Tulips Parenting Plans

“Opinions are like @ssholes.  Everybody has one.”

Or so goes the saying.  I’ve been thinking a lot about my opinions on parenting.  While this baby is still just under 11 weeks, if we get to meet him or her, God willing, we will be parents.  (I had a friend ask me once if I would ever stop saying things like “Hopefully, if our baby comes…” or “God Willing, and we have this baby…” and I realized I just couldn’t.  Not after our miscarriage.  It just seems arrogant to proclaim that for sure and certain we know the life of our child.  So please excuse me if you find it annoying that I say that stuff.  I just can’t not acknowledge the fragility of it all.)  And 7 months will go by pretty quickly.  While I have never had to truly “parent” a child before, I have some experience to back up my opinions.  Nannying for 3+ years.  I spent most of that with one family, but I did the occasionally sitting for other families on the side.  I got to see a LOT of very different families.  Different dynamics, different values, different rules.  I saw when things worked well, and when they didn’t.  I saw that some things universally works, or universally failed.  Some things were more specific to each family.  Then throw in the dozen+ babies that have been born to friends and family since we started trying to build our own family.  Watching the new parents weed through cribs, diapers, toys, tantrums.  And again, I saw certain truths coming out.  Sure, I’m technically an outsider, looking in.  I’m not there for every moment, every interaction.  I in no way claim to be an expert who has it all figured out!  But I don’t think that makes what I observed completely discredited.  Over the coming months, as I hope and pray this baby continues to grow and thrive, I will be voicing some of my opinions.  My hopes and dreams.  My pet peeves.  Like all generalizations, there is an exception to every rule.  Just because I may decide to do things differently from you, or you find your experience to be different than mine, doesn’t mean I intend to attack anyone.  So please don’t attack me.  One reason I want to write this all down, is so that in a year I can look back at what I thought.  More than likely I will laugh at my naivete.  Chuckle at my optimism.  Maybe something I write will help to encourage me during a particularly difficult time.  Who knows?  But here goes…

I think I’ll start with the basics.  Do what you say, and say what you do.  Don’t make a promise you can’t keep; whether it is about a reward or a discipline.  If you blow off the rewards (a hug, time together, a new book to read together?) how can your child trust that you will follow through on any reward?  If you blow off discipline (whatever that looks like for your family – there has to be consequences of bad choices) why would your child respect your rules, or any rules?

Consistency is so important.  You can’t ask you child to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself.  What you do is more important than what you say, you can tell your child to respect their elders but if you turn around and treat your elders like dirt, it makes what you said void.  Consistency also means being able to anticipate the day.  Having a routine is huge for babies and children.

Training your child to behave correctly the first time is easier then trying to re-teach them later.  Consider the consequences of certain behavior: I’ve been involved with training horses and dogs.  I know babies aren’t horses or dogs, but I saw so many times, things that people would let them get away with because it was “cute” when the animal was small, only to realize it was annoying or down right dangerous when the animal was bigger.  I used to never think twice about letting babies play with my phone (they can’t hurt it!) until I realized how obnoxious it is for a toddler to demand my phone.  A toddler does have more strength to break my phone, and depending on the age, even the ability to push enough buttons to make a phone call.  Until my child is old enough to properly understand what a phone is for, I’m not letting my kid play with them like some kind of toy block.

I’m not “counting to 3”.  It’s annoying.  It’s patronizing to the child.  And the child should follow through with a parents request, when the parent requests it.  Not after the parent raises their voice to a certain octave.  And certainly not when some arbitrary number is reached in counting.  My mom never told me to eat my veggies, and then counted to three to make sure I did it.  She told me to eat my veggies.  And if I didn’t, then there was a consequence.  Does your boss count to three when he or she tells you to do something? No!  That’s not what the real world is like.  It’s not an example of mutual respect.  Don’t set your kids up with unrealistic expectations of how the world works.

We’re not going to co-sleep.  I know lots of people who have done it, and still do it.  And even the people who do it and recommend it, all I hear from them is how poorly they slept, and what a nightmare it is to transition their child to their own bed when the child is older.  From day one, our baby will sleep in it’s own bed.  Yes, I know that means getting up more often.  But you know what, part of being an adult is being able to recognize that some inconvenience now will mean a much better future.  A future of a baby who is a good sleeper.  A baby who is comfortable and confident enough to fall asleep.  A baby who’s world doesn’t fall apart just because it is in a room alone, or because mom or dad set him/her down.

We are planning to cloth diaper.  It’s cheaper in the long run.  Better for the environment.  But mostly, the cheaper-in-the-long-run thing.  Because we don’t have tons of money to be spending on diapers every month.  Yes, I know that means handling dirty, poopy diapers.  I pick up after my dogs.  I’m really not that squeamish about feces or urine.  There is plenty of soap in the world to wash my hands when I’m done.

