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newborn

Who knew date night could be so controversial?

Model Chrissy Teigen found herself embroiled in an internet controversy this past weekend when online photos surfaced of her and husband John Legend enjoying a (gasp!) night out without their newborn daughter Luna.

Detractors immediately took to social media to slam the star for leaving her baby at home less than two-weeks after giving birth, calling the outing “disgraceful” and questioning her dedication to motherhood.

“I’m not saying new parents have to be tied to their babies 24/7 but I find it hard to understand how any new mother can tear themselves away from a much longed for baby at nine days old for the sake of a night out,” wrote one Facebook commenter in response to a Daily Mail article.

Unwilling to take the criticism lying down, Teigen – a prolific social media user – faced her haters Sunday morning, posting: “I went to dinner. People are pissed. Good Morning!”

Teigen’s Twitter and Instagram pages have since been flooded with supportive comments telling her to turn a blind eye to the cowardly critics.

“Of course you have the right to go on a date,” wrote one Instagram user. “It is even a MUST for a healthy, well-balanced family. Let these bitter b**ches talk. Luna has one hell of a mamma. May you raise her as fierce as you.”

Teigen is a public figure so it’s natural to assume she’s caught-up in controversy and judgment simply because of her fame.  Unfortunately, the hostility extends well beyond Hollywood to the greater parenting community illustrated by the nearly 1-million search results for the term “Mommy Wars” on Google.

Furthermore, a 2013 poll conducted by Quester and commissioned by Parents magazine found that 63 percent of U.S. mothers believe that so-called “mommy wars” exist, yet less than half those respondents recognize that behaviour within their own social circle.  The study was unable to elaborate on the reason for the drop, but it’s safe to assume the anonymity of social media has at least something to do with it.

With the challenges of work-life balance still facing many 21st-century mothers, why is the parenting community so quick to turn on itself? How much further along could we be as a community without all the friendly-fire?

It should be noted that while the internet can be a catty cesspool of mom-on-mom hostility, it can also be a source of solidarity and support if you look hard enough. Hashtags like #momlife and #dadlife aggregate thousands of encouraging and often hilarious posts that perfectly capture what it means to be a parent in this day and age.

Still, as Teigen’s experience demonstrated this past weekend, there is a plethora of anonymous negativity and online judgment to go around, which begs the question: Wouldn’t we all be better off if we spent more time practicing good parenting and a little less time preaching it?

I sure think so.

RELATED LINKS:

“Meanest Mom Ever” Trashes Ice Cream to Teach Kids Hard Lesson on Manners

Keeping Up in the Era of Social Media

No App for That! A Parent’s Guide to Explaining Simpler Times

Are Manners Passe?

Teaching Civility & Manners

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Whether you like it or not, giving birth exposes you to a myriad of tips and a mountain of advice courtesy of your fellow parents. From breastfeeding to sleep habits and everything in between, it seems everyone is an expert when it comes to surviving those postpartum days.

I found myself on the receiving end of many mommy pro-tips when I was pregnant and have to admit that some came in pretty handy (others not so much…others not at all). In my experience, the best advice was rooted in pragmatism rather than platitude, meaning anything in the vain of “Sleep when the baby sleeps” was pretty much useless.

It’s in that spirit of practicality and sensible support, that I give you my 5 easy tips for streamlining life with a newborn:

  1. Family room essentials: Keep a duplicate stash of necessities (i.e. diapers, wipes, etc.) in the family room to keep from running to the nursery every time the baby needs a change.
  1. Save Space: To prevent the bottomless pile of outgrown newborn attire from overtaking your house, invest in some vacuum bags that shrink when the air is sucked out, a real space saver!
  1. Dim those lights: Installing a dimmer switch in the nursery will avoid the need to turn on jarring overhead lights or bright table lamps for those overnight feedings.
  1. Pump-it: Baby shampoo, hand-sanitizer and anything of the sort should be in a pump bottle providing for convenient one-handed dispensing when you’re holding onto a squirmy infant.
  1. Hassle-free hydration: In case you haven’t discovered it already, breastfeeding can be extremely dehydrating. To avoid feeling parched in the middle of the night, keep a water bottle in the baby’s room and refill it after every use so it’s ready to go.

Having a newborn can be an uphill challenge at times, testing a parent’s patience and endurance beyond their wildest imagination. It is comforting in those early days to be able to draw on the wisdom and experience of the parenting community to smooth the way for all the amazing moments ahead; trust me, there are too many to count.

RELATED LINKS:

Things I Never Thought I’d Miss About Having a Newborn

Practical Tips for Flying with a Baby

RELATED VIDEO:

Diapering Newborns and Crying

 

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Having a newborn is tough; there are no two ways about it. It’s a life-altering adjustment that you can’t fully prepare for beforehand and the feeling of being overwhelmed is almost constant. At one point or another, we all felt driven to our wits end by the demands of having someone rely on us 24/7 and we silently (or not so silently) prayed for the newborn stage to be over.

So you can imagine my surprise, when, as I turned the page on my daughter’s first year, I found myself reflecting on those harrowing first months with a sense of nostalgia. Maybe it’s the rose-colored glasses that go hand-in-hand with a full night’s sleep, but nonetheless, there are things I definitely miss about having a newborn.

Here are just some of them:

“Enjoy this time, it goes by so quickly”: As I wandered from shopping mall to grocery store looking like a zombie from the planet NeverGonnaSleepAgain, the last thing I wanted to hear were a bunch of clichés about cherishing this special time. Now, I begrudgingly accept that everyone was right as I realize how fleeting those few months really were.

My swollen…everything: Remember barely being able to sit down? How about the two engorged volcanoes on your chest threatening to erupt any minute? It felt like torture at the time, but looking back, those aches and pains were battle scars and a constant reminder of the tiny life that depended solely on you for survival.

Lack of Routine: Think about it. When in your later life will you ever be exempt from conforming to a schedule? In a warped way, having a newborn is like the loophole of adulthood, you’re basically encouraged to sleep in the middle of the day. Um, awesome?

The bucket car-seat: I used to curse that thing left and right! It was cumbersome and awkward to carry; I remember threatening to chuck it out the window at least twice. But now that it’s cold out, it would be SO nice to be able to fasten our daughter into the bucket indoors rather than pile her into a freezing cold car and attempt to secure her with frozen fingers.

Middle of the night feedings: There were nights I recall feeling like I was the only person awake in the entire world. The exhaustion felt relentless, like someone was forcing my eyes open with toothpicks. In retrospect, those overnights spent rocking my daughter back to sleep rank highly among the most special times of my life.

Pumping: Just kidding. Nothing to miss about that.

So you see, to everything there is a silver-lining and the newborn stage is no exception. It may take six-months and a trip to the day spa to realize it, but those challenging early days – and all the crap that goes with them – are unique and so incredibly rewarding that you might occasionally find yourself wishing for them back.

Cara Scholl lives in Toronto with her husband and 13-month old daughter.  Her passions include following politics, musical theatre and experimenting with her slow-cooker. She holds a Master’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism and enjoys documenting her parenting adventures on her recently established blog, The Mommy Brew.