Mom At Work

Kumquat meets his grandma for the first time!
Well, I missed last weeks post, I apologize! I am not going to give up on my resolution, I am right back on track this week.
Today my kumquat turns eight weeks, and that means I am back at work. These past two weeks have been difficult for us, but we got through and we are getting into the swing of things.
My mom flew in on Saturday to help out with this transition and to meet her first grandson for the first time!
Monday I had the day off for the holiday, but I went to a doctor's appointment and left Kumquat with my mom and was away from him for the first time, it was not easy, but I stayed composed.
Then Tuesday was the big day, I went to work. Kumquat was crying when I left, but he was safe with his daddy and grandma. I cried. As I drove to work I could not escape the thought that I was leaving my baby behind. So I cried some more.
At work I was very supported, I arrived early and my co teachers were quick to offer me hugs, of course that made me cry (are you noticing a theme?). Then I started my day and everything was alright, I had enough work to keep me busy. I did not feel completely on the top of my job having been gone for six weeks, but it was not a major problem, I got through the day. When I got home I did not put my baby down, we were very happy to see each other. I gave him a bath as part of our evening ritual and the day was over.
Wednesday I did not cry, the day went well, but I was even more attached to Kumquat when I got home. It was a smooth day though.
Thursday was rough. The week was wearing me down, and I left half an hour early because I was feeling ill, leading to the fact that on Friday I stayed home sick.
Sure it was a little rocky, but I am getting back into the swing of things at work and it is good.

Week two was better, again my kumquat stayed home with his dad and grandma. Next week will be great, because the baby is going to be in an infant class on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then home with my husband on Thursday and Friday. When I was pregnant I was very concerned about how little he would be by the time I would need to take him for group care, but now that I know he is a strong and healthy boy, and he is growing so fast, I am much more comfortable. On top of that I am fortunate enough to have hand-picked the people who will be taking care of him, I have nothing to worry about except getting out the door on time.

I'd love to hear what you went through when returning to work.

Book Share - Bringing Up Bébé

I don't want this:

I apologize for the video quality, it is the best I could find.

In the video above the media has illustrated the type of parent-child relationship that I do not want with my child, it is ugly and embarrassing that this is considered normal in America. I would go so far as to say that this commercial is intended to be cute and relatable. Is this what the world sees when they look at American parents?

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman, was a quick and fun read that gave me an opportunity to evaluate my parenting choices and consider the perspective of other cultures. If you're like me, I don't expect that you will read this book and start doing everything "French", but you may be encouraged to do some things a bit less "American". 

Keeping in mind Druckerman is an American commenting on another culture, she seems to have carefully observed and researched some of what is different about American and French parenting. I enjoyed the fact that this book was a personal story with one mom's perspective about the good and the bad of parenting here and there.

Reading Bringing Up Bébé was encouraging for me, validating my instincts and encouraging me with the things that I thought I was compromising on. I would choose to be a stay-at-home-mom if I had the choice, and as an American I feel very guilty that I am in a position where I will be working and using daycare, according to Druckerman nearly every mom in Paris works, and they seem to have found a way to balance family and work, meeting the child's needs and their own.

So here is what I am taking away from the book (in brief):

  • Children can and should learn to be patient and occupy themselves - for example when I am making a phone call it is within reason to expect my child to wait until I am done before I attend to minor needs.
  • Children should be treated with respect and can be expected to treat others with respect, even if they are shy it is reasonable to require a child to say hello, goodbye, please, and thank you.
  • Food does not need to be dumbed-down for children - serve them what you are eating, plan meals that are flavorful and interesting, do not expect or allow them to only eat nuggets.
  • Parents and children need autonomy - it is OK to take a child to the playground and monitor from the edge while visiting with other adults, children do not need to be followed around and entertained by a grown-up at all times.
  • Create a framework of boundaries and allow for plenty of freedom within the boundaries - Have rules, be firm about those rules, but don't have too many.

I highly recommend this book to any parent who watches the commercial above and must stop herself from hurling, I would also encourage any working parent who is struggling with guilt. Take courage, our children can grow and thrive and develop into amazing people, even if we can't be there 24/7.

What actions do you take to help your child(ren) learn to be amazing?

Fitness Ball

I did not buy much for myself while pregnant, I made it a point to save as much as possible to spend on my baby instead of spending on the relatively short nine months of pregnancy. Having said that there is one thing that I ultimately did buy and highly recommend any expecting mom buy - a Fitness ball. The good news is that it is not expensive, I only spent $10 at TJ Maxx where it was on clearance, but even not on clearance you can easily purchase one for under $20.
In my last trimester it became my primary seat around the house, just sitting still on it is a work out for your back, and rolling your hips around as you sit can help to open up your hips in preparation for labor. But, that is not the end of it! My birth plan was to stay home for as long as possible and I spent a great deal of that time on my knees with my upper body draped over the ball breathing through my contractions (by the way, I was 9 cm when I arrived at the hospital, just saying).
Still that is not the end of what this ball can do for a new mom! I am using it again as a seat around the house to help strengthen my back, there are lots of resources for using a ball as a prop to workout at home. Best of all, the baby uses this ball too! We use the ball for supported tummy time, as pictured, (once his cord stump has fallen off). My child also loves using the ball for comfort, I will hold him at my chest, looking in his eyes and bonding, while gently bouncing on the ball - he nearly always falls asleep in just a few minutes, and this is his favorite way to relax when he is fussy.
Find a ball and buy it, you will find so many ways to use it!

