Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sleeping Tips for the New Mom

I just went to a baby shower, where I gave the same thing I give EVERY first time mom: the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. But this time, I included in the card a short list of my best sleep advice. I thought it would be fun to include it here.

  1. Do not leave the hospital until you are taught and are very good at "burrito wrapping" your baby. Find a couple of different nurses to show you how they do it, and then PRACTICE A TON at the hospital. You will need this skill.

  2. Remember (And this is related to #1) that your little sweetie just came from a cramped little place, where she felt incredibly secure. When you put baby into the crib, your baby will feel most secure (and therefore sleep better) when you can mimick the security of the womb. Burrito wrap her, then use a receiving blanket, folded up to look like a long, flat snake, and tuck that around her head tightly, and then put a firm, rolled up blanket on either side of her. (This image shows the "flat snake" and buritto wrap.)

  3. Begin super early (like in the first 2 weeks of life outside the womb) to allow baby to cry in her crib, both to go down to sleep and when awaking. A decent rule of thumb is allow her to cry for one minute for every week she has been home from the hospital. She needs to learn to self-soothe and she needs to be taught how to sleep. If you are too quick to go in, you might actually interrupt a sleep cycle...she might be "crying out" but not actually awakening.

  4. (Related to #3) I always used a timer because I really hated letting my babies cry. That timer gave me a mental break because I knew when it was time to go get by baby. I would hear that cry and immediately go set the timer. You would be amazed how often baby falls back asleep...hint was apparently not ready to be awake!

  5. Especially in those first couple of weeks, put baby to sleep in her crib before she is tired. This gives her the chance to enjoy (because she is not too tired to enjoy it) being all bundled in her crib, looking around a bit and quietly drift to sleep all by herself.

  6. If baby is not comfortable sleeping on her back, try her on her side.

  7. Start each morning at the same time, which will usually mean waking baby up. It feels impossible, but it pays huge dividends.

  8. Sleep begets sleep... the better your baby sleeps at naps, the better the night sleep she will get. It is completely counter-intuitive, but starving your baby of sleep will not a better night-sleeper she make. Trust me.

  9. If you think that getting your baby to sleep through the night is all about YOU wanting YOUR night's sleep, think again. Your baby needs that solid uninterrupted sleep way more than you do. So don't play yourself the martyr, thinking that you are doing what's best for the baby if you get up at night whenever she "needs you." By 10-12 weeks, what she really needs is sleep. So do the right thing and begin to teach her to sleep through the night as soon as Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child says to.

  10. The best baby book out there to teach you how to teach your baby how to sleep (did you follow that?) is Marc Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Read it and reread it. And then read it again. It is an incredible reference, and it does not make judgments upon families for the choices they make: co-sleeping, family bed, cry-it-out, no-cry method. No judgments (how refreshing). You just get his research findings in an easy-to-swallow writing style.

  11. Did I mention Heathy Sleep Habits Happy Child?

What would you add to the list?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bestest Friends

There are some things that really must not go unnoticed. Like, for example, how God has faithfully answered my prayer that Davis and Jackson would be the best of friends.

I cannot say they never argue, but I can say that it is a weekly, not daily or hourly occurrence. They play nearly all day together without incident. I am so thankful for the friendship these two have thus far in their little lives, and I pray that Weston is included in this blessing and that it continues "foreverly-long" into adulthood.

Lest you think too much of me or Ryan and our ability to parent, I think it has mostly to do with prayer, some to do with personality, and only a touch to do with parenting.

But I was wondering what you have done to foster friendship between your kids? One intentional thing I did starting when Jackson was about 12 months and ending when he was about 2 1/2 (you know, that period of time when kids are difficult to play with because they don't understand - or are not well-versed in - concepts such as and sharing and "don't knock down brothers blocks," and "don't intentionally or unintentionally destroy the train track brother just built," and so on, was do my best to protect Davis and Jackson from each other. While Jackson was still learning, I was careful to not expect too much of Davis. (Ah ha, let me explain...)

Imagine folding an entire week's worth of laundry, only to have your toddler come over and find it a fun game to throw it all over the room. And then imagine that happening everyday, several times a day for about 18 months. (You might not have to do too much imagining here!) Anyway, I thought it was asking too much of Davis to constantly put him in this position. (Heck, it was almost too much to ask ME to be in that situation.) So I rescued Davis from little brother, with the express intention of preserving their relationship. I knew that the season of (mostly unintentional) destruction would not last forever, and that if I could prevent the resentment that would likely build, it would pay off.

