Happy birthday, Lucas!

My boys: immediate best friends. (Oct. 3, 2007)

There’s an exclamation point in that title, but I’m not feeling so happy about this day. Today is Lucas’ 5th birthday. How my baby has been on this earth for 5 years is completely beyond me. I remember the day he was born so vividly it could have been yesterday.

His birth and the months following it were not ideal. My husband was working in harm’s way in Kuwait, we were held at the Children’s Hospital at 2 days old against our will (for no medical reason), we had a scary bout of RSV which sent us to the hospital for good reason, and we had a child in the house whose sensory issues were coming to a head but weren’t yet diagnosed. But we weathered the storm, and our bond grew even stronger because of it all.

The reason this day makes me sad is there’s something about the number 5 that signifies the end of babyhood. There’s no denying that he’s no longer a baby or toddler. And while he’s technically in pre-K, he’s barely even a preschooler.

But he’s still my baby. He’s losing that baby belly, but he’s still got the squishy, chubby cheeks. He’s still got the chubby fingers. He will still hold his lovey. He still says “lellow.” He will still let me rock him in the rocking chair before naps. He’s still taking naps! He’s all too willing to let me feed him. He lets me hold him. He sits on my lap any chance he gets.

There’s a part of me that wonders if he wants to stay little as much as I want him to. When I ask him if he’ll stay little for me, he doesn’t always refuse. If only we had control over it.

So while I may not be able to keep him little, I will spend his birthday appreciating the little things. Instead of telling him to keep his hands off the windows, I will marvel at how little his hands still are. Instead of feeling frustrated by how unwilling he is to eat his peas, I’ll happily spoon them into his mouth. Instead of complaining about how heavy he is, I will be more than happy to carry him to bed.

And instead of cringing as he runs off to play as independently as the big kids, I will smile knowing that he will always be my baby.

Helicopter moms at the park

Source: nytimes.com

I just came across this hilarious post at Motherlode (parenting blog sponsored by The NY Times) about moms who can’t help but be helicopter parents over their children at the park. It’s a reality check to all those helicopter moms we see at the park. This sums it up:

Oh, I know you mean well. You’re trying to be a good mom. In fact, you are a good mom. That’s the problem. Your enthusiasm is killing my buzz. See, I’m a mother, too, at the very same park with my 4-year-old, but I’m here to stop mothering. The playground has a gate, and the asphalt is covered with rubber mats. If I can’t turn on my iPhone and tune out here, I don’t want to live.

Here’s another gem:

Wait, where are you going? Back to your daughter so soon! Oh dear. Is that a BPA-free plastic shovel in your hand? You know, my mom used to say, “One man’s litter is my child’s toy.” Just before you arrived, I passed this wisdom on to my son when I gave him a Starbucks cup I saw wedged under the slide. The trash can’s loss was our gain.

I agree. It’s not that I completely ignore my kids when we’re at the park, but if I happen to pull out my iPhone, I’m not going to feel guilty. If I opt to sit on a bench for a nice chat with a friend, I’ll do that. I may even pull out a book. If they’re enjoying themselves (which they always are at the park), why can’t I?

When my kids were younger, I was more attentive at the park. This was especially true with my eldest who was a complete daredevil at the park. At age two, he was scaling ladders that other five-year-olds were hesitant to attempt. So I would spot them, help them up on swings, push them on swings, and offer any other help they requested.

I suppose that gets to the crux of helicopter parenting. If they need help, help them. If not, give them the freedom to explore and find their own way. Don’t teach your child that he can treat you as his servant. Don’t offer him juice that he doesn’t request. Don’t chase after him shoving food in his mouth. Don’t act as if he’s incapable of finding his own fun.

At the same time, treat yourself to a little time off. Of course, keep an eye on your little ones at the park, but don’t feel like you have to teach him how to use the slide, join in other kids’ games, etc. If he’s having fun, leave him alone and find some fun of your own!

