As we are preparing for the arrival of our number two, I took some time to think about our past 1.5-ish years with our first born. She is our happy pill, the goofy one who taught us that happiness comes from the little things in life. It is quite a joy to hang out with her. We are definitely very lucky that she is relatively an easy baby too.
There are so many things that we learned from her along the way by here are my three main takeaways on parenting.
One thing I learned is to observe. I think (or choose to think) I am not the very kiasu type who reads up in every single parenting book there is in the universe. Truth to be told, I only read “French Children Don’t Throw Food” (or “Bringing Up Bébé), which isn’t even a book on parenting in the first place. It’s about the American author’s parenting experiences in France, and she compares the French way with the Anglo-Saxon’s. This book has certainly opened my eyes to a different style/mentality of parenting that I am used to. I first learned about observing from this book. Don’t be too quick to attend to your baby at the moment he/she cries or fusses (not that you shouldn’t). Take a moment or two to observe and you’ll mostly figure out a pattern. As they grow older, I learned to observe the likes and dislikes, behaviors, character etc. I also enjoy observing our little friend at play and not be too quick to jump in to help or interrupt her ‘me time’ at play.
Another key takeaway from the book is the cadre which is essentially the framework that makes up the principles of parenting. The husband and I discussed about our cadre and figured other things out along the way. It is very important for both parents to be on the same page! There are a few things that we stand firm on: Christian values, happy responsible children, eat well/enjoy food, close relationship with them, independent etc. We want to minimise screen time, go out and play, and to introduce to her the things that the husband and I enjoy so that we can enjoy the activities together. We also agreed that values need to be taught. So within this cadre, it allows flexibility as and when the needs arise. It is important for us parents to know what we want and how to bring up our kid. Most importantly it is to strike a balance between bringing up the child that you have, and the child that you want. This is also where observation comes into the cadre.
Children can be taught at a young age. Children are never too young to learn. I don’t mean sending them to music and math classes at 1 year old and what not, but rather to learn about manners, responsibilities and other life skills/values. For example, I know I want her to eat at the table because I don’t want to be chasing the kid around the house during meal times. So as soon as she can sit up and support her back, we got her a high chair and have her join us at meals. We try to have her eat with us as much as possible. We also teach her to keep her toys. Though it may take us a longer time to tidy things up, we know our efforts did pay off when our little friend surprised us by keeping her toys in the bag and putting the bag back to where she took it from. Yay!
Manners and values can also be taught, albeit it may take a little longer as it also involves communication skills. Soon after she turned one, I found out about baby signing from a colleague and read up a little about it. I did not know when our little friend will speak her first words so I thought signing is pretty useful as a tool of communication for both of us. We started with scared, hungry, tired, delicious etc and moved on to thank you, please, I’m sorry. Now that she can speak a few words, we are also teaching her to say please or ask for help with simple words that she can manage instead of responding to her “baby talk” immediately. So far she can follow after us with some signing.
Now with another coming along, we got to make it a point to teach her to love her younger sibling and maybe to help around to. I’m also quite sure it will be an exciting journey with two little humans below 2yearolds! We shall see how things turn out 🙂
Besides lesson on parenting, our little friend has also inspired me to be better, more courageous to venture into the unknown. The husband and I have some exciting plans coming up, other than expecting number 2. Everything is still in the planning process and we hope to announce it soon!