Baby and I have a fairly set routine from week to week. Between wake up and Baby’s first nap, we hangout in our jammies, eat breakfast, and have lots of tummy time. When Baby wakes from his morning nap, we’ll go to our local Parents as Teachers Play Center, Baby Storytime at the library, our Mommy & Baby class, visit grandparents, or run errands. Back home for Baby’s afternoon nap, it’s the late afternoon/early evening when I start to lose it.
When Baby wakes up from his second nap, we go for a long walk with the pup (weather permitting). When we get back, we still have about two hours before dinner and then another 45 minutes before bedtime routine. This time tends to stretch on. And on. And on.
My husband works late, so it’s just the two of us at home. We go from room to room, each stocked with toys to play with, a mirror to grin at, a puppy to climb on, or the actual playroom with it’s baby activity gym, stuffed animals, blocks, and other toys (mostly hand-me-downs from my sister). This is the time of day when I’m most likely to zone out on my iPhone, and then feel really guilty for not staying present. I should be finding more ways to engage Baby and provide him with more enriching and developmental activities.
So I’ll put down my phone and try to interact. I’ll sing songs, play airplane, make silly noises, tickle Baby, and build block pyramids for Godzilla Baby to knock down (timber!). Often I’m rewarded with precious baby giggles that are the happiest sound in the world. However, after a minute or so, Baby crawls away in search of something new to put into his mouth. I’ll try again. He’ll find something else to chew on. Cell phone coma and mommy guilt ensues.
Except… maybe not. During one of our Mommy & Baby classes, another mama said just three words that helped me reframe this time and cast away my personal raincloud. This particular mama is a pro. Her adorable little one in class with us is her third baby. She doesn’t speak up that often, but when she does I tend to hang on every word. Yet it was just a casual side comment that’s been flipping my perception about our long evenings at home.
The scene: moms are sitting in a circle on the edges of a play mat with babies in the middle crawling around in a play tent, swatting at bubbles, chasing balls, playing with blocks, and chewing on rattles. One minute Baby was laying on his back half inside/half outside the tent chewing on the mesh door. A couple minutes later he’s sitting just outside the tent, fairly close to me, gumming a rattle, baby chaos ensuing around him. I try to get his attention, but he’s as content as can be chilling with his toy. “In his own little world,” I say. “Sounds about right,” Mama Pro says.
Three little words have never held so much reassurance in my life. You mean, it’s ok for Baby to play by himself and not be entertained constantly? I don’t need to have a endless stream of babble or songs going to ensure he’ll have a great vocabulary? He’ll still develop a secure attachment with me hanging out in the room, but otherwise letting him be?
Playing it cool, I tried not to let on to how much Mama Pro’s words meant to me. Inside, I let out a huge sigh of relief. It’s ok for Baby can play by himself. I don’t need to be on 100% of the time. It’s ok for me to seek out some entertainment, enrichment, or connection of my own during Baby’s waking hours, especially during that long stretch before bedtime. Baby will be fine, and possibly even thrive (gasp) having some time to do his own thing and explore his world (in a baby-proofed room, with Mama nearby…). Guilt be gone.
When was a time when just a few words from another mama helped you out, more than she could ever know?
You’ve definitely passed on some of those wise mamma words to me! lol Godzilla Baby
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