Monday, August 8, 2011

Mags Said: Advice to New Parents

I will be writing this from the mom perspective... not really a surprise I suppose.

  1. Get out of the house daily.  Do not get house-bound, this is especially important in the winter.  Get out, meet friends, go to new moms' groups.  I think my post-partum depression was affected by me closing myself off from others.
  2. Take a little time for yourself every day.  Even if it is 30 minutes to have a shower, it is important for you to have a life besides your precious baby.  If you are giving all the time you will start to feel that you can't do it all.
  3. Let your husband (partner) do things.  They may not bathe the baby like you would, diaper as quickly, or handle crying in the same way.  This gives bonding time as well as time for you to take a baby break.
  4. It is perfectly fine to listen to people's advice and then ignore it.  Somethings may have worked for them and not for you.  If it is parents/in-laws it could be that laws/doctor advice/science has changed things.  When I was a baby there were no car seats, now I wouldn't let my child not be in a car seat.
  5. Pregnancy/labour/child birth/newborns are all difficult things to deal with.  They are exhausting both mentally and physically.  You need time to rest and recover.  Sleep/rest when you can.  Especially in the early days I would nap with Robbie, sometimes lying on the couch, sometimes in our bed.
  6. Don't feel bad to leave your baby for an hour or two.  This was a hard one for me.  Robbie was born at 36 weeks and spent 5 days in the nursery before being allowed to come home.  I had been in the hospital for 2 weeks prior to giving birth due to gall stones.  I got to the point of exhaustion and Sean forced me to come home to sleep for one night.  I felt so bad leaving Robbie but Sean was right, I needed some time away from the hospital.
  7. Don't let other people make you feel guilty.  Totally hard to do!  As a parent you will often feel enough guilt that you don't need to have other people make you feel guilty too.  
  8. Allow yourself time to grieve if something does not go the way you want it to.  I really wanted to breast feed, I looked forward to it.  Then I had a preemie; all his energy was used to latch on.... I was devastated that I was not successful at doing what I thought was best for my baby.  It took me a long time to accept that while formula was not my first choice that it was still ok.  I still wish I could have breast fed and knowing what I do now I think I would have tried harder/insisted on more help from day one.
  9. Take lots and lots of pictures.  They grow and change so quickly!
  10. When people come to visit or ask how they can help - take the help!  This is one thing I did not do - take help when offered.

                                                      Robbie and I @ about 16 hours old

Sean Said: Advice to New Parents

Pretty much the only guys who ever get asked for parenting advice are the ones whose profession makes it seem like they should be an expert; I don't know if its because people just presume we don't know anything (a belief we do a great deal to reinforce with our antics around a first baby) or what. But whatever the reason, I have never been asked for my opinion on any child rearing topic unless Margaret was by my side and the question was aimed at us both.

However, this lack of questions doesn't change the fact that I am a know-it-all and really want to share what I have learned with someone. Fortunately, writing on a blog doesn't require the audience to have requested the opinion, so I can just go right ahead and tell you what I think every new parent ought to know.

Learn Everything You Can

The very process of raising a child is itself educational, and everyone learns many tricks along the way, but don't ever be satisfied with just learning from your own experiences. There are countless resources in this world to help you be prepared for what is happening and what is to come - use them. Read books, magazines, websites and blogs about parenting. Watch tv shows with child rearing experts. The more you know the better.

Have a Plan

There are some people who seem to think that they would be pissing all over a kid's childhood to introduce some structure and order into their lives - nothing could be further from the truth. As a parent who has tried to order some parts of my child's life, but not others, I can say with complete assuredness that the ordered parts not only achieved the desired results, but gave my son comfort and even confidence, while the chaotic parts were a pain not only to myself and Margaret, but to Robbie as well

We had plans to get him to read, sleep well and eat well - and those have all been unmitigated successes in his life. We did not have plans for getting him potty trained or teaching him sports and those have both been huge set backs for him.

Evaluate Your Parenting Regularly

Its very easy to get comfortable with a particular routine in regards to parenting, without having really thought through what the impacts of that routine might be. So look at what you doing. Examine every aspect of your parenting in its minutiae and ask yourself - is what I am doing the best choice for my child, myself and my family?

Sometimes the answer will yes, and then you can take comfort or even pride in your actions. Other times you will see a need for a change, either to correct a problem, or nip one in the bud.

Cherish Every Moment

Its really easy to get so caught up in the burdens of parenthood to not properly appreciate the time you have. Whatever age your child is today, and however hard today was for you, there will come a time when you wish you could have had them this age a little longer. Make sure you are wishing that because of all the fond memories and not because you didn't spend enough time with them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mags Said: Saying "I love you"

Growing up I never heard the words "I love you".  I can honestly say that I do not remember any affection shown by my parents or siblings.  We kissed and hugged the babies/small children but no affection was ever shown by the adults.  Actually, when my sister Edith died 20 years ago, my sister-in-law warned me that my brother might hug me.  The fact that she had to warn me is pretty sad.

For a while after my sister died we did say "I love you" and would hug each other but that quickly stopped.  Personally I craved the hugs and affection.  Luckily I had friends who affection was not a problem for.

When I moved to Edmonton I would end telephone calls with my family with a quick "love you" and might get a response back but most of the time I would not.

Enter Sean....

Sean loves to cuddle, hug, give quick little kisses and say "I love you" probably 100 times a day.  I am in my version of Heaven!  I love hearing "I love you" from both Sean and Robbie and tell them both that I love them constantly.

When my sister-in-law found out that Sean and I were getting married she asked if we were a "normal couple".  I had to ask her what she meant.  She told me "you know, hug, kiss, hold hands, the opposite of your family".  I assured her that we were definitely a "normal couple".

Tonight while we were doing some shopping I mentioned to Sean that I knew the first time that Robbie said "I love you" to me he did not really understand what the words meant.  Even knowing that my heart jumped at hearing those simple words from my little boy.  There are times that I have tears in my eyes hearing those precious words.

I am so happy that we are showing Robbie that love and affection is an important part of families and life in general.  Robbie will ask for hugs and kisses, say "I love you" to us.

Three simple words but they mean so much.

Sean Said: Saying "I Love You"

Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you there's no one else above you?

I must admit, I don't understand people who love someone, be it a spouse, child or any other special person in their life, and don't profess it - constantly.

I grew up in a house that was perhaps lacking in love, but was never lacking in I-love-yous. The thousands of I-love-yous my mother and I exchanged in my early years are probably the biggest reason I keep letting her back into my life, despite the fact she has hurt me many times, and more recently has hurt my wife; I just can't escape the emotions of those many exchanges.

Oh I know the arguments that those who don't like to say I-love-you use. They say that their loved one already knows they are loved. They say that its just words.

I say words cost you nothing to speak, but can carry a far heavier weight than some people realize. Our thought patterns, and even our neural networks organize themselves around our language. Words can fill you with rage, and bring you to tears - why would you not believe they can shape your heart and your relationship?

Your significant other might know you love them, but they feel it when you tell them. Your child, being a child, isn't even aware of most of the loving acts you undertake on his behalf; if they aren't told they are loved, their interpretation of their childhood and their relationship with you, might not be what you expect it to be.

So tell your loved ones you love them, and do it often. You don't need to sound like an infatuated teenager where all you ever say is I love you, but saying it several time a day can go a long ways; if you don't see the value in it during the good times, then at least realize that if you said it often in the good times, the bad times will go much more smoothly.