Tips for Returning to Work after Baby

Tips for Returning to Work after BabySpending quality time with your newborn is a vital step in caring for your baby. It allows you the opportunity to bond with your sweet new bundle of joy, to establish a healthy milk supply and to give your body time to heal after childbirth. When it is time to go back to work, whether that’s a few weeks or a few months after your baby arrives, it may be hard to get back into the groove of your professional life. We’re sharing tips for returning to work after baby to help you make the transition as easily as possible.

Do a Dry Run: A few days before going back to work, start practicing for the big day. Wake up at the appropriate time and get yourself and your baby ready. If possible, have your childcare lined up so you can see what it will be like passing off your baby to a caregiver. Drive to work as you normally would to determine the best routes based on traffic patterns. Also, offer your baby a bottle once a day leading up to your return to work to ensure she has the hang of it before you go back for real.

Start Mid-Week: Staring back to work on a Monday makes for a very long first week after maternity leave. Try starting on a Wednesday or Thursday so you and your baby are not shocked by the separation.

Plan for Breastfeeding Success: Until now, breastfeeding probably required you to be with your baby most of the time. If you work 40+ hours a week away from your baby, keeping the momentum going can be a challenge. But it is entirely possible. Plan ahead by ensuring you have a healthy milk supply and stashing frozen breast milk for your baby to enjoy while you’re away. Speak to your boss and HR department about your plans to pump at work and determine when, where and how this will be possible while maintaining your work productivity. Have your pump, bottle supplies, cooler and a photo of your baby handy so you can continue to provide breast milk to your baby as long as you want.

Set up Meetings: Meet with your boss, co-workers, underlings and others critical to your day-to-day work function to find out what you’ve missed while you were away. After you’ve shared your experience in motherhood and a few adorable photos, dive into the status of major industry shifts, new clients or projects, staff changes and any changing policies or expectations. It’s common for co-workers and supervisors to be sensitive to your vulnerable state returning to work after baby for a few weeks but then they’ll likely want you to pick up the work they were covering for you in your absence, and maybe even more. Set your own boundaries as you learn how to juggle being both a parent and a professional.

Look Good and Feel Good: Your body size and shape may be a little different now that you’re a mom. Make sure your wardrobe meets the needs of your new figure and lifestyle. Start with some comfortable and supportive nursing bras that will compliment your silhouette. Molded padded styles look great under structured blouses, jackets and dresses. Buy a few new work outfits as well. You may continue to lose weight as your postpartum body changes with time and during breastfeeding so don’t go overboard. But remember, looking great can boost your confidence, which is a major asset in the workplace.

Prepare your Home: Even if you work from home, you’re going to have a lot less time to do household chores like cleaning, laundry and cooking. Get your home organized so you can get out of the house quickly in the mornings. Freezing a few dinners will also save time in the evenings. You’ll want to do everything you can to maximize quality time with your baby before and after work.

Sources: Idealist Mom and Mom365

Raising Bilingual Children Part 2

It’s amazing to fathom how much your little one is absorbing in such a short amount of time since her birth. This rapid acquisition of knowledge, flexibility of the brain and eagerness to learn is what makes it easier for children, especially young children, to learn new languages.

Earlier this week we began our discussion of raising bilingual children by exploring the optimal time for introducing multiple languages and how to plan ahead to ensure maximum language exposure for your children. Today we’re taking a look at speech development for bilingual children as well as the advantages of bilingualism for kids.

Raising Bilingual Children Part 2Speech Development for Bilingual Children

People once believed that introducing multiple languages to babies and children would be confusing, delay speech development and result in mixing up the languages. This is likely because early studies on raising bilingual children were poorly conceived and drew some erroneous conclusions on the subject. Now experts know that bilingual children can develop speech for both languages simultaneous with very little trouble. In fact, one study out of Singapore showed that learning two languages at once sped up the acquisition of them. According to Associate Professor Leher Singh from the Department of Psychology at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences:

“Our findings show that more exposure to one language is not necessarily better for babies. What led to better performance in learning Mandarin was being raised bilingually, with exposure to both English and Mandarin, rather than solely to Mandarin. This is a novel finding, and the first study we know of that shows accelerated word learning in bilingual children, strongly suggesting that babies are not thwarted by learning two very different languages.”

