We recently welcomed our second precious daughter into our family. It’s a girls’ world here now, and my heart is bursting full.
Welcome to the world, Little Sister.
I come from a family of daughters, and there is no person in the world quite as special to me as my sister. I will do everything in my parental power to nurture a relationship between my daughters like the one I have with my sis. I want them to play — when they’re young, and when they’re old.
Recently, I had reluctantly come to accept that planning to bring home a new baby meant more “stuff.” Presents and parcels are now mixed with the stuffies, puzzles, and games that were already living in our house. I’m learning that when it comes to toys, moms of more than one child need to consider durability and longevity as well as a focus on sibling play.
This week, we were given the chance to play with the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair, which is part of a new line of learning toys from Fisher-Price. This couldn’t have been better timing: bringing home a new baby can be a tough transition for an older sibling. Having an awesome, colourful, musical, engaging, and special toy for Big Sister to open when we all got home from the hospital was a fantastic diversion.
But even better than the gift for big sister was the finding out that both our little ones will be able to use it for years, even while at wildly different stages of development. The Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair has a switch for three different levels of play, based on progressive learning content. Enter baby’s age for automatic Smart Stages level changes or manually change levels with the switch based on what’s most appropriate for your baby:
Level 1 Explore: First words and sounds sparking curiosity
Level 2 Encourage: Prompts baby through questions and simple direction
Level 3 Pretend: Imaginative fun and early role play - this is where our little Big Sister enjoyed playing.
The neat thing about this toy is that the Smart Stages feature means not only a long life of play for one of our girls, but double the fun once little sister can get in on the action.
So, can these two sisters actually play together?
Yes. Maybe not just yet…..
In just a few months, even if they aren’t playing at the same developmental level they are still having “sister time.” Little Sister might be enjoying the music and lights on the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair, while Big Sister is pretending she is ‘just like mama” reading in her comfy spot.
I know that as they grow up their play-time will become more in-sync. With durable toys, you are likely to see them play with those items that have lasted through TWO sets of "terrible two" tantrums, over and over again. I'm coming to accept that toy mileage is important when you have, or are considering, a multi-child home.
Watching my two little girls get to know each other has been heartwarming. It has brought back a flood of memories of playing with my own little sister. I can't wait to see their bond grow. Having a toy in the house that they can both agree on and enjoy together is an excellent start.
This is proudly sponsored by our friends at Fisher-Price®.
To discover more about each level of learning within Laugh & Learn® Smart Stages™ toys, visit Fisher-Price® Smart Stages™. You can also find Fisher-Price® Laugh & Learn® Smart Stages™ toys at Walmart, Amazon.ca and Toys “R” Us.
We’ve sent humans to the moon. We’ve cured diseases. We’ve mapped the human genome. We've even put the lime in the coconut, and shook it all up.
Why can’t we cure colic?
When the doctor in the emergency room gave “colic” as the diagnosis for my first daughter’s ceaseless screaming, I wanted to scream right along with her. Why can’t there be a magic pill, or special blanket, or a tribal chant - anything - to sooth my baby? And what about my anxiety ravaged nerves?
The prescription came simply: Wait it out.
And so I did - and I learned some serious survival skills along the way, mainly about being organized for the nightly colic battle.
Fast-forward two years to when my second daughter started to show the classic signs of being a colicky baby, but this time was different; I didn’t panic, because I had a plan.
The key to surviving your baby’s colic without your own epic meltdown is simple, and it is this: Be prepared; and be organized.
This is where the “it takes a village” mantra needs to become your reality. Ask for help, and accept it. Colic is an exhausting experience for parents, so make use of the helping hands around you. Help from friends, family, neighbours, and contracted help (serious times call for serious measures) might include:
- Having someone make dinner and drop it off
- Sending your other kids for a sleepover at Grandma’s house (siblings need a break from the crying, too).
For me, even just having another person to joke and commiserate with is a real mood booster.
For most babies, the colic “witching hours” begin in the early evening. Take a moment to think about the things you typically do during that time. Make dinner? Give other kids a bath, or carry out a soothing bedtime routine? Have a shower yourself?
You’ll need to offload the pressure to accomplish those things during these evening hours – but just until the colic disappears. The pressure I placed on myself to make my toddler’s routine as normal as possible was unhelpful: giving a bath while bouncing a screaming baby isn’t pleasant for anyone. Some changes we made included:
- Changing bath and shower time to the morning
- Instead of my reading a bedtime story, having my toddler start “reading” a book to me (which had her focus on being a helper instead of a victim of her demanding, noisy, baby sister)
Take the pressure off yourself to be anything but a master of soothing during those peak colic times!
The incessant crying of colic is a trying experience for everyone. Make sure your other children have everything they need for the afternoon/evening MUCH earlier than usual. In fact, we have moved our entire afternoon/evening routine up by thirty minutes. This means dinner is at 4:30 p.m. (we're now like retirees and the elderly, enjoying our meals early), with a quick snack before bed.
My dinner-prep secret:
I make dinner at lunchtime or during naps, and pop it in the fridge already plated, for a quick microwave heat-up.
Along with making dinner at lunch and serving it early, I’ve also changed how I eat dinner: I plan for one hand. Setting out a snack or meal that can be consumed while I’m holding and rocking the wee one means I’m no longer hangry when my patience is at its thinnest. I go so far as to fill my water thermos and pop it in the fridge. Surviving colic is all about preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best.
Give yourself something to look forward to each evening. Whether its cueing up your favourite show to watch during lulls in the crying, or prepping a special tea for yourself to enjoy once you’ve calmed the wild beast-baby, having just a few minutes for yourself is a great way to keep your mood lifted. Colic and post partum depression have a strong correlation, and PPD is not an experience I want to have a second time.
One of the hardest things about surviving colic with my firstborn was hearing people say, “This too shall pass.” In those moments of endless crying, coupled with the heavy feelings about self-inflicted inadequacies as a mother who cannot seem to soothe or comfort their child make it hard to believe it will ever get better.
But it will.
I promise. I pinky-promise: It does.
So, until that moment you finally say “They were right! I survived! My baby is awesome, and I’m actually kind of in love with them now,” you should simply let go of perfection. Let go of guilt. Let go of what you imagined motherhood to be, and let it be what it is.
If you’re prepared and organized for the nightly battle, you’ll come out the other side even stronger. Because you just won the colic war, or at very least, had the tenacity to ride it out.
Image Source: WikiCommons