Thursday, October 28, 2010

Solo Parenting Tips

Solo parenting is hard. Whether a single mum or a pseudo-solo parent this is not any easy life. Here are my tops tips for getting through those tough days. The days when you do not think you could possibly take any more..

:-When you want to scream take a look at your baby.

There will be times when you are ready to break. When bubby is needing so much of you and you feel yourself losing it. Fight these negative emotions by holding and looking at your baby. Holding, looking, touching, kissing and breastfeeding your baby trigger the release of Oxytocin, this hormone helps to calm you and produce a strong love reaction toward your baby.

:-When bubby is asleep down all tools

When bubby drops of for a nap this is time for you to recharge. Don't be tempted to hang out washing, pay bills or tidy the house. This is 100% your time. Use it wisely. Read a book. Watch some tv. Work on a relaxing hobby. Have a sleep yourself.

:- Wear your baby.

There is a whole community of mums out there who wear their baby as a way of life. They wear their baby when they are out shopping, when they are doing the housework and when they feel that baby needs that sort of closeness.
For a long time I considered baby carriers to be the anti-thesis of prams. They are not. Prams are for transport, and the occasional rocking of the baby to sleep. Carriers are for closeness and comfort.
Note: If you are a first time babywearer I whole-heartedly recommend joining a baby-wearing group (whether online or in person) in order to learn how to babywear correctly. A type of carrier known as a bag sling is incredibly unsafe and the cause of multiple deaths. Sadly due to the pretty design bag slings are one of the most common baby carrier found in stores. Ring slings, Wraps, Mei Tais and Soft-Structured carriers present much safer alternatives.

:- Keep yourself busy.

This might sound ridiculous, you probably will feel looking after bubby keeps you busy enough. It is really easy as a mum to spend an entire day on the lounge room floor entertaining your baby. Every time you try to leave your baby becomes unsettled or fussy and you sit back down again feeling trapped in the lounge room. You will find that both you and your baby are happier when you busy yourself, bake a cake, go do the grocery shopping, weed

:-Phone a friend

Ask for help whenever you need it. Find a friend or family member that has been through it. Call them and have a chat, invite them around for coffee. This is a time when you will notice that some family members will not understand what the fuss is about. Other mums who have never experienced any form of solo parenting might not be the most sympathetic. Find a mum or two that has been through it and do not be afraid to ask them around for a coffee.

:-Permission to take a shortcut

Give yourself permission to not be a perfect parent all of the time. It really does take a village to raise a child. If you are doing it solo then you are going to be physically unable to achieve all of the wonderful parenting ideals that you have set. This might mean you do give your child a dummy, let them watch TV while you fold the washing, or put them in a rocking bouncinette. These parenting shortcuts are there to help you, make use of them when you need.

:-Build your community

This blog is all about building a community of mums. This is possibly the most important, and hardest, of all the tips. Make use of online communities as well as real life friends. Find other mums who are committed to creating a community.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Forget the flowers, take a casserole instead.

Eleanor 020b 

My cousin had a beautiful baby a few weeks ago. I have not yet been to visit yet. I am waiting. I am giving my cousin a chance to settle in to her new life as a mum. She has plenty of visitors, her own parents and sisters, our grandfather, some of her close friends. I am not in her inner circle so I am waiting.

Next time someone that you know has a baby do not visit her at the hospital, don't send her flowers and don't turn up camera in hand expecting photos of you holding her baby. Wait.

Give the mum some time. The baby will look just as cute in a months time as he or she does now. Mum is adjusting to a brand new life. She most likely laboured all through the night and is now beginning a breastfeeding relationship with her child. She wants to sleep when she is tired, she wants to let bubby sleep whenever he or she needs, and she wants to be able to sit in her favourite chair with her top down while her and baby learn how to attach.

She wants visitors, but not a lot. Unfortunately the visitors she most wants and needs are the very people she is close enough to to be able to say "hang off today, I have been overwhelmed with other visitors”. Traditionally well-wishers flock to the hospital bearing flowers and gifts. It is an exciting time and everybody wants to hold the new baby and congratulate the new mum. Allow me to suggest an alternative.

Send a card, a welcoming gift, a care package to her via one of her inner circle (her mum, her sister, her husband) and then just wait.

Wait at least one month phone. Then phone the new mum (or her mum, or sister or husband) and ask if you can come for a visit. When you do visit, make sure you arrive at the time you organised. She has probably organised her sleep around this time. Arriving late (or even too early) is bad form.

Take a cooked meal rather than flowers. Something that she can pop into the freezer and eat later with her husband. Do not expect to eat it with her.

Before you hold the baby offer to do some housework. You could hang out some washing for her, run a vacuum over the floor, change the sheets on her bed, wipe out her bathroom. Look around for an odd job or two that she has not been able to do. Do not offer, just do it. This is one of those times that it is better to apologise rather than ask permission.

Do not expect her to play the hostess. Instead offer to get her a glass of water, make her a cup of tea, and offer her a piece of the cake that you brought with you. When you are finished make sure you do the cleaning up.

Lastly, do not overstay your welcome. Watch her for signs of tiredness or indications that she is wanting to put bubby to sleep. Hopefully you were able to have a hold, but do not feel disappointed if you did not. After all, you have blessed your friend and welcomed her into the journey of motherhood. You have shown that you are available to support her if, and when, she needs. That should be the purpose of your visit!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Playgroups are not for socialising

Playgroups are not the best way to socialize either yourself or your child. Playgroups come in a wide variety of forms from structured craft mornings and musical sessions to meetings at the local park. They generally all have two things in common, a dozen or so mums who struggle to remember each others names and at least that many little ones attempting to play nicely together.

Playing nicely together is the first hurdle. Much poking, pushing, taking, snatching and crying ensues. The problem stems from the uncertainty about parental duty. Every parent has as slightly different view about what constitutes socially acceptable behaviour. Just how much clumsy pushing and touching is okay. If these concerns seem silly they are only proven as you watch other mums apologise to each other as one clumsy baby pushes too close to another.

The next hurdle is that generally anyone is welcome to turn up. Now I am not saying mums should avoid new people, just that when a dozen relatively random mums turn up it is pretty likely that the baby will be the most they have in common. Making small talk with a mum who has completely different parenting ideologies is tedious at best, at worst it leaves you feel like a crap mum.

Instead of trying to super-socialise our children in a playgroup environment, mums should just be looking for a small group of similar and likeminded mums. A handful of mums that know each other well, that have enough things in common that it is easy to accept the differences.

Playgroups are one of many ways to meet other mums, like a dating pool for new mums. However once the friends are made, and the group is formed they really do not need revisiting (until the next time you are stalking for a mum to join your circle!).