3 Enemies To Parenting in the Moment

I have found that parenting is only truly difficult when I am trying to get my child to do something else. I enjoy the job of parent more often when I am focused on being in the moment. What does that mean, exactly? I started to understand it more when I thought about three main forces working against us:

  1. What the internet tells us we should be doing.
  2. Our own desire to be doing something else.
  3. The fact our government, employers, and culture don’t want us to spend time with our families.

The modern world of parenting self-help constantly pushes us to question what we are doing. Let’s take bedtime as an example. Is she up to late? Should I lay her on her side? What horrible patterns am I creating if I rock, sing, or snuggle him to sleep? Did you read enough to her? Other parents have their children in bed by this time! And they sleep all night! What am I doing wrong?

I can’t enjoy this time with my child when I am focused on a future state and not the moment I am in. I have been trying to forget about what I should be doing and simply be with my child. I find way less stress and frustration this way. Yet, that pressure to be in a future state can come from another place.

We often want to be doing something else. It sounds horrible but it is true and completely valid. Why do you want to rush bedtime and get it over with? Maybe you want to spend talk to your spouse. Maybe you are in an online class and have to be free at a certain point. Maybe you are tired from the day and want to watch Bones or some other bad TV with a glass of wine. Maybe you want to call your Mother. It turns out that parenting is a real chore when I am focused on getting it over with. This is another way we can build frustration into the experience. When I am not present, night time can go like this: “C’mon man! All I really wanted to do was read this last chapter and now you are awake. UGH. This is horrible.” Only once I let go of the future was I able to better enjoy the moment. I also found that I reached my goals even better. I remind myself out loud: “This is where I am. This is what I am doing. My child needs me. I will be there for him.” It is hard not to think about all of the other stuff we need to do as people outside of work and parenting. This brings us to the third enemy to parenting in the moment.

Our government, businesses, and culture doesn’t give us enough time to balance everything and be a fully present parent. It would be a lot easier to be present with your child if you had more available time. You could then be present with your child without thinking about all the other 100 things you have to do. There is always a sacrifice. If I spend more time with my child right now that is less time I have to pay bills, talk about life with my spouse, go to the local town council meeting, call a friend, workout, etc. So we parents sacrifice family or one of these other things. You know who doesn’t factor into this sacrifice? Your workplace or the system (for a lack of a better word).

The U.S. is the only one of 4 countries (if I remember correctly) that doesn’t have paid family leave. Here is an infographic from 2013 on paid family leave that has a nice visual comparison. Our country is telling us that time with our families is not important. This sets us up for bypassing being present with our kids because there is limited time to take on other pressing matters we have as adults. Sorry kids.

Most employers don’t offer paid family leave. But that is only scratching the surface. I think we all know that taking time off work for your kids is frowned upon. Even if it is allowed, there can be a nagging thought of what you missed out on or the company valuing the worker who chooses to be there more often. There are times you sacrifice your work and career to be present with your children. Remember, though, that is you sacrificing work time, not work sacrificing your time. Check this out: Americans wasted 658 million vacation days in 2015. Whoa. Talk about pressure to be at work and away from your family. Additionally, we are encouraged to shame the parents that make this choice. Hardly anyone shames the company who should value their leave policy enough to encourage if not require time off with job safety and security. End of soap box. The broader point is that we are set up to fail. We are set up to spend less time with our kids in the first place, let alone be fully present with them.

So what is one to do? I have a few things that work for me, that I don’t do all the time but I try!

  1. Name it. Know when you are focused on something outside of right now.
  2. Develop that mantra for you that will help you stay present. This is where I am. This is what I need to do. I don’t need to be anywhere else.
  3. There is more than enough out there on mindful parenting. Here is a Huffpo blog post on 5 main tenets of mindful parenting. I know there are better resources out there, but someone should be waking up from a nap any moment and this is what you get.
  4. Embrace being good enough and not sweating the internet of parenting. This also goes for not comparing yourself to other families. If you and your child are playing blocks, play blocks. Don’t think about how many he should be stacking at 15 months, or if she should be better able to tell colors at 2 years, etc. Just play. For bedtime, focus on right now and not the future.

 

 

At Home Parenting: It Runs In The Family

If we are open to thinking about a son or daughter following in the footsteps of either parent then the idea of a man staying at home with the kids is not an anomaly at all. He is following the ultimate family tradition that extends back thousands of years.   

