I've seen the Thursday Thirteen challenge on a number of blogs, but this is the first time that I have participated myself. While I've been wanting to participate for some time, I wanted to create this list more for myself, than to participate in another blog-challenge.
With the prevalance of advertising today, there are many products that are sold to parents that I feel are unnecessary and thereby a waste of money... a baby wipe warmer, for example. I mean, really?!
These are the things that I feel I couldn't live without (in no particular order) as a mother.
A JOGGING STROLLER
We all lead, busy, hectic lives. Frequently, in an effort to juggle it all, we are forced to give up exercise, with the impression that "I don't have the time." Shortly after my DD was born, I purchased the jogging stroller pictured here. It enabled me to multi-task. I would plan my run around her nap routine... and thereby exercise while she rested comfortably in the jogger. If we had a dog... I could have hit a triple! I now run with a double jogger... it requires a little more 'umph' to push, but it is certainly worth the effort. :)
Another decision I made with my first-born was to use cloth diapers rather than disposables (although we did use disposables while traveling). I selected Kushies all in ones and thereby didn't have to mess with pins or plastic covers. Not only did we save a lot of money (I laundered them myself, as well)... I know I did my part in conserving natural resources. :)
BOUDREAU'S BUTT PASTE
Boudreaux's Butt Paste was recommended by our pediatrician. It goes on/cleans off easily, has a pleasant scent, and can be used for a number of other skin care needs (dry, cracked hands/feet). As I was using cloth diapers, I rarely had to use it, but when I did... it cleared up diaper rash in just a few applications.
A BOPPY PILLOW
This u-shaped pillow was a God-send, particularly with my first, when I was inexperienced at breast-feeding. The pillow allowed me to prop my daughter up in just the right position, allowing my arms to be free to read or more often, scrapbook! As she got older and I got more skilled at nursing, we didn't use the pillow as much. However, it continued to be employed to help her to sit in an upright position.
A BLANKET FOR SWADDLING
I haven't really experienced the 'sleepless nights' that are so common amongst parents of young children. I believe that is due to the fact that I swaddled my babies every night before bed, and then nursed them to sleep. The wide-open world can be unsettling for a baby who's recently emerged from the closeness of the womb. Swaddling, or wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket, can help her feel secure as she adjusts to her new environment. I found the perfect blanket for swaddling was a large, light-weight, square baby blanket.
I strongly believe that swaddling in the first few weeks, helped my little ones to become good sleepers. My DD slept through the night within the first 2 weeks. HONESTLY! We moved her to her own crib/room during the second month. My little guy took a little longer, but he was in his room, sleeping through the night by month 3. However, he started to climb out of his crib a few months after his first birthday... so we had to get a toddler bed. He now regularly climbs into our bed... I can predict his arrival at my bedside like clockwork, shortly after 12 a.m. I guess he still likes to sleep next to me. But, thankfully, he does go back to sleep immediately.
Yes. Truly. I could write a term-paper on the benefits of breast-feeding, but here I'll just mention a few commonly overlooked benefits. They freed me from having to carry bottles & formula in a diaper bag, provided mid-night snacks with little to no effort (we were co-sleepers, so I basically just rolled over when baby was hungry), and helped burn unwanted calories! I was lucky to have been able to nurse both my children for 2 years.
A MAYA WRAP
Another indispensable product. I selected the pouch style as it seemed to be the simplest. It is basically a little hammock that slips over my head to carry an infant. It can be worn in a number of positions, but I was most comfortable as shown here. It can also be used to carry children up to 35 lbs, but in my experience, at this point, they preferred to walk themselves.
I love the pouch. My little ones would frequently sleep as I went about my errands (shopping, dining at a nice restaurant, picking up the house, etc.). Some people didn't even realize that I was carrying a baby! After a while, I became skilled at picking up the sleeping angel from the carseat and slipping him into the pouch, without waking him. With the pouch, I never carried a carseat out of the car... thus saving my back from having to carry such an awkward load. The wrap/pouch also kept the baby close to my body... they could hear my heartbeat, feel the warmth of my body. Thereby enabling the baby to feel secure, safe, and comforted just as he did in the womb. There are many different styles and manufacturers of 'baby carriers' available today. But at the time I bought mine, they were relatively unknown. Maya Wraps were the only ones I could find.
