Raising a toddler and a newborn at the same time often seems like two opposite ends of the parenting spectrum. Our oldest (now 22 1/2 months) wants to do everything himself while our youngest (almost 3 months) wants nothing more than to be held, fed, smiled at, and sung to. Regardless of their different stages, they both require a lot of attention. As we've been adjusting our family to accommodate everybody's needs, we've also been also been doing a lot of encouraging- I encourage my husband by letting him know what a great job he's doing as a Dad, he encourages me with my job as a Mom, and to keep up with things I enjoy outside the home, and we both encourage our sons to continue to learn and grow- whether that be learning how to use the potty, or building those neck muscles during tummy time! What I love about all of this is how willingly we've embraced the lifestyle changes that came with becoming parents because even if it's rough, tiring, and draining at times, to us it's: ALL WORTH IT.
At first we were total newbies, second guessing every thing we did but with our second, we're definitely more confident about going with what works for all of us. Yes, we're still learning with some things, but overall it's definitely gotten easier. While pregnant with our first I remember hearing comments like "get ready for everything in your lives to totally change!" or "they're coming into your lives not the other way around" and was left feeling sad. Sad that that was the approach they had taken for one of the most wonderful life events to ever happen to their family. Now maybe their comments weren't meant to come out sounding so negative and assuming because I know how hard it can be to accurately verbalize an entire experience, but I also know how important it is to make sure those babies feel so important from day one because they are innocent little people STILL in the making.
Just recently I heard about two books: The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr. Sears and The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. I've yet to fully read either, but have been researching the essence of them and so far have found them both to be very encouraging and supportive on intuitive parenting styles. I am thrilled to come across books that share in our approach and wanted to include some quotes from the Attachment Parenting book:
"Pick up a baby when she's young, and she'll get down more easily when she is older." Translation: Early dependence fosters later independence.
"Listen to a baby when he's young, and he'll listen to you when he's older." Translation: Trust fosters communication.
"You can put your time in at one end of your child's life or at the other." Translation: A convenient baby may well become an inconvenient teenager.
Last is a tip I picked up on Super Nanny (which normally I never watch!) which is to treat your children as more than they are so that they will become more than they are. So- if you find you're constantly asking yourself useless parenting questions (like the one in the above cartoon) I encourage you to re-think your parenting approach. Whether first time, expectant, or veteran parents, we all should be encouraging each other to do what works best for our families. Remember that children truly are a natural extension of love and we should surround them with nothing less.