I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) a few hours a week for the local community college. One of the activities we do is trace our family tree to learn the names of relatives and family members. On top of that we write down the careers of each person in the family tree.

As my primary career is at-home parent, I looked forward to doing this activity. Being a man and staying home with the kids is foreign among the cultures in the classroom and it is always an opportunity to blow a few minds. I remember sitting down to do this career family tree for the first time. I wrote next to my father and grandfathers-“Pharmacist, Pharmacist, Farmer”. I imagined the tree going back farther and the entries were essentially all Farmer.

Then something interesting happened. I wrote down the careers of my Mother and Grandmothers-“At home parent, at home parent, at home parent.” It was my mind that was blown. For the first time I realized I was carrying on the family tradition of caring for children at home. It was even more powerful when I quickly thought of the maternal family tree expanding a hundred or thousand years and seeing their career as an at-home parent.

Just like me, each of them had some way of making income on the side. My farm-wife Grandmother sold chickens and chicken eggs. My pharmacist-wife Grandmother worked a few hours at the drug store and helped with the books. My Mother did the same when they took over the store. At the end of the day, though, they all stayed home with the children when they were young.

What a relic from our gendered past that is only now starting to shed. I had only thought of “carrying on the family business” from the lens of the patriarchy in my family.  Yet, this rich career history on our Mothers’ side has been there all along. Maybe this is different for daughters and this default to dads is a thing for sons. I don’t want to assume that though. If you are woman reading this, I look forward to hearing how you have imagined and thought about “the family business.”

To all my fellow at-home dads: thinking about carrying on the career tradition of my matriarchy has been a powerful thing for me. I feel even more purpose and legitimacy in the role. When others ask if you should be doing something else, remember that our Moms are just as important as our Dads and carrying on in their footsteps is a historically valid and important career to pursue.

 

 

The Modern Library

20160210_115551The Library is a different place than it used to be. It is keeping up with the needs and lifestyle of a modern community.

I had to take a picture of this suggestion and the response from our library. I am proud to see their clear decision to become a “community hub”. On any given visit we see one-on-one tutoring, students working on projects, and people hosting a range of formal and informal meetings. They host Lego parties and show movies. The other day they had a viewing of Mad Max Fury Road. Whoa. At the library?

To the concerned library goer’s credit, the children’s area is loud and rambunctious. It has to be! Keeping 20-30 preschoolers quiet in any location is unrealistic. More importantly, modern parenting doesn’t try to enforce such rules. We are open to the chaos and help our children manage the waves of emotion they experience vs. controlling the emotions we expect them to have. We sing songs, clap, and get vocally excited while seeing our favorite characters in a book. The library gets it.

What a change. The library used to be a formal place where you had to be quiet and not make a sound. Shhhh! The change is evident in my own reaction to being in a modern library. When I am talking with other parents after toddler time I once in awhile look over my shoulder- Are we allowed to do this? Shouldn’t we talk somewhere else? Nope. Everything is okay. This is a community space and we are practicing the art of community. If you want quiet there is a place for you to go. But engaging with other people is now the default library setting. (I can already hear my grandmother ranting about how things used to be and “kids these days”.)

The days of the buttoned-up library are over. Good riddance. What a great illustration of how our culture is changing across the board. Our children have it good. What are the ways your library is a community hub?

 

 

WWZAMD? – What Would Zombie Apocalypse Me Do?

Sometimes when I feel like giving up on a challenging parenting task I stop and ask: “What would Zombie Apocalypse Me Do?” What would I do if there was no one around I could call for help?

tumblr_mff5ie9vas1qcwe13o1_500Yes, we are fans of The Walking Dead on Tinkerbell Road. In the story there is a baby whose mother is gone and the team of survivors in the zombie wasteland are left to keep her fed. Even the toughest dudes pull Daddy weight with the little one.

Last week, in the real world, I was giving our 1 month old a bottle while Mom was out. He wasn’t taking it. More appropriately, I wasn’t doing it right. We were both frustrated. In the back of my head I knew that I could call her. It would be so easy. But there I was with a child, a bottle of good breast milk, and nothing but time on my hands. As an At-Home Dad there are many times like this during the day. The fact Mom was on maternity leave and I could call in help was all too tempting.

Before I gave in I imagined a world where I was my child’s last resort, his only hope. The two of us alone in a zombie apocalypse. I knuckled down and did my job. (Apologies to my would be zombified wife in such a scenario.) A phone call to a relaxing mommy was not necessary.

