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?