I've decided to share my take on the phases of parenting from a non-medical point of view, you know, because I don't have a Ph.D at the end of my name. Just thought I'd share for any of my friends/family/readers who just had a baby, are pregnant, or thinking about trying. Or for any of you who can relate to any of these, you at least know you're not alone! Obviously these are just from my own experience and are infused with a little humor, but are all 100% true in my case. Enjoy!
Phase 1: Birth - Bliss Phase Feelings: You're baby(ies) were just born and nothing else in the world matters. They are wonderful and such a little miracle. Relationship with Spouse: Pure adoration. You can't believe the two of you could make such beautiful and perfect little creatures. Finance: Woohoo, free diapers and formula from the hospital. These will last us a while right? Life is great! Big Question: "What the heck is the football hold?" Looking Forward to: Going home and enjoying the comfort of my own bed WITHOUT a nurse checking my vitals every hour!
Phase 2: 2 weeks - 4 months - Delirious Phase Feelings: Reality and Fiction are interchangeable. Sleep is no longer in your vocabulary, although your children love to taunt you throughout the day by sleeping away the majority of it. And OMG, did I fall asleep feeding the baby.. Nope that's just the dog laying in my arms (True Story). What do you mean "So-and-so's" baby sleeps through the night? I never liked them anyways. Relationship with Spouse: GET UP! GET UP! GET UUUUUUUP! It's your turn to feed the baby(ies)! Finance: What do you mean that outfit doesn't fit anymore? I just bought it LAST WEEK! Big Questions: "How exactly do you get the onsie off when there is poop ALL the way to her neck?" and "How do I sleep when the baby sleeps while simultaneously doing the laundry, washing bottles, and keeping the house clean?" Looking Forward to: Sleep... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
Phase 3: 5 months - mobility: - Super Mom Phase Feelings: I can conquer all. My kids sleep between x hours and eat at x times throughout the day. We go shopping at this time, read at this time, and our bedtime routine consists of bath, book, song, bed. DO NOT BREAK MY SCHEDULE! Relationship with Spouse: Why are you letting them nap at 5:00??? SERIOUSLY? Finance: No no sweetie, we swallow the mushed up carrots because they cost $0.97 cents/jar and you each need 3 per day. Did you honestly just poop in your diaper after I just changed you? Do you know diapers are $44 per box? I'm deducting this from your future allowance. Big Question: "What time can we run to the store when it won't interfere with a nap or feeding?" Looking Forward to: Crawling/Walking! Won't it be so cute when they're mobile? And there'll be SO much more to do with them!
Phase 4: Crawling to Walking - Bubble Phase Feelings: Can I get that with padding? You also assume the holding a bubble around your child stance. You know the one I'm talking about, arms rounded, legs bent, waddling behind your baby who is learning to stand/walk. Relationship with Spouse: Teamwork, "You cover that one and I'll cover this one" Finance: "It cost how much to baby proof the whole house?" Big Question: Do they make helmets for babies learning to walk? (Yes they do exist, no I did not end up buying one, but thought very hard about it). And "Why won't they just sit still for one minute... just one?Why did I encourage this again?" Looking forward to: Sitting, just for a minute!
Phase 5: Talking and Toddlerhood - Boundary Phase Feelings: My child can say 5 words, does Harvard have an early enrollment program because clearly I have a genius on my hands. Relationship with Spouse: "Did you teach him to say that, because that word would NEVER come out of my mouth!" Finance: Wooo, milk is SO much cheaper than formula! CHA-CHING! Big Question: "What's the earliest I can get the kids to bed without them waking up before the sun in the morning?" and "Is my child 1 1/2 going on 13? Did she really just tell me to COME ON?" Looking Forward to: Potty training and no more diapers!
One thing a lot of people have told me is that my children speak very well for being so young. At 18 months they can already speak in 2+word sentences. I don't know if this tidbit has anything to do with it, but I don't think it hurt.
Being a stay-at-home mom, you don't get to have too many conversations throughout the day. So from the day they were born I just talked to my babies. I'm not saying we had political debates or anything, but I would basically just dictate everything I did while I did it. For example, when I would change their diaper, I would tell them when I was going to get the diapers, when I was changing their diapers, and when I was throwing away the dirty diaper (I know, what a conversation huh? but hey my topics were limited).
Now 18 months later, I can tell them to go grab their diaper and bring it to me, they know where to go to get changed (although they are not always cooperative), and they know where I throw away their diapers (Side Note - They love to throw things away and it is the first place I look when something is missing).
