Sunday, March 24, 2013

The One-Thing-To-Do List

I am, and always have been, a list maker.  I leave any place I've ever been strewn with a million scrap pieces of paper and sticky notes with things like "forward cold laundry, fold cold laundry, start diaper laundry, clean white pot, empty dishwasher, refill dishwasher, tidy living room, clean toilet, clean shower, clean sink, write in the blog..." and so on.  My lists are usually down to the most minute detail, because otherwise I find myself standing in the middle of a room, not knowing where to start.

But the problem with that is that I never finish a list.  There's just too much detail in them, and so it can leave me feeling defeated at the end of the day, buried under a mountain of un-done to-do's.  So, as of today, I'm instituting a new system: the One-Thing-To-Do List.  Each day, I will only allow myself to put ONE thing on my to-do list, and if I accomplish that, then I everything else will be gravy.  Of course, I'll still have a mental list of all the other shit that needs to get done (take out the trash, vacuum, wash k'tan baby carrier, dishwasher the bottles,...) so it's going to be a bit of a learning curve, letting myself off with doing only one thing.  But I think I can manage.  Today, it was take Ebba for her first swim.  CHECK accomplished. :)  Tomorrow, it will be doing the laundry (this is a bit of a cheat, because there is cold, hot, AND diaper laundry to do.  But I'll give myself a pass if I get just one of those done. :) )

Because I'm such a list-maker, I'm still going to have a running list of all of the things I would like to possibly do, if I get time.  Each day, I'll pick one thing off that list, for the One Thing To Do, and in my spare time, I might pick another little thing from the list. :)

I will keep you all posted on how it goes!

How do you all keep abreast of the bazillion things you have to do as a (ugh) responsible adult?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Three Month Blah

So I don't know if every mum goes through this, but I've decided that in new mummy-hood there is something equivalent to the 7 Year Itch: the Three Month Blahs.

I guess it's not really the same as the 7 Year Itch because it's not that I question my decision to have a kid, or question my relationship with E. (which I guess is what the 7 Year Itch is all about in marriage). I'm still loving E. and loving being a mum...but it's different now.  The end of the 3rd month marks the completion of what some call the "fourth trimester," a time where your baby needs you just as much as she did in the womb.  She's helpless, adorable, and all-consuming.  But at the end of the fourth trimester, a new milestone is reached, the honeymoon is over, and this means several things:

  1. First of all, Ebba's diapers have had to be sized up to the next size!  While I adore her bigger, chubbier baby bum, I miss the teeny peanut bum of yore.  There's a bit of bittersweet finality to this simple change. Those diapers will never be snapped on their smallest setting again -- at least not for Ebba.
  2. There is time for reflection and, maybe just in my case, regret.  It's my theory that when people get sad about their "baby growing up," it's not that they necessarily miss the days when she was a teensy baby, it's that they miss their chances to do things exactly perfectly in those days.  At milestones like three months, one can look back and go, "oh I didn't carry her enough, I didn't work hard enough on her feeding...did I sing to her enough?  cuddle her enough?"  It's absolutely counter-productive, because dwelling on these things in the past necessarily means that you'll be missing things in the present, so at the next "blah" milestone, you'll just look back and be like "was I too hung up on the past?  Did I miss something amazing?..." and then the cycle just continues.
  3. This probably goes with the above, but I'll give it a separate point.  At three months, since that precious "fourth trimester" is over, it seems like things should be coming to a certain balance now.  Things should be on a schedule, routines should be established, you should understand your baby's hunger/sleep/boredom cues 100%, etc etc.  I know I'm being too hard on myself, but I still have no idea when Ebba needs to do what!  It makes planning for the day a bit of a bitch.  Okay...this is probably a slight exaggeration.  She has a pretty set bedtime, and a very set bedtime routine.  We also have some established morning and nap routines.  But her nap lengths and times vary like crazy...and shouldn't they be more concrete now?  And sometimes when she's tired, I still try to shove a bottle or boob at her and get a look like "wtf, mummy!?"  Or when she's hungry and I try to rock her to sleep and she starts screaming "neeeeej, neeeej!" which is Swedish for "no," but baby for, "I'm hungry, bitch!"
  4. Again, an offshoot of the previous point, but deserving of its own space, I think: At three months we have to give up that "I'm a new mum" excuse.  The baby is no longer a newborn, we are no longer new mums.  It's both exciting and terrifying.  Previously, if the house was a mess or I arrive late to something, I could just say "well, I have a teensy babe at home."  But now, she's not so teensy!
  5. Ebba is more demanding.  I'm not sure if this is true of all 3-month-olds, but I've noticed Ebba needs me more -- not in the way I mentioned above as in the fourth trimester helplessness.  No, now she needs me to perform.  The days of placing her in her swing for a quick spare moment are dwindling.  Now her angry grunts translate to: "sing another song, mummy!" or "I wasn't done with that book, mummy!" or "Keep dancing, mummy!"  While this is super exciting because it means an increase in her awareness and interaction, sometimes mummy just needs to rush to the bathroom and can't stay and sing or read or dance! :)  Perhaps I should hire E. a jester for those moments.
There are lots of positives to Ebba's new milestone too, of course!  I don't mean to be a negative nelly.  It's been fantastic watching Ebba learn to roll over (we're almost there on the back to front!!) and smile and giggle and follow a conversation with her eyes.  And it's nice that she's sleeping longer and doesn't wake us up 7 times a night (only 6 now, haha).  But, well, my baby's growing up!  *sad face*

So, other mums, have you encountered the Three Month Blahs with your little bundle?  How did you handle it?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fit Mama

Oh, hello again blogosphere!  I apologize for my absence, but see, something has been taking all of my attention lately: a cute baby!  It's a bit difficult to focus when Ebba is doing amazing things like smiling, kicking over her little ring tower, and even almost rolling over these days!!

