The other day, I found myself in an unfamiliar position. I was sitting on the couch with one hand holding a cup of coffee that was not cold (what is happening?), and the other holding a stack of paper with words printed on it. That’s right, I was reading a book.
You see, all of my prayers to various deities have been answered, and my little guy has been having long, predictable naps. Praise God(s)! All of ’em!
This has left me with two chunks of the day during which I can get things done. Among my nap time accomplishments so far are the following: watching the first season of Mindhunter; riding our exercise bike (and taking a shower afterwards!); and, prepping random and vaguely nutritious dinners. Oh, and writing this. *takes bow*
Peppered in there is (obv) a lot of time on my phone doing useless things.
Oh, and occasionally, as of now, I read books. Well, book, so far.
Before becoming a parent, I was a voracious reader. I love me a good story, and I would read in the evenings, listen to books on tape during my walk to work, and lose myself in story-telling podcasts while cooking.
After my first child was born, all of this took a backseat and it took me 13 months to finish the book I was already halfway through when I went into labour.
With my current (second) baby, I’ve tried to make more time for reading fiction. And by this I mean 30 minutes per week. Cause, life.
I’m also aiming for an additional 30 minutes per week (I know, slow down there, sista!) for non-fiction books. A friend recently invited me to join a book club that focusses on parenting books. All of the members have kids approx the same age. Had any other group invited me, I might have run screaming for the hills, but these ppl are fun, funny, and are very into the local microbrewery scene (read: know how to party), so I’m into it.
Before diving into the first book on the list, I got to thinking about the parenting books I have managed to choke down during the past 2.5 years of parenthood. They were not all created equally.
Some seemed helpful, some felt like rubbish and made me regret putting any of my “free” time into them. But, tbh, even the good stuff sounded perfect on paper, but was not without its challenges in practicality. Welcome to life, I guess.
And so, if you are in the market for advice that sounds great and later proves somewhat tricky, and or if you would like to emulate my style of parenting (which is strongly unadvisable), here’s the reading list for the parenting course that no one would ever let me teach.
1) The Birth Partner
This little gem was recommended to us by our midwife, our doula, and seemingly everyone who had had a baby come out of their body.
Confession time: I did not read this. Because, why would I? I was to be the birth-er, not the partner. Also because when people start sentences with, “You know what you should read/do/…” I automatically tune out.
And no, the irony of me now recommending a list of books to other people is not lost on me, thankyouverymuch.
But my husband read it, and he said, “I can see why everyone recommends this.”
Is this a positive review? I don’t know. It’s not negative. He’s not a very gushy person (there can only be one in every relationship), so this is pretty much a ringing endorsement.
He then went on to be medium-level helpful during labour (through no fault of his own, I am just more of a hunker down alone and get ‘er done labourer), so that means the book was a success? I don’t know. Labour is a f*cking roller coaster and if this book helped him not flee the room in panic, then I think it’s worth its weight in gold.
2) Good Night, Sleep Tight… blah, blah long title
This is not the first time, nor the last, that I will sing the praises of this book. Okay, maybe not sing, but recommend… with caveats.
During my early struggle with how to approach sleep with my first child, this book found its way to me and I reluctantly (and after a few false starts), did what it said. And then my son slept. And it was blissful but slightly anti-climactic.
Navigating baby sleep is not, as I have come to understand, rocket science. But it’s not (or, was not for me) intuitive, either. This book laid it out in a way that was digestible and implementable, and a little condescending, but that’s okay.
If you want to save yourself from crying in the parenting aisle of the book store because you are so overwhelmed with baby sleep books and so severely under-slept (or so I’ve heard), I recommend this book as a starting point.
3) Baby-Led Weaning
Congratulations, your baby is ready for food that does not come directly out of your body (or bottle)! Now what?
Starting solids can be a spicy parenting topic. There’s more than one way to skin this cat (not saying you should skin a cat and eat it, please keep reading), and it tends to be a divisive subject.
The approach explained (and advocated for) in this book boils down to handing the baby some adult food and letting it feed itself. There are, of course a few exceptions. But I literally mean a few: no whole nuts, no popcorn, and no honey. The rest is fair game.
We embraced this approach and have never looked back (and have also never made a single purée). It’s fun and less work and if that isn’t my parenting mantra, then I don’t know what is. Somebody cross-stitch that for me, svp.
Hot tip: these guys also make a cookbook, which is fun when you are just starting out and can’t think of spear-shaped meals. Or I’ll just tell you [spoiler alert] that beef and broccoli is your new best friend.
With those three books under your belt, I can guarantee you that you will be equipped to be the most okay-est parent on the block.
What I’ve learned from the parenting books I’ve read, more than anything, is that there’s a book out there to tell you do to one thing, and a book that will recommend the opposite thing. I say, if you want to do something, and you want to use the framework that a book provides, have at ‘er, hoss. If not, don’t.
The baby will be born, will sleep, and will eat.
I’ll check back in if I glean any wisdom from the book club books or the book club babes. That is, if I’m not too buzzed on craft beer and/or too distracted by my girl crushes on the other members to pay attention.
Then again, since there is no official manual to raising children, I guess we, including the authors of these books, are more or less just winging it – which is equal parts empowering and terrifying.
We are all bumbling through it, trusting our gut and trying not to ruin our kids or ourselves. And we are probably succeeding, most of the time. Let’s call it a win and toast our valiant efforts with some craft beer!
I’m starting to think that the likelihood of me being kicked out of this book club is high ¯\_(ツ)_/¯