I also recognize that there are many people in the world living their own apocalypse. Refugees, survivors of domestic violence, torture, and other horrific things. I could think of friends who at one time huddled with their child in the Sudanese brush, the jungles of Burma, or the rescue mission down the road. To think that I would cry UNCLE when a little trouble came my way? I can buck up and make it through.

The idea that people in our real world are faced with such adversity can be emotionally crippling and in some cases too close to home. In the South, we have a notion that if we think about bad things happening they may in fact come true. It’s best we don’t focus on a situation that could come true for us or anyone. So it’s safe to pick a scenario that’s fake. Imagining fictional people in a stressful reality that will never exist can be a safe way to imagine a scenario that inspires perseverance.

Dad and Two Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is important for me now because next week Mom goes back to work and my caseload will grow from one to two. I will need to bolster my nerves for a whole new set of challenges.

Feel free to join me and use this the next time you are feeling like the baby won’t eat or sleep and the buck stops with you. If you are not into Zombies, think of your own alternate world where you are the only one left who can help your child. You can get the job done. You can pull through. (Even if you hear scratching and moaning at the door.)

10 Steps to Giving Instructions

When giving a child instructions, it is a good idea to repeat them multiple times and ask for confirmation of understanding. 

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Taking instructions on what to do when we see a car.

I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) at a local community college. Students will often say they understand instructions when they really did not. It is a normal thing a person does when operating in a new language. You need confirmation that they understand your instructions for the next activity or nothing will happen. The first step is to repeat requests three times. A person may only pick up on parts of the sentence the first time. The iterations provide a chance to put it all together. For example:

“Please take out a piece of paper and write your name at the top.” (Repeat)

Now ask the class: “What are you going to do?” Take out a piece of paper.

Follow up: “Yes. What will you do next?” Write my name at the top. 

Without taking this extra step to ask for confirmation you may have a class sitting quietly not knowing what to do. In my experience, this also works well with a toddler.

I have found success giving our child instructions with repetition and confirmation.

A great example of this is staying out of the street. I was digging weeds in the front yard and 2-year-old Boogie was walking in circles on a path. I could see that she wanted to go out in the street to make a loop over to where I was.

Here is an example of repetition and confirmation in 10 steps:

  1. Give the instruction using Stop, Look, Listen: “Stop. Look at daddy. Listen to me: stay in the yard.”
  2. Reinforce: “Boogie, stay in the yard. Stay out of the street.” (Repeat slowly 3 times)
  3. Ask open question: “What will you do?” Stay in yard (or some other form of confirmation.)
  4. Reinforce: “That’s right, stay in the yard.”
  5. Ask again: “What are you going to do?” Stay in yard. 
  6. Celebrate understanding: “Yes! High five.”
  7. You can add in an optional conditional: “If you go into the street, we are going inside.”
  8. Ask for confirmation: “If you go into the street, what will happen?” Go inside. 
  9. Reinforce: “That’s right, we will go inside.”
  10. Close with the full instruction: “Stay in the yard, honey. If you go in the street, we will go inside”.

Sometimes she makes a choice to test the boundaries, but it is not for a lack of understanding. When she doesn’t follow instructions I can calmly take her inside with the comfort that she knew what she was doing. This presents another time to practice repetition and confirmation, “Why are we going inside?” Me street. “What will you do next time?” Stay in yard.

Learning a language is so hard. Be sure to use step 6 as often as possible. Celebrate understanding every chance you get. This list may also look exhausting on paper. Trust me, though, once you get in the habit of this process it will not only work but also be fun.

 

2015 National At-Home Dad Convention

Last weekend I attended the Convention of the National At-Home Dad Network. Over 140 Dads from across the country met to take some time off, share parenting tips, and most of all get energized to advocate for Dads and parents everywhere. There’s a lot I could say, but let me raise four major take away messages from the event.

1. At-Home Dad describes who we are, but Dad Advocacy is what we do. 

We shared plenty of parenting tips and gave each other support as primary caregivers. A major connection, however, is that we are all actively working to promote and inspire a new state of fatherhood. We stand in the face of stigma surrounding “Mr. Mom” and proudly demonstrate that fathers can be caring and nurturing parents. Two examples:

In the opening keynote, Dr. Scott Behson (@scottbehson), author of The Working Dad’s Survival Guide, repeated this mantra:

“Almost every dad I know is putting in the hard work to be a loving, hands on, involved father.”

