Balancing parenthood with a new baby, job, and life Haiti has taken some adjusting. As Madeline approaches the 8 month mark next week, we've been reflecting on what we've learned along the way.
#1 Be Chill. This has been our watchword since before Madeline was born. Chill parents equals chill baby...or at least that's the hope.
#2 In the face of parenting criticism, a common occurrence here and around the world, act like you don’t understand the language, and just smile! A good time to use this technique -- when faced with concerned finger waggling about your kid not wearing socks and a winter hat in a million degree Caribbean heat.
#3 Take breakfast and lunch dates. There was a miraculous period when our kid slept anywhere, anytime, and we delightedly hauled her along to evening dates while obliviously thinking that these breezy parenting days would last. Sadly those days have passed. In the absence of local family to co-opt into babysitting, we have opted for dates over breakfast or lunch when we have childcare for Madeline.
#4 Put a bow on it. We like to think of ourselves as pretty enlightened parents and aspire to nurture our little future president with all the empowering baby activities that involve chew toys…but nothing smoothes over the incongruous presence of a baby at an evening meeting better then a ridiculously large bow perched atop her head...the larger, the better. The bow becomes the discussion topic, nicely sidestepping the weird fact that we schlepped our baby to a meeting.
#5 Give her a voice. If you are not in the baby stage yourself, being introduced to a floppy, wide eyed baby can lead to an awkward pause... what do you say when you meet a baby (besides, I like your bow!). In the absence of speaking abilities beyond random shouts and gurgling sounds we like to give Madeline a voice so she can "talk" to people in english or creole, this brings warm smiles and open arms in even the most formal settings.
#6 Introduce a full range of flavors right away. After Paul’s laborious research on infant food strategies, we have made a big effort to introduce as many different flavors as we can, intentionally exposing her to a wacky and wide range of spices and flavors. Highlights include beet watermelon puree, chickpea banana puree with chipotle, avocado and yams, and Haitian spicy pumpkin soup.
#7 Judge not... While Paul and I have a good feel for balancing our roles of blogging and working together, (without driving each other crazy) we found that parenting required negotiating a different set of rules to establish fluid team work with our new baby. Respecting the other persons' passionately felt opinions on parenting minutia is important. And since our parenting philosophies do vary in some regards, we have found that the best way to avoid judging each others' style and decisions is to divide duties... kind of like cooking together!