proud that we are protecting our children from harm. In fact, hovering can almost been seen as a virtue in the face of parents who let their children climb to high heights or explore woods unsupervised. And yet, I believe, too much is too much.

The Forbes article states, “If parents remove risk from children’s lives, we will likely experience high arrogance and low self-esteem in our growing leaders.”

Research and common sense both show that we need to let our children learn some life lessons through first-hand experience. This does not mean, however, that we just throw them into the deep end to sink or swim. No, we teach them to swim first.

1.  Train first.

Sometimes we simply can’t watch our children go off and do something that could get them seriously injured. If your children like heights or climbing adventures, then why not spend some time helping your children learn to go up and down safely. Getting up is the easy part, but getting down is where tumbles often occur. If you’ve helped your children with these skills then you’ll feel more confident in letting them have fun without climbing the tree right beside them.

What about relationships and friendships at school or day care? If you are afraid they will be ostracized and are tempted to intervene, why not use it as an opportunity to help them help themselves. Why not teach your children inter-personal skills? There’s no time like the present to teach conflict resolution skills, how to confront another in love, and forgiveness. After all that we simply must let them solve some of their own problems. It doesn’t mean we leave them floundering, just that we don’t intervene at the slightest sign of discomfort.

People must feel discomfort to grow. 

2. Encourage independent thinking and problem solving skills.

One reason Babywise considers independent play time foundational is that it gives children opportunity to think for themselves. If they throw a toy out of the playpen they quickly learn the consequence: no more toy. If they are stacking or building they’ll learn how to balance to reach the highest height. When my kids ask for help I always respond, but I don’t always do what they ask. Sometimes I’ll stand by my daughter and explain to her how to finish what she’s started.

Other times, instead of just doing it for them I’ll ask a few questions to get them thinking. Encouraging children to think on their own will help them become resilient, adaptable and confident. There is great confidence to be found in problem-solving, don’t rob your children of this by attempting to make them momentarily comfortable.

As your children become more confident and proficient in problem-solving and decision-making you may just find you aren’t so scared to let them have more freedom of choice.

3.  Land the helicopter!

Now, there’s a difference in a parent who properly supervises their child and one who is a helicopter parent. Let’s differentiate between the two. A helicopter parent is defined as one who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children. For smaller children I’d say it is a mother who is hyper-vigilant to the point of not letting their children do anything that could result in injury.

The trouble with this is that everything can result in injury with small children. Just yesterday my daughter fell and bruised her cheekbone on the laundry basket. Shall we then banish laundry baskets? Actually… I think that’s a fine idea.

When I get the urge to intervene with my children – and the urge comes often – I often stop myself and wait. Still nearby, but I purposefully hold back. I will let the kid try to get down from the high surface or finish what they’ve attempted to start. At least half the time they solve problems for themselves. Far far more often than I expect, they resolve situations to their liking without my help.

4.  Turn tumbles into truths. 

One way to help train your children in many areas of life is to turn tumbles, accidents and heartaches into opportunities to teach. Many times we tell our children something, they don’t listen, and they wish they did. The book How to be the Parent You Always Wanted to Be offers a better solution than “I told you so.” Letting children keep their dignity while acknowledging the truth (that you were right) can be as easy as “Oh, you found out.” Found out what? Found out that falling off the table hurts. Found out that being mean to people loses friends. Found out that talking during class gets you in trouble.

5. Ask yourself “what is the worst that could happen?” and “what is likely to happen?”

This is something the anxiety counsellor suggested when I was struggling with anxiety in my last pregnancy. It goes without saying you wouldn’t let a toddler cross a major intersection alone or walk down the street to grandma’s without supervision. However, there are many other ways in which we hover that aren’t so necessary.

What is the worst that could happen if your toddler is standing next to the kitchen counter while you cook? They touch the oven and get a blister? If you’ve told them before not to touch and they do, well, then they’ve found out why the oven isn’t to be touched. What is likely to happen if they fall off the merry-go-round? They hit the padded ground below? I don’t know how many times I’ve stopped myself and waited for “worst case scenario.” Most times it doesn’t happen. When it does it is often far less distressing as I thought. I am frequently happy with my conscious choice to stop hovering.