Sounds like preaching to the choir. Unless the choir is a leading voice for improving the status and opportunities of fathers across the board, not just those who can be at home. The another component to his talk was on self care. He gave us some tools to create more time for ourselves that can help us recharge and relax to be a better father every day.

Closing keynote speaker Josh Levs (@joshlevs) is a CNN reporter who was denied paternity leave. He fought back, won, and wrote a book titled “All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families and Businesses — And How We Can Fix It Together.” He electrified the audience with a call to arms to get back out there and fight the good fight.

Levs pointed out that the U.S. is one of only three countries in the world that doesn’t provide paid family leave benefits. And in the U.S., only California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island provide paid family leave benefits at the state level. Why is this?

“Workplace policies, structures, and stigmas are rooted in outdated 1950’s sexism,” says Levs. “It is based on the idea that women should stay home and men should keep working. If you believe a woman should stay home, why would she need paid leave? And if men should work, why would they need paternity leave?”

Myths that lead us to think that men are bad caregivers also fuel these sexist policies. Lies like “dads are lazy, focus on leisure, don’t help out at home, can’t change a diaper,” all support a false reality that men are bad at caregiving. They support the sexist notion that men should work while women should stay at home, because aren’t they better at the job? These images of fatherhood are not true. This also energized this choir to go back home and fight even harder for all Dads.

Sound like a bunch of homemakers sitting around and dishing on their spouses? Hell no. These are guys committed to making the opportunity to be a great father available to all.

2. Everyone at this conference loves his job and is doing it by choice.

This was the first work conference I have been to where no one complained about the company or was jockeying to find a new job. Each Dad present loved what he does. This year Yahoo released a marketing study that confirms 70% of At Home Dads are there by choice.

Its a job we are suited for and seek out. If we all worked in an office or a call center, I am sure we would all find each other as friends. Why? We have similar skills, interests, and work styles that make raising a family full time our dream job. “Isn’t being full time Dad all video games and naps?” some ask. Not in my world. But don’t take my word for it. Ask the other working Dads I encounter who clearly tell me there is no way they could do our job. We are in this by choice.

3. There is collaboration among all Dads and Dad groups.

This convention was hosted by the At Home Dad Network. Active leaders and panel members there this weekend were from Dad 2.0 Summit, City Dads Group, Life of Dad, and a number of other fatherhood organizations. Heck, a bunch in the audience were a blogger of some sort who could benefit from sponsor attention, right? Not at this convention. Everyone was working together for the big picture of building up Dads, demolishing stereotypes, and creating a new set of rules so a guy could do work he loves and have time for his family.

4. We are early adopters of a growing movement. 

As our message gets out and more Dads make choices our numbers start to grow. It’s not only full time At Home Dads, but Dads changing jobs to align more with their desired lifestyle- freelancing, part time working, and other creative ways to earn a living in a way that incorporates family. I believe the future of this organization and our efforts is in diversity. We can benefit from reaching out to Dads of color, and Dads in the LGBTQI community. If you are out there reading this and have a voice on the issues of fatherhood I encourage you to reach out and speak out. This group of guys I am a part of is here for you, willing to listen, and ultimately open to learning from you. You will be welcomed with very large, and often hairy, open arms.

I will blog more about what I learned at this convention, but here are the main points from Tinkerbell Road. Thank you to everyone who played a role in putting together the convention. I look forward to staying in touch with everyone over the year.

Please let me know any specific questions you have about the conference and I will be glad to answer them!

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The Family Change Jar

I heard this idea from an old work colleague. He did it with his two kids. Here is his version:

Everyone in the house put their change in the same jar. Each child had a turn with the jar. When it was your turn you could decide when you wanted to empty it. You could do it right away or wait for it to build, conceivably forever. Once you cashed in your turn was up. Since there is no time limit on the waiting it created an interesting dynamic of having your fortune dependent on someone else’s actions, and developing patience along with politics to urge the dumping of the jar sooner than later.

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When my children are old enough to play this game I will add my wife and I into the picture. During my turn I can model how the change jar works. When they come at me with begging, pleading, or questioning I can explain my position and what I am doing. I envision some expert testimonies, power point presentations, or backroom deals to convince me that now is the time to empty the jar.

If you have older kids now and can give this a try before I can in 5 years, please let me know how it goes or how you modified the format.

Mold Your Child’s Play with Clay

Make a gallery of different play dough shapes for your child to use in their creations before building along side them.