As is the case with all aspects of childhood development, children progress differently. Some children may experience slight speech delays but ultimately immerge from early childhood being fluent in two languages. It is also normal for children to mix up words from the languages, called code-switching. This usually corrects itself over time or may continue if blending the two languages is common practice among the adults in the household.

Advantages of Bilingualism

Of course the obvious advantage of bilingualism is being able to speak, read and write two languages. This is an amazing communication tool that allows your child to connect with family members and others in your community and may open many doors for her in the future. For example, she may meet her spouse, find a job or enjoy travel based on her ability to speak multiple languages.

Beyond fluency, bilingualism is beneficial for your child’s brain. Researchers believe bilingualism can help children learn to think more flexibly and therefore step outside confines to expand ideas and concepts. Bilingual children who speak both languages within the home, say to different parents, must be constantly monitoring their environment. This brain agility keeps them sharp and helps them anticipate change better than monolinguists.

Raising bilingual children is a commitment but one that is certainly worthwhile for the sake of communication, connection and cognition.

Sources: BabyCenter, Parenting, Multilingual Parenting, The New York Times, Linguistic Society of America and Science Daily

 

Raising Bilingual Children Part 1

Raising Bilingual Children Part 1Many parents aspire for their children to be bilingual but they question how the development of two ore more languages will affect comprehension and speech in the long run. Raising bilingual children can be an added challenge but one with many benefits for everyone. Experts agree that starting both languages from birth and allowing them to develop simultaneously is the very best way to encourage bilingualism. This week we’re sharing information about raising bilingual children.

Whether several languages are spoken in your home or within your extended family, your native language is different from the country where you reside, or you simply want to imbue your children with the powerful cognitive benefits of bilingualism, raising bilingual children is a noteworthy goal. Although childhood is the best time to learn to be fluent in multiple languages, it will still take effort and planning to ensure your children have adequate exposure to both languages.

The Best Time to Become Bilingual is from Birth

Studies show that the ideal time for laying the foundation for a bilingual child is from birth to three years of age. This is the time when language emerges for all children and, contrary to widespread myths, learning two languages at once does not cause confusion or long-term speech issues. These early years are when a baby’s brain is expanding and developing more rapidly than any other period other than prenatally. Therefore, babies are primed to learn language with an open mind.

Experts say the next window of opportunity in raising bilingual children is between four and seven years old. This is when children are solidifying rules of language and learning to read and write. Doing so with two languages simultaneously is much easier at this stage than later in life. After this phase, children are able to learn new languages fairly easily until puberty at which point a second language requires a different part of the brain and translates words from the native language to the foreign language.

Family Planning for Bilingual Children

For families who want to fully immerse their children in two languages from birth, planning ahead is wise. The generally accepted guideline for parents who have different native tongues is that they will each speak their own language to the child and expect the child to respond in the same language. If one language is spoken inside the home and another is the native language of the community, both should be introduced in the home. Once the child has more external exposure, more of the parents’ native language can be used in the home. Sticking to language boundaries is important to ensuring your child develops both languages equally and knows you won’t resort to the easier one when communication is difficult.

Additionally, families who are committed to bilingualism should have plenty of resources in the home for natural exposure to both languages including books, music, toys, games and media. Just as a single language is learned (not necessarily taught) to monolinguistic children through everyday play and conversation, so should bilingualism. This may take some extra effort to accumulate learning tools in both languages but the continued exposure will pay off over time. Also rely on native speakers other than yourself as a parent. Grandparents and other family members, friends, caregivers and teachers should be part of the learning process for your bilingual child.

Stay tuned later this week as we discuss speech development and the advantages of raising bilingual children.