Of course we should keep our children safe! Of course we should train them what to do and what not to do! Our goal should be teaching them to make safety decisions on their own, appropriate to their developmental age. However, there will come a day when we simply must let our children make their own decisions. You wouldn’t let a 4-year-old decide which school they will attend, but you will let them make other day-to-day and moment-to-moment decisions. Decisions that will bring them into situations that could end in tears.

6. Childproof and back off. 

Make sure your backyard is free of pythons and pitchforks, then let them play. If you aren’t there watching their every move you won’t feel the need to intervene. Let them stay with family or friends whose parents you trust, and take a break. Ultimately, we cannot protect our children from everything even though we try hard. At some point we must simply do our due diligence and trust God’s will be done.

I trust myself. Why? Because in my 32 years I’ve been put in many, many situations of varying degrees of risk and I’ve come out alive. I’ve made great decisions, poor decisions and I’ve acquired much wisdom by getting myself out of many situations. I am not afraid to take risks. Why? Because I trust that I can make the best of whatever happens. That is what I want to give my children.

Babywise Week: A Parent’s Best Instruction Manual

Babywise Instruction ManualEverything we buy these days comes with an instruction manual. These manuals include specific instructions on everything from how to toast bread to how to install a car seat (diagrams included). I was washing William’s coat the other day, I looked to the tag to find out what the manufacturer suggested. There were six “pages” of washing instructions sewn into his coat, all in about four or five languages. It was maddening to find simple instructions in English!

I can toast bread or wash a coat without an instruction manual. But raising a child? I need an instruction manual for that! Didn’t you feel this way when you left the hospital with your first baby? You go in with nothing but a few forms filled out, and they let you leave with a precious, fragile human being.

Some people take the advice of their parents. Others fumble their way through it. But we Babywise moms read! Babywise is our instruction manual.

Prepping for stages to come

Whenever I’m approaching a new phase with my kids, I prep and give myself a refresher course on where we’ve been and then look ahead to where we need to be going. The Ezzos have written books for every age range, and it’s best to be ready for changes before they happen.

I’m currently making my way through the videos for “Parenting Through the Middle Years.” It’s for kids ages 9-12. My oldest is 9.5 right now, so we’re definitely in the middle years. In fact, I’m probably a little behind and should have those videos finished by now.

Getting back on track when things go awry

In addition to prepping myself for stages to come, I love that the Babywise books keep us on track when we veer off course. I’m experiencing some attitude from my youngest, Lucas, these days. It’s really thrown me off. What do I do about it?

I know, first of all, that I don’t need to accept it. In fact, I shouldn’t accept it. Second, I know that I can open my worn, dog-eared copy of Childwise to figure out what’s going on and what I can do to fix it. Kids crave structure, and usually, any misbehavior we see stems from a lack of structure.

Our world has turned upside down lately. My husband is working a lot. I’m working a lot. And we have a new nanny who brings her toddler son with her. Lucas is not happy about the whole arrangement and has been very vocal with his discontent. So when I step back and examine his attitude issues, I can see that they’re just an expression of the insecurity he’s feeling from all of the changes in his life.

Knowing I have the power to effect change

Understanding our problem is one thing. Making the changes to fix it is another thing altogether. Without Childwise, I might feel defeated with no power to change our situation. But with Childwise, I know I can always turn to my book for the answers to our problems.

If I can see that Lucas is unhappy with all of the changes in our lives and the lack of structure that may stem from it, I know that if I create more order and structure in his life wherever I can, he will likely come around. He’s just asking for stability and structure. It’s unfortunate that it comes out with a bad attitude, but at least I can see it for what it is.

Having the power to effect change in our lives is amazing. I know that if I hadn’t been introduced to Babywise before my kids were born, I would have muddled my way through. I would be parenting from the hip, with little plan or structure. Babywise gives me power.