I used to sit with Boogie and build along side her. From “doggy” to “cat” I would build what she asked while she attempted to do the same. Each time I would feel bad because I could make an animal or jet plane way better than she could. I also noticed that she would lump something together and call it a shape without much effort. Then one day I spent my energy building different shapes she could then incorporate into an idea. It worked wonders.

I now roll lo20150922_165322ng tubes, cut cylinders, and form balls creating a gallery of items that she can choose from. These are also the things she has the hardest time doing at 2 years. I do the hard work for her and she can build.

She turned this collection of tubes, cylinders and purple discs on the left into the creation below, what she called a “rain puddle”. I didn’t ask her to make a puddle or give her any idea of what it should look like. I think the access to materials made a difference. This way of playing play dough also took up way more time. We played together at least 10 minutes more that when we built side by side.

You too can build from these gallery pieces and have a conversation about “what did you build?’ given the same set of input materials. I opted to make jewelry with the items above. She wasn’t impressed but I thought it was fun. (Isn’t rolling out the longest string you can the most fun thing to do with play dough?)

Give this a shot next time you are working with play dough. Build a range of support pieces into a gallery and see what he or she comes up with!

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“Fair Game” Playground Parenting

How you approach an unattended toy on the playground can say a lot about your parenting style. 

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At the park with our community toys.

You find toy on the playground that your child wants to play with that has no clear owner. What do you do?

  1. Allow your child to play with it.
  2. Look around. Find the owner and ask if you can play with it.
  3. Tell your child she can’t play with it because it is not hers.

If you read this blog you can probably guess that we at Tinkerbell Road believe in the first response. There are benefits to treating toys on the playground as fair game for both children and parents.

Quick Overview of “Fair Game”

Any toy brought to the park is fair game when unattended. If your child doesn’t want others to play with it, he or she shouldn’t bring it to the park. The owner of the toy can come back and request to play with it, but it is not cool for the owner to take it back but then go play with something else leaving the toy alone again. Toys parked off the playground are not fair game. This primarily applies to vehicles like scooters, trikes, and bikes used to get to the playground. If you brought a truck and stash it under a tree thinking it will be left alone you might be surprised at who will find it. Books are generally considered not fair game. In our experience, books require a level of permission that left-alone trucks or other small toys do not.

Here are three benefits to fair game toy use on the playground:

1. Children learn the concept of community. 

You can have the conversation ahead of time about what taking a toy to the park means. This is a rich topic that delves into concepts of possession, sharing, and ultimately what is personal and community space. Our culture has a strong bent towards possession and property rights. The playground can be a great place to practice the idea of community and the benefits from social capital, or the idea that we can find benefit from something that someone else has without needing to possess it ourselves. What we really want is for a child to get pleasure out of seeing someone else enjoy something he or she owns. This is the spirit of community that can be a foundation for a life of rewarding relationships.

2. Children can practice negotiating with others.

This philosophy of fair game allows for more interaction than answers 2 and 3 to the quiz above. If the toys stick with the owner we miss out on so many learning opportunities. The playground is a place where kids of all ages are open to play together. They are not in a grade or other similar age class. This creates some interesting dynamics when a five year old has to communicate and bargain with a two year old on the use of his toy. A good practice that comes out of this for the older kids is mentoring and leadership. As a rule, they have to give in because they are older and better understand what is going on. Your more eager leader can take on the role of managing turn taking for the group. For the younger ones, they can learn how to get what they want by being nice and patiently waiting for a turn. If all else fails the older children have a quick introduction to what community space means and the implications of bringing a toy into it.

3. Fair Game is the easiest way to manage toy use on the playground. 

I will agree that the approach of look around and ask is not bad. The problem here is that it is time consuming and confusing. I have seen many parents find the toy we leave for others to play with fighting off their kid asking “whose is this?” A person could spend hours asking around for the owner. We parents don’t have time for this. Let’s agree that toys are open and parents can relax (until we have to step in and help with negotiating use!)

If you choose number three and force your kid to stay away you will more than likely have a difficult tantrum on your hands. It is like taking a kid to a candy store and saying no to candy. It isn’t fair to bring a fun toy to the park where anyone can touch it and say that no one else can play with it. Keep that toy at home if you or your child don’t want to open it to the community.

Abiding by the third philosophy usually comes hand in hand with “don’t go up the slide” or “use the equipment only as it is intended” or “stay out of the puddles.” The point isn’t to judge but to simply state the facts: your child and my child will be raised with a different set of values. A community toy on the playground can be a good indicator, actually, to help parents know a bit about each other early on and find like minded parents.