We are planning to breastfeed.  Yes, I’ve been told it hurts.  Yes, I know that means Hubster can’t really help with the 2am feedings.  Yes, I’ve been told it will be more difficult that I imagine it will be.  But there are so many resources out there (lots of them free!) to give advice and support.  Breast milk is the best food for babies.  It’s what they are supposed to eat.  It has all the nutrients and antibodies and other good things.  It also means we wouldn’t be spending money on formula.  I don’t know that we’re going to breastfeed past 1 year old.  I have a few friends that had on to 2 and beyond.  I’m just not sure how I feel about that yet.  And yes – I know that something may happen that is outside of my control that would make it so that I couldn’t breastfeed.  But I’m gonna try dammit!

We don’t want any toys with batteries.  Nothing that lights up or makes noises.  First and foremost: they are ANNOYING.  And we have a relatively small space.  But secondly, more and more research shows that these toys are overstimulating.  Research also shows that tv for children under the age of 2 can be damaging to the wiring of the brain.  They don’t help “teach” kids like we think they do.  The best way a baby or child can learn is through actual interpersonal interaction.  I think those kinds of toys, books with buttons, movies, encourage lazy parenting.  It’s the TV babysitter.  I didn’t try to have a family for over 2 years just to slack as a parent.  Babies and toddlers and children a like are fascinating by some of the simplest, most beautiful things.  Like looking really close at grass.  Or playing with wooden blocks.  Our grandparents didn’t grow up with technological toys – and if you ask them they will tell you how they loved them.  I’ve had people get really upset when I tell them we wont allow “battery” toys.  They think I’m judging them for having those toys and TV (Really, I don’t judge, I just don’t want it for my kid.) Mostly they wonder what our kids will play with, wonder where in the world to find a toy that isn’t battery operated.  Well, the truth is that there is a PLETHORA of fabulous toys out there.  Lots of great, small business, educational toy stores exist.  One brand (Me.lissa and Do.ug) boasts over 2,000 such toys.  A basic google search also came up with FatBra.inToys and the Woode.nWag.on .  So it can be done.  (Have I mentioned how excited Hubster is about getting Linc.olnLogs???)  And also – I don’t think kids need to have 500 toys to be happy.  Have a few, good quality toys that will last a long time and encourage imagination, and you’re set.

I’m planning to read my kids the original Brothers Grimm fairy tales.  Not that fluffy Disn.ey stuff.  Yes, the originals are a bit darker, but they do a much better job of showcasing tales of morality.  And I guess I’m just not worried about exposing my kids to the idea of life and death.  Hubster grew up on a cattle ranch.  He had a very real understanding of what death meant early in his life.  I don’t think it’s healthy to try and pretend death doesn’t exist.  I think this leads kids to have a lot of confusion about death.  Because the only death they “experience” is on tv or in video games, where death isn’t real.  We’re seeing a huge rise of violence in youth, and one reason is because these kids don’t grasp the weight, the permanence, of death.  Death is a part of life.  (I should also mention that Hubster handles death a lot better than I do.  It’s always so shocking, but he accepts it much better than I do.  I want that for our kids.)  So I would rather let it just be what it is.  I’m not a huge proponent of keeping kids in bubbles – whether it’s about life and death, or about the fact that there are people out there that believe differently than we do in our religious faith.  (Not that I’m going to be taking our baby to hang out at the morgue or strip joint – just to clarify before someone takes what I’m saying to the extreme.   I just think it is a discredit to our kids when we tell them their pet Fluffy “went to the farm” or that great-grandma “went on a trip”.)

Wow, I went on some real tangents there.  I’m sure I’m going to get some people who are really upset, who really disagree with me.  I guess I just trying to be that down-to earth, play in the dirt, don’t own purell kind of person.  Only time will tell how my opinions on all this stuff will, or wont, change.  If you have questions, ask.  I’m sure there’s stuff that needs clarification, I just wanted to get the buzzing out of my head, you know?

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16 responses to this post.

  1. good point on letting them play with the phone – haven’t thought about it…

    in Toronto, diapers are somewhat recyclable – they go in the “green bin” along with food leftovers. I am not sure how exactly that works, but sure makes me feel better about using disposable diapers.

    All in all – I think you and I see eye-to-eye on most things. Except for the fairy tales. Although I think it’s a matter of setting the appropriate age for this stuff. Right now all I am trying to do is entertain and make faces – so I exclusively read cheerful funny stories…

    Reply

    • Oh man, you Canadians are genius! I wish diapers down here in the US were recyclable!

      As for the fairy tales: I don’t really think a one month old us going to get the stories… it’s true, a lot will depend on age. (And I promise not all the fairy tales are dark and morbid. I read “The Frog Prince” to my stepsister the other weekend and it wasn’t gross or bloody or anything. I think a lot of it is my aversion to every little girl thinking she’s an entitled princess and every little boy thinking he’s an entitled prince…Thus my aversion to Di.sney…)

      Reply

      • Nah, not Canadians – Torontonians. Even Toronto suburbs do not recycle. Not yet, anyway.