 

Kids crave boundaries

Source: faucettphotography.blogspot.com

Are you ever reluctant to enforce boundaries with your child? Do you feel like a daily schedule is too rigid and restrictive? Do you want to be the “fun” parent and strip all forms of boundaries from your child’s day?

Let me tell you that your kids WANT you to give them boundaries. Our kids crave the security that boundaries give them. And they need security among all else. When a child lacks security, some of the most fundamental things in their lives are affected. Without boundaries and security, the child:

  • Lacks confidence in himself
  • Loses sleep
  • Has difficulty making friends
  • Does poorly in school

Some people think that children cannot be free to express themselves when they are forced to live within defined boundaries. I agree that children need to have the freedom to express themselves and be creative and imaginative. But it’s because of boundaries that children have this freedom, not despite them. Without boundaries, freedom of expression doesn’t happen. Without boundaries, children are too preoccupied with watching out for their basic health and safety. Boundaries serve as the baseline for child development. Set those boundaries and the child will be free to grow, and accomplish things you might never have expected of them.

Consider the following passage from On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise:

“Several middle school students huddled around the inside perimeter of a schoolyard fence. A psychologist from a local university who was passing by subsequently suggested that the fences be taken down. His theory was that the children resented being ‘fenced in.’ The fences, he concluded, restricted their freedom to roam the playground at will. The fences were taken down. The result? The children began to huddle in the middle of the yard. Why? The children didn’t know where the boundaries were. Boundaries give children a sense of security. When the fences came down, their security was stripped away,” (p. 93).

Help your children feel safe and secure in their world by establishing boundaries.

Cultivate critical thinking

Source: heartfireathome.blogspot.com

Last week, I encouraged you to put the flash cards away and trade rote academic teaching for imaginative play and virtue development. Some of you may have wondered whether parents could do both. Can’t we keep the flash cards out as long as we also work with them on important virtues that will serve them well in school?

This would seem to make sense, right? Sorry, but I still encourage you to put the flash cards away. Here’s why.

Abstracts concepts like flat numbers and letters limit our children’s ability to think critically, especially if they are introduced at a time when the child is not developmentally ready for them.

Critical thinking has become a rare commodity in our country. We can succeed in school as long as we ace the multiple choice tests, fill in the right bubbles on standardized tests, and memorize random facts that the schools deem important.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a child who can read a piece of classical literature, analyze it for meaning, and write a critical essay on the topic. Yes, there is a time and place for absorbing facts, but if they have no meaning, they will quickly be forgotten.

The role of fantasy in critical thinking

I touched on the importance of imaginative play in a recent post. Supporting my thoughts, this article offers a great explanation as to why critical thinking is so important (despite the decline we now see) and how cultivating our children’s imagination or fantasy plays an important role. The author says:

“If fantasy is allowed to ripen side by side with thinking, these two faculties mature into creative thinking, a capacity to visualize not only how things are but also how they might be.”

This plays out in the world as a whole but also in school.

“Without imagination, one cannot picture an event in history, a verbal problem in mathematics, or the characters of a book. To approach academic subjects without imagination is a dull affair at best, and it is not surprising that children who are being educated without benefit of imagination at the elementary level find learning so uninteresting.”

Imagine the stress and burnout that arises from such uninteresting learning. How many teens do you know who truly enjoy going to school? How many adults do you know who enjoy learning for the sake of learning?

“At the elementary school level, one frequently hears about burnout among third- and fourth-grade pupils. After age nine, many children simply do not want to learn any more. In the high school, educators say that many students seem unable to think. Ask them a defined question that requires a true/false answer or a multiple choice, and they do all right. But ask them to think through a problem and explain their solutions, and many are at a loss.”

What does academic success look like?

Maybe this simple exercise will help. When you imagine your child succeeding in school, what do you think of?

Scenario A

  • She leaves preschool able to read all of the “-at” words and doing basic math (1+2).
  • She thrives on earning straight As.
  • She spends her free time doing worksheets.
  • She smiles when the teacher puts a gold star on her paper.

