Parenthood

Step 05 // How to Keep a Baby from Ruining Your Life

step 01 // narrow your playing field

step 02 // don’t victimize yourself

step 03 // make yourself a priority

step o4 // get away

step 05 // put down your phone

step 06 // break routine

step 07 // go to church

step 08 // share the care

step 09 // wait

step 05 // put down your phone
This is a hard one for me. I’m around children a lot.  I have had many an adult conversation in my head.  I have been known –well actually, this is kind of a secret– to go for walks, pushing a stroller, and have a pretend adult conversation OUT LOUD!  Yes, I talk to myself.  Hand gestures and all.   You can see why staying up on social media or texting gives me a false sense of connection with my adult peers.  But that’s just it. It’s a FALSE sense of connection.
Listen, I am not against technology or social media or the sort.  But I am very convinced that the interactions we have through the medium of our phone or computer are both idealized and lacking.  They are idealized because, someone like me, who commits many an awkward, social faux pas, can edit and construct their words to fit an identity they wish they had, an idealized self.  They are lacking in that there is a key piece missing from the interaction, a human piece.  There is no one there to touch or show empathy or laugh loudly at what you’re saying.  It’s not the real thing and it is not good enough.  Social media interactions should never replace human interactions.  And that is what happening when you are constantly on your phone around your children.
I cannot tell you how many times I have missed or ignored something my daughter has done because I was glued to my phone. When I am on my phone my entire mentality is egocentric.  When the phone is off, this goes away.  So a disruption from a baby or loved one while consumed by one’s phone is a disturbance, while a disruption from the same while one is free from their phone is not a disturbance, and quite possibly a joy. Do you catch my point?  If you are always consumed with your phone, in a state of self absorption, your baby will always be disturbing you– or should I say, ruining your life. I won’t even get into what kind or behaviors and habits this is teaching a baby.
Listen, maybe I am the only one who needs to hear this and therefore should take a little electronics fast– but I am not convinced that I am the only one.  This is an issue for our entire culture, regardless or your parental status.  It’s just that this culture doesn’t leave much room or time or imagination for children.  It should really come as no shock that the idea that “children will ruin our lives” is a real thought present day.  Moral?  If you don’t want a baby to ruin your life, limit your screen time.  You will discover a world of life around you that you never noticed.  You’ll feel like John Smith meeting Pocahontas.  And you’ll sing songs and talk to raccoons.  Maybe even paint a picture with all the colors of the wind.
Ok, another hint I need to spend more time with adults.
xoxo
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Parenthood

Step 04 // How to Keep a Baby from Ruining Your Life

I had every intension on posting these closer together.  But the good ol’ stomach flu kinda throws things off sometimes.  I’m hoping the next 6 steps will come at a more rapid pace.  Here are some links to keep you up to speed on the series thus far.

step 01 // narrow your playing field

step 02 // don’t victimize yourself

step 03 // make yourself a priority

step 05 // put down your phone

step 06 // break routine

step 07 // go to church

step 08 // share the care

step 09 // wait

step 04 // get away
We left our daughter for 4 nights in a row, overnight, when she was only 5 months old. I know, I know, many parents couldn’t possibly THINK of leaving their child over night when they were 12 months old, not to mention only 5. Those of you who aren’t parents are probably like, “5 months?!  That’s how long you waited? I would be gone in 3,” when in reality it’s a lot harder than you expect.  It was really hard to leave.

But trust me, it was quite possibly the best decision we ever made. Jazz and I were going nuts with cabin fever and exhaustion. We needed a break, time to be alone. So we spent a long weekend in Chicago. We slept in, drank gorgeous coffee, stayed up late and listened to jazz.  We were shocked and amazed to realize that we had been sharing life with the most fun and adventurous, not to mention hottest, person in the world for the past 5 months.

“Really, we’ve been living in the same house all this time?  Where have you been?”

Yes, I had to pump at the brewery and the coffee shop and many restaurants –thank God for manual pumps and hooter hiders– but that trip left us feeling refreshed and energized with the ability to be better parents and partners. And guess what, the baby was fine! THE BABY WILL BE FINE! So, whether it’s a girl’s night, a bike trip with friends or a short, second honeymoon, do yourself a favor and get out of Dodge!  In fact, we are going a way for stint here in April.  And it will be refreshing and amazing and life giving.  And everything will be fine.  Let me repeat myself:

EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE!!!

xoxo

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Parenthood

Step 03 // How to Keep a Baby From Ruining Your Life

step 01 // narrow your playing field

step 02 // don’t victimize yourself

step o4 // get away

step 05 // put down your phone

step 06 // break routine

step 07 // go to church

step 08 // share the care

step 09 // wait

step 03 // make yourself a priority

Even if you don’t have a child, the monotony of things that need to get done in life never ends.  When there are loads of tasks on your plate, maybe you make a to-do list to help you visualize everything that needs to be completed, feeling the relief of an ocean breeze every time you cross off a task.  Maybe, you take it a step further and prioritize your list from “most urgent” to “needs to get done eventually”. When parenting enters your realm of ontological possibilities, and your time is swallowed up by the sea of endless giggles, hungry bellies, and dirty diapers, this step can and does so easily get thrown to the wayside.  But everyday, the first thing on your list of to-do’s, before the laundry or walking the dog, needs to be YOU.  When the baby goes down for their first nap or you have a lunch break, do the thing you need to do that makes you feel whole. That makes you feel human. I have two things. Working out and reading.

