Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mommy Wise Monday: How it became Tuesday

Yesterday, Carter was sick.  He was puking and crying and had a high fever.  Hence, no Mommy-Wise Monday for you readers.  However, you're probably glad I didn't abandon my sick baby to write a blog post.

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Today's post is about how to survive being sick with a baby.  I've done it few times compared to other moms with more kids or sicker kids, but I'd like to share my system anyway, because I actually had another mom ask me how I survived.

My Mommy/Baby Sickness Battle Plan:

Supplies:
Washing Machine - Because some yucky things just need immediate laundering.
Dryer - as above.
Comfy Couch/Bed
Blankets that are washing machine friendly
Stories/Good Books/Movies (For babies AND you)
Sick-food (Water, Soda Crackers, Apple Juice or Pedialite, Lemons, Ginger, Chicken Soup)

It's easier to deal with sick kids when you aren't sick yourself, but I've only ever escaped from this once in my three-year mom career.

First of all, I try to take care of myself - washing my hands, avoiding as much as possible becoming a walking Kleenex for a runny-nosed toddler, and getting as much sleep, and eating as healthily as I can. Usually when the kids are sick, I go into survival mode and load up on echinacea, Vitamin C, cut out all refined sugars and processed food (which are said by some to lower your immune-system) and go to bed early (pff... yeah right, but read "try" as my disclaimer).  This year, it finally happened that I beat those little cold/flu germs back with this routine, and I was so happy that I may have gloated to my sniffly husband a little too much (Sorry dear!)

BUT... when I am sick too, which has been 9 times out of 10 so far, I add "minimalist parenting" to the routine.  I park myself on the couch, and when I had an infant it was so easy compared to now!

(You one-baby mamas are ready to kill me right now.  Under no circumstances does this mean that you aren't having a hard time, a bad day, and that it isn't difficult to care for an infant when you need to be taken care of yourself!  It's hard. It's emotionally taxing. And I think it's only by the grace of God that I didn't just abandon my baby on a doorstep the first time it happened to me.)

Okay, so back to the Sick-Mama-Sick-Baby Battle Plan:
When Patrick and I were sick for the first time, he was not yet crawling (which, at the time, was fantastic) so I parked myself on the couch with diapers, wipes, a puke bucket, a glass of water, saltines, a good book, Patrick's bassinet, toys and books for him, and we just stayed there most of the day.

With older kids, I camp out on one floor of the house, leaving the couch only when necessary.  I do a major baby-proof, making sure that absolutely nothing I don't want them to have is in sight or reach, and I put out snacks, their sippy cups, and do a toy-rotate so that they have the toys they haven't played with in awhile and are less likely to get bored.  We also over-indulge in Treehouse and the Disney channel, both of which act like radiation on the brain after too long, but it's survival, not every-day practice, so I give myself a little break.

I had a thought yesterday while I was sitting with Carter, who insisted on snuggling for most of the day in his pukey-feverish state.  Sometimes, between nose-wiping and other yucky things, it's nice that my boys want to just sit and cuddle - because it's getting to be a rarity now that they're both active toddlers.  We made the best of the sick-day and had some pretty relaxing mom and baby time.

What do you do when you and/or your children are sick?  Suggestions are welcome!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Mommy-Wise Monday

There's wisdom and there's Mommy-Wisdom. The kind of wisdom only gleaned from the profound experience of becoming a mother.  
I've decided to establish a Mommy-Wise day on my blog. Now, every Monday, you can tune in to some experience-based Mommy-Life-Lessons from either myself or another mom whom I admire.

There are already a lot of "experts" out there, who are in many cases, spot on in their knowledge of birth, babies and child rearing, but what I want to emphasize is the intelligence in other mothers' personal experiences which I hope to share as I learn alongside the thousands of others who look for answers each day.
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It is somewhat overwhelming to think about all of the information sources there are from which to glean knowledge about raising children from.  Your health care practitioners, your own mom, aunts, grandmothers, books, videos, the Internet (oooohh the Internet!), and a lot of this information is contradictory, confusing and sometimes, ridiculous.

My first bit of advice about information: Choose wisely.
When I was pregnant with Patrick, our first, I was crazy about books. I read so many baby books, and received recommendation upon recommendation for book after book that I just about died of information overload before the second trimester!  Either that, or morning sickness.

Essentially, I scared myself by absorbing too much information from too many different sources without considering one essential ingredient to my motherhood journey: Me.

Now, after two totally different experiences with babies, my best sources for books and websites and movies are those recommended by moms like me - or the moms that I admire and would like to emulate someday.  I take into account the parenting style of that mom, and I think whether or not I can see myself that way down the road.  If I can't, I'm not as likely to implement whatever it is she found helpful as far as literature.  Essentially, I haven't really changed my personality since I was pregnant with Patrick, I've just adapted my lifestyle.  

My own mom gave me the best advice.  It is bad news for those who are still under the illusion that you can read yourself into being a good mom:

"There is no manual."  

There. Is. No. Manual.
Clarification: Sure, there are well-informed, well-educated people who have degrees and PhD's and there are mothers who just seem to "have it all together" who will tell you what worked for them.  But essentially, what these people do not have, and what you -- and you alone -- have, is your child.

No two children are the same.  Some like to be held forever and ever and ever, while others are happy just to let their little limbs flail.  Some will take a pacifier, and some won't. Now, I'm learning that some one-year-olds get over it fast when mommy leaves, as long as there's other people around (Patrick), and some (like my Carter) have anxiety if another person tries to play with them in their mom's presence. Babies have temperaments just like we do, and it isn't determined by what kind of people the parents are, or by how much coffee you drank while you were pregnant.

We sometimes take a scientific approach to babies, with huge emphasis on predictability.  We oversimplify and over-complicate at the same time. "If I do this + this + this, I should get a happy baby as a result." Then when we don't have success, we suddenly shift to our emotional side and think "I'm a terrible mother! I can't do this"

Truth be told. Some of it is trial and error - the scientific approach.  But sometimes it's pure emotion.  It's depending on your love for your child to tell you what to do.  Moms - even new ones, have great instincts, and I think sometimes we need to get our noses out of the books, smell the roses and just enjoy our kids.