Sounds great, right? Well, think about this scenario.

Scenario B

  • She comes bounding in the door after school excited to get started on her science experiment. You have to stop her to eat a snack.
  • As she works on her homework, she makes a mental connection that you never expected.
  • You hear from the teacher that she told the kids all about Picasso. You then realize it was from the art exhibit you visited 3 months ago.
  • You see her acting out a play with her friends and realize all of the characters are from the classical novel you’ve been reading to her at night.

Which scenario do you think will encourage a life-long love of learning? Which scenario requires fantasy (and thus, critical thought)? Which scenario will prevent boredom? Which scenario sounds more fun?

Can’t we still teach them letters and numbers?

Yes, just not yet. There is a developmentally appropriate time for a child to learn how to read. In my experience, early reading begins around age 5, and if you let it happen naturally, it won’t be long (6 months to a year) before he reads fluently. As with potty training, if you start when they are ready and let it progress naturally, it will happen much more quickly and painlessly.

Some of you may even contend that your toddler wants to learn his letters and numbers. If this is the case, I ask you why you think he wants to learn them. What meaning do they have for him? I’m willing to bet that the joy he gets is seeing your smiles and hearing your praise. If you can give the same smiles and praise over more meaningful learning, he will be just as excited to learn.

Understand that it’s not just a matter of how much time you devote to learning. What you teach your child—and when you teach it—can affect his neurodevelopment.

Another article explains this clearly:

“Perhaps most disturbing is the potential for the early exposure to academics to physiologically damage developing brains. Although the brain continues to change throughout life in response to learning, young children undergo a number of sensitive periods critical to healthy development; learning to speak a language and responding to social cues are two such domains. Appropriate experiences can hone neural pathways that will help the child during life; by the same token, stressful experiences can change the brain’s architecture to make children significantly more susceptible to problems later in life, including depression, anxiety disorders—even cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Bruce McEwen, a neuroendocrinologist at the Rockefeller University, notes that asking children to handle material that their brain is not yet equipped for can cause frustration. Perceiving a lack of control is a major trigger of toxic stress, which can damage the hippocampus, a brain area crucial to learning and memory.”

I don’t intend for this to be a scare tactic. But given that teaching abstract letters and numbers has the potential to negatively affect your young child’s brain and his ability to process information—and that we prefer scenario B listed above anyway—why would you want to push early academic learning? Why wouldn’t you want to put those flash cards away?

I’ll leave at that for now. In my next post, I’ll give you some ideas on what you can start doing today to cultivate critical thinking and encourage life-long learning that has meaning for your child.

What I’m Reading: “Bringing Up Bebe,” The Pause

Technically, I’m done reading Bringing Up Bebe, but there’s so much to discuss! Today, I’ll talk about “la pause” or “the pause.” Essentially, it’s the idea of allowing a baby to self-soothe, pausing before intervening. Now, this blog isn’t really intended for parents of babies, but this idea applies across the board. It’s all about giving children the freedom to gain independence.

For babies, this means not intervening the minute they cry. For starters, by rushing in and picking up the baby every time he makes a peep, the parent could unintentionally wake the baby. But there’s more:

“Another reason for pausing is that baies wake up between their sleep cycles, which last about two hours. [I’ve noticed sleep cycles can be as short as 35 minutes, particularly at nap time.] It’s normal for them to cry a bit when they’re first learning to connect these cycles. If a parent automatically interprets this cry as a demand for food or a sign of distress and rushes in to soothe the baby, the baby will have a hard time learning to connect the cycles on his own. That is, he’ll need an adult to come in and soothe him back to sleep at the end of each cycle,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 45).

By not pausing when a baby wakes up, we end up teaching them to wake up at every sleep cycle and depend on mom and dad for middle-of-the-night soothing.