What did you find indispensable while pregnant or with a newborn?

Sleepy Time Routine

Welcome 2013!

This year I am excited to work hard, grow as a family and watch as my little one develops and changes.

When we came home from the hospital I quickly observed that Kumquat had his own schedule, he would be awake and alert for part of the morning and most of the evening; from about 7 PM until 1 or 2 AM. He would also sleep all afternoon and the rest of the night. That was his own schedule, and for my part it is easy enough to work around.
At this point though I am starting to consider how life will change when I return to work, not to mention when I start taking Kumquat long for daycare. Towards that consideration I am attempting to introduce a bedtime routine. I have been getting to know him, and I know what soothes and comforts him, so I can use that for guidance to meet his and my own needs.
My plan is to begin at seven o'clock by turning off distractions such as TV, turning down the lights, and turning on peaceful music using Pandora Radio. The next step will be to give Kumquat a bath, he loves the Tummy Tub so this works to relax him. Bath time is followed by infant massage or baby yoga, which I am still trying to get the hang of, I am not sure yet what he enjoys. With the rub down over, I put him in a cozy sleeper and we move the party to the bedroom where I feed him while singing lullabies and bedtime prayers, which ideally puts him right sleep.
Realistically he does not go right down so enter my fitness ball where I bounce while I sing and he does slowly drift off. If that does not work, but I can see that he is ready to sleep, my last resort is to lie down in bed and nurse him, which he enjoys so much that it is a near guarantee he will sleep.
My success with this has been spotty, so I am trying to be persistent without letting my expectations be too high. He's only four weeks old! I believe that in time and with thoughtful modifications he will learn regular sleep. When we do get the hang of it, we can do a modified version for naps.
It feels like he is very young for me to be expecting a routine to matter, but even if he only falls asleep for an hour, I will have that regular hour to meet some of my own needs, such as eating dinner, taking a shower, or sleeping myself. Additionally by making a ritual of this, it will be something we can share when I am not with him all day every day, and I treasure every minute I do get with him.

What rituals and routines do you and your family have?

Stages of Life

As a mother we are in love with each and every inch

I have reached a new stage in my life, over the past year my husband has finished school and begun working, I have taken a full-time job as an Infant Teacher, we have moved from Michigan to Massachusetts, and to top it all this month we had a baby. I am the happiest I have ever been.
I am ready in the New Year to revamp my blog, but with all my life changes it is likely to be going in a new direction - to be honest it’s my blog and I'm going to write about whatever I want! I will still have things to say about the professional field of education; my current position is at a childcare and preschool, in this capacity I am caring for babies between six weeks and 15 months, so I will write about the proper care of that age group, I will also be undertaking the school's garden project this spring, so I am looking forward to sharing about the successes and failures that I encounter.
Besides my professional life, I am excited to talk about being a mom; I will plan to share my birth story and write about birthing topics that are important to me, I will write about the emotions of working as I go through them, and I will share about anything else that matters to me.
2013 is going to be a great year, and my New Year’s resolution will be to write on a weekly basis. I am very excited to share more, and I hope you will join me on this journey.

Have you made a cliché New Year's Resolution?

Welcome to the Class – A Phone Call Day

Last fall during my student teaching Kathy called up the parents of every student and invited both parents and students to come before school began and have an individual conference. This year with so much going on I will not have that kinds of time, but I will take the time for a short phone call. I will welcome the student to the class and tell him or her a little of what I am excited about, and I will ask what he or she is looking forward to during the third grade. I will also talk to the parents. I have learned to ask early in the school year what the parents expectations and worries are for the year ahead, is there anything I should know about this student? You never can be sure what you will find out that will be essential to your planning, everything from home-school communications and previously unreported allergies, to gaining an idea of how the parents view school.

This is also a chance to open the door to parents, let them know that I care about what they have to say, and I want to hear it. Let them know that if they have questions about what is going on in school I will make myself available to them and answer questions or provide resources.

I will also find out if parents have internet access for our class web page so I will know who to send printed versions of the newsletter to. All of this is in addition to mailing out my letter of introduction and welcome, where my contact information and the class web page will be made available. I am so excited to begin getting to know my students this year!

A Slight Twist

As I continue searching for a class of my own, I have decided to plan for the new year as though I have found the perfect placement. My imaginary class is a third grade in Massachusetts, with 26 students.

This will help me to stay on my game and to be better prepared if at the last minute I do find a placement anywhere. I have chosen to third grade, because I would like to teach third grade, but also because it is in the middle of the elementary grades, so some of my planning will be useful if I do begin teaching at any elementary level. The most important part of my imaginary classroom, is the fact that it is in Massachusetts, this means I will get some practice with Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, and it will help to prepare me for the Massachusetts Test for Educator License (MTEL) or any out-of-state teaching.

I am very excited to begin getting ready for my first year of teaching (almost)!