Sources: BabyCenter, Parenting, Multilingual Parenting, The New York Times, Linguistic Society of America and Science Daily

Breastfed Baby Weight Gain

Many moms see their baby’s weight gain as a badge of honor because sometimes it is a result of the great efforts and long hours they’ve put into breastfeeding. While milk intake alone is not the only indication of breastfed baby weight gain, it is a significant part of the picture. Today we’re taking a look at average breastfed baby weight gain and the factors that influence your baby’s weight.

One of the biggest struggles for new moms who are breastfeeding for the first time is knowing whether or not their babies are taking in an adequate amount of milk. Because there are no measurement marks in breastfeeding, you Breastfed Baby Weight Gainhave to utilize other indicators including your baby’s weight gain, wet and soiled diapers and your baby’s level of satisfaction.

Keep in mind babies go through growth spurts frequently so even babies who are getting plenty of milk may feed more frequently than 2-3 hours. The number of times your baby may want to feed in a day is not necessarily a sign of low milk supply. And of course babies may be fussy for reasons other than being hungry so sometimes using mood as an indicator of breast milk satisfaction is not a true test. That’s why monitoring weight gain is so important to moms who breastfeed.

Average Breastfed Baby Weight Gain

According to Dr. Sears, most breastfed babies gain between 4 and 7 ounces in their first week, approximately 1 to 2 pounds per month for the first six months, and around 1 pound per month from six to 12 months. These are averages and may vary from baby-to-baby. Also, it’s important to remember that a 5-7% weight loss within three to four days after birth is completely normal. Usually if 10% or more weight loss has occurred, your doctor will recommend a breastfeeding evaluation to ensure your baby is feeding properly. This may include a visit to a lactation consultant who can evaluate your baby’s latch, positioning, milk supply and other potential barriers to breastfeeding success.

Most babies are weighted at least daily after birth during their initial hospital stay. Then they are weighed again at their first pediatrician appointment, which is usually five to seven days after birth. When determining your baby’s weight gain, consistency is crucial. Go by the weight indicated on the pediatrician’s scale when your baby is completely naked including diaper-less. Different scales can offer seemingly minor fluctuations, but with a newborn, every ounce counts. If you are concerned about your baby’s weight gain or lack thereof, you can ask to pop into your pediatrician’s office for a quick weigh in as necessary.

Other Factors that Influence Breastfed Baby Weight Gain

Body type and activity level also influence your baby’s weight gain. Babies who tend to be long and lean usually gain length faster than weight, which is still an indication of growth. Other babies are plumper and gain weight faster than length. If your baby is extremely active – whether rolling, crawling, cruising or walking – she will burn more calories and perhaps not gain as much weight as more sedentary babies. That doesn’t mean she’s not getting enough to eat, but rather she’s putting the breast milk to good use right away.

Additionally, babies who are breastfed on demand and sleep near their mothers during infancy are more likely to grow faster. They are easily able to eat frequently and let their mothers know when they need milk.

If you are concerned about your baby’s weight gain, consult your pediatrician and consider visiting a lactation consultant to ensure your baby is feeding efficiently.

Sources: Ask Dr. Sears and KellyMom

 

The Deets on Dads in Honor of Father’s Day

Deets on Dads in Honor of Fathers DayWe’re honoring dads this Father’s Day with some really great research on the guys that we love. Fatherhood has changed greatly over the past 50 years and we like what we see. More involvement from fathers than ever before offers many amazing benefits for children including better behavior, more self-confidence, academic success and more. Find out the deets on dads as you celebrate your awesome man this Father’s Day.

