Baby Talk: Surviving the first year

Tips for new parents on how to keep your heads above water.

September 28, 2006 13:53
4 minute read.
baby talk 88 amanda

baby talk 88 amanda. (photo credit: )


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The moment we've all been waiting for... (Or, at least Ya'ir, who is always up for eating birthday cake and has to wait until January for his third birthday.) Kinneret and Yaron are on the brink of their first birthday. Although proud that we weren't driven over the edge during this first, very challenging year, I take none of the credit. The secret of our success is purely inertia: three little bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. Until they fall down, that is, and need to be tended to by two larger bodies struggling to stay in motion. Between feedings, crying jags, diaper changes and saving the curious trio from the brink of death, the year has flown. Some lessons learned in the school of hard knocks... Lower your expectations While pregnant with Ya'ir, I had fantasies of becoming the perfect Betty Crocker during maternity leave. My husband would come home from work to a shiny home, a scrubbed baby, a beautiful wife and dinner simmering on the stove. Ya'ir and I would be calm and chuckling after a day frolicking in the park. The only tension in the home is which CD to put on now - the Vivaldi again, or maybe some more brain-building Mozart. The reality was that my husband was quite happy if he was able to consume a little pita and humous before being handed a wailing Ya'ir so I could perform one of the projects on my highly revised list: 1) brush teeth, 2) change out of pajamas, 3) if time permits, take shower... Unless your name is Superman or Wonder Woman, it's time to swallow pride and realize there is no way to do it all and, in my case at least, stay fit for being seen (or smelled) in public. Ask for help. Or at least take it Also known as "thank God for Savta." After having mastered the above, I began to realize that life is infinitely easier if I accept my mother-in-law's generous offers of help. In addition to saving our careers over the summer months and anytime one of the kids is sick, she takes Ya'ir once a week and spoils him rotten. Tag-team parenting My husband firmly holds that the proper parent-child ratio should be two adults to one child. But until we win the lottery and can afford four live-in nannies, we can usually make do with the two of us. Divide and conquer, if you are lucky enough to have a two-parent household. As it is probable that one parent will enjoy certain tasks more than the other, let the cogs in the household machine be happy for a smooth and efficient operation. Likewise in tough discipline situations: if a clever offspring knows how to push your buttons, call in the reinforcements for relief. It is much better to regroup and present a unified front. Store sleep Wouldn't it be nice if you could open a savings account and deposit sleep into it (collecting interest quarterly)? Alas, there is no way to actually draw on your sleep reserves after spending a wakeful night with a teething baby (or two). What I've found key to maintaining some modicum of coherence is to go to bed as early as possible, hoping to stay there as long as possible. Who knows? You might get lucky and actually get a decent night's sleep by mistake. Make everyday outings an adventure Bright colors, exotic smells, varied sounds, things to touch and an ever-changing environment. Paradise for a baby? That's right, the local supermarket. In a perfect world we would be touring the zoo, having picnics in the park and basking in the pool every afternoon. In our world, we're lucky to get to a local playground - and follow it up with a nourishing bowl of cereal. Especially for new dads Enlisting my husband and big brother (a proud father of two youngsters), here is a sub-section mainly for the boys.

  • It's not your fault (oh no, wait - it is).
  • You will have sex again (just not during this fiscal, calendar or lunar year).
  • They do stop crying (after you go to work). Even the mothers.
  • Continue to pretend you can't hear them crying during the night as long as possible. Tomorrow is another day I could hardly believe it when I heard Ya'ir singing, "If you're happy and you know it" this morning. Is this the same boy who fell out of bed last night for the first time and subsequently woke up screaming on the hour? In looking at Kinneret bouncing up and down and dancing to the song, it was hard to picture the red-faced girl who refused to sleep more than a consecutive hour. Gazing upon a peaceful, chortling Yaron, one would never know that he was the biggest sleep-stealer last night, preferring to doze while being held and wake up when placed in his bed. But surprisingly, as bad as the night can be, somehow dawn's early light brings a fresh start. For the babies at least. The writer is a mother of three-in-diapers.

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