August 23, 2019
In the Beginning
With your first baby, the transition from being your own entity – thoughtful of the needs of others but not beholden to them 24 hours a day – to being a full-time servant to the needs of a tiny human is both abrupt and irreversible. I remember so clearly the moment it sank in with my firstborn. I sat down abruptly, thinking, “I will never not worry about her again. my. whole. life.”. It’s easy to sink into the worrying, spending every waking minute paying attention to their needs and not your own. However, that doesn’t make you the best you, and to be the best parent, you need to find a better balance with that.
We at Village love self care and have lots of tips for how to squeeze it in when you’re not tending to baby – but this post is about having fun with baby. Hate to burst your bubble, but as fun as it can be to goggle and coo at someone else’s baby for 5 minutes, it can get old when you have your own baby in front of you allthetime (and it’s ok to admit that). On the other hand, ignoring them to watch 10 hours of Netflix is also not advised. Here are some ways you can be a good parent and also enjoy yourself, with tiny human included.
1. Fake Reading
Plop baby into the stroller or baby carrier and turn on a good audiobook or podcast. If baby is awake, play the volume of the story out loud and react with faces and comments to them. They will be getting great social and language stimulation and you can feed your adult brain. Ignore people who give you funny looks – in fact this is a bonus. You’ll spend a lot of parenthood having to ignore people giving you funny looks. Studies show that the most important thing for baby’s language development is how many words they hear in the first years of life – which words is not important. I found it hard to just talk at my baby or read out loud to them, but had fun doing this.
2. Annoying TV Watcher
When you’re too tired to chat while walking, you can do the same thing with TV or a movie – have baby facing your face and be that annoying TV watcher who comments about every little thing (maybe this is why grandma does this…). This stops being as good an option once baby can move because they’ll want to look at the screen. We still don’t have great evidence on whether it is or is not harmful for babies and children under 2 to watch TV, but it’s probably best to avoid if possible.
3. Laugh Out Loud
Pull up some good comedy on your phone and laugh it up! One great thing about babies is they don’t understand the nuance of cursing and political incorrectness so you can play whatever you like. They do understand smiles and laughter though and they LOVE it. Plus laughter not only brings on major endorphins for you (even fake laughing!), it can lower blood pressure, decrease cortisol stress hormone in your body and even help fight off depression.
4. Dance Like (Almost) No One Is Watching
Taking advantage of the not-understanding-curse-words, you can also put on your favorite tunes of any genre (mine would be early 2000s hip hop) and dance it up! This is great exercise and will also probably bring on some laughter (see above benefits). Your baby won’t judge you and they love watching you move. If they’re fussy, this is a great way to bring both your spirits up – don’t just try to bounce them in silence – put on music that makes YOU happy and groove around. You don’t have to listen to Baby Mozart all the time.
5. Phone A Friend
Also a great way to fake talking to your baby – call up a friend and aim your words at the baby. They don’t know you’re really chatting about celebrity gossip or reminiscing about your fabulous pre-baby life. They just like the attention. Better yet – have a friend come over! Did you know baby play dates are really for parents to have an adult to talk to? Babies don’t play with each other until about 18 months old. Don’t let that stop you! Throw the babes on a playmat and speak real words to another grown up, it will lift your spirits.
6. Learn A Language
Babies are learning language all the time – why not you too? This is a GREAT time to start that Babbel course and finally pick up basic Italian. You’ll be talking out loud and repeating things which is wonderful for baby’s development. Bonus – you can feel smug that you’re providing a cultural experience for your child.
7. Retail Therapy
Do not, I repeat do NOT attempt to go clothes shopping within 6 weeks of birthing a baby. This is not what I am recommending here and almost inevitably leads to frustration and tears because your post-birth body is very different from your pre-birth, your pregnancy or your eventual post-pregnancy body. What can be actually fun is shopping for home-goods, beauty finds or fun food! Chatter with baby about all your finds (again, ignore funny looks). Be prepared to swat away any stranger’s hands that reach to touch your little one – feel free to say “My doctor said no one should touch the baby until they’re older.” because we all would.
We hope this gives you or a friend (share please!) some ideas, and we would LOVE to hear more! Comment with your ideas for fun with a little babe.