The learning never stops

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of change, almost as an extension of this post I wrote last year on adjusting to motherhood. Change is inevitable as a parent and no matter how much equipment you have, or how many instructional books you read, nothing can quite prepare you for the incredible impact a baby will have on your life. It is a time of learning like no other; and it never stops.

But even as things change, it is important to do what makes you and your family most happy and comfortable. Whether it’s sleeping, feeding, teething or overall growth and development, there is always something going on, and figuring it out is part of the journey.

The areas of change and learning I want to touch on in this post include baby needs, appetite, developmental milestones and the world of childcare.

  1. Baby needs: Routine versus demand

As I may have mentioned before, I am a routine kind of person, and after some research I learned how to make this work for my baby too. We are somewhat flexible in our routine and can adapt when we need to be somewhere at a certain time, but he is woken up at the same time each day and put to bed at roughly the same time, depending on how long he feeds for, which works extremely well for everyone in this household. As much as I admire those parents who leave their day (and night) entirely up to their baby, we learned early on that this wasn’t the best option for us.

2. A baby’s appetite

As a baby grows, they need less breastmilk/formula and when regular solids have been established, even less (although much more real food)! Now on his way to being eleven months old, my son is happily eating three meals and one snack and having four breastfeeds a day. I feel confident that his little belly is satisfied but the food preparation journey was quite a lot to get used to. My son quickly moved from purees to mashes and chewable foods and now I am constantly on the lookout for baby friendly recipes to try. I must admit now that I hav been doing it for a while, I do enjoy preparing his meals and coming up with a daily menu each night before I go to bed.

3. Developmental milestones

When a baby rolls, sleeps, walks, talks or behaves in a certain way, it is a huge deal. But as parents we need to remember that these milestones are times of change that occur at different stages for everyone. A friend’s baby may get their first tooth at 7 months when your child may not have had any come through at 10 months. A baby’s development is not something that fits into a routine or schedule. Rough timelines are available but there is no set age when a baby should be doing a particular thing, which is somewhat reassuring. There is absolutely no need to compare your baby to anyone else’s, as tempting as it may be.

4. Navigating the world of childcare

Navigating the world of childcare (and getting used to the idea that our baby will be away from us at some point!) can be difficult, especially if advice is coming from all directions. It may be important that you return to work or study for personal, professional or financial reasons but whatever it is, unless family help is available, some form of childcare will need to be considered. Making this decision can be tricky but remember that opportunities for socialisation and learning can be a good thing. Make sure you find out as much as you can by visiting a few centres and asking lots of questions so that you understand what they have to offer.

At every stage of your parenting journey, you are going to encounter change; big and small. The four areas I have discussed are currently relevant to me, but I know that there is so much more. As a takeaway, I want to emphasise the importance of responding to change by learning what works best for you and your family and remember that the learning really does never stop.

I realise I haven’t covered everything here so if you have something you’d like to add please leave a comment!

The black and white of feedback

Feedback is an important aspect to life. It contributes to our personal and emotional development and allows us to see things from a different perspective.

The other night my mum suggested that sometimes I rely too heavily on people’s feedback, which I thought was a bit harsh and not entirely true.

Sure, it’s great to hear when you are doing well or how you could improve, but it is also likely that you will already have some kind of an idea of what the response will be. You’re either doing well, or you’re not. It seems pretty black and white.

Receiving feedback can be tricky. And you can show your true strength with your reaction.

If the answer is positive, you might nod your head and ask about other areas you can develop. If the answer is not so good, it is the perfect time to ask why.

Use the answer to develop your attitude, your skill set, your humour, whatever it is that has been constructively criticised.

Whatever you do, don’t overthink it. You are as strong as you allow yourself to be and if you let feedback get to you, it may be harmful, if not only to your self-worth, which is actually a pretty important thing.

Imagine going to work every day, sitting opposite your boss and not talking because she suggested you work on your sentence structure when writing reports and you disagreed. Or maybe she suggested that you introduce yourself to external clients in a different way.

How is not asking for more information benefiting you?

Make an effort to understand where these concerns are coming from. You can even give her some feedback of your own if that’s what you need to do!

But maybe you didn’t even ask for the feedback you received. Maybe your friend told you that you were terrible at keeping in touch and that she wasn’t going to even bother anymore. Hopefully you get better at contacting each other and in the meantime, your emotional intelligence is under some pretty extreme development.

The hardest part about receiving feedback can be accepting it. But this is where you can prove people wrong and demonstrate exactly why you aren’t what whoever thinks.

Who really cares though?

We all have it in our human nature to care about what other people think to a certain degree but if you know you are doing the best you can, just keep on doing that and others will learn that you are not going to react.

They will realise that this is who you are and that you’re not going to change because of something that someone else says.

Feedback should be used constructively but there is no need to depend on it, even if you are trying to improve.

As soon as you feel comfortable and proud of what you are doing, you shouldn’t let other people get in the way to tell you otherwise. And if they do; it will be quite obvious to you and everyone around you that they are wrong.