When I was pregnant there were plenty of questions constantly running through my head. Will I be a good mother? Will my kid be a jerk? What kind of food do kids eat when they start eating? Will I ever sleep again? Is my relationship with my husband going to completely change? Am I going to completely change?
That’s a lot to worry about, and that wasn’t even the start of it all.
You’d think with all these questions running through my brain I’d be one of those new moms who would read book after book to figure out each answer.
I only read one book. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman.
This book answered a lot of my questions while also making me feel relieved that maybe not all my questions will be answered right away, and I may just have to learn the answers as I go. The entire book discussed raising a child in France and the differences between raising a child in a French culture versus raising a child in an American culture.
Let me just say I enjoyed this book so much that for a while I was truly trying to convince my husband to move to Paris. Well that didn’t happen. Here are a few points the book hits that really stuck with me.
1. Don’t forget you’re a person too.
Yes, you will change. Your body will change. Your schedule and routine will change. Your hormones will change (again). Your needs will change. MANY things about your life will change, but it’s also important to remember that you need to take care of yourself as well. You will naturally want to put your needs on the back burner and take care of that precious child. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But is it okay to have some alone time? YES. Is it okay to allow someone else take care of your child while you take that much needed nap? YES. Nap, nap, nap!
I hear so many people say, “Well now I’m a mom so I guess I can say goodbye to my old life”. Not true. Having a baby changes a lot, but it shouldn’t completely change the person you are. Adjust your old life to work with your new life. It is definitely easier said then done, but it can be accomplished. Find time for yourself, your needs, your significant other, and the things you enjoy.
2. Your baby is a real human.
I mean obviously. You grew that real human so you definitely understand the concept. But this book really hits on the fact that most people think of babies as these little people that are incapable of doing anything. You’d be surprised at how much your baby picks up, and how quickly. They are constantly growing, watching and learning.
Some people maybe don’t believe this, and I’m not going to lie at first I was definitely skeptical. Druckerman discusses the idea that if you talk to your child they really might understand. She says give your child a tour of your house when they first arrive home. Explain to your child what you’re doing, and why. If they start tearing books of the shelf, explain that we don’t do this in our house, and these need to be put back on the shelf. It worked for her children, and I truly think it is already working for my daughter.
When my daughter wakes up in the middle of the night and I know she is fed, changed and comfortable I have talked to her and said, “Everything is okay, you just need to relax and try to fall asleep”. Maybe it’s just the sound of my voice, but she has slowly learned to calm herself down and has been sleeping through the night since she was two months old. Druckerman gives other examples of this type of behavior in her book. Whether you believe it works or not, it’s worth a try right?
3. Wait, Wait… WAIT!
This is hard sometimes. REALLY hard. Obviously if your child is hungry… FEED him! If your child needs changed… CHANGE him! If your child needs attention… GIVE IT to him! I strongly encourage that, especially if they are a newborn. Newborns needs this attention.
But once you feel like you and your child have somewhat gotten to know each other and start a small routine, feel free to try the waiting game. If you know your child has all their needs met, give waiting a try. Babies have not learned many skills that may seem obvious to adults. One of those skills is soothing themselves, and learning how to fall back asleep.
When I heard my daughter cry in the middle of the night I would feed her, burp her, change her and get her back to sleep. When she would cry again 20 minutes I naturally had the urge to grab her and help her. Most times once I did this, she didn’t stop crying. I learned that if I just gave her even five minutes to cry she was learning how to cope with this upset feeling she had. Sometimes she would even fall back asleep on her own! If she didn’t fall back asleep she still had learned that it’s okay to cry for a little bit, and eventually mama will come to the rescue. Babies need to learn it’s okay to feel lonely, hungry, or upset because they are one day going to feel those emotions, even as adults. Those five minutes of waiting will not hurt them, it might even help them.
4. Your husband is still there.
As a new mom you want to put all of your attention on this new, adorable baby that needs you. You should. You should also give daddy some attention. Don’t let being a mother take away your role of being a wife.
Before baby my husband and I exchanged a hug and a kiss every morning before he left for work. After two weeks of our baby being home with us, I thought to myself, “When is the last time I kissed and hugged him goodbye in the morning?” Our mornings had turned into sleepy, screaming baby, hurry to change and feed mornings that even a simple kiss goodbye was not even a thought. One day I finally said to him, “WAIT! Kiss me goodbye!” I put the baby down for 30 seconds to kiss and hug him goodbye. Those 30 seconds did not ruin her morning, and it made my whole day completely better.
One tip Druckerman suggests is have adult time after baby goes to bed. I found this was hard at first because when the baby was sleeping I either had a million things to do or I wanted to sleep. Once we had a schedule down these evenings became such a great bonding time for my husband and I, and definitely much needed alone time as man and wife, not mom and dad.
My baby is not even a year old yet, and I have found her book so helpful in so many ways. There are other great ideas that she discusses as well. Ideas for introducing foods, how saying “no” is completely acceptable, and allowing children to explore and learn at their own pace. So if you’re looking for an amazing book to help give you ideas on any of these aspects or raising a child I would definitely recommend “Bringing Up Bébé” by Pamela Druckerman. You won’t regret it.