5 Specific Ways to Support a Nursing Mother

World Breastfeeding Week came and went without any comment here at Tinkerbell Road. We were busy having a baby! Little boy arrived in the morning on Thursday. We are over the moon. It wasn’t long, however, until we were back to square one with getting life organized with a newborn in the house. Having a toddler here too is a new thing. More on that later. One of the first challenges with any newborn is breastfeeding. That is pretty much all they do aside from sleeping and dispatching the breast milk.

My focus is on how the nursing partner, in my case Dad, can and should support the mother as she gets in the swing of feeding the little one. There are a number of resources on the subject. I hope that you did a lot of research before the baby was born. All you dads to be should also find a breastfeeding class to attend. It was enlightening for me. These resources aside, I am going to share with you ways I try to support the nursing mother in our house. (If you think the other people in the house don’t have a role to play in breastfeeding you are quite mistaken. Nursing mothers need and want support.) During the birth you were a birth partner. Now, you are a nursing partner. Here are five things you can do:

  1. Boost her confidence.

Even if you have a mother who has done it before the worry about the child’s latch and her milk production will raise its head. These worries are also topped with postpartum feelings, emotions, and moods that only add more complexity to the issue. Remind her she is doing a great job. Quickly dash any negative self talk. You know her. Provide the type of positive reinforcement that connects with her.

2. Take the child when she is not nursing. Do the breastfeeding Tango.

Breastfeeding is a dance. The partners trade off when needed to get the other one sleep and rest. The mother will have more work to do because she is feeding the baby and you can’t. So when the child is done, ask Mom to let you burp and hold the baby while she sleeps. This is when Mom should try to rest. You have to nurse on demand so that baby will be back at it soon. Hand the baby back over for feeding and you get in your rest.

Also, try using assertive language. “Let me take him for you,” demonstrates that you are willing and anxious to help out. “Do you want me to take him?” sounds less committed like you really would rather sleep. I mess this up alot and quickly regret my use of questions. Mostly because there are times it is true I would rather have her deal with it, I want her to say no and carry on. Bad nursing partner behavior. I try to take polite action and toughen up for my role in all of this.

3. Know the signs the child is hungry and wants to eat.

This is fairly straightforward. The child will root, suck, chew on fingers, bob his head like a little chicken when it is ready to eat. This is also a trap. A SERIOUS trap for the nursing partner, especially dads. Ever take a baby and then tell the mom “I think he’s hungry again, you should take him,” minutes after Mom thought she had a break? False hope, take it away is one of the worst forms of torture. Do this and you will not only make mom mad and frustrated, but you will let down all of fatherhood too. “I just give her to mom, she hops on the boob and I can drink a beer.” Don’t be that guy. Try to soothe your child to sleep one more time before handing her over.

All of this aside, you should breastfeed on demand. So if the baby really is hungry back to back, pass her over and stay by mom’s side to quickly take baby when they are ready. This is our situation. Both kids were cluster feeders. Don’t go out and start doing the dishes or changing the laundry. Stay close. One of the things that can happen is mom enjoys holding the baby after feeding and passes baby off at the end of its little sleep cycle, missing the chance to get a solid 10-20 minute block of time without the baby. If you can be there to help burp and swaddle right away mom can get more rest.

4. Keep track of time and manage the schedule.

These little new dudes need to eat at least every 2 hours in the beginning. It can be a good job for the nursing partner to keep track of feedings so the stressed and sleepless mom doesn’t have to. Again, be polite when you ask when the baby last ate and when it is time to go again. Most of the time they will root well before the two hour mark, but there will be times they sleep too long and need a nudge.

5. Help manage her pain relief and water intake.

All mothers I know benefit from a schedule of Ibuprofen and Tylenol weeks after birth to help recover from labor. If you don’t know already, breastfeeding will heighten any cramping she has after birth. If the mother hasn’t taken any pain reliever nursing can be more painful. Not to mention, when her milk comes in and breastfeeding increases she will experience more pain. Here is another thing the mother has to manage. Help her out. You keep track of her pain relievers and make sure that she is taking them at the right intervals. Water too. Keep up with making sure she has enough water. It was a big deal as birth partner, its a big deal as nursing partner too.

There is more to share about what I am doing as a nursing partner, or am trying to do (I can’t say I am batting 1,000), but I am doing this on my nap time and need to get to it.