“It’s suddenly clear to me that Alison, the marketing expert whose son fed every two hours for six months, wasn’t handed a baby with weird sleep needs. She unwittingly taught him to need a feed at the end of every two-hour sleep cycle. Alison wasn’t just catering to her son’s demands. Despite her best intentions, she was creating those demands,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 47).

Does this relate to older children? Absolutely! It’s all about using your power as a parent, through whatever technique, to teach our children to become independent. Whether you learn to pause when your little one is a baby or don’t learn to do so until he’s 5, it’s serves as an important philosophical parenting decision. Understand that coddling a child doesn’t do him any good. He will need to assert independence at some point in life, and the earlier he does so, the more capable he’ll be.

“Behind this is an important philosophical difference. French parents believe it’s their job to gently teach babies how to sleep well, the same way they’ll later teach them to have good hygiene, eat balanced meals, and ride a bike. They don’t view being up half the night with an eight-month-old as a sign of parental commitment. They view it as a sign that the child has a sleep problem and that his family is wildly out of balance. When I describe Alison’s case to Frenchwomen, they say it’s ‘impossible’–both for the child and his mother,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 48).

And don’t discount the importance of sleep in older children. Good sleep habits begin in infancy.

“There’s growing evidence that young children who don’t sleep enough, or who have disturbed sleep, can suffer from irritability, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, and poor impulse control, and can have trouble learning and remembering things. They are more prone to accidents, their metabolic and immune functions are weakened, and their overall quality of life diminishes. And sleep problems that begin in infancy can persist for many years,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 50).

So whether your ultimate goal is establishing good sleep habits or teaching independence, be sure to wait–to pause–before intervening.

Does your child have motivation to obey?

Source: parentinghopes.com

Do you give your child enough of a motivation to obey? I’m not talking about reward charts and potty training incentives. I’m talking about your relationship.

Yes, our children should obey (the first time) because we expect them to. We expect them to obey our word. But when that obedience isn’t happening, we should ask ourselves whether the child has enough motivation.

When you spend your days angry and frustrated by your child’s behavior, imagine how he feels. He spends his days with an angry, frustrated mom who does nothing to encourage or show love for him. He spends more time in timeout than playing, being silly, or being loved. Sometimes, in these times of frustration, mom’s expectations are unreasonable and unfair. Mom’s inconsistency complicates the matter.

Our children will rise to whatever expectation we set for them. But they must have motivation to do so. If they’re not feeling loved or encouraged, they’re not going to go out of their way to please us. If they expect that we’ll be disappointed, they figure they may as well not even try.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The child misbehaves. You’re disappointed. He misbehaves some more. You’re all the more disappointed. You try to buckle down, eventually setting inconsistent, unrealistic expectations. The child is exacerbated and misbehaves more. Weeks or months go on like this, and the child loses all motivation.

Who will be the first to break the cycle? The parent, I hope. The child is a child and is only following the path you set for him. If you find yourself in a cycle like this, consider tossing aside all of your discipline for a day or two. Cancel all meetings, play dates, etc. Just be in the moment with your child and do all you can to show your love. Be silly. Go on walks. Let him stop at every twig and leaf that interests him. Go out for ice cream. Snuggle while reading books.

Don’t think of these things as rewards for his misbehavior. Think of them as the necessary lifeblood for your relationship. Inject life and love back into your relationship. Lay that foundation of love and encouragement, and then if he continues to misbehave you can correct in love, not frustration.

Always remember that our ultimate goal is not perfect obedience, but a loving relationship between parent and child. Parenting is nothing without a child who wants to please us. Lose that and you lose everything. So do all you can to encourage obedience, but always make sure your child is motivated to please you.

What I’m Reading: “Bringing Up Bebe,” The American Question

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman is a fascinating book. I offered a summary here, but after starting the book, I couldn’t put it down! It’s a great read.

Today, I’ll discuss the author’s take on American parents’ tendency to push their children through milestones. Here’s an excerpt:

“In the 1960s, the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget came to America to share his theories on the stages of children’s development. After each talk, someone in the audience typically asked him what he began calling The American Question. It was: How can we speed these stages up?

