Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The end is near...

It's official. Next week, I will be a working mother. After a wonderful year of maternity leave, it's time to put on my big girl pants and go back to work.

People keep asking me how I feel about going back. My answer is always the same: I have mixed feelings. Some days I can't wait, some days I wish I were going to be a stay-at-home mom forever. This year has just flown by and I feel like my baby just wasn't a baby for very long! But deep down, I miss work. See? Mixed feelings!

So in order to help myself through the transition, I've compiled a list of things I will miss and things I won't miss.

I'll miss:

- A free and unlimited supply of baby hugs and kisses throughout the day

- Watching my son grow and thrive all day long, especially when he masters a new skill

- Going to the movies on Wednesday afternoons

- Playdates with other mommies

- Wearing yoga pants every day (see also below: what I won't miss)

- Rachael Ray in the mornings and Ellen in the afternoons

- Taking a more relaxed approach to life and not living according to a tightly organized schedule

- The summer! (seems so long ago now...)

What I won't miss:

- Wearing yoga pants every day

- Sometimes not brushing my teeth or changing out of my pjs before 11 am

- Struggling to get my son to nap

- Being housebound because of the weather (too hot, too cold, too snowy, too icy, too rainy)... Sometimes for days on end!

- Breastfeeding... We had a good long run but I'm glad to have my body back to myself again

I think I will miss a lot of things but the worst part of it all is that I will see my son for so few hours in the day. I may find myself sneaking into his room at night just to watch him sleep!

Oh well, as heartbreaking as it is to leave him behind every day, I must admit I look forward to seeing my colleagues again and getting a real paycheque again will feel good!

In the meantime I am getting my fill of hugs and kisses and I'm enjoying every last minute of this precious time!

See you on the flip side!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

I'm proud of my son. These days, he's learning like crazy and seems to do five new things a day. He's just a few weeks away from his first birthday and he's a blast. This is a great age and very satisfying for me as a parent.

He has mastered the high-five and clapping his hands together. He gives kisses and hugs on request. He plays peek-a-boo like a pro. He dances with serious rhythm. He feeds himself with his hands and pretends to feed my husband and I with his spoon.

He also started doing a few new things this week that made us realize that he's watching our every move and picking up on our behavior. For example, yesterday he picked up the remote control and started pointing it at the television. I guess he wasn't into the documentary on Derek Jeter that my husband was watching.

He also spotted my husband washing his hands at the sink and started to rub his hands together in the same motion. When I prepare a bottle for him, he starts shaking his hand up and down because he knows that's what I'm about to do.

For now, the imitation is limited to harmless everyday activities. Which is great, because he's really learning how things work. But it made us realize something crucial. It's time to start being very careful about what we do and say.

Could it be that the reason he likes to nibble on my shoulder is because I occasionally like to pretend I'm eating his feet? Probably. Or that he blows raspberries on my flabby mom-tummy because I do the same to him when I'm changing him? Very likely!

So I guess it's time to stop using foul language, impolite gestures and yelling at other drivers on the road. And maybe we should stop nibbling his toes so he won't start biting other children. Who knows what other unconscious behaviors we are inadvertently passing on to our son?!

I guess it's time to grow up and be responsible parents because it's only a matter of time before imitation will no longer be flattering - it will be a one-way ticket to trouble!

Have your children ever imitated any of your actions? Did it result in any embarrassing situations?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Babyproofing... Or crazy-proofing?

As my curious and energetic 11-month-old continues his quest to touch, taste, grab, bite, feel, bounce off, climb and conquer every object and surface in our home, I find myself baby-proofing more than I ever thought possible.

There are those who believe that it's not a good idea to overdo the babyproofing thing, but rather to supervise and teach your children to respect their surroundings. I was one of those people until my son became mobile. And is he ever mobile. He's a speed-demon on hands and knees! And he wants it all.

So my house is becoming more like a fortress with every passing day. To paraphrase my mother-in-law, who had a similar experience with her own children, I don't want the only thing my son ever hears me say to be "no!"

I'm tired of peeling him away from potentially dangerous situations, rescuing him from slamming his fingers in drawers, trying to pull the television down onto himself and gnawing on my coffee table. His little teeth marks have left traces all over the house!

I can't help but wonder: Am I doing all this to keep him safe... Or to keep myself sane? Probably both!

So for those of who are embarking on this process for the first time, here are a few tips from my experience:

- Do the hands and knees test. Get down on the same level as your child and look for potential dangers.

- Place cleaning supplies, detergents, bleach, etc... on a high shelf or somewhere else out of reach. Same for medications and toiletries.

- Any small object narrower than a toilet paper roll presents a choking hazard for babies, so make sure the floors are clear when baby's crawling around.

- It was funny when the kids on Mad Men were playing with dry cleaning bags. But for crying out loud, keep the plastic bags away from the kiddies! My son eyes them hungrily, loving the sound, the feel, the forbidden allure....

There are so many more things to consider but here's what I've found: if a contraption exists for use in babyproofing, it is because babies will do the exact thing the contraption aims to protect them from. In other words, if your kid is anything like mine, he will stick his fingers in electrical outlets, pull down tall floor lamps and try to open every drawer and cabinet in sight.

One more thing: make sure you have the phone number for your local Poison Information Centre within reach because there will inevitably come a day when your child will ingest something questionable or scary. That day hasn't come in my house yet (knock on wood!) but if I know him, it's only a matter of time!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

I Dream of Daycare

The countdown has begun - I go back to work in less than one month after a year of maternity leave. Gulp.