I do have that AMP Duo diaper review on its way, as well as a few other posts in the works, but I thought I should just fire off a short one in the meantime.  Maybe I can actually *complete* something other than changing a diaper for once. :)  I think that's what motherhood is: starting a million things and finishing one.

So, I thought I'd post a quick bit on returning to exercise after having a baby.  Babycenter has these guidelines for knowing when you're ready to get back into it.  But, basically, I think the most important things are:

  • Wait 4 weeks to do more than just walking (6 weeks if you had a C-Section
  • Make sure your Lochia has finished
  • Check to see if you have abdominal separation
  • Trust your body
I started back into exercise much later than I had anticipated, waiting until 9 weeks.  Mostly, this was because of our feeding issues.  I would have been back at 4 if I could have!  But, I wanted to stay connected to Ebba as much as possible to see what could be done for my milk supply.

The first activity I returned to after walking was yoga, because I knew I could pace myself there, and I found a fantastic class where I could bring baby!  In the class, we can either hold baby in some poses, or have her playing down on the mats at our feet.  Ebba likes to do both. :)  I enjoy the fact that we can stop to feed baby whenever we need to, or can adjust what we're doing as needed at any time.

After a week of yoga, I felt confident about returning to the Real Gym!  I was actually a little nervous about heading back, but once I got into it, I felt great!  I'm just doing some short full-body workouts these days, since I don't have nearly enough time to do a split (only certain muscle groups on certain days.)  Doing a light full body workout is also a great way to make sure your body is ready for more strenuous activities -- it's a nice way to ease back into things.  Here's a sample of what I've been doing, with 2 sets (3 for legs) 1-12 reps each:
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor OR a trainer.  I have been working out steadily for about 5 years now, but that in no way makes me an expert.  This is not a recommendation.  If you want to start working out after birth, I'd ask your doctor or midwife.
  • Legs: alternating dumb bell squat with dumb bell lunge
  • Back and chest: alternating 1 arm dumb bell row with incline chest press
  • Back and chest: alternating assisted pull up with assisted chest dip
  • Shoulders: alternating front raise with shoulder press
  • Biceps and Triceps: alternating skull-crusher with bicep curl
  • Abs: For this I was much more careful.  I did a short round of crunches, along with a plank (1 min) and some pilates exercises that I have no idea how to describe. :)
It felt SO good to get back into working out!  I think it's a great step back into the normalcy of life after the craziness of childbirth and newborn days. :)

Any other mummies out there who want to share their return to workouts?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Is this a blog? What is this?

Of course this is a blog!  And I'm pretty sure most of you guys know that, too, which is why I don't often ask you, "Is this a blog?"

Then, why do so many people feel the need to ask kids questions like this, where the answer is already known?  What is a question, anyway?  According to one of the google dictionary (authority on all matters, of course), a question is:
"A sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information"
 When we ask a child, "What colour is my shirt?" what kind of information are we eliciting?  We probably aren't really wondering what colour our own shirt is, unless we're colourblind.  No, instead we're wondering if the child knows what colour the shirt is.  Of course we'd like our child to learn colours, but using these types of questions doesn't teach anything; it tests.  And parents don't need to test their children.

In my work, I see lots of parents interacting with their children, and one of the main conversation strategies that parents use is questions.  Parents seem to love to ask their kids questions.  And, why not?  It seems like this would be a way to get children to talk, right?  It's difficult to have a conversation with someone who has little or no words, like a kiddo or baby, so often we resort to interrogatives to help us along.

Here's the thing: what questions really do is shut down a conversation by limiting what the child can talk about.  Take these examples:

  • Child: [playing with a train]
  • Mom: "What colour is this car?"
  • Child: "Green" [pushes train up the ramp]
  • Mom: "Good job!  It's green.  Where is the train going?"
  • Child: "To work."
  • Mom: "Where does the train work?"
  • Child: "Rail yard."

  • Child: [pushing a train up the ramp]
  • Mom: "The green train's going up, up, up!  My train is going to the store." [moves her train along the track]
  • Child: "Mine going to work in the rail yard."
  • Mom: "I bet that's hard work."
  • Child: "Yep.  But he strong."
When we add language in the form of comments to a child's play, they learn sentence structure as well as concepts such as colours, direction (up/down, etc), numbers, and much more.  We are, without even trying, teaching our children just by talking!  Children also often feel comfortable expanding and adding their own comments to the play when they aren't being "tested" with too many questions.

The other benefit to decreasing questions is that it gives us a chance to sit back and see where the child wants to direct the play, instead of pulling the child's language to our ideas.  Then, we can follow their interest, which will keep them talking more and longer.  Asking a child to play based on our ideas is the equivalent of asking you guys to discuss my favourite TV show...whether you like it or not.

Some ideas to use instead of questions:
  • Comment on what your child is doing.  (ie: "Your train went down the mountain!  Weeee!")
  • Comment on what you are doing in play (ie: "I'm going to make this train really long!!")
  • Use phrases like "I wonder..." or "Hmm...what if..."  (this is a nice way to ask a question without really asking one! :) )
  • Join in your child's play physically, rather than verbally.  Let your child initiate the conversation. For example, grab a train and run it on a track with your child, rather than talking at first.
And, remember not to stress too much about not asking questions.  Sometimes we have to!  But making sure the questions aren't the norm will allow your child to explore his creativity without too many boundaries.

For more ideas and discussion about this topic, you can check out Heather Shumaker's post.