Piaget’s answer was: Why would you want to do that? He didn’t think that pushing kids to acquire skills ahead of schedule was either possible or desirable. He believed that children reach these milestones at their own speeds, driven by their own motors.

The American Question sums up an essential difference between French and American parents. We Americans assign ourselves the job of pushing, stimulating, and carrying our kids from one developmental stage to the next. The better we are at parenting, we think, the faster our kids will develop….

French parents just don’t seem so anxious for their kids to get head starts. They don’t push them to read, swim, or do math ahead of schedule. They aren’t trying to prod them into becoming prodigies,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 80).

I wholeheartedly agree with Piaget and French parents here. Kids need to take their own time to reach developmental milestones. And things can get tricky when a parent interferes with that natural progression.

The first year, babies are learning how to eat, sleep, move and babble. At age two, toddlers are beginning to understand their place in the world and assert some independence. At age three, most children still do parallel play, and much of their play is imaginative. At age four, the imaginative play still guides them, and it does so as they become more social. At age five, kids start school and begin the job of learning.

Parental interference can take many forms. Some parents encourage their babies to walk early by holding them up or allowing baby to hold the parents’ fingers while “walking.” This could potentially rob the child of the bi-lateral integration that happens with the crisscross movement involved in crawling.

Some parents attempt to speed up the learning process by teaching abstract academics (math or reading) to a three-year-old. When a child is taught that the world has abstract rights and wrongs, imaginative play takes a back seat. This could rob the child of creativity or even the ability to think critically.

Some parents sign their children up for activity after activity. When a four-year-old child spends more time in the car than on the playground, he doesn’t learn crucial social skills that happen at this age.

When it comes to my own kids, I think that I have allowed this natural progression. I have talked about William’s academic abilities, but he sets that pace, not me. At age two, he started taking an interest in learning his letters, but as soon as he hit age three and started playing imaginatively, that interest in letters came to a screeching halt. At age 7, school is his job, and our only extracurricular activities are piano and occupational therapy. Otherwise, he plays.

For Lucas, I follow his lead. It is only recently (almost 4.5 years old) that he’s shown interest in academics. The Leapfrog Letter Factory video is his favorite. At the same time, he plays very imaginatively with his brother and with friends at school. Learning social skills is definitely his focus, and the job of learning is starting to emerge. He has one extracurricular activity, a “sports sampler” class. We don’t do it because I expect him to become some sports prodigy. We do it because he loves it.

How naturally do your kids hit their milestones? Do you let your child set the pace or do you try to speed things up a bit?

Let them play

Source: arlingtonmama.com

Are you one of those families who spends more time in the car than at home? Do you value extracurricular activities so much that you and your child are rarely home? Can you see yourself getting caught up in the activity madness in a few years? There are so many activities available to young children: piano, gymnastics, soccer, karate, foreign languages, abacus math, girl/boy scouts, Kumon, private tutoring, etc. You name it; it’s out there.

Before anyone convinces you that all of these activities are crucial for a child’s academic success, let me assure you, they’re not.

There are certainly benefits to playing a sport like soccer. The child learns the art of working with others, the skill of losing graciously, etc. But before you overload your schedule with activities, please understand the value of play.

The Ezzos have an entire appendix in Growing Kids God’s Way devoted to the topic:

“Seldom do we think about the importance of imaginative play. Yet in the life of children, it is a natural thing. In fact, various forms of play are one of the strongest indicators of healthy emotional growth and a significant component of a child’s orderly development. … One of the most active forms of learning is play.”

The Ezzos and I are not alone in understanding the value of play. A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor, titled “Toddlers to tweens: relearning how to play,” thoroughly discusses the value of play.

