Five secrets to being a joyful mom/parent - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

Five secrets to being a joyful mom/parent

Parenting in the 21st century is a privilege, but oh boy, it can be challenging. Never before have we had so much competing for our attention and getting in the way of our relationships with our children. In this never-enough society the dangers are that we will get caught up in the performance-driven culture which results in us over scheduling our lives; packing more into a day that is humanly possible, and expecting our children to perform at levels which are detrimental to their physical and emotional well-being. So, how do we do it then? How do we balance the needs of us and our children and that of the society in our efforts to raise caring, happy children? One of the ways is to look at ourselves. Joseph Chilton Pearce writes: What we are teaches the child more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.” In being, I believe we need to be intentional about looking after ourselves. The flight attendant who tells us that in an emergency we need to put our own oxygen masks on before assisting others, is a good reminder that looking ourselves are vital. Merely holding your breath and coming up for air from time to time is not sustainable on this parenting journey. We need to nurture ourselves. That doesn’t mean going to a spa every other day or ….When my children were small, we lived in a small house in England and I didn’t have much help. I remember throwing a blanket over my head in the middle of the kitchen and telling the kids that is my den and for the next few minutes nobody is allowed to come into my den and disturb me. Then, I would take out my favourite chocolate and enjoy the smell, taste and texture of every little bite without sharing it with anyone! On another occasion I locked myself in the bathroom at noon, lit the candles, put my favourite playlist on and told them they could watch TV for a whole hour (my kids could not belief their luck!). Nurturing means being kind to yourself, loving yourself and believing that you are good enough. It is only when we love ourselves that we are able to love our children and connect with them in a deep and meaningful way. Focus on the basics Eat healthy, never skip a meal and drink enough water. Get moving. Find a way to build exercise into your day. Walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, pilates or dancing releases feel-good hormones, organise our brains and bodies so that we feel more regulated, it stabilises our mood and keep up focused and attentive. Find something that fits your unique sensory profile and your lifestyle, but do something every day. Sleep enough (easier said than done, especially in those early days). Learn to take short power naps. The dishes and washing can wait. Lock out of Facebook and put your phone on silent. Short power naps provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%. Be realistic Kids keep us busy. In reality we don’t get half the things done we did before we had kids. If we set unrealistic expectations, feelings of frustration, resentment, guilt and shame may set in, which affects our self-worth and our relationships with our kids. Change your “To-do-lists” to “I-would-like-to-lists”. In those early days, realistically all you’ll get done might be: Get the kids dressed and brush their teeth Get the kids to eat at least one of their five fruits and veggies for the day in their bodies Give them each a hug and say “I love you”. That means that everything you get done over and above those is a bonus, i.e. your “I-would-like-to-list”. You can get into the bed at night and give yourself a high five. You did it! Be real and give up perfection We strive for perfection. We want to be the perfect parent and raise the perfect child. But what we don’t realise is that we are actually better moms and our kids are better off if we don’t parent them perfectly. According to Donald Winnicot (paediatrician and psychoanalyst) we are better moms when we don’t meet our baby’s every need instantly and when we show our children that we can have a bad day and make mistakes. Our children learn most when we show them that we make mistakes too. They learn that this world is not one where everything also goes to plan. We need to let go. It is okay to have a bad day, it is okay to make mistakes and it is okay if things get messy. There is no such thing as a perfect child, a perfect parent and a perfect world. It is about having the courage to push through difficult times. Stop comparing The dangers of our never-enough society and performance-based culture is that for us to find our self-worth as parents we look to our left and to our right. We constantly compare. No two families are the same and comparison only result in resentment, unrealistic expectations and anxiety. Rather embrace your unique temperament styles and decide on values that define who you are as a family. Practise respecting your friends’ differences and honouring their choices and parenting style rather than feeling that you are being judged or judging them. Live in the moment Our parenting journey is filled with ups and down and characterised by different seasons. Embrace these! Stop wishing for this or that to pass. When we do this, we are less engaged with what is going on in the moment. Your child needs a mom who is present, attentive, warm and engaging in the now! By Lizanne du Plessis Lizanne du Plessis is an Occupational Therapist and the author of Raising Happy Children. She is an experienced occupational therapist with a special interest in the identification and treatment of children with sensory processing disorder. For more information from Lizanne du Plessis go to or email her at
Emotional support for pregnant partners - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