A note on training: With my sweet Jackson, he gave me PLENTY and NUMEROUS opportunities to train him in obedience, so I chose not to pick this as a battle, because my higher goal there was to preserve a precious friendship.

Now at six years old, Davis is well able to handle the frustrations of playing next to little Weston Drake (who is approaching one). He has skills to think through how he could play differently since brother is there, he knows all about moving to a new place to play the same thing, and he knows how to put his own desires aside for the sake of someone else's. Jackson, however, is still learning these skills so I have began to do the same thing for Jackson & Weston's relationship.

Jackson is a bit more of a firecracker, so I have had to employ some additional training tools, like setting the timer for "Weston playtime," where Jackson can learn to play a little longer each week next to/with Weston, sharing his beloved cars with him and patiently showing him how to play too. Jackson is so much more willing to share those cars if he knows there is an end in sight. And when that timer dings, I swoop in and preserve that relationship, rewarding Jackson for his kindness and patience, and preventing Weston from getting knocked in the head with a metal double-decker Matchbox bus.

I pray that this preserves their relationship so that when both boys are a little older, they will be free to play and play and play together, like bestest friend brothers. Just like Davis and Jackson.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Does anyone mind if I spoil my kids?

Yeah, I thought so. And really, I don't want them to be spoiled. But I have to be honest, my kids pull at my heart strings. And when they earnestly desire something, I do earnestly desire to get it for them.

When the kids act like little stinkers, it is easy to say "no" to whatever they want. And when money is super tight I may not want to say "no," but our hands are tied: the answer is "no" whether a heart string is pulled or not. But sometimes they are good, and sometimes we do have a couple of dimes to rub together.

So I am in search of wisdom: how to walk that middle-class line, where you could afford this or that, but are just not sure how often to say yes and when to draw the line.

But you know where this is headed, don't you? If I decide to teach my kids about how to be a good steward of money (theirs and dad's), I might have to evaluate MY OWN spending wish list long before I take a gander at my kids'.

Authenticity. Oh ick. I have to live out something difficult in order to teach them something. I can't exactly tell them "no" to that train table they have drooled over for half their lives and then leaf through that Pottery Barn catalog and order up a new couch.

Here is what I am thinking the steps are to get this whole notion moving.
  1. Think through what kind of consumers I want them to grow up to be
  2. Think through what kind of consumer I am modeling
  3. Compare that to God's standard
  4. Modify modify modify. (Me.)
  5. Read up on the "wiser-older's" ideas
  6. Come up with a way to show the kids what Daddy and Mommy think about when we spend money
  7. Involve them in it - so opportunities to talk about money come up in new ways
  8. Let the kids earn money/receive an allowance so they begin to learn to manage their money in light of everything new they are absorbing.

Well, I have the child labor/dime-a-chore part going on already, but I see I have some work ahead of me. I am off to start on my list. If you have any thoughts or resources, pass them on!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Meet the Family

Jack, our "middle boy," goes first.

Silly, sweet, sincere. He is a bundle of three-year-old boy energy. He is creative and cuddly.

Minutes after meeting you, you will be invited to play a rousing game of tackle football. He does not want to pass the ball, he wants you to wrestle him to the ground and yet fail to actually get the ball from his grip.

First Born, Davis.

Kind, careful, correct. He has been that way every day of his six-year old life.

He takes "right and wrong" seriously. You very well might find him out playing football with Jackson, but prepare to hear his patient yet corrective tone when Jackson makes up the rules as he goes along. "No, Jackson, that's not the right way to play..."

The Baby. Weston Drake.

Content, Quiet, Cute. Except for middle of the night diaper changes and need for a bottle, this kid is the ideal baby. (I have heard that the third child is often like that at first, but then something is unleashed. This remains to be seen in our little guy.)

Watch out if you are a man wearing shorts. Weston sees those leg hairs and things, "Great handles! I think I'll pull up to standing using them."

Ryan. The Man I married.

Determined, delightful, dashing, dynamo. I have grown to love him more every year. it has been ten years since we said "I do." Ten wonderful years. In the past 5 years he has amazed and impressed me with his drive and determination to make his dreams come true. I love watching it happen!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The blogging effort begins...

I have purposefully avoided blogging, knowing that it would either be like scrapbooking - always behind, always feeling guilty, or would become my latest obsession causing me to neglect the children I would certainly write so much about.

But something pulls me in.

It is my desire to be a more contemplative mom. What better place to contemplate than in front of the entire wired world?