“In recent years, child development experts, parents, and scientists have been sounding an increasingly urgent alarm about the decreasing amount of time that children – and adults, for that matter – spend playing. A combination of social forces, from a No Child Left Behind focus on test scores to the push for children to get ahead with programmed extracurricular activities, leaves less time for the roughhousing, fantasizing, and pretend worlds advocates say are crucial for development.”

The absence of play is pathology
One researcher in the article takes it a step further:

“’Play is the fundamental equation that makes us human,’ says Stuart Brown, the founder of the California-based National Institute for Play. “Its absence, in my opinion, is pathology.’”

“Brown became interested in play as a young clinical psychiatrist when he was researching, somewhat incongruously, mass murderers. Although he concluded that many factors contributed to the psychosis of his subjects, Brown noticed that a common denominator was that none had participated in standard play behavior as children…. He saw a direct correlation between play behavior and happiness, from childhood into adulthood.”

Encourage play, then leave them alone
The article notes not only the importance of allowing kids time to play but also leaving them alone while they play:

“If a teacher introduces the toy, which has a number of hidden points of interest – a mirror, a button that lights up, etc. – but tells a child about only one feature, the child is less likely to discover everything the toy can do than a child who receives the toy from a teacher who feigns ignorance. Without limiting instruction from an adult, it seems, a child is far more creative. In other words, adult hovering and instruction, from how to play soccer to how to build the best LEGO city, can be limiting.”

Self-regulation from play boosts academic success
Other researchers note the depth of play. They say play can help language development and self-control. Those of you tempted by extracurricular activities to boost your child’s academic success take note:

“Self-regulation – the buzzword here is ‘executive function,’ referring to abilities such as planning, multitasking, and reasoning – may be more indicative of future academic success than IQ, standardized tests, or other assessments.”

True learning happens when kids are actively engaged in meaningful activities. Our educational system with its focus on standardized tests has diminished children’s creativity. Realizing this, other countries have shifted their focus away from test scores. Finland, which stands at the top of international rankings, has a policy of recess after every class for grades 1-9. This is in sharp contrast to many school districts that eliminate recess so kids have more time in the classroom.

Relearning play
Finally, researchers focus on children relearning how to play. Gadgets like iPads, iPhones, video game systems and even a toy with noises and blinking lights can be a detriment to play. Take away these toys and many kids don’t know how to play.

My advice: cut out your many activities and stay home to play. If your child seems not to know how to play without a gadget in hand, take it away nonetheless. Give your son a set of colorless blocks and challenge him to build a tower. Once he does that, encourage him to create a unique building. Give your daughter a few dolls and encourage her to have a tea party. Encourage the types of play you used to engage in.

Encourage them, and then leave them alone. The more practice they get at playing by themselves, the more imaginative they will become.

 

My favorite Ezzo-isms

There are several sayings that get repeated throughout the Ezzo community, and for good reason. If you commit these sayings to memory, they will guide you through your parenting journey. Here are my favorites:

The child is a welcome member of the family but is not the center of it.

Read more about child-centered parenting.

Great marriages make great parents.

Let your child see that you value your marriage. Let the stability of your marriage serve as the foundation for the child and family. Learn more about the marriage priority.

Never give a command you don’t expect to be obeyed.

Read more about saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

Constantly reminding a child to do what is expected only means you have no expectation.

This is the crux of first-time obedience. Give your instruction one time! Learn more about first-time obedience in my eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience.

Holiness is more important than happiness.

Teach the value of living with contentment. Learn more.

Obedience is only the beginning.

Parents should aim to eventually transition from leading by authority to leading by influence. At first, our children obey out of duty. Eventually, a child must exchange obedience (duty to comply) for submission (desire to comply).

 

 

What I wish I’d known with baby #1

by Rachel Rowell, My Baby Sleep Guide

The first few months after my first child, Joshua, was born were rough. Okay, I’m under-exaggerating that. He cried endlessly, didn’t sleep, and I was a basket case. Maybe you’ve been there. It’s not a pretty sight.