According to research studies, science, polls and census reports:

  • There are over 70 million dads in the U.S. and approximately 2 million of them are stay-at-home dads.
  • As of 2015, 66% of households in the U.S. had dual incomes. That means more than half of all dads are not the only breadwinners in the family.
  • Traditional familial roles are merging as dads are taking on more household and childcare responsibilities and moms are working more.
  • Dads struggle with work-life balance and nearly half of them wish to spend more time with their children even though they say they spend as much time or more with their kids than their own parents spent with them.
  • Common traits among “great dads” include:
    • Being a father brings them greater satisfaction in life and is part of their identity
    • Hard work inside and outside the home is their responsibility
    • Fathers consistently play with and teach their children
    • Discipline is an important aspect of parenting
    • Dads offer a sense of humor to the family
    • They demonstrate respect for women
    • Dads show compassion for their children and others
  • Taking at least a week off to spend time with a newborn creates a stronger relationship between fathers and their children for their entire lives.
  • Babies, toddlers and preschoolers who spend time with their fathers have better language development.
  • Kids gain these emotional and behavioral advantages from involved fathers:
    • Greater psychological well-being
    • Less likelihood to do drugs
    • Decreased risk of anxiety and sadness
    • More sexually responsible as teens and adults
    • Better parenting in adulthood
  • Academically, a dad’s consistent involvement with their kids yields these results:
    • Greater academic achievement and likelihood to get A’s
    • Advancement to higher levels in academia
    • More enjoyment of school
    • Increased likelihood to be economically self-sufficient later in life
    • Less delinquency from school

We wish you and your family – especially the dads – a Happy Father’s Day!

Sources: Pew Research, Aha Parenting, National Center for Fathering, The Good Men Project, and National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

Breastfeeding a Toddler: Truths and Myths

If you’ve made it over the one year milestone of breastfeeding, congratulations mama, you’ve done an amazing job! As you now know, every stage of breastfeeding is met with its own triumphs and challenges and breastfeeding a toddler is no exception. Many moms feel pressured to wean at one year but that should be a personal decision. Today we’re exploring the truths and myths of breastfeeding a toddler to help you make the healthiest choice for you and your baby.

Truth: Breastfeeding a toddler continues to benefit your baby’s health.

Your breast milk changes to meet the needs of your little one throughout your breastfeeding journey. That’s why the AAP and other health organizations across the globe encourage continued breastfeeding beyond one year. Your toddler is now getting more robust nutrients, especially those required for brain development and physical activity. The antibodies in your breast milk also adapt to protect your toddler from a range of foreign substances that are now in her daily life.

Myth: Breastfeeding a toddler leads to emotional and social problems.

Being a source of comfort and security for your toddler only bolsters her self-confidence. Studies show that breastfed toddlers do not form unhealthy attachments to their mothers, but rather a loving bond built of trust and respect. And they also develop a normal sense of independence within this special relationship.

Breastfeeding a Toddler: Truths and MythsTruth: Toddlers may be wiggly and touchy while nursing.

Your toddler is probably a bundle of energy so sitting still to nurse may not be in her repertoire. This can make breastfeeding difficult or uncomfortable for moms, even when both mom and toddler want to continue breastfeeding. If your little one tends to tug at your breasts, skin or hair, move her hand and ask her to be gentle with mommy. A long necklace that your toddler can play with while nursing may also be useful. If your toddler wants to do acrobatics while breastfeeding, stop the session and explain that you cannot give her milk until she can sit still. Other forms of distraction such as telling a story or singing may engage your toddler for long enough to enjoy her milk. You’ll probably notice that your baby’s positioning and latch have changed in toddlerhood. This relaxed state is normal and completely fine as long as it works for both of you.

Myth: Toddlers who nurse for short periods of time are ready to wean.

All the breastfeeding you’ve done for the past year or more has taught your toddler to be very efficient at the breast. She may nurse briefly but still be able to get plenty of milk because her suckle is stronger. Additionally, as your toddler eats more solid foods, she may not want quite as much breast milk. Any breast milk she gets is fantastic for her body though so weaning due to short feedings is not necessary.

Truth: Breastfeeding in public may be more difficult.