        Babies don’t get what you read, true – but they feel your mood and hear your intonations, that’s why I choose funny stories. I cannot read something morbid with a smile on my face 🙂

      • yeah isn’t it supposed to be more HOW you read it rather than what you read. You could probably read them a manual on the 1989 vauxhall something or another and as long as you’re screwing your face up and putting on silly voices “My my, mr carburettor, you’re sounding mighty clonky today”
        (*clearly know NOTHING about cars*)

      • Stinky: sounds accurate to me, but then again, I don’t really know what a carburetor does, let alone how it might sound! Hilarious 🙂

  2. I think this will be very fun for you to read back on in a year. 🙂 I agree wholeheartedly with the majority of your points.

    My only comment I’d like to add is in regards to co-sleeping. Obviously, if it’s not for you, it’s not for you…BUT, when it’s 3am and you’re exhausted b/c you’ve been up every hour for the past week, don’t let your pre-conceived notions about it keep you from trying it. Stella co-slept a LOT in the beginning (not something we had intended to do), and it definitely helped me sleep better and more. At a certain point, we transitioned her to the co-sleeper and/or swing (and maybe the last sleep from 5-7am in our bed still), and pretty soon we will transition her to her crib, and it has NOT been a nightmare to transition – i think b/c we did it before 6 months and before she has object permanence issues. Read The Happiest Baby on the Block – it 100% has the best common sense parenting advice I’ve ever read!

    Reply

  3. I’m always game to read some new books! Thanks for the recommendation!

    I will say, I have one friend who really struggled with bonding with her baby after he was born, so she co-slept to improve that, and to me it really made sense for her since she wasn’t the stereotypical “maternal” type of gal. It made a difference for her. I don’t remember when she transitioned her son, maybe there is something to be said for making sure to do things before a certain age/developmental milestone?

    Reply

    • The book I read said that babies get an understanding of their surroundings around 2 months. We’re using the pack and play in our bedroom for the first couple of months and then transfer them to the crib in the nursery. Hopefully, they will be transferred before they understand that something changed.

      Reply

      • Understanding of surroundings is difference than object permanence, just FYI. Object permanence is around 8 months (when things don’t just “cease to exist” because they are out of eye sight) and that’s why that’s when a lot of babies go through stranger danger anxiety sorts of issues (b/c they miss mommy and/or daddy). My peds doc told me that.

        So ya, my point was just to not be afraid to try something (be it co-sleeping or anything else!) just b/c you didn’t think you’d parent that way. Every baby is different, and every baby will need different soothing techniques, etc.

        Another great sleep resource to put on your list is this website: http://www.troublesometots.com/about/
        That website and the book I recommended are 100% the best sleep resources I found. There is a lot of repetitive shit out there that isn’t nearly as good. 🙂

    • Tat website looks fascinating! Must share with Rain who is having an epic battle with sleep with her little boy 😦

      Reply

  4. You’ve been taking some good notes! I do the same thing, every day at work–mostly of things I do not want to do as a parent. I agree with a lot of what you have here, especially battery-less toys and consequences.

    Reply

    • Ya, it’s easy to do the “I NEVER want to do X”. I tried in this post to turn those negatives into positives such as “Instead I will do Y”. For everything I wrote on here, I can tell multiple horror stories. Most from my nannying days. There was one family I worked for (very briefly!), the dad was a specialist surgeon, mom was socialite, so they were basically MIA. It was heartbreaking to see the two kids do things to try and get attention, or comfort. The little girl would sit outside her dad’s office (she wasn’t allowed in, even though he was never actually home) just because she knew he spent time in there, it was a way of “being close.” And the little boy would go into full-on hitting-kicking-biting-rages, at me, at a closed door (if he misbehaved his mom would threaten to leave him forever-which she obviously didn’t follow through with but how scary is that for a kid???)… he just had all this loneliness and hurt and no way to express it. I quit pretty quickly, I just couldn’t stand to see that stuff. 😦

      Reply

  5. It all sounds pretty good to me! I don’t want my kids near my phone either.

    My big goal is to teach them that I’m always on their side. That it’s never me against them, my goal is always to give them as much happy as possible. That means sometimes I have to say no to 1 happy today because I think that will create 10 happy’s later (no candy today, a healthy body later). I hope by teaching that to my children, my eventual teenagers will truly know that and be able to use me as a resource instead of thinking “mom’s gonna kill me”. That advice I give or rules I set have a reason behind them. We may disagree as to what will provide the most happiness, but I hope we all know that’s ultimately my goal.

    Reply

  6. Completely agree on the consistency and following through the actions – when people don’t do this in real life it bugs the shit out of me.
    Can’t comment on your choices, they’re just that and no personal stuff to link into here

    Reply

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