Food For Thoughtful Parenting. Nina Psy.D. Coslov
food for thoughtful parenting
12 must-have lists for new parents & young families
nina coslov & tara keppler
Copyright © 2011 by Nina Coslov and Tara Keppler.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
Book design by Tara Keppler
Published in eBook format by Six Monkey Press
Converted by http://www.eBookIt.com
Liv, Bump, and Per
Zan, Will, and Kate
Our goal for this book was to create a collection of lists that pulled together some of our favorite parenting strategies and tactics. We’ve gathered these ideas over years on playground benches, during parking lot chats, and through our own trial-and-error experiences. They are the ideas that best help us ease the way through rough spots, inject new energy into the time we spend with our families, and remind us to be the parents we want to be more of the time: relaxed, proactive, creative, supportive, and present. We share these with the hope that they might do the same for you.
Nina & Tara
food for thoughtful parenting...
Thoughts for Newbies
1. Find your people
2. Let go
3. Find your own way
4. Embrace a new rhythm
5. Back off
1. Find your people. What do we mean by “your people?” It’s changed. Your people are no longer your childhood friends, your college friends, your favorites from that book group. Your people are now anyone who became a new parent within two to three weeks of you. Where to find them? A few suggestions: join a local new parent’s group. Many hospitals and birth centers facilitate these groups. Start up a conversation if you see someone with an infant while you are at the pediatrician’s office, out for a walk, or at the grocery store. Make a point to notice new parents at the library, park, or gym. Check out how they interact with their babies and what kind of gear they’re toting around—you’ll likely be able to identify people with whom you’ll have something in common. When you find your people, you’ll know. They are struggling with, enjoying, and being blown away by the same things as you on exactly the same time schedule. And it is likely they are facing the same repercussions of sleep deprivation. When it’s a good match, these will be some of your most treasured and enduring relationships—period. They’re friendships that will greatly ease and enrich your journey to new parenthood.
For me there’s nothing that could ever rival the sense of comfort, support, and hope I got from my new-found “mama friends” during that crazy transitional time when we’d commiserate about cracked nipples, in-laws, body image, the color of poop, sex. No way I would have been so hopeful, playful, or confident, or laughed so much that first year without them! —t
2. Let go. The demands and delight of a new baby leave much less time in your day to get the other stuff done. Here are two of our favorite ways to deal with this challenge: first, let go of some things to make room for what matters more. As new parents, we both heard tips such as “don’t clean the house,” “let the laundry pile up,” “sleep when the baby sleeps,” or “don’t return phone calls.” For one of us a messy house is cause for distress and anxiety … for the other it is not getting to the phone at least daily to connect with friends. Take the time to figure out what things bring you peace and enjoyment in these changing times and which tasks you can really “let go.”
Second, allow yourself to accept help—which can be harder than it seems. For us, one of the toughest things to “let go” of was our sense of independence and competence. We had cruised along for so many years smugly in control in the driver’s seat, takin’ care of business just fine, thank you. Amazingly, a thoughtful offer of assistance somehow cast a shadow of self-doubt, and we thought, “Am I someone who needs help?!” Pause. Reframe it. Ask yourself, instead, “Why wouldn’t I accept this kind gesture in order to have more time to bond with my baby, spend with my family, relax, sleep, work out, get to the phone (fill in the things that bring you peace and enjoyment here!) … ?” So our advice? Say yes, thank you, and let the help in! Savor the meal, soak in the clean tub, be grateful that the onesies are clean—even if they are folded in a funny shape.
3. Find your own way. Your parenting legs will stabilize daily. This stabilization goes on and on throughout your parenting journey. Seek advice from those you trust. Good friends and books can confirm your instincts when you feel wobbly about your choices. There is a book out there that supports every parenting style. Find yours. But no matter what you read or hear, trust your gut. Figure out what works for you and your family, and have confidence in your own deep connection and understanding of your child, whether it’s breast or bottle, disposable or cloth, sling or stroller, full time or part time, bunny or bear, or any combination. And as your child grows, reassess what approaches still work and which to revise.
As a new parent, it helps to be prepared for the inevitable barrage of advice that will come your way. Although advice is usually well-intentioned and often useful, a lot of advice is unsolicited, and some is downright intrusive. We found it handy to have a couple of responses ready for those conversations we’d rather avoid: “Thanks, you’ve really given me something to think about,” or “It’s good to get other perspectives,“ or “Wow, I wouldn’t have thought of that.” And for the truly unhelpful pieces of advice: “Thanks, I’ll suggest that to her parents.”
4. Embrace a new rhythm. Read “rhythm,” not “schedule,” here. Yes, the schedule (if you choose to create one) of your day will change, too, but by rhythm we mean the flow of your day. Those four-hour chunks of time you previously had to indulge on a task are now shorter—much. Babies need to be fed, put to sleep, and changed with astonishing frequency. So those four-hour chunks are now plus or minus 30 minutes. It may be shocking and overwhelming at first—it was for us. No matter how long (or short) those bits of time are in the beginning, they do get longer and longer. Hey, by the time your child is two, you may even have 45 minutes to yourself!
I remember this sense of dread every time my newborn cried and my mom would say, “I think he’s hungry.” I thought, “Already? He can’t be!” It felt suffocating. The sooner I recognized, rather than fought, the need to give into a new rhythm, the easier things felt. —n
5. Back off. By this we mean let your child have their own relationships with other people without your (over) involvement. This can be hard, particularly with relatives—we all have ways that we want our children to be treated, to be spoken to, and in turn (when they’re older) to treat others and to speak to them. It’s easy to get hung up on trying to be an arbitrator between, say, a child and a grandparent. Once your friends or relatives understand your family rules (such as no coffee drinks or video