Toddlers are keenly aware of the world around them and may be particularly challenging to breastfeed in public due to their inability to stay still and the environmental distractions. You may find it easier to breastfeed before heading out and after coming home, or you can do it in your car. Bring along a snack to tide your toddler over until you can get to a less distracting spot to breastfeed. Also, others may be quite critical of you for breastfeeding a toddler in public. This is no reason not to do it, but do be prepared with a quick polite response for those with negative comments.

Myth: You’re well past sore nipples.

Sore nipples can rear their painful heads again while breastfeeding a toddler. The emergence of teeth is usually the culprit, not only because they may bite you but also because your baby has to latch differently with a few new additions in her mouth. Food residue can also lead to sore nipples. Use the same lanolin-based cream you used when your little one was a newborn to soothe the pain.

Truth: Using respectful words to request breast milk is wise.

When left to their own devices, toddlers may come up with their own ways to ask for breast milk, some of which may be a little crude. If you want to control how breasts and breastfeeding are addressed, start using the words you prefer early to set a positive example for your toddler.

Myth: You’ve graduated from nighttime nursing.

Teething, nightmares and separation anxiety are all legitimate reasons your toddler may wake up in the middle of the night. Nursing is a great way to calm, reassure and soothe your toddler back to sleep.

Truth: Your breast milk will fluctuate with your menstrual cycle.

It is common for your milk supply to be low just before and at the beginning of your period, and your milk may taste different to your toddler as well. Allow for extra nursing during this time to ensure your little one gets as much as she wants.

Myth: You must wean if you get pregnant with another baby.

In most cases toddlers can breastfeed throughout your pregnancy and even once the baby has arrived. Your breast milk will change to meet the needs of both your toddler and the new baby.

Sources: KellyMom and Today’s Parent

Surviving a Difficult Pregnancy

Surviving a Difficult PregnancyAlmost every pregnant woman will experience one negative symptom or another during her 9+ months of pregnancy. The lucky ones will have minor issues but many women have extreme symptoms that can really put a damper on the excitement of having a baby. Surviving a difficult pregnancy may take a lot of positive thinking and mind over matter but moms across the world find the strength to muddle through complications for that incredible reward at the end of the journey.

If you’re among the moms-to-be who are struggling, try these expert and mom-recommended suggestions for surviving a difficult pregnancy:

Seek Relief for Negative Symptoms: So you may not be able to stop the root cause of the negative side-effects of pregnancy but there are often solutions for managing the discomfort. If you experience a symptom that you find annoying or intolerable, try a natural remedy to curb the pain first. If that doesn’t work, ask your doctor for advice. The experts often have a few tricks up their sleeves or may be able to recommend medications that are safe during pregnancy.

Accept that Your Body is Unique: Dwelling on and lamenting the fact that you are having a difficult pregnancy is not going to help you. Your mental state is just as important as your physical state during pregnancy so it’s crucial that you acknowledge that your body is reacting this way, which may be different from your pregnant friends or how you envisioned pregnancy. Don’t beat yourself up over something that is out of your control.

Let Go and Ask for Help: If ever there is a good time to slack or ask for help, surviving a difficult pregnancy is that time. Even supermoms need to let go and get help sometimes. It may actually make you a better mom to realize your limitations. Ensure the big things get done by relying on your partner, family, friends and paid help. Otherwise, let the dishes and the laundry sit for a few days if you have to. It’s just not the end of the world.

Make the Most of Bed Rest: Your doctor may recommend rest and relaxation at some point during a difficult pregnancy. Take advantage of this time by getting as much sleep as possible. With your waking hours, be productive while sedentary by reading, writing in a journal, scrapbooking, catching up with friends, doing a puzzle, or enjoying a hobby or learning a new skill like knitting or drawing.

Eat What you Can: Nausea and vomiting are unfortunate common symptoms of pregnancy that may leave you not wanting to eat, or at least not wanting to eat that perfectly nutritious pregnancy diet all the experts recommend. The truth is, when you can’t keep much down, it’s better to eat something that will stay in than nothing at all. So eat what you can and don’t freak out about it. If you can’t keep down liquids and you’re feeling dehydrated, discuss it with your doctor as you may need IV fluids.