True, my kids are human beings, but rather than blaming them for their misbehavior and throwing my hands up in the air, I can stop and truly examine what’s going on and make the changes to fix any issues we may have. If creating more structure doesn’t resolve our issues, then maybe my kids need more sleep or maybe they need independent playtime. Whatever it may be, I know I have the tools in my parenting toolbox to create the change we need.

And it’s all thanks to my trusty instruction manual.

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Aiming for Excellence Not Perfection

Excellence vs perfectionBy Rachel Norman, A Mother Far from Home 

I think many of us mothers are doers. If something needs to be done then we do it. If a decision needs to be made then we make it. Often Type A Babywise mothers (not all Babywise mothers are Type A, of course) are driven to achievement and are quite goal-oriented. While I think this is an excellent quality – it is very hard to drum this up if you don’t already have it – it can also be a risk factor in raising perfectionists.

According to the Birth Order Book, firstborn children tend towards perfectionism. Their first and primary role models are adults who do things perfectly to their inexperienced eye. Parents are often a lot harder and more demanding of a first child as well, and this contributes.

I think it’s important and our duty as parents to teach our children to strive for excellence, however, we want to be sure we aren’t expecting perfection or helping them to become perfectionists which will cause them difficulties later on in life.

1.    They are accepted based on their position not their performance.

I talk about this in my “How to keep your kids out of counseling” series, but children need to know they are loved simply because they belong to you. Whether or not they color in the lines perfectly or know their numbers in Spanish has nothing to do with how you treat them. If they are unsure of your unwavering love then they will feel the need to perform well to earn it, and this will lead them to becoming fearful perfectionists.

2.    Require completion not perfection.

I don’t know about you, but with small children I find it hard to get them to finish a task completely, much less do it perfectly. When aiming to instil the value of hard work and excellence in children we need to make sure we are teaching them to be starter finishers, but not requiring them to do it perfectly. My husband struggles with perfectionism, and can feel paralyzed by fears, worries and apprehensions on an issue before he even gets off the starting block. He absolutely doesn’t want to pass this on to our children so we encourage them to start – just start – the matter at hand, and then to finish it.

3.    Don’t redo things for them.

I used to think I’d want to go behind my children and redo their work so that it’d be up to my “standard.” Now, with 3 children 2 years and under, I am just so grateful they do things to help me that I’d never dream of it. I’m sure the temptation will return later, but I am going to work on it. My daughter’s daily chore is folding towels and sheets. After only watching me a few times she really picked up the basics well, but of course they are a bit untidy and don’t stack well. I leave them as is and put them away. When at all possible, I don’t redo their work or add unnecessarily to it. As they get older they will take this as a sign that you think their effort wasn’t enough. At best this will make them not want to contribute, at worst they’ll feel they aren’t up to snuff. Note: this is not to be confused with purposefully doing shoddy work.

4.    Evaluate your own personality.

If you are like me (and life will be so much easier for you if you aren’t) then you are ambitious, driven and slightly neurotic. I know this and therefore assume I probably require a little too much of my children. If you are easy-going, carefree and more go with the flow, you probably require too little. This is a generalization, but one I think generally true. Those who aren’t required to push through and complete often get paralyzed before beginning or mid way through a project because they’ve never learned the joy of completion. If you’re carefree you’ll need to make sure you don’t err on this side. Those who are pushed through to a standard of unattainable excellence will become driven to prove they are worthy. Mothers who are pushers need to avoid this extreme.

We want our children to work hard, do their best, and enjoy the feeling of success. However, we don’t want to push them in a way that makes them feel they need to earn our love and approval by how perfect their performance is. If your children are old enough, ask them if you are guilty of this. If they are still young, be careful to help them complete tasks with care, but don’t require perfection.

My boss is a career mentor and is very fond of saying that, most of the time, 80% is good enough. Not all the time, no. But most of the time, yes. Now I’m not encouraging us to tell our children to aim for 80%, but when they reach it, let’s let that be okay most of the time.

Rachel blogs at A Mother Far from Home where she seeks to help other mothers raise wise children of strong character without losing their minds in the process.