Naturally I'm a bit nervous about it but I'm also fully ready to start working again. I miss the office, my work, my colleagues ... and my heels! I'm ready to ditch the yoga pants and bad hair. I'm ready to go to the bathroom without an audience. I will miss my life as a stay at home mom, and especially spending my days with my son. He continues to amaze me every day as he grows and changes. But it's okay. I will hopefully do it again in a few years!

What I'm especially happy about is that I don't have to worry about sending my son to daycare...yet. I'm extremely fortunate to have an amazing mother who has graciously agreed to babysit her grandson for a few months until we land a coveted spot in a $7-a-day daycare. So I know that my son will not only be in good hands, but he'll be spending his days with one of his favorite people in the world. Win-win!

That being said, I'm estimating he will likely start going to daycare in September. He'll be around 18 - 19 months old. Which gives us a few months to prepare and make sure he's ready for a successful transition.

I've been concerned about how he'll nap at daycare but after talking to a few people, I've decided to ditch that concern. It will work itself out in time. I no longer want to worry about it.

But now I'm wondering what else we can do to prepare him for daycare. Mastering self-feeding? Learning to play well with other children? I realize he's still young but I'd like for him to start off on the right foot. Or am I the one who will need to prepare myself for this change?

Any tips for me from parents who are daycare veterans out there? I'd also love to hear from people who have worked in daycares.

What do you think? How should we prepare for daycare?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Adventures in Sleep Training, Chapter Two

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am often vowing to nap train my son and then chickening out. It's not that he doesn't nap. He does - he just naps for very short periods. As such, he needs to nap often because he gets tired quickly. I've always had a suspicion that the reason for this is that I rock him to sleep at nap time. So when his short sleep cycle is over, he doesn't know how to fall back asleep on his own.

So I've known for a long time is that what he needs is some good old-fashioned cry-it-out sleep training at nap time. Having survived sleep training for his nights, I knew how hard it would be, so I procrastinated. Having to listen to your baby cry while you're home alone, more than once a day, is simply brutal.

But here we are today. He's almost 11 months old, I'm going back to work in a month and we're still no better off than we were.

So yesterday I started the nap training. I'm determined to see it through this time. But let me tell you, it is rough. He may be tired, but he is perfectly capable of standing in his crib and crying for an hour straight if I let him. And he does. Sometimes he'll fall asleep after 45 - 55 minutes of crying or sometimes he won't fall asleep at all.

I've never felt this much tension in my shoulders. I've had a headache since yesterday morning. My nerves are worn completely thin. But I am determined. I will get through this. I have to remind myself that it is worthwhile and that the suffering will pay off the way it has for our nights. Right? Right? I need all the encouragement I can get here.

Even if he doesn't extend his nap length, which is possible, I at least want him to be able to fall asleep on his own. Because I won't be around to rock him to sleep every day very soon...

In the meantime, misery loves company so I'm blogging about it. If you haven't had children yet or your babies are still very young, take my word and don't make the same mistake I did. Let your baby learn to fall asleep on their own and you will be a much happier parent for it!

Have you tried nap training? Any advice for me? Wish me luck...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A look back at the year that was...

Happy New Year! I read this list of questions on another blog, Real Moms Guide and thought it would be fun to try answering them myself. So here's a look back at my year... Enjoy!

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Became a mother.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't usually make resolutions, but maybe this year I'll resolve to be an organized mother, a more patient and less forgetful wife and I'll try to get mote sleep! Oh and I resolve to nap train my son. For real this time, I swear!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

This was the year of births among my family and friends. Lots of wonderful women in my life became mothers for the first, second and even fourth time! My son will have lots of friends growing up.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

I'm happy to say no and that this was the first year in a long time that I didn't attend a single funeral.

5. What countries did you visit?

This year we kept it close to home. We stayed in Canada and crossed the border to the US for a few short road trips.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

More sleep!

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 13th - my son's birthday. Oh and October 31st - the first time he slept through the night!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Becoming a mother - and mastering breastfeeding after many challenges.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don't believe in failure. Only challenges... Okay, maybe that's not completely true. My biggest failure was in establishing a proper daytime sleep schedule for my son. Which is why my New Year's resolution is to successfully nap train him before I go back to work in (gulp) five weeks.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I sprained my ankle once, while going to my crying baby in the middle of the night.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

New washer and dryer!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My son's - whenever there was a first milestone. First smile, laugh, rolling over, crawling, cruising, eating solids, babbling... Well, you get the picture. Lately he celebrates his own accomplishments with applause!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My son's- when he wouldn't sleep through the night!

14. Where did most of your money go?

This was the year everything needed repair or replacing. So apart from diapers, most money was spent on repairing or replacing appliances and other things around the house.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My son's birth (I know, this is getting repetitive!)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Not pregnant! Last year at this time I was weeks away from giving birth and nervous as hell. This year, I'm weeks away from going back to work and nervous as hell.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Taking walks with my baby outside.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying about things that are not important and that I can't change.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

On a family roadshow! We visited four different homes in 24 hours. But it was great to share baby's first Christmas with our extended family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

Yes :-)

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Modern Family! We discovered it this year and love it.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No. I try not to hate anyone and give everyone a chance. And I can also honestly say that there are some people I like even better this year than last.

24. What was the best book you read?

I didn't read as many of the kinds of books I usually enjoy this year. Most were related to how to get your baby to sleep. But I guess the novel I enjoyed the most was One Day by David Nicholls.

25. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I spent a fun day with a good friend and our sons. I turned 32.

26. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I wouldn't change a thing. Okay, maybe more sleep.

27. What kept you sane?

My husband.

28. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

Anything worth having in life takes hard work. It might be difficult to achieve your goals but working hard and achieving them makes you appreciate them even more.

29. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink. I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink..." The Beatles