Thursday, May 31, 2012

How to Maintain a Good Relationship With Your Childcare Provider

When I went back to work after maternity leave, I was really nervous about the way my relationship with my childcare provider would develop. I was nervous that I would be jealous of all the time she got to spend with my daughter. I was nervous that she wouldn't know what to do when my baby cried or be able to get her to eat well. It turns out, there was nothing to be nervous about, and I'm learning what it takes to maintain a good relationship with my childcare provider.

Trust her

It can be difficult to place my child's life in the hands of another person five days a week, but trust is an essential factor in a good relationship with my childcare provider. I have to trust that she will follow my instructions, use her best judgment, and have my child's best interests at heart. More than that, I have to show her that I trust her. There is no way we'd have a good relationship if I were constantly checking to see if she remembered to do this or forgot to do that.

Communicate with her

Of course, my childcare provider recognizes my husband's and my authority over how our baby is raised, but she can't respect our wishes unless we share them with her. I also can't help her do her job well unless she fills me in on her challenges, questions, and victories. We keep a daily chart of my daughter's feedings, changes, and naptimes, and there is space on the chart for her to note any additional supplies she needs or concerns she has. We also have chats each time I drop off the baby and pick her up, and we have an open line of communication throughout the day for updates and questions.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Bright Side of Being a Working Mom

As a working mom, it's easy to dwell on the downsides of my situation. I loved spending all day with my little girl while I was on maternity leave, learning her rhythms and cues, interacting with her, snuggling with her, and seeing every little new thing she did. When I went back to work after just nine short weeks, I had to make peace with my difficult situation. While part of me still longs to be a stay-at-home mom, I've been able to discover the bright side of being a working mom.

Appreciation of Time

When I was on maternity leave, I used to get so excited when my husband would show up at the end of a long day. As much as I loved my baby, I just needed a break from my 24/7 job. Now that I'm working, the little time I do get to spend with my daughter is precious, and we make every second count. Some of my mom friends who stay at home seem to look for opportunities to get away from their kids for a little bit. I, on the other hand, look for opportunities to be with her.

A Teammate in a Childcare Provider

My daughter goes to a babysitter each day that my husband and I are at work. I used to be afraid that I'd be jealous of the babysitter or that I'd lose control of my parenting, in a way. On the contrary, I am appreciative of my babysitter's assistance in raising our little girl. It's a great benefit to have someone else to troubleshoot and rejoice with. Plus, if we ever need someone to babysit during an evening or weekend, we have another person around who knows our baby almost as well as we do.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mother's and Father's Day Gift Ideas

Practically Free Father's Day Gifts Based on His Love Language

When we were engaged and attending the required couples retreat as part of our marriage preparation, we learned about Gary Chapman's 5 Love Languages. If I use my husband's love language as a guide, I won't have to spend much in order to find the perfect Father's day gift for him. Consider these practically free Father's Day gift ideas generated by the five love languages.

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5 Perfect Mother's Day Gifts for a New Mom

I've come up with five gifts that I think would be perfect for a first-time mom, such as myself. Fortunately, none of them should break the bank, which is a great thing when you've just factored another person into your household budget! 

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Entertaining toys for your 6-month-old

In the spirit of Keeping Your Baby Entertained, my latest installment lists five entertaining toys for your 6-month-old baby.

Each new stage of an infant's life brings a new wave of toys and activities that optimally stimulate their senses and entertain them. When a mom in the online community I am part of asked for suggestions for toys for our six-month-olds, an extensive list emerged. These items should be on the shopping list of every six-month-old's mom, grandparent, and holiday gift-giver.

Sophie the Giraffe. The manufacturers of this long-loved teething toy tout its ability to stimulate all of babies' senses. Most importantly for my baby who likes to put everything in her mouth, the toy is made of natural rubber and food paint, so it is completely safe to explore all her chewable parts. Many moms in my group attest to Sophie's popularity with their six-month-olds, and I'm thinking this is a must-have for my daughter's birthday list. 

Books. Books that crinkle are a special hit with my daughter. They might fool her into thinking she's being allowed to play with those stray circular ads she always seems to want to get her hands on. She gets a kick out of listening to Hallmark recordable books she's been given, and while she doesn't really care about the stories in her board books yet, she does love to chew on them. "Indestructible" is the key word when it comes to books for my six-month-old. I've seen what she can do to a magazine.

