Thursday, 10 January 2013

What I've learned since having kids

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     It's always amazing to me that we, as humans, are able to have children so freely. I mean,'s the biggest responsibility in the world, the most important job you'll ever have and the hardest thing to do {parenting}, and people are shockingly expected to just pop babies out and go for it.

     In the hospital, our babies are handed over to us as casually as someone handing us a cup of coffee and telling us a few things about not spilling it, or watching that it's the right temperature before drinking it. No one tells you what to do with your cup when it's empty. No one tells you what to do if your cup rips. No one tells you what to do if you feel sick after drinking that coffee. No one tells you much of anything--and there are A LOT of things to have to know.

*cute hat courtesy of the amazing Maja H. Thank you!

     I'm learning each and every day about how to care for babies, young children, myself and Terry through this wild ride of parenthood. I don't know much, but I do know I want to give it my all. I have this vision of the mom and wife that I want to be, and I consequently purposely try to live it out so that it's not just a fantasy in my mind. I've failed a bunch of times. I've felt mommy guilt. I've felt frustrated when I knew I should have had more patience. I have felt overwhelmed. I have felt exhausted. And all in the same breath, I have felt more joy and happiness in my life than I ever have before.

     With a 3 month old and 2yr old at home with me every day, I'm still trying to figure it all out. But there are a couple of things that I now know for sure. Here are just a few:

1) Take care of Terry.

      Before I gave birth to Mya, my mom's wonderful friend gave me some excellent advice. She told me that having kids can be all-consuming and your husband (and marriage) can get lost in the mix very easily. Take care of him, she said. Make sure he knows that he is still important, loved and cared for. And he needs to do the same for you. It's the best thing that you can do for your children.

     I agree.

     So I say thank you a lot. And he does the same. I tell him how much I appreciate that he packs my diaper bag for me the night before or how he gets up super early with Mya every morning. I pay attention to his stress levels or his feelings of being overwhelmed and I try to fix it. Hence, his Day O' Terry days that I provide for him here and there throughout the year. Before we even had kids I started creating these days for him, where the whole day was all about him. I'd plan something special for him that I knew he loved to do, buy him his favourite treats, give him complete power over the remote control (which, honestly, doesn't happen very often in this house), make him his favourite meal and just make sure that he felt like the entire day was based around him and his happiness.

     He got his 1st Day O'Terry of the year this past Sunday. I decided this time though, I'd give him a day off of all parental responsibilities, or having to schedule events around nap times or diaper changes. I decided I'd give him a day completely to himself.

     After planning to steal the kids away for the day and secretly setting up with Jeff that he'd take Terry off to see a movie that afternoon, he woke up to a basket of goodies and strict instructions to do absolutely no housework while the kids and I were away (which, he didn't exactly adhere to unfortunately...but I tried).

     I told him to play all the video games he wanted, watch hours of his favourite TV shows, eat his favourite snacks and enjoy the silence that neither of us ever really get these days. So I packed the kids up, brought them to church for the morning, then spent the rest of the day at my parents place as he enjoyed a day all to himself.

     Taking care of Terry. Check.

2) Swaddle bags are the greatest things ever. Period. Wish I knew this when Mya was a baby.

3) Your toddler, who once slept through the night consistently, will (possibly) start waking up several times a night once you bring the new baby home.

     How did we not know this vital information ahead of time??? Those first couple of months were exhausting and we found out later that we weren't alone--hearing of many other 1st children doing the same throughout that adjustment period of having a new sibling.

4) Two lessons from the NICU nurses:

      #1) Don't feed your baby then put him in the bath--he'll throw up.

#2) If you let your baby sleep all day long, he'll probably be up all night long. (True story).

5) Kids will wreck some of our stuff.

      I've learned not to spend a fortune on anything, so I'm not worried or upset if (or, when) it does get little hand prints on it. I also live by the theory that the marks, dents, stains and scratches from our kids growing up in our house will all just one day be memories for us to look back on and remind us of when we had our little ones in our home.

     If I was worried, these two wouldn't have had the fun that they did splashing about "washing" dishes together the other day.

My poor chairs.

*note to self:  Put the tea towel on the 1yr old's chair next time. 

6) Every hard thing about parenting is just a phase and will eventually come to an end.

     I remind myself of this all the time, from feeling like I might never sleep through the night again to calming two-yr old temper tantrums. Everything is just a phase.

7) All of the wonderful parts of parenting can pass us by quickly. Enjoy every minute.

p.s. Thank you Amanda and your wonderful mom and step-dad for our beautiful new swing! 

8) The trick to keeping Mya's curious little fingers out of Carter's crib while he's sleeping during the day? These wonderful little door knob locks. We just snapped them onto his bedroom door and all of a sudden he was able to have nice long uninterrupted naps. Hallelujah.

9) Water cures the grumps. Sometimes we have baths in the middle of the day at our house since I fully believe the saying "When kids are grumpy, put them in water". Works like a charm every time. And if a bath isn't an option, a bucket of water with some toys or a kitchen sink full of dishes and soap is a surefire way to break out the smiles again. Heck, even a spray bottle works.

10) It takes a village to raise our kids. If people offer to help, take it.

     I'm still working on this one, as I completely know it to be true--but tend to feel guilty letting others help when I need a break. It's important though, so I do it. And consequently, it encourages the idea of surrounding our kids with as many people to love them as possible, which is my ultimate goal.  
Alright, that's it for now. I hope to have a much longer list by the time I'm 80.

Happy Thursday!

Erica xox

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