Emotional support for pregnant partners

Fathers have traditionally felt inadequate regarding their role during pregnancy and childbirth. This was seen as a strictly female affair, with the Dads staying as far away from the ante natal classes, the gynae check ups and the talk about epidurals, caesarean sections and labour pains etc as possible. Their role was seen as being the background support. The main breadwinners and welcome to arrive in the labour ward once the baby was all cleaned up and the Mom had a chance to check her makeup and all the normal signs of birth and delivery had been cleared away. It has been a challenging transition for fathers. Many have shared with me that they feel confused about the role of the “new age Dad”. They definitely aim to be more hands-on than their fathers and grandfathers were, but are not sure how to acquire the necessary skills. They share that, when they do attempt to change a nappy or bath the baby, they feel terrified that they will harm this tiny little person – or that their partners find fault with the way they do this. One Dad shared with me that he really had tried to do his best, but that it was never good enough for the Mom, so he felt it best to leave this aspect of child raising to her. He went on to say that he would get more involved when the baby was a bit less fragile and he could do fun and active things with him. This led me to think about what tips to give Dads during the months of pregnancy and build up to the birth. 1) Develop a positive mind set. This baby has 2 parents and both are vitally important to the healthy physical and emotional development of the baby. Make it clear from the outset that you intend to be involved and as hands – on as possible. 2) Show that you are genuinely interested. When your partner shows you pictures of the 3 week foetus which is your developing baby, make sure that you show real concern and excitement. Your reaction will go a long way to pave the way for your partner to see that you really are in this amazing process together. Many Moms have shared that, because their partners seemed so disinterested during the very early stages, they stopped sharing their excitement – rather saving this for the others in the ante natal class. 3) Show genuine empathy: Many a Dad has said that they are not good at the whole “feeling” thing. That they will do whatever they can to help, but that they are better at doing something tangible – like painting the baby’s room or making shelves and hanging pictures. These are vital tasks – which both parents enjoy doing together. However, do try to develop the skill of genuine empathy . Show her you are able to connect with her emotionally – even when it is very challenging to adjust to roller coaster mood swings at times. Encourage her and praise her. She will probably go through times of feeling unhappy with the changes in her body. Assure her that you still find her attractive. Stress the positives. 4) Share your feelings too. This is a two-way process. Dads feel confused and inept too. Do not bottle up negative feelings. Choose a time when you are both relaxed – and share your own misgivings and anxieties. This sharing will bring you closer. Bottling up resentment and other negative feelings will lead to disconnection in the relationship. 5) Discuss the plans for the birth. Dads today are involved in the visits to the doctor and share the excitement of the scans. They are part of the choosing of equipment and the planning of the nursery. They are welcome in the labour ward and play an active part in the actual delivery. Your support at this crucial time will mean an enormous amount to your partner. However, do not take it too personally when she becomes impatient and irate with you. Many Dads are unable to believe that their previously calm and collected partners resort to gutter language during the trauma of childbirth. She will become calm and sane soon enough!! Dads, you are indispensable, both to your partners and your babies. Thank goodness those days of hands – off Dads are well and truly over! By Anne Cawood Anne Cawood is the author of Children need Boundaries, Toddlers need Boundaries, Children need Grandparents and Adjusting the Boundaries. For more information from Anne Cawood go to or email her at
Post natal depression – is it all in the mind? - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

Post natal depression – is it all in the mind?