Working out and exercise makes me feel alive and invigorated, aligning my day like an astronomical chiropractor.  On top of this I am usually much more productive after a good sweat.  Workouts always happen during the first nap, hands down.  When I wake up I put on my workout clothes, do what I can in the morning while Willow is awake to get the house in order, and as soon as she’s down I get to work.  This usually leaves me time for a shower and the start of another task.

Reading always happens after Willow has gone down for bed.  The reason I started a routine of reading at night is because it helps me fall asleep.  I spent half of my life tossing and turning at night, trying to fall asleep, when I discovered that a night time routine that included reading helped me fall asleep almost instantly.  It was shortly afterwards that this time of mental escape into someone else’s reverie [ I like fiction, ok] became a part of my being.  The first month or two after Willow was born my exhaustion was so great, all I saw was blurred lines on an off-white page.  It killed me that I couldn’t muster up the concentration to read more that two pages and escape into the mind of Jack Kerouac or Jonathan Saffran Foer.  But as I’ve said before, the first few months are tough, so cut yourself some slack.

While it would be an understatement to say that this step is vastly important to living a full and happy life and should not be neglected, it is very much easier said than done. You may need to go out on a limb and ask someone you trust to help you if you just can’t find the time. Also, if you have a spouse/partner, give them permission to do the same. Even if that thing is something you don’t value, like video games or manicures or March Madness.  Self care, whether you are a parent or not, is something that needs to be fought for with fierce vigor and held onto with white knuckles.  So hold and tight and don’t make any exceptions.

xoxo

 

 

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Parenthood

Step 02 // How to Keep a Baby from Ruining Your Life

step 01 // narrow your playing field

step 03 // make yourself a priority

step o4 // get away

step 05 // put down your phone

step 06 // break routine

step 07 // go to church

step 08 // share the care

step 09 // wait

step 02 // don’t victimize yourself 

It’s easy to blame your baby for the fact that you haven’t showered or changed your clothes for the past week.  Now, the first few months are tough, so give yourself some slack.  That being said, playing the victim is only going to keep you in the exact place you don’t want to be, filling you with resentment in the meantime.  It is not your baby’s fault that you neglected your friends, put on 50 pounds, stopped doing that thing you loved.  I know it’s hard, especially if you are parenting alone, but you cannot blame your circumstances for your actions.  Take responsibility and own your feelings. You feel frustrated?  Then really feel that frustration as hard as you can and then let it go.  If you can learn to do this now, you will be a much happier, healthier person in the long run, and so will your child.
xoxo

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Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Parenthood

10 Steps to Keeping a Baby from Ruining Your Life // Step 01

step 02 // don’t victimize yourself

step 03 // make yourself a priority

step o4 // get away

step 05 // put down your phone

step 06 // break routine

step 07 // go to church

step 08 // share the care

step 09 // wait

Years ago, I was at a party with friends, mixing and socializing, when I stumbled upon a conversation about relationships. The girl who was talking mentioned a pregnancy scare her and her boyfriend had recently. Understanding her relief, I was intrigued when she finished with, “thank god! A baby would ruin my life!” Being young and single, not only did I agree, I believed this was quite possibly the truth. A baby would ruin your life. This is an idea we are taught from when we are old enough to understand the reproductive process. Presented to the youth of our culture, either by the church, health teachers or parents trying to ward off teen pregnancies, abstinence or at the least the use of contraceptives is imperative, because if you have a baby it will ruin your life– do I need to bring up the coach from “Mean Girls”?

Yes, I did! And you laughed…a little.

Yes, I agree that having a baby too young, before you really get a chance to further oneself or live a little can really make things difficult on a young person. But the idea that having a baby will ruin your life is a lesson that lingers on past our younger years.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was so upset that I literally became sick, fever and all, for several days. Three months away from marrying the man of my dreams, I thought nothing worse could happen to me at this stage in life. Because I believed it was true, that a baby would ruin my life. All the advancements I had made in my career? Gone. My close friendships? Gone. My interest in biking and running? Out the door. And even though I was in my upper 20’s, had traveled the world, received a college education– 2 degrees at that, and was about to marry someone that I wanted to have kids with, I couldn’t get over the idea I was taught from elementary school, that a child would just ruin everything.  When I talked about it with our premarital counselor, she said these feelings were normal even for women who were planning on having a baby.

Fifteen months postpartum, I am now realizing that this is a flat out lie. The only person ruining your life after having a baby is yourself. You can choose what kind of parent, dare I say human being, you want to be. And although caring for a child is a demanding and not-so-easy task, it will not leave your life in shambles.

In light of this revelation, I am writing a 10 step series with helpful tips to keep your life from falling out from under your feet when/if you have a baby. I hope to ruin the idea that children ruin our lives and open our eyes to the reality that life goes on, and it’s a good life at that! With that, I give you the first step.

Step 01 // Narrow your playing field
Before Willow was born, I was involved in everything. I was extremely busy chasing after even the smallest interest. But all these distractions kept me from focusing my time on the 1 or 2 things I really loved and was gifted at. After having Willow, most of my extracurricular activities were left behind, except for 2 things; music and well, this blog. Having a baby has really helped me focus my time on the things I should have been focussing my time on in the first place. Find that thing you love and chase after it. Leave all those other things for someone else. Your life will not feel hijacked if you keep it simple.

click here for step 02

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