Updated: Nov 8, 2019
My parent are over from New Zealand. Finally got some help around here, had to fly it in... just kidding. We have been playing tourist as this is only their 2nd time to here ( first was this time last year when wee one was very wee and I had had the c section and its all a bit of a blur ) So we have been out and about and giving her usual schedule a miss, like classes and catch ups and coffee groups and her sleeping routine a run for its money. But Im pleased to say she has done very well, she adaptable which made me think of this weeks blog. Adulting Not the times where we feel very grown up , but the times we take our kids along for the ride, when life is centred around other things and people.
We as Mummies can get scared, and stuck when we have kids. Scared of messing with something that works and don't want to meddle with it. Stuck in the routine and can't see how to deviate. But we must learn to be fluid, (which of course you are doing with my ISH plan ) and we must try make everything we do with your wee one a learning experience for us and them. One key area is socialising your wee one to other situations. Not just learning to be in their spaces but to move and slot into yours sometimes. It's a wonderful learning opportunity for social graces, outer (of their) world interactions and manners really.
Here are some ways that allow both you and your baby to grow as humans. With and independently of each other. So you can be inclusive but also have space from each other at the same time.
Fitting them into your life sometimes, You can start off slow, like have someone round who doesn't have kids. Where the focus is on an adult conversation. Where the other person isn't distracted and attentive to the children in the room. It is a weird vibe , as you can get sloppy in conversation with other mums as they are just as distracted as you . So have someone over at a good time, to suit you and baby/ toddler. Preferably where they are fed, watered and rested, yourself included. Where they can be left down or potter around and you can hone your past life conversation skills. What this does, is teach both you and your child there is life outside each other. They don't need your undivided attention and you don't need to watch them all the time. That your brain can engage in grown up dialogue that isn't about baby and how much sleep you have had. For your child it allows them to hear a different conversation. Different tones, words, rhythm , inflictions, different emotions like laughter, frustration etc ( And it's not pointed at them) They can see you interacting with another and differently . They learn to listen and to find a space in the conversation if they need you. You're teaching them the beginnings of expected behaviours ( unique to your family)! And social interactions and social etiquette. When I say unique to your family , even one has their own perceived expectations, of behaviour and manners and ways of conducting yourself.
Once you are brave enough , move on etc to an outside space, to meet up with others, like parents and or relatives, friends with or without kids. But the emphasis not being on visiting the child but the family as a whole. A cafe, restaurant for a meal, take them to a hotel, to stay at others houses, have people to stay at yours! I have found we ( mummies ) can tend to surround ourselves with safe places and spaces and comfort zones. We must break away from this narrowness and see the whole world as our space. We are afraid of perceived judgements from others , especially strangers, if your child cries or you get embarrassed by them. But ladies the way your child becomes relaxed in situations is all on you.
One - don't give a stuff what others think ! Every child cries, or whinges, it's their way of telling you that they need something so don't worry about that. React to them and them only.
Two - be relaxed and happy yourself, don't see obstacles, see opportunities. Even a simple trip to the shops is a learning exercise, But be bold don't shy away from taking them on an all day outing , or going somewhere you might not think you can. I have a friend that takes all her children to music festivals , by herself, three of them of varying ages (baby to pre teen ). They love it, she has a social life, ( my hero ! )
Three- forward planning/ get organised , make sure you have thought of all eventualities. Take entertainment, a few toys, definitely food/ snacks, a familiar comfort item or two, spare clothes , etc. Try to do a long drive over their sleep time. Know where the cafe for lunch is , as a stop off
Four - repeat, adjust repeat, adjust. As you get out and about and do things sometimes it won't work exactly as you wanted but you will know for next time. And make sure there is a next time, don't get knocked back if they cried at the worst time or didn't sleep. Just adjust and get back out there. One thing to remember is there is no model child in these scenarios, there are just ones that find contentment in their environment because they have been exposed to it a lot and know that you have to tools for them to be relaxed where ever they are.
The more you expose your children and give them your trust to adjust to all situations, they will take it in their stride. The more they will think and act if it is the norm. Allowing you freedoms as a parent and enjoyment in living a full life with them. I assume or give the benefit of the doubt to my daughter, that she can and will do it, what ever it is. I give her the reassurance to go ahead in what ever we are doing and Ill catch her or redirect her if needed. For example my parents thought an hour and half car ride to a Museum would be too much , we timed it that she slept. I brought lunch for her and we ate before even going in to the Museum so her blood sugar and energy levels were good. She walked and interacted with all part of this museum. For 4 hours and then slept all the way home. I assumed she would be fine, made allowances to achieve this for her and she surged ahead of my parents expectations. Don't underestimate your children to fitting in to their place in the family and excelling in it .
In , including our wee ones in grown up activities they are learning our social norms and how to behave in them. That they might have to wait a minute before getting attention. They need to speak up to get heard and learning to ask for things be it verbal and non verbal. We need to acknowledge their interactions be it a leg pull / tug on you or a noise ( they think is a word ) when wanting or accepting things given to them. We started with TA and PEES for verbal cues as manners. Starting from a young age can ingratiate our children in to society and get them invited back to many places. Manners are free my Mum would say and take you a long way. Being respectful of your own ways and of others is a wonderful skill to have. My father would take myself and sister out to dinner once a month from when we were very young. It was our dinner date, we would go to a restaurant of a different country every time and try new culture experiences and foods. This opened up our palette and curiosity , taught us how to behave in public (inadvertently gave us a hunger to travel to all these countries in later years). We learnt to eat with hands, chopsticks, had dim sum to pizza to tacos and cordon bleu. It was great exposure and experiences that I want to replicate it with my own kids, if only out to dinner. The world is a smaller place and much more accessible to our wee ones generation. We need to equip them with how to successfully move around it. Starting with taking them out to restaurants of different countries. To learning how to behave in all and every situation.
Your children take their cues from you. I recently on the same family trip with parents took my wee one on a black cab tour of Belfast. I am a season professional of being put in all situations over the years as a nanny and I was even apprehensive to do this. Lock a 14 month old in a confined space where a person talked over her and others need her to be quiet. But she was great , I had planned for her to sleep , ha, she has FOMO ( fear of missing out ) and interacted the whole tour, looking out the window, playing with the buttons and stretching her legs in the places we got out. She knew ( there wasn't a lot of room ) she had to stay on my knee and to be part of the group not centre of it. I was very impressed and realised that because I haven't shied away from social occasions and outing, she was relaxed enough to go this and to sleep in her pushchair later when I provided her with her dummy and muslin. I had set up the social cues for her to follow. And I want other Mums be have the freedom it gives all of you in the family unit when this happens. I was relaxed and ready to be fluid ( as in let us out here , we will walk back to base ) I knew not be get tense inside the cab, she will sense it and react. She took her signals from me and us and played along.
Don't be afraid to get out and about with the wee ones, to do things you want to and they might enjoy. The world is one big classroom there is be used. And you are an excellent teacher for your children. Put away your anxiety and insecurities, your child doesn't have any that aren't learnt from you. Lead by example, lead by experience and lead the way ! Now I need too get the courage to go to that music festival .....