Perinatal distress (PND) is more common than most people imagine. Previously known as post-natal depression, it has been renamed recently. ‘Perinatal’ indicates that these feelings may emerge at any time around the birth of your baby. So it may manifest during pregnancy, shortly after the birth or as long as 18 months later. Recent stats show that up to 85 % of new mothers experience periods of tearfulness and feelings of despair in the first few weeks after their baby’s birth. These mood disruptions normally resolve within a few weeks as moms hormones settle down and she gets to know her precious bundle. However, some moms experience prolonged periods of anxiety, helplessness and feelings of despair which is called Perinatal distress (PND). The word “distress” indicates that the feelings a mom may experience are not limited to simply feeling depressed and down in the dumps, but may include feeling overly anxious and distressed about caring for your baby. Many mothers resist seeking help as they see perinatal distress as a sign of poor parenting skills or declining mental health. It is important that the symptoms are recognized as soon as possible, so that professional help can be sought. In many instances medication is required, but often a supportive home environment and extensive psychological counseling helps. Some indicators of perinatal distress may be if you feel: out of control, frustrated and very irritable scared or panicky, anxious and worried, sad or miserable most of the time unable to laugh or to feel joy unable to cope afraid to be alone unusually tearful as tough you are going crazy Or if you have: difficulty in sleeping no sex drive thoughts about harming yourself or your baby Calmer babies mean less stressed mothers, and less stressed mothers are able to rear babies better. Encouraging good sleeping habits means being able to understand a baby’s Now it is true that babies can suffer from wind and cramps at times, and will express their discomfort by crying. But we know that one of the main reasons for a fussy baby is related more to how much stimulation the baby gets. An overtired baby of any age will battle with over stimulation and become agitated. So the real secret is to study your baby’s awake times with care. The book “Baby Sense” – Ann Richardson & Megan Faure: Metz Press; helps you with these guidelines by recommending optimal or maximal awake periods (in between sleeps during the day) for different ages or stages in the baby’s maturation cycle. If one goes beyond these limits, then a whole series of behavioural patterns may kick in, resulting ultimately in irritation and crying. An over-stimulated baby is a tired baby… and ironically, will not fall asleep but become quite disruptive. Some of the behavioural traits that signal the onset of the “over stimulated state” is unrestrained kicking and squirming, lack of eye contact, hiccupping, sneezing, yawning and hand fisting. These signs are often misinterpreted as “colic”. But this is the time when you need to stop fiddling with your baby (checking nappies, attempting to feed again or bring up a burp), but rather to swaddle your baby, modulate his environment, and help him to become calm by rocking and encouraging non nutritive sucking (dummy or your finger). This will make it easier to put him to bed. If you feel that you may be suffering from perinatal distress. Please seek help. Call the PNDSA helpline on 082 882 0072 or go to By Sr Ann Richardson Sr Ann Richardson is the author of Toddler Sense and also co-authored Baby Sense and Sleep Sense. She is a qualified nurse and midwife and has worked in the midwifery and paediatric fields for 30 years. For more information from Sr Ann Richardson go to or email her at
Nurturing sibling relationships - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

