Sunday, January 7, 2007

Top 5 Most Important Things I Have Learned as a New Mom

Top 5 Most Important Things I Learned as a New Mom

My son, who is now 21 months old, has already given me many life lessons. It's funny how someone so small can teach you so much.

5) I am the Adult
When my toddler throughs a tantrum or lashes out in a fit of emotion, I remind myself that I am the adult in the relationship. I know better than to get angry in response to his actions. It is my duty to remain calm and show him what to do with his feelings. It is also my job to teach him that tantrums, hitting, kicking, screaming, etc. are not acceptable at his young age or ever. I am not perfect and don't always have the ideal reaction to his actions, but I am working on it through deep breaths and prayer.

4) Naps are Best Kept in the Crib
I told myself over and over that my son was just a bad napper. Three 30 minute naps per day for a 3 month old certainly must prove that he was, in fact, a bad napper. Somewhere along the line, when he reached about 5 months, I realized that his nap routine was more learned than natural.
It started because he fell asleep easily in the comfy swing (you know the kind you, as an adult, want to crawl into and take a little nap). As a woman in desperate need of a break, the swing became where he would take most of his naps. The problem was, he would only sleep for 30 minutes. Then, I found the solution, I let him sleep on me. Any parent will tell you what a comfort having an infant sleep on you is! It was then that I learned he would sleep for 2 hours when he was on me. Not only did he sleep, but I got to sleep. Yikes! Mistake!
You can not go through the entire napping years with a child sleeping on you. At some point you will reach the phase where you are not an exhausted shell of your former self, but a mom that needs to take advantage of that precious nap time to get things done. Once that dawned on, we started what I called "Mommy Boot Camp." We quit the naps in the swings and the naps on Mommy all at once. It was a truly painful process (and I may have caved in a couple of times), but it was worth it. He never did, however, recover from his short naps. They remained at 30 minutes until he moved to one nap a day. Now he is at 1.5 hours, which is still not fantastic, but I have learned to deal with it.

3) You Can Never Have too Many Friends
Friends are a life line for new moms. Who better to keep you sane? As a new mom you will make many new friends; friends who have babies the same age as your precious little one or maybe a bit older. These are the women that give you the most helpful advice. They give you advise that they, themselves, have already tested. They tell you what mobile is best, which sling works like magic, which songs are the most stimulating. In addition to being a wealth of knowledge, these women know exactly what you are going through and can empathize with you at 3:00am.
Don't forget about your old friends too. They are your source to the outside world, your source for sanity. It is when you have watched Baby Mozart for the 30th time that you need to pick up the phone and engage in adult conversation that doesn't not revolve around your precious little one.

2) Buy a Blanket Made for Swaddling
It's been proven that newborns are comforted by the snugness of swaddling. After fussing with the many receiving blankets, I gave up the fight. My precious little one always found a way to wiggle out, which resulted in screaming wakefullness. Arghhh! There had to be a better way. A friend (see lesson 3) told me about the swaddle blankets on the market. These things have actual velcro fastners. Hey, why didn't someone tell me about this sooner???

1) Invest in a White Noise Machine
It has also been proven that infants like white noise. It makes sense when you think about it. Think of how loud in must be in your uterus. The constant noise of the organs working, you talking, laughing, coughing, sneezing.... It has been said that these sounds can be as loud as a vacuum. It must be a scary experience to come out and have complete slience! I tried the recommended loud shushing (from a book, not a friend), but it just didn't work for me or maybe it was too much work for me. Regardless, a friend (See lesson 3) told me about the white noise machines. Magic! It calmed my fitful little one in an instant.

It is also my vow to get any new mom I know a swaddle blanket and a white noise machine. A new mommy-to-be will most likely find these gifts dreadful and boring, but I will attach a note that says, "Trust me."

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