I've noticed that they have picked up on so much and they completely understand me when I say something. They know where things are when I ask them to go grab them. They even repeat certain things I say (i.e. "It's tubby time" when it's time for a bath or little songs I sing to get them moving to another part of the house).
I don't know if this is scientifically proven or if its the same for all children or if my children are just geniuses ;) but it kept me from becoming mute all day at least.
So to sum up my tidbit, TALK to your kids, from day 1! Trust me, they're listening.
Now this isn't a post on co-sleeping vs sleeping in the crib, just throwing that out there. Every time my son is teething its almost inevitable that he will end up in our bed for the night. He always starts out in his crib and then sometime in the middle of the night, after several trips to his bedroom, I cave and bring him in just to get a "Good night sleep". Why is that in quotations? Because the only one getting a good night sleep is him. My son, folks, is a bed pirate.
We have a queen sized bed and there are already 2 dogs who join us. Let me just give you a diagram of what our bed typically looks like when Cavan joins us...
Totally drawn to scale, art skills at their finest!
As you can see, my son sleeps sideways to begin with. He typically has his head on my belly or wedged in my armpit! Poor Ryan though gets the worse end... the feet. Cavan literally kicks Ryan to the very edge of the bed every night.
I think at this point we have two options, get Cavan to stay in his bed (without waking up Kaylie) or get a bigger bed. I'm thinking we're in for the latter.
One thing I love to do is to get the twins actively involved in the world around them. So every morning we go into their playroom and on the window we have a color of the week, letter of the week, and then we check the weather and hang the corresponding weather icon (i.e. if its sunny out, we hang a sun, Cloudy we hang a cloud).
It has become a fun morning routine and the kids go running into their playroom as soon as I say, "Let's go check the weather!" They're getting very good at remembering what each icon represents and telling me what the weather is. They are also really learning their colors. They constantly point out different colors they see around the house or when they're coloring.
Some other activities I like to incorporate with these are color scavenger hunts where we'll look for things inside or outside the house that are the color of the week. I usually will give them a new word everyday too that begins with the letter of the week. They repeat almost everything anyways so why not expand their vocabulary while also building their letter recognition.
Is it too much to be teaching my 1 1/2 year olds all this. NOPE! Because I don't expect them to remember the color the first day, or always understand that frog begins with f, but if something does stick along the way, well hey it's better than nothing right?
Always remember my mantra,every situation has an opportunity to teach a lesson so take advantage of young minds eager to learn!
We start out teaching our children the basics, "Mama" "Dada" "Hi" Bye-Bye". Then we move on to other fun words "Please" "Thank You", animals, colors, objects, etc. Then they pick up that dreaded word. You know, the word you use so frequently with a toddler? That word that when you say, "Cavan, come see mommy" and he replies, "NO!"
My children have mastered this word. Although now Kaylie adds to it. She'll say "No, Don't want it" or if she doesn't want to get off the swing at the playground after swinging for 30 minutes "NO, Swing!".
Cavan says it to Kaylie everytime she tackles him and takes his toys (Yes she's a bully, we're working on it). He also says it to the dogs when they bark.
All those times I don't mind. Its the times when I ask them to do something and they say no that we have a little problem. So we're now working on the word "YES" and using that as often as possible.
Now let's just hope they don't pick up any other words that may be uttered on occasion that we would prefer them not repeating ;)
Yesterday we took the twins to Roger Williams Park (Not the zoo, just the park). They have the CUTEST toddler playground complete with walk up ramps, small slides, swings (Kaylie's favorite), and a little school bus with steering wheel (Cavan's favorite).
They also have a carousel! We thought, how fun, the kids love their rocking horses and spring horse so naturally they will love to sit on the carousel horse, right? WRONG! Cavan hated it from the second we stepped onto the platform. He screamed and reached for Ryan, so they moved to the bench on the ride, you know the one that doesn't move. Well he still wasn't a fan, so once the ride ended they were outta there!
Kaylie, on the other hand, tolerated the horse before the ride started. As soon as it started up though I literally thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head. She didn't know what to think! And of course, with her short momma, she was going up above my head. Once she saw that, she wanted no part of that horse anymore. So we moved to the bench as well. That she did enjoy. She was clapping and laughing as we went around. So she got a second ride around on the bench with me while Cavan and Ry watched from the fence.
Right before the ride started, before the fear truly set in.
In conclusion, The rocking horse and spring horse are greater than the carousel in the mind of my twins.