Nurturing sibling relationships

When I asked my four year-old what is three plus one, my husband whispered behind his breath: “definitely not four”. The initial excitement and novelty of having a new little baby in the house has worn off and our sweet-natured first-born has turned into a monster. It is clear that it has become a competition of note. The rules of the game are: do anything to get attention - nag, complain, say “no” to everything, cry at a drop of a hat, throw yourself on the floor and refuse to do anything on your own. The love-triangle between me, my first-born and my husband has become a love-square. I’m wondering how I’m going to do this without losing it all – my joy, compassion, patience and sense of humour! As humans we are wired for relationships. Our brains are programmed to form strong emotional bonds with other people. But as natural as it seems, it’s not always easy. At the best of times, relationships can get complicated, difficult and, truth be told, messy. But that is exactly where we as parents come into the picture. We have power in the sculpting process of our children’s brains. We don’t just have to sit back and watch nature do its job. We can, and should help our children in setting the stage for developing the skills to establishing strong, deep and meaningful relationships. From the first time when your baby looks you in the eye, the building blocks for relating and communicating are taking shape. If your relationship with your baby, toddler and child is filled with lots of cuddles and loads of play, you are physically changing the structure of his brain, in a positive way. When your child is having fun within your warm and loving relationship, his brain is flooded with feel-good hormones. Your child learns that human relationships feel good. Relationships and the effect on the brain Healthy relationships results in healthy brains. A healthy relationship is one that is characterized by warmth, compassion, kindness and lots of empathy. Most of the time. Not all of the time. We’re human after all and expecting all of our interactions to always be perfect, is unrealistic. Difficult times in relationships are wonderful opportunities for learning how to deal with negative emotions and conflict. As long as your family relationships are filled with empathy, warmth, compassion and kindness most of the time, they are healthy and that will result in the growing and developing of healthy brains. Your baby’s first experience of a relationship is with you. With the arrival of a new sibling, your growing child now has to make sense of that relationship too. Feelings of resentment, jealousy, frustration and isolation sets in and this overwhelms a young, undeveloped brain. And because little brains don’t know what to do with these feelings, it causes stress and an overwhelming urge for attention. It is that urge that results in behaviour which you might find difficult to explain, understand and manage. Tips to nurture sibling relationships One-to-one time Playing with your child in a special way, a way in which your child is the boss and leads the play, will strengthen the emotional bond between you and your child. It has a massive influence on the way that your child behaves. It is incredibly powerful. Your child’s self-esteem will improve because he feels that his ideas matter. Through the loving and playful encounters, feel-good hormones are released and his behaviour will improve. Self-regulation improves because through your time together your child is able to make sense of how he feels. Set aside 15-30 minutes per day to play one-to-one with your child. Use a timer to indicate the beginning and end. Switch off your phone. Be present – physically and emotionally. Say to your child that this is your special time to play together. Ask what he would like to play and go with that. You might be having a tea-party for the gazillions time, play dress-up, or even bang and crash toy cars off mountain cliff. Just let your child be. Keep back on all judgement – whether its praise or criticism. Get involved in the game as much as you can. Step out of your adult shoes, pretend you’re a child and have fun! This is probably the single best piece of advice that takes the biggest investment on your side, but bears the biggest fruit. Trust me. Play rough-and-tumble Rough and tumble and other physical play, like blowing raspberries and chasing, also releases the feel-good-hormones. Make physical play part of your daily interaction with your child. This is a great way for dads to get involved too. Throw your child up in the air, hold him tight and roll with him, let him sit on your knees and play horsey-horsey, turn him upside down and swing him by his feet. Nurture with rituals and predictable routines Rituals and routines make us feel safe. For little children it helps make sense of this big overwhelming world. Attempt to keep things predictable and within a set, yet flexible routine as much as you possibly can. Especially those rituals and routines that your older child enjoys, like the bath time and bedtime routine and your once-a-week popcorn and movie nights. Resist establishing new routines and attempting new development stages, like potty training or going from half-day nursery to full-day nursery in those first few months after the arrival of the new baby. Stick to the rules Have a clear set of family rules which are based on kindness, goodness and respect for others. ”No hitting, no biting, no hurting in this house”. “We share our toys”, “We say sorry” and “We ask for help”. When you discipline, do so in a calm but firm way. Not by shaming or blaming. Reward positive behaviour Use different methods of rewarding good behaviour. Sometimes a simple sentence such as: “I am so proud of you” or “You shared beautifully with your sister” is enough. At other times the act of putting stickers on a chart and seeing how it becomes more over time, can be very encouraging and motivating to children. Some children might respond well to special treats and gifts, while others enjoy special times with you. Don’t sweat the small stuff It may be difficult, but try to ignore negative behaviour, especially those things that don’t interfere with your family rules and won’t cause harm to others and the environment. Show that you care Show sympathy when your child is distressed. Go down on your knees, put your child on your lap. Children who experience care and kindness from an early age, are kind and caring towards others. Help your child to make sense of the negative emotions that he is feeling Children need lots of attention for healthy brain development. The problem is that if they don’t get the attention they crave, they discover ways that guarantee getting attention, even if the attention they get from you are negative, like scolding and punishment. We need to help our child with the big feelings they are having. When it comes to sibling relationships, children usually experience painful feelings like disappointment, jealously, loss and frustration. Big painful feelings activate the stress chemicals in the child’s brain and body. If we punish the child when they are having an emotional outburst, we are giving them the message that it is not okay to have these feelings and over time he will shut off or develop more challenging and negative behaviour. In situations like this, the child will not learn to manage stress. Help your child to name his feelings. Say things like “I can see you feel frustrated because your toy broke”, “I understand that you angry because mommy can’t play with you now”. Read your favourite stories together, look at the emotions that the people, animals and even animated toys are portraying and say, “The rabbit looks sad. How do you look when you’re sad?” Give opportunities for expression of emotions. Hit pillows, throw water balloons, stamp your feet while pretending to be animals and say “~Sometimes when I’m angry my heart beats fast. When I hit a pillow or stamp my feet I feel better. But I never hit somebody else.” By Lizanne du Plessis Lizanne du Plessis is an Occupational Therapist and the author of Raising Happy Children. She is an experienced occupational therapist with a special interest in the identification and treatment of children with sensory processing disorder. For more information from Lizanne du Plessis go to or email her at
Newborn baby’s toys - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