Babywise Week: When Your Day Is Child-Centered

It’s Babywise Blog Network (BFBN) Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

Today, we hear from Rachel at A Mother Far From Home. Rachel talks about how difficult it can be to keep the family focused on the family when our days are consumed with taking care of our children. With three kids under age three, Rachel is definitely in the season where her days are all about taking care of the little ones. As her kids age, as mine have (now 6 and 9), she’ll come to realize that it’s easier to avoid being child-centered since kids become more independent.

But no matter our kids’ ages, it can still be difficult to make the family a priority (over the child). Rachel offers a few tips on what we can do:

1) Know the season

2) Focus on the collective

3) Let the collective benefit the individual

4) Teach manners

And even when we’re focused on avoiding child-centered parenting, I think it’s okay to talk about the kids with our spouses. Date nights probably shouldn’t be consumed with a discussion about the kids, but certainly, at the end of the day, it’s fine to chat with our husbands about the kids. Here’s what Rachel has to say about this:

“I won’t lie, at the end of the day the only thing I really want to talk about with my husband is the kids. What they did. What they didn’t do. Why I wanted to squeeze the life out of them hug them really tight. It’s how I process.”

Head on over to A Mother Far From Home to read Rachel’s post.

Babywise Week: Babywise Helps the Marriage

It’s Babywise Blog Network (BFBN) Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

Today’s spotlight is on Emily from Journey of ParenthoodAs many Babywise parents might agree, Emily reminds us that the Babywise principles are what help us to maintain a family-centered home. She says:

“This is why I’m so, so thankful for Babywise. I believe, fully, that Babywise principles have helped keep my love with my husband in tact! We keep our marriage at the core of our family.”

She also discusses the trap that many moms can fall into. When our babies need us and look up to us, it’s easy to want to be more of a mom than a wife. In our children’s eyes, we are perfect. It’s a different story with our spouses, who don’t always forgive our faults. Here’s how Emily phrased it:

“My children are so sweet. And cuddly. And they love me so completely and fully. They forgive my shortcomings in an instant. They race into my arms and shower me with praises. I am their hero. I can do no wrong.”

I know the feeling. Even now, my kids, who are 6 and 9, still do this with me. I’ll run to the store and be gone for 20 minutes, and when I get home, they run into my arms as if I’ve been gone for 20 days. It’s a nice feeling, but it can also be a trap that encourages us to make our kids the center of our world.

Check out Emily’s blog at Journey of Parenthood to read her post.

Babywise Week: More on the Family-Centered Home

It’s Babywise Blog Network (BFBN) Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

If you haven’t noticed, the Babywise Friendly Blog Network is growing! We have two great bloggers to talk about today! Claire from My Devising and Elaine from Faithfully Infertile both offer more thoughts and tips on maintaining a family-centered home and avoiding child-centeredness.

I love what Elaine has to say about how Babywise and routines create order out of chaos and give us time to focus on our families. Here’s my favorite quote from her post:

“There is a time for everyone to eat, a time for everyone to sleep, a time for play, a time for learning and a time for exploring the great outdoors. There is a time for me to take care of household chores — to make sure the laundry is done, the dishes are washed and put away, the house is organized in way that creates order and peace to our days and not chaos and turmoil. There is a time for us to spend together as a family, there are times for us to spend one-on-one time with our children and there is a time for us to spend as a couple so we can make sure through it all we are staying connected as a couple.”

Claire has a great discussion on the transitions from single woman to wife and wife to mom. I like what she says about dads getting lost in the fog when baby arrives:

“And just when you think you’ve figured the new baby thing out, you remember something.  There’s a guy over there that’s helping me with stuff and I think I’m in love with him but I can’t quite remember.  Wife can easily get consumed with all things baby and husband can easily get lost in the fog of it all.  Working on your marriage while doing the baby thing is tricky.”

I think this can happen at any point in a child’s life. Mom may be nursing a newborn or shuttling her teenagers from soccer practice to piano lessons. But the idea is the same: there’s no place for dad. And when there’s no place for dad, he feels alienated and alone. We cannot let our kids take our spouse’s place.