Stationary play centers. At four months old, my daughter was just starting to fit in her Jumperoo and become interested in its attached toys, but she seemed to only last a short while before she wanted to get out. Now, at six months, she has really discovered its entertainment value and gets quite excited to be placed in it. Her legs go crazy, she can rotate her seat around, and she has discovered all the toys. (Her favorite is still the teether that she sucks on until it's sopping wet. Do you see the emerging pattern?) Other moms in my group agree that their babies love their stationary play centers.

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My Inspiring Experience With An Online Pregnancy Community

A personal narrative with reflections from members of my community

There was a chance I was pregnant. My fertility chart showed that I had ovulated, and there was a distinct possibility we'd conceived. Needless to say, I was nervous, excited, and distracted beyond belief. As each day of my two-week wait crept by like an anxiety-ridden eternity, I found my saving grace: an online pregnancy forum at where I was able to commiserate with women who were also potentially pregnant and could truly understand what I was going through.

When I got that coveted positive pregnancy test, I learned there was a "due date group" for women who were expecting babies around the same time. I was welcomed with open arms into a community of women from all over the world and from all walks of life who had one very important thing in common: love for our unborn babies who were around the same point in their development.

"I found that having a group of ladies who were going through all the same pregnancy/baby issues that I may be has been amazing. Knowing that I am not the only person who is going through something and being able to talk about it and get advice is really important and invaluable." -M.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The 45-Minute Intruder: Hidden Benefits of Short Baby Naps

When I had my baby, I was a sworn Baby Whisperer (Tracy Hogg) follower. Tracy Hogg's three-hour E.A.S.Y. routine (eat, activity, sleep, "your time") made a lot of sense to me, and as a straight Type A personality, having my baby on a semi-structured schedule from the beginning alleviated a lot of my new parent anxiety. There was just one problem. The E.A.S.Y. routine was based on the premise that my baby would take 90-minute naps. And around the time she turned three months old, my baby would not take longer than 45-minute naps.

The authors of the Babywise books refer to this phenomenon as the "45-Minute Intruder." Long about the end of a baby's sleep cycle of around 40 minutes, two things can occur. The first is that the baby successfully transitions through to the next sleep cycle. The other is that the baby wakes up and is unable to go back to sleep on his or her own.

There are many soothing tricks, environmental tweaks, and routine techniques all the experts suggest to help the baby make it onto the next sleep cycle, but all failed for my kid. And so, I had to stop trying to fix her nap schedule, and rather, embrace it. Routines can still work, even when the naps that are part of it end up shorter than average. Here are the hidden benefits to my baby's short naps I've discovered.

1. Short naps make for easier daytime travel.

My baby's tendency toward short naps makes us more flexible with our daytime travel. If she were a one- to two-hour napper, I imagine I would have to build my schedule around her naps so that she could be in her bed for the duration. Because her naps are so short, we can often plan trips so that she catches her 45-minute snooze in the car seat, or she'll sleep on me in the Moby wrap while we're out and about. I'm not sure whether those techniques would work if she needed to sleep for a longer period of time.

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5 Reasons My Baby is Sleeping Through the Night

When I tell people I'm the first-time parent of a five-month-old baby, they often inquire with a knowing smirk, "How are you sleeping?" Much to their disbelief, I happily answer, "Great! We're very blessed. She sleeps through the night."

This wasn't always the case. Many a night I sleepily whined, "I don't want to," when my baby was crying for what seemed like the five millionth time. Thankfully, my husband and I were able to implement a few precious practices that I believe have decreased our baby's night wakings. Now most nights, she goes to sleep easily and wakes up around twelve hours later, happy and rested - just like her parents!

1. We use a bedtime routine. When our baby was just over two months old, we started a bedtime routine. It's evolved over time in small ways, but it's always included a bath, pajamas, a bottle, some cuddling, and occasionally a book. Our baby knows that when these activities are done in the same order, bed will soon follow. Even when we are sleeping elsewhere for the night, we've been able to do some semblance of the routine and had great luck with the baby's sleep.

2. We set a consistent, early bedtime. Dr. Marc Weissbluth's book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child taught me that children actually sleep better and longer when they have early bedtimes, as "sleep begets sleep." It may seem counterintuitive, but I believe our early bedtime of around 7:30pm helps our baby sleep more soundly and longer. When she was under two months old, she would fight sleep until an unreasonably late bedtime after a "late evening nap." Once I figured out that the late evening nap was actually her preferred bedtime, she was on the track to sleeping through the night.

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