FAMILY & FRIENDS
A circle of family and friends was critical ... and still is! I strongly believe it takes a village to raise a child. Family & friends provide encouragement, support, a shoulder to cry on, advice, wisdom, modeling, and the occasional free evening to spend with the hubby. :)
Another circle of friends... only much wider. :) The internet has become a major part of my life and I can't really picture life without it anymore. It enables me to connect with people with similiar interests (running, scrapbooking, etc.). When I became a mom for the first time, I spent a lot of time on a forum for mommies with due-dates similiar to my own (I didn't know anyone personally that was pregnant at the time I was - we lived in a small community). Some were first timers, like me. Others were veterans. We shared stories of our visits to the doctor. Our fears and our dreams. It was on this forum that I first learned of the Maya Wrap.
BOOKS, BOOKS, and more BOOKS
I love to read. I want my children to enjoy the written word as well. I have been buying children's books since I was in high school... long before I had children. I have saved them all. For my classroom. For my children. We now read every night before bed (each child selects a book and we read it together before I tuck them in) and many times throughout the day. I can't wait until they are old enough to sit through chapter books. (Oh - another great idea for Thur13 next week!)
I found that having a creative hobby (scrapbooking) helped me to relieve stress and express myself. I was able to journal about my feelings and record memories I'll cherish forever. Blogging has become a major part of that now. In addition, regular exercise was critical to my sanity (particularly now that I have 2... one, a very energetic little boy).
LOVE & LOGIC
When my daughter was just beginning to walk and talk, I read a book on discipline called Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay, Ph.D. The tools presented helped give me the building blocks I needed to develop a successful discipline style. One of the things I liked best about this 'self-help' book was that it walked me through many "typical issues", providing examples of how I might tackle a situation using the Love & Logic approach (including potty training, daycare, back-talking, whining and many more everyday stresses faced by parents of toddlers).
The major premise is that the child is provided with choices. Many choices. So, throughout the day I am constantly asking the kids, "Would you like apples or carrots with your lunch?" "Would you prefer to walk by yourself or to be carried?" "Would you like to leave NOW or in ten minutes?" "Do you want to stay and play with your friends or do you want to go home?" "Which pair of pants do you want to wear today?" "Do you want to pick up the toys yourself or do you want me to do it for you (we've already established in previous confrontrations that if I have to do it... the toys will likely end up in the trash can... another Love & Logic tip) ?"
Then, when push comes to shove, and they don't want to make a choice, I give them to the count of 3 and if they still haven't chosen, then I make the choice for them. On rare occasions, if an argument pursues, I say something like, "Have I given you lots of choices today?" "Have you been able to do what you want most of the day (I'll list some examples)?" .... then "Well. Now it is my turn to make a choice."
There are also strategies for using 'Time Out' effectively. What to do when traveling in a car. I absolutely love this approach. It takes the stress of the situation away from me... and puts the learning on them! I am frequently complimented on my discipline style. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Friends... all have commented on how I am consistent. I follow through. When I say I'm going to do something, I do it. For example, when my little guy pushes or hits, I'll say to him, "That was not nice. We don't hurt friends. You need to say your sorry. (I pause to allow him an opportunity to apologize, then...) If you don't say you're sorry when I get to 3, you will go to 'Time Out'." (I slowly count.) "Ohh. I'm sorry. You need to go to 'Time Out'. When you are ready to be nice, when you are ready to apologize, you may come out" (I state this as I'm excorting him to the bathroom... I use the bathroom because I can always find one - at a restaurant, at the dance studio, at a friend's house). Sometimes it takes awhile. Sometimes we go back to 'Time Out' numerous times. It can feel rather uncomfortable, particularly when I'm in public. But in the end, he apologizes. All the while, I've maintained my cool. I haven't lost my temper.
As a teacher, I was familiar with the philosophy of Love & Logic but had never really taken the time to research it more fully. Now, I kick myself for not having read it earlier. I have since purchased additional titles (Parenting with Love & Logic and Parenting Teens with Love & Logic) and often refer to them when I'm presented with re-occurring issues that stump me. Their website also provides a forum to discuss strategies/issues with other parents. Invaluable. :)