Head on over to My Devising and Faithfully Infertile to read their great posts!

Babywise Week: Put Your Marriage First for the Child’s Sake

Does your child come between you and your spouse?

It’s Babywise Blog Network (BFBN) Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

This week, many of us are writing on the topic of child-centered parenting. It’s a basic yet fundamentally important principle of the Ezzos’ parenting ideals. They tell us that we are to welcome children into the family without making them the center of it. The husband and wife relationship must stay intact, and we should remain husband and wife even as we become mom and dad. I wholeheartedly believe in this.

First, let me grab a quote from Growing Kids God’s Way that tells you what the Ezzos say:

“We know the tragedy that can befall a family when basic principles of parenting are violated. We have counseled mothers and fathers who, with the best of intentions, started their parenting with love and nurturing only to see their dreams of a beautiful family reduced to a nightmare of survival…. There are two related evils that threaten successful parenting and lead to the demise of the family. The first is downplaying the significance of the husband-wife relationship in the parenting process, and the second is falling into the trap of child-centered parenting,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 31).

I don’t think any parent would tell you that parenting is a piece of cake. Sure there are kids who sleep well as babies and are innately obedient as toddlers, but even those kids require that parents change their way of life. And since parenting can be so difficult, it is bound to put a strain on the marriage. In fact, many times, parents believe that divorce is what is best for the child.

Let me insert a disclaimer: I believe there are many times when divorce is the only option. This is typically in the case of abuse, yet abuse takes on many disguises. If a parent is so beaten down, physically or emotionally, that he or she cannot live a healthy life, happy and secure in their own skin, then divorce may be the right choice. Even in this case, however, I believe every attempt should be made to improve the health of the marriage before seeking divorce.

Now, back to those of us who are happily married, there are many reasons why it’s important to put the marriage first. As already mentioned, chief among the risks of child-centered parenting is the damage it could do to the marriage. Another risk is that it can lead to self-centeredness. The Ezzos say, “The result [of putting the child first] is a society consumed with child-centeredness which is the precursor to self-centeredness,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 31). What’s more, by putting the child first, we aren’t modeling a healthy, happy marriage. It’s important for kids to see how two happily married people show their love for each other.

But beyond this, the main thought that I want to get across in this post is that putting the marriage first is for the child’s benefit. It may seem backwards, but putting the child second is actually putting him first.

I have a few Facebook friends who post inspirational quotes from notable people. I usually enjoy these quotes until they broach the subject of parenting. Often, these quotes say something like, “everything I do I do for my child,” or “my child is my universe.” These quotes get to the core of what it means to be child-centered. And though the people who post these quotes are well intentioned, I don’t think they understand that making their child the reason for their existence is actually detrimental to the child.

What a child needs most–in addition to love, care, and devotion–is a stable foundation. For all the reasons that we put our babies on routines, stability is comforting to a child. When two parents make their marriage the priority, the child knows that the foundation upon which his family rests is solid and secure. On the other hand, when the child is made to be the foundation of the family, life is on shaky ground. It’s anything but comforting for a child to be the ground on which the family rests.

The Ezzos explain it well. This is a lengthy quote, but it’s good, so bear with me.

“As professionals, we cannot overstate how necessary a healthy husband-wife relationship is to the emotional well-being of a child…. Strong marriages create a sense of certainty. When there is harmony in the husband-wife relationship, there is an infused stability within the family. A strong marriage provides a haven of security for children as they grow…. Children know intuitively, just as you and I knew when we were growing up, that if something happens to Mom and Dad, their whole world will collapse. If the parents’ relationship is always in question in the mind of a child, then that child tends to live his life on the brink of emotional collapse. In contrast, when a child has confidence in his parents’ relationship, he is emotionally free to get on with his life,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 37).

Now, I’m not saying that making the marriage top priority is easy, especially when our kids are little and demand so much of our attention. Plus, it’s fun to live life through our children’s eyes and give them all that we can. But it’s so important to keep this in check. Do whatever you can to promote the health of your marriage. Practice couch time, go on dates, and frequently tell your child that his request will have to wait while you tend to your spouse. Find opportunities in your day to make sure your child understands that Mommy or Daddy comes first. As you do so, remind yourself that it’s all in the name of stability and security for the child.

