a reply to: Atsbhct
First and foremost.... CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
I know it's a cliché but it is absolutely true that they grow up WAY....TOO....FAST!!! I know it's easy to say but really do your best to soak it
all in. In the blink of the eye your son will be walking, talking and you may be left wondering, "What happened to our little baby?" (As a
reference, our little guy is 5 years old).
To your post in general.... I saw this thread yesterday and it had me thinking about my wife and my parenting "philosophy." We never read any books
or subscribed to a specific philosophy but if I HAD TO put a name to it.... I would say we follow a philosophy of Consistency.
I work days and she works nights. Although we don't get much time together during the week, it's well worth it because for the most part we've never
had to worry about finding childcare. That also means that, especially during the school year when he has to be up in the morning, the bulk of the
"work" falls on me (which I don't really mind because I suspect we get more one-on-one time together than a lot of child-father pairs out there).
Anyway, back to consistency. Kids like adventure and the unexpected but I believe they also need routine. Our son knows exactly what to expect each
day when Daddy gets home and Mommy goes to work. He knows when its time for dinner. He knows when its time for homework. He knows when it's bath
time and he knows when it's bed time. I keep this schedule essentially 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Yes, I do let him stay up a little bit later
on weekends or days that he doesn't have school (so he can sleep in and let my wife sleep a little bit longer).
An offshoot of consistency is another thing we are teaching him and that is Delayed Gratification
. Beyond my expectation that he sticks with
our routine without b-tching and moaning, he is expected to put his toys away and straighten up his room when I ask him each night. He has learned
(the hard way in a few instances) that there are consequences if he does not. (He's 5 so I don't expect the room to be immaculate but toys should at
least be piled in one corner of the room and any clothes lying around should be put in the hamper and any dishes should be put in the sink).
It goes a little something like this.... If he behaves Monday through Friday, when we do our errands on the weekend, he gets to pick out a new toy.
Nothing extravagant. Just a car or small Transformer or something along those lines. He also knows that if there is a toy that is a bit more
substantial that he wants, he can "bank" his toy getting privilege so that by not getting a toy on weekend 1, he can get a bigger one on weekend 2.
Here's the catch though.... He has learned that Daddy has a long memory. If he behaves Monday, acts like a prick on Tuesday then acts okay the rest
of the week..... Sorry kiddo, no toy this week. The first time I held the line with this was one of the first times that I truly felt the, "This
hurts me more than it hurts you" thing. I hate seeing my kid cry but I wouldn't be doing him any favors if I let him get away with things and not
stay true to his word/obligations.
Speaking of staying true to one's word, another thing I do is NEVER lie to the kid. I don't mean stop him from believing in Santa Clause or anything.
I mean if I tell him I'm going to do something, I do it. For example, if I tell him, "After work tomorrow I'll take you to the park" and the next
day is a long one and I'm exhausted by the time I get home, I still make sure I take him to the park. I want him to know not only that he can believe
what I say, but that the same is expected of him.
There's about 85 thousand other things I want to write about but I need to make sure I get this bit of unsolicited advice in here...
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I CAN TELL A NEW PARENT
I really, sincerely hope that you are one of the few people that this never happens to but in all likelihood it will happen.
Babies cry. At times here and there for a wide variety of reasons, they cry a LOT. They can literally cry for an hour at a time or more.
That being said, there were a handful of occasions when my wife was at work and it was late into the night and our little guy just would NOT stop
crying, let alone go to sleep. You try everything. You hold him, you sit down with him on your lap, you rock him gently back and forth while singing
to him. You try EVERYTHING but nothing works and the crying becomes like a bullhorn in your ear. Reading these words don't have the impact of
experiencing it. I mean screaming-crying for what seemed like an eternity. Just the crying alone can give you an incredible headache. Add to that
the emotional aspect that you hate to see/hear your kid cry. Then add the fact that you're exhausted to begin with and you know that you have work
the next day. It's this very strange emotional state where you feel helpless and frustrated and exhausted and anger starts to creep in there. I lack
the vocabulary to adequately describe it so I'll just say it really, sincerely feels like you're either going to snap or have a friggen heart
I know this may seem cruel or cold to some, but in those extreme moments when the end to crying is nowhere in sight and you feel that you can't take
it any more...... gently put baby in his crib, leave his room, gently close the door, step outside of your house for literally just one or two
minutes (literally 60 to 120 seconds) and take a few slow, deep, calming breaths. Seriously, it's like hitting a reset or refresh button. I promise
you, when you step back inside, the crying wont' seem so bad and you'll remember that baby will fall asleep.... eventually.
From what I remember, our son actually tended to stop crying and fall asleep (I suspect) sooner because he was able to pick up on the fact that I was
calmer. I've always wondered if he was able to feel that my pulse calmed down or if my body let off a different scent because I was calmer.
Anyway, great thread and I'm hoping that this one stays active for a while because I love this topic.
Congrats again and ENJOY it (which I'm sure you are).
Oh, one last thing you may want to do.
When I was setting up his nursery I purchased a very large teddy bear. Each month for the first year or so, on the month-birthday each month we would
print out a sign (1 month, 2 months, 3 months, etc) and photograph him sitting in front of it. After the first year it was so nice to go back and see
how he grew.
One more last thing. Take pictures and pictures and more pictures and take videos and videos and videos. Not just of "exciting" stuff but also
record him doing mundane stuff. Our son is 5 but I already appreciate looking at videos from when he was 2 when he was playing with blocks and I just
set the camera to record him for 5 or 10 minutes. It becomes priceless later on.