Monday, December 27, 2010

"Set yourself up to succeed."

Sound advice.  I think I first heard it from my mom, but quite a few good teachers also passed on this bit of wisdom over the years.  I take it to mean success doesn't just happen, it requires work and planning and forethought.  

And it can apply to attachment parenting as well.

We visited my in-laws' for Christmas this year.  It was a magical holiday, filled with family we never see enough, great food, and happy babies forming attachments to Grammy and Grampy.  Excellent!

But it was my first experience as a mama of twins in a house that wasn't truly childproofed.  I've come to learn there are two levels of childproofing.  Level one is where you put some outlet protectors in and get locks for the doors of the cabinets that contain poisons.  Very important stuff.  But level two childproofing is outlet covers, cabinet locks, and putting EVERYTHING out of reach.  

In my apartment, there is nothing within a baby's reach that a baby can't safely have.  I can let them roam the place somewhat freely.  I keep a close watch on them, but I don't generally have to spend my time removing them from someplace it's not safe to be.  At my in-laws' house, there were tantalizing knick knacks calling to them from every surface.  There were low-hanging ornaments, candles on the coffee table, fake holly berry and pine cone arrangements in the hallway, and plates and platters lining the buffet.  

We all spent a lot of time removing babies, telling them "no touching this" or redirecting them, or moving things from reach.  It was exhausting.

So, what does this have to do with setting yourself up for success?

By understanding our children's developmental stages and creating safe spaces for them to exist within those parameters, we can set ourselves up to have a very positive relationship with them.  

If I had to operate every day like I did over these past few, my relationship with Gus and Jack would get very strained very fast.  I would feel like we were adversaries.  Me vs. them, in a battle for knick knacks.  Of course, they're only doing what babies do, and exploring their endlessly fascinating environment.  

Instead, I can arrange their environment in such a way as to make us partners in discoveries.  What's in this cabinet?  Oh, look, toilet paper!  Let's see how it feels.  And tastes.  And moves.  And we can make towers and knock them down!  That is so much more fun than scolding them for taking the toilet paper out of the cabinet.  

By being purposeful and mindful, by taking into consideration the developmental needs of my babies, I can set myself, and them, up for success.  I can set myself up to be a good mama.


  1. This is such an important part of parenting, and one that's too often overlooked. Thanks for the great reminder! I was just asking my husband last weekend if he would plan to help me go through all of the cabinets and cupboards in the house next weekend to make sure everything at our daughter's level is okay for her to play with because I somehow doubt she's going to send us a memo before she decides to start opening cabinets.

    Not only does taking this approach set us up for success as parents, but it's respectful of our children and their need for an environment that is truly theirs to explore.

  2. This has had me thinking, so I'm referencing you in my own blog ... hope you don't mind!

  3. I don't mind at all! Thanks for the shout-out :-)

  4. Excellent point! I can so relate to the exhaustion. I'm sure my parents think our visits are always SO short, but I just get exhausted chasing our daughter down constantly.

    I recently read a stage update at BabyCenter or some other such website that said one of Sasha's new words must be NO and that she probably says it ALL the time. Um... nope. She doesn't say it, ever. We rarely tell her no. It happens from time to time, but generally we just try to supervise her with things that wouldn't be considered toddler-safe and get rid of things that are dangerous (that might mean tossing, giving away, or hiding them). My lower cabinets? pans and a bag of potatoes.

    I used to also include a small box of plastic bowls and lids. She loved them! We just got tired of them being EVERYWHERE. Most of them are in toy boxes now. It is crazy when I need one for lunch.

    Anyway, great post! I really need to let Sasha run free with some TP, I think. I don't usually allow that, for some reason.

  5. @Momma Jorje, funny, those mainstream sites are often windows into the "should" that most people assume, but they don't reflect many AP practices :-)

  6. Your little guys are so adorable. We are in the process of the second stage baby proofing, our little lady is 5 months...not mobile yet, but will be soon.

  7. Great info! My baby Z is only 2 months but I have quite a cluttered house/project ahead of me as I refuse to be adversaries!!! Thanks!

  8. @Meghan, thank you, I think they're pretty cute too :-) I remember thinking at five months, "Oh, babyproofing will be a breeze!" They soon taught me otherwise!

    @MommaJenn, we got lucky in that we moved to our new apartment before the boys became mobile. We simply set up the place with them in mind, although we did have some major readjusting to do after we figured out all they could really reach!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I have to agree with you, Mama Mo! I signed up for lots of newsletters from different sites when I was pregnant, but I often find myself surprised by what they suggest to fix sleep issues, etc. I don't feel it is right to try to force a sleep schedule on my toddler, I work around her natural schedule (which fluctuates, as does my own). Just one example.

    BTW, I'm linking this post on my Sunday Surf this week... which will be up shortly (late).