 

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Babywise Week: Baby Joins a Family

It’s Babywise Blog Network (BFBN) Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

We begin the week with a post from Valerie at Chronicles of a Babywise MomAll week, we’re discussing the principle of child-centered parenting which is so vital to parenting the Babywise way. And although the idea is basic, there are many facets of child-centered parenting–or the lack thereof–that we should fully understand as we attempt to make our marriages the priority.

Valerie talks about the fact that the baby joins the family. Although bringing a new baby home also brings many changes, especially with our first, it doesn’t mean that we should completely change the basic structure of our families. The Ezzos have been heard to say that our children are welcome members of the family, but they are not the center of it.

I like what Valerie has to say about this:

“The point of the idea behind ‘baby joins a family’ is so people don’t become baby-centered. You don’t want to make every decision based solely on what is absolutely best for the baby. Sometimes, baby can give a little. Sometimes you can do what is good enough for the baby rather than best so that ‘best’ can go to someone else in the family for a bit. A family is about give and take. The family should not revolve around the baby–that isn’t healthy.”

Head on over to Chronicles of a Babywise Mom to read Valerie’s post in its entirety.

Balancing Authority and Fun in the Home

rachel guest post

By Rachel, A Mother Far from Home 

If you’re like me (and life probably runs easier for you if you are not) then you find yourself being a lot easier being the boss than you do the playmate or companion to your children. My husband is, in fact, quite the opposite. At times I’ve found myself jealous that he is so easily able to get down on his hands and knees and engage in such a direct way with them. Lately I’ve actively been trying to balance the two.

My mother is in the education system by profession and while at college her teachers gave advice that went something like this. “Be really strict until Christmas, then after the New Year you can have some fun with your students because they’ll be in the habit of good order.” While a home is not exactly like a classroom, per se, there are many parallels between the two and I believe that from infancy if you run your home with fair, loving and firm authority you’ll be able to have lots of fun with your children without everything getting out of control.

(1) Being in control doesn’t mean you’re controlling. A mom is in control of the schedule, the activities and what behaviors she will or won’t allow. But, just because you run an orderly home doesn’t mean that you are controlling in a way that doesn’t allow spontaneity and fun. There will be times during the day that are free and open to wherever your children’s imagination and inspiration lead you. During these times try to get down and dirty with them. Don’t sidewalk supervise, but join in. Dig in the sandpit with them. Get in on that board game. Put on a cape and be the bandit. It will be hard at first but silliness may be a good outlet for stress relief too!

(2) You can have fun and correct at the same time. Maybe you’re afraid that if you join in the fun then things will escalate out of control quickly and you’ll have to step out and referee. It is true that free play and run around fun can get rowdy, but I believe that if you are consistently kind and firm anyway, you can keep the chaos to a minimum. If your authority is not in question (and for your own sanity I hope it isn’t) then a kind but firm “no, don’t go over there, come back” won’t interrupt play for more than a few seconds. Redirect, distract and substitute and then carry on playing. It seems like it is fraternizing with the boss, however, we don’t have a lifelong nurturing relationship with our bosses like our children will have with us. It may take a while to find a balance but it can be struck.

(3) Find time for fun in the mundane. I know the dinner table is a great place to teach manners, order and obedience. However, I think it can also be a fun place. Why not sing a song together? As long food is not flying and forks are not being thrown on the floor what is the harm? Play games in the car and don’t make a bath in the evening an in and out affair. Use the times you are already in direct contact with your kids to make things fun. Liven them up. They will react to you so if they know you are willing to play but unwilling to let things escalate to disorder, they’ll follow your lead. I believe that our homes should be a balance of good order and great fun. And I don’t think you have to sacrifice one for the other.

Rachel blogs at A Mother Far from Home on motherhood, pregnancy, parenting, travel with small children and much more.