First, a disclaimer that I am not in any way a child development professional.....just a mama :)
So, Ava is now 18 months old and so the last year and half I've got to dive into parenting and more recently, parenting a toddler.
I wanted to share with you a few points that I have learned along the way, that really works for Jeremy and I with our daughter.
Hopefully some of these may help you on your journey, and if you have any that you would like to share, please feel free to in the comments and continue the conversation!
And please remember that this is just what worked for us, and what worked for us may not work for others- but I wanted to share as it may help someone out there!
○ ROUTINE....KIND OF
I completely agree with the idea of getting your kids into a routine, so that there is some familiarity and structure. However, I believe this is true (for me anyway) to a certain extent. We have set a few routines in place for Ava, like morning routine & bedtime routine. However, my routines ends there. I don't have set times for anything, and we just work around each day based on the plans in place.
Has this made Ava a bad sleeper or out of sorts? Heck no!! In fact, I feel that she is very relaxed and very adjustable because of this. She just goes with the flow, and goes to sleep whenever I start her nap or bedtime routine.......well, most of the time - she is a toddler after all!
Same with eating, she just goes with the flow. Of course, the variance in time is relatively minor but she is such a flexible kid and she just adapts very easily.
This may just be how Ava is but we did decide to take this approach from beginning, so I do believe, to a degree, that you can shape this type of characteristic in your child.
○ TOUGHEN UP KID
Before we had Ava, I vowed to make sure I had a tough kid. I didn't want a kid that would cry at the drop of the hat at anything and everything. I strongly believe that if parents over react to kids falling over etc, then the kid will learn that over reacting is normal for minor things.
From the very beginning we took the approach of downplaying any 'injuries', so that she wouldn't cry at every little bump and trip. If she fell over, I'd quickly take her mind off it by pointing out something fun. If she bumped her head a little on a side table, I'd say "naughty table!!" and then again change the focus.
Of course if something serious happened like a proper fall etc, I'd sweep her into my arms and cuddle her, but I'd always try and make her giggle and get her attention away from the injury as quickly as possible.
○ AFFORDABLE LIVING
Before we had a baby we always heard from people that it's expensive to have a baby. I don't actually know who told us this; it could of been many people or it may have just been assumed through things we've heard over the years? Either way, we were prepared but optimistic that we could still live affordably with a baby...and you know what - a baby is generally NOT expensive.
Of course if you have unforseen circumstances that are outside the normal "baby expenses" categories, then of course it will be a completely different story but I want to share with you on how we have kept our baby expenses low and continue to do so.
Gone are the days of two nappy brands with exorbitant price tags. We got our nappys from the Coles or Woolworths line for $11 for a pack of 40-50. This would last us 2 weeks - so practically an unnoticeable expense! No need to fork out $30+ for packet anymore. Same goes for baby wipes- I'd get the $2 packets from the same lines and they would come in scented or unscented. You don't have to sell your organs to buy "luxury" branded disposables, because let's face it, they crap in them anyway and you toss them out!
We bought bottles and sippy cups from the BigW Dimples range for $2!! And they worked amazing, were BPA free and did the job.
We would also shop for her clothes & shoes at BigW, Target, Kmart and Best & Less. Have you seen the little girls clothes in there!? Why bother with expensive baby clothes when these places sell beyond adorable clothes for such a low price!
Another place I would shop was Ebay. I'd get her headbands, stockings, shoes and some outfits from there for tiny prices. The shoes were always fantastic quality, as were the headbands. The clothes were sometimes hit & miss but for $7 a piece it was worth the risk and I learnt how to tell the good from the bad as I went along!
○ SECOND HAND MAMA
I got so many hand-me-downs from family and friends, and I can't tell you how thankful I was.
Don't be afraid to accept donations and don't be afraid to go out and look in second hand stores. Second hand for babies and kids is alot different to adults clothing. Most of the time, children's clothes is worn once or twice before they have grown out of it and it's donated. So alot of the time you will find some near new pieces at crazy prices and sometimes from high end brands!
Toys are also great to have handed down to you and I can honestly say that more than half of Avas toybox is from her cousin or friends.
This also leads me to furniture and gadgets. I got bottles, bassinets, carseats, swings, carriers etc handed down to me from friends and family and happily accepted these. Why spend more money when you have been given free items in great condition? Also ask around if anyone is selling their old baby things and I'm sure you will great deals!
○ DO YOU
The last point I wanted to address was to just do you and don't listen to unsolicited opinions. If you like to use food pouches instead of homemade purees- awesome! If you have the TV on as background noise in your house - great! If you veg out on the couch drinking coffee while your kid plays (yep)- that's totally fine. You know you are doing a great job and you don't need over aggressive parents and/or keyboard warriors telling you how to parent.
The boom of social media has nicely coincided with (or maybe caused?) the eco, tech-free & natural parenting phenomenan that is all the buzz and it's almost "insta-proper" do be this way. And whilst these are great philosophies to live by, it's not always achievable and it's not always suitable. Don't let the trend dictate your parenting style or make you feel like the way you parent is wrong. As long as they are fed well, getting sleep, are developing their skills & are being loved - then that's all that matters and you are flipping amazing!!!
Please share any tips or advice that you would want to pass on!
"Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
God Bless, Love Julz xx