Vent: We all need to vent now and then. When you’re pregnant and feeling terrible, now and then may occur a little more often. Find a few good listening buddies who can lend an ear. Get your stress off you chest for a much needed release.

Research: If your difficult pregnancy stems from a particular condition that you or your baby are experiencing, do your research and follow medical advice. The fear of the unknown is extremely hard to handle during pregnancy but information is power and doing everything you can to ease complications can give you some control over your situation.

Sources: Parents, Urban Mommies, Mamas Latinas and Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine

New Rotavirus Vaccine Powder May Save Thousands of Impoverished Babies

The rotavirus vaccine is one of the major vaccinations recommended for children around the globe. In the U.S. it is administered two or three times before babies reach 8 months of age. This crucial vaccine protects babies against the nasty rotavirus that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea. In some parts of the world, rotavirus is a leading killer of children.

But hope is on the way for communities who have not been able to get a sustainable version of the rotavirus vaccine. That’s because a rotavirus vaccine powder was developed that allows the drug to sit at room temperature for years and extreme heat for months. For babies in certain parts of Africa and Asia where dying of rotavirus is most common, this is life saving.

New Rotavirus Vaccine Powder May Save Thousands of Impoverished BabiesThe new rotavirus vaccine powder, called BRV-PV, was engineered using the same technology as space food. The traditional virus was freeze-dried to remove all of the water, leaving only powder that does not need to be refrigerated. To administer the vaccine, it is simply dissolved in a salt solution and dropped on a baby’s tongue.

Prior to this ingenious breakthrough, many babies in areas of sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia were not able to receive the rotavirus vaccine because it could not be transported to very poor rural areas under refrigeration. If approved by the World Health Organization, clinicians and aide workers would be able to transport the rotavirus in bulk quantities in regular vehicles to the babies who need it, potentially saving the lives of 200,000 babies who die of rotavirus per year in these regions.

Sources: NPR, Mayo Clinic and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Why Babies are Chubby

Most moms would agree: Those adorable chipmunk cheeks and rolls of leg fat on your precious baby are incredibly lovable. You probably cannot resist kissing and pinching them constantly. But do you know why babies are chubby? Read on and we’ll tell you.

Most babies are born pretty slender with a hollow looking face and lean arms and legs. Thanks to that incredible breast milk of yours, slowly your baby will start to fill out and may get downright chubby. First, it’s important to know that plump pockets on your baby are completely normal, and in some cases may actually be healthy for your baby.

why babies are chubbyBabies and toddlers need the extra fat they store for the first two years of life. Much of this fat comes from breast milk and eventually whole cow’s milk. Fat stores help prevent failure to thrive in infants and can protect against illness and even SIDS. Babies and toddler often accumulate fat in their legs and especially thighs.

Babies also tend to have chubby cheeks due to the muscles that reside in the cheek cavities. These muscles are vital to successful breastfeeding, both for suckling milk and swallowing it down. As your baby becomes more proficient at nursing, the muscles will bulk up and achieve that pinchable round shape. Of course there is some fat stored in the cheeks as well, which increases as your baby is able to drink more and more breast milk.

Cheeks usually remain chubby throughout breastfeeding so they can power the motions needed to get the amazing nutrition you’re providing. As less breast milk is offered and more solids foods are introduced, cheeks may start to deflate and your toddler’s face elongates and becomes more childlike than babyish. Thighs and legs tend to thin out as toddlers begin to walk, run and become more active.

A chubby baby is not a sign that your child will be obese in the future. In fact, if you breastfeed your baby is less likely to be obese later in life. There are, however, some indications of obesity that do begin in infancy. If your baby gains a lot of weight suddenly, has a high BMI, has two parents who are obese, doesn’t get enough sleep and watches more than 8 hours of television a week, risk of obesity is higher.