The second time around went much more smoothly. I knew what to expect, I thought a lot about how I wanted to do things, and I learned piles of stuff through experiences, my own and others’. Maybe this is your first child or maybe it’s your fifth. Either way, sometimes we all need a moment to take a look at the bigger picture, remember what to expect and maybe even get a few pointers.

Here’s my list of what I wish I’d known with Joshua, or baby #1. Much is related to sleep, but not all.

  • Remember, life with a baby is a journey, not a destination. Keep the end goal of great sleep in mind, but don’t get so distracted trying to reach it that you forget to live and enjoy the journey.
  • Make sure to let baby fall asleep on you every once in a while. It is one of those precious moments that will stay with you forever.
  • We all have our bad days, babies included. So don’t freak out and jump to every possible conclusion when they happen! You will stress yourself out for no reason at all. If things last for more than a day or two, then it is time to start the investigation.
  • Consistency pays off. It really does.
  • An overtired child, particularly a baby, is your worst nightmare. Mess up all over the place, but do not even go there! See waketimes and sleep cues for some pointers.
  • It’s okay to not be supermom every second of every day. Everyone needs to ask for help sometimes. Consider it practice at being humble.
  • Someone, somewhere out there will always be critical about how you raise your child, especially how you sleep train and discipline him. Forget about it. As long as you are keeping your child safe, happy, healthy and loved, then you are doing the right thing.
  • Children are hard. They take a lot of work. They stress you out. At the same time, raising them will likely the best thing you ever do.
  • Babies have different personalities. Some are easier than others. It is a fact of life (albeit an unfair one!). Some sleep great no matter what. Some have quite a few sleep problems even if things are done perfectly. That is how it goes. If you fall into the “doesn’t sleep great” party, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with your child. Sleep just isn’t one of his strengths. I’m sure he has many others.
  • Motherhood is full of small, but great moments. Focus on those.
  • Be patient with sleep. It takes some babies a while to get it. If it takes them a month longer than their older sister or cousin it doesn’t matter. They have their own timetable. Their uniqueness makes them special.
  • Tomorrow is a new day. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or the day before. Time to start afresh.
  • If you think your baby has colic, rule out overtiredness first. Because that is very possibly the problem.
  • Everyone needs support sometimes. Someone to talk to. Someone to give you a hug. Knowing you are not the only one going through something does wonders.
  • Comparing your child’s sleep to others is only sometimes useful as a reference point, not a copy point. Your child is not their child. Your child has his own needs and his own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Sometimes there is no reason for what is going on. No reason at all. Sorry, but it’s true.
  • Babies have different personalities and will respond to your routine in different ways. Work with your baby, not against him when making your routine.
  • Be flexible. Don’t be so ruled by your routine you are unable to enjoy life, unable to enjoy your baby and unable to follow your mommy instinct. Adjust your routine to fit you and baby.
  • Life with a young baby is full of phases. Much of what happens is just a phase. That’s it. Some have names and causes (teething, learning a new skill) and some appear nameless and causeless. But guess what, each of these phases does pass! Keep that in mind when you feel at your wit’s end.
  • Relax. Enjoy life. Enjoy your baby. He will not be little forever. You won’t do everything perfectly and that is okay! If you’re perfect, how will your child learn what he doesn’t want to do as a parent when he grows up. :)
  • A sleep association is not the end of the world. In fact, it is much preferable to a mom pulling out all her hair, going half insane and a baby getting no sleep at all. Yes, start as you mean to go on, but only if the end result will be a pleasing one. There are many things worse than a prop-dependent baby.
  • Your baby is not a machine. The same thing goes for you. Do not expect perfection on either front. Do not expect things to go exactly by the book. They won’t. Thinking so will result in piles of stress and, sometimes, a feeling of failure.
  • You are doing better than you think you are. You are really are!

And finally, remember to take time out for yourself sometimes. You need it and most importantly, you deserve it!

Rachel blogs at My Baby Sleep Guide.