Most children under two are not considered obese since their stored fat is crucial to their health. If you are concerned about your baby’s weight or shape, discuss it with your pediatrician. It’s never a good idea to restrict your baby’s food or force your baby to eat unless directed by a medical professional.

And now you know why babies are chubby! It’s all part of their biological plan to be both healthy and adorable. So go ahead, pinch those chubby thighs, kiss those chubby cheeks and love every inch of your baby’s chubby body!

Sources: BabyCenter, Quora, Livestrong and University of Rochester Medical Center

Second Time Motherhood: Mom-Judging Myself

When I was a first-time mom my business-minded type-A personality was my approach to motherhood. After all, I was coming off a corporate job where deadlines, schedules, multi-tasking, and having everything polished and buttoned up were my job, which often took over my entire life. I liked planning and executing my work to perfection and that’s how I began my parenting journey as well.

Like many new moms, while I secretly struggled with self-doubt and trudged through the tedious times, I put on my best face and tried to make it all look easy, even though it wasn’t. By design our lives were fairly routine, and I was obsessed with making my child bright, talented, charming and kind by pumping as much knowledge, love and experience into him as possible. Although I started a business from home, most of my time was dedicated to him and only him. Now I realize what a luxury that was.

Second Time Motherhood: Mom-Judging MyselfLittle did I know how things would change when my second baby came along. My business suit and board meeting days were a distant memory and so were many of my regimented ways. It wasn’t that I wanted to let them go, but more like I had to in order to survive, and in some respects to keep the peace in my family.

In looking back to my first-time motherhood days, I recognize that no matter how open-minded I said I was or I wanted to be as a mom, I was judging others who didn’t do it my way. And now as I find myself doing things differently the second time around, I realize I have become those moms I judged so poorly.  And for a type-A, people pleaser like me, I sometimes feel like a disappointment.

I would have judged me for letting my baby put other people’s toys in his mouth and not always cleaning up his drool. I would have judged me for not taking him to a museum, the aquarium, the zoo, the library or story times at least once a week. I would have judged me for letting him still have a pacifier at over one-year of age. I would have judged me for not reading enough books. I would have judged me for not having enough play dates. I would have judged me for letting my son crawl around in public places where people walk with their dirty shoes (which completely grosses me out but I still let it happen). And I would have judged me for toting my baby around to pick up carpool, run errands and take my oldest to his after-school activities.

And as I mom shame myself from the past about the present and incur the mom guilt that follows, another thought dawns on me: as a second-time mom, with all the benefit of my great wisdom (that’s a joke, by the way), I also judge first-time mom me.

I judge me for not being more flexible and reading my baby. I judge me for almost never letting my baby fall asleep on my chest – now one of my most-cherished moments with my second – because nap time was supposed to be in a crib. I judge me for not letting my first get dirtier and be exposed to more germs earlier in life. I judge me for hovering and not giving my first the space to learn to play independently.  I judge me for fretting over every little thing that turned out not to matter. I judge me for staying up to late to get it all done and being exhausted the next day. And I judge me for having judged others.

Although I speak out against mom shaming and mom guilt, by experiencing how I judge myself in both directions, I see how both are so prevalent. But I also recognize that experience and time have given me perspective. All the judging I did when I had the freedom to focus on only one child and now when I look back at myself as a first-time mom is both narrow-minded and lacking of compassion.

In my heart I believe that there are many ways to be a good parent, and I believe children need to be parented differently based on who they are inherently.  Those are the values I remember to tame the judging of myself and others. Because I don’t walk in anyone else’s shoes and frankly, I don’t even walk in my own mom shoes from five years ago when my first son was a baby. I have to accept who I was as a first-time mom now that I’m a second time mom and vice versa.

Fortunately, like many other parenting challenges, looking at my thriving children, holding them, and loving them makes me realize, despite my own criticisms, I must be doing something right.

 

Written by Erin, Loving Moments by Leading Lady brand ambassador