Newborn baby’s toys

Your baby is developing fast during the first few months. You can ensure optimal development by playing with your baby. Surprisingly, the best toy is you, the parent of the baby! During pregnancy all the senses of the baby develops and the baby can use these at birth. The baby can hear and recognize the mother’s voice as well as her heart beat and other sounds of her digestive system. The baby can suck, swallow and breathe as well as perform some movements. However, the sense of vision can only develop after birth. The baby’s visual cortex in the brain develops rapidly in the first few months after birth. This is the time when it grows, expands and makes sense of the visual world. The objects that babies are most interested in are human faces. The intensity of the baby’s stare when you breastfeed or when you hold the baby close to your face is a clear sign of the interest in the human face. Your baby is making visual images of your face in his or her brain. This image is associated with your voice. It is also associated with feelings of being comforted, of being warm and of being fed. Your baby is building an image of you. The first attachment is formed. As the baby grows and develops, the play that you have with your baby, not using toys but using your voice, your facial expressions, your sense of touch will be one of the most important games that you can provide to encourage not only a healthy physical development but to build the bridges between you and your child for a strong emotional bond and a healthy relationship. How do you play without toys? Make eye contact Meet the baby’s physical needs Hold, carry, rock, sing, talk and in general have your baby with you, in your arms, in a sling or within hearing distance when the baby is awake Talk and sing when you change nappies and when you bath and dress your baby, make these chores happy times and use it to build a strong emotional bond Play games where you move or rock the baby in different positions, look out for changes in head position which will trigger the development of the vestibular-proprioceptive system and pave the way towards a good posture and effective movement skills Massage your baby using different oils, fragrances and even textures (make sure it is safe to use and what the effect of fragrances can be on your baby, before the time) Thus, no need to buy the expensive toys and equipment in the shops – use yourself and ensure the best emotional attachment with your child. A mother who suffers from illness and/or postnatal depression generally finds it difficult to do the above. It can also be challenging when the baby is ill and the mother is tired and sleep deprived. Please do your best to play these games at least twice a day, even for a short period of time. A young unsettled baby cannot be “spoilt”, thus if your instinct is to comfort your baby by rocking the baby or by allowing the baby to sleep on your stomach for periods of time, do this as it will be beneficial for you and for the baby. You can consider sleep patterns and be concerned about diet once both of you have rested and are healthy. Happy playing time! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Marga Grey is the author of Sensible Stimulation. She is an occupational therapist who practised in South Africa for almost 30 years, working mainly with children and their families. She presented many workshops to parents, teachers and therapists and through her work realised the importance of the first three years as a foundation for development. This was also her field of study for a Master’s Degree from Wits University. She currently lives in Queensland, Australia where she works at the university.
Tips for the first weeks with your newborn - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

Tips for the first weeks with your newborn

We understand that as a mom, there are many aspects to mothering. Here are some tips to make the most of each cherished step along the way: Baby’s first few weeks This is a wonderful time for bonding and getting to know your baby. Bonding is the unspoken connection which develops between you and your little one. This is mainly based on your loving responses to your baby’s gestures, sounds and needs, something which later plays an important role in raising a child who feels good about themselves and who is kind and caring towards others. From the start, your baby is aware of your emotional cues resulting from the tone of your voice, your movements and even your emotions. These are all reciprocated by your baby’s cries, coos and even the copying of your facial expressions. Responding to the cues of your baby, giving him food, warmth and affection reinforces the bond and brings it full circle. There are many ways and cues in which bonding takes place. Here are a few of them: Skin-to-skin: physical contact plays an important role in your baby’s development, making him feel safe and loved. Touch becomes an early means of communication as babies respond to skin-to-skin contact. It's soothing for both you and your baby while promoting your baby's healthy growth and development. Your baby will be able to differentiate between your touch and that of your partner, if both of you hold and touch your little one on a frequent basis. Each of you should also take the opportunity to have "skin- to- skin" with your newborn, holding him against your own skin when feeding or cradling. Cuddle your baby – cuddling is an extended part of skin-to-skin, making your baby know that he is loved. This reinforces your bond and creates a sense of trust between you and your baby. Look into your baby’s eyes: making eye contact reinforces your bond with your baby and encourages them to recognise your face, enabling meaningful communication at close range. Talk to your baby: engaging in talk with your baby makes them respond to your voice. Language is learnt by imitating your sounds, resulting in speech patterns, so that the more you speak to your baby, the faster his speech will develop. How to hold your newborn Always support your baby’s head and neck as newborn babies do not have strong control over their neck muscles. Additionally, at this stage, your baby’s head is very vulnerable, especially around the fontanelles, the soft spots on the top of his head which closes between nine to 18 months. When lifting your baby, support the head by sliding one hand under their head and place the other hand under their bottom, providing adequate support for your little one’s body. Once your baby is firmly in your arms, bring them close against your chest. This makes your baby feel secure. Umbilical cord-care Keeping this area clean is very important. Place some surgical spirits on some cotton wool or a cotton bud and lift up the cord and clean around its base. The base of the cord can become sticky, make sure you clean the area where the cord attaches to the skin. The cord should be exposed to air using a nappy with an umbilical cord cut out. The cord dries out and falls off within around 15 days when it starts becoming blackish/brown in colour. Bowel movements Breastfed babies have bowel movements that are loose and bright yellow with an inoffensive smell. The frequency of bowel movements will vary drastically, from between eight to ten in a day, to one every two or three days. If a baby is -bottle-fed, their bowel movements will appear lighter in colour, semi-formed and will have a stronger smell. These babies can have between four to six bowel movements in a day. Choose a nappy such as Huggies® New Baby that offers a new soft liner which absorbs runny poo and wetness in seconds. This helps to keep baby’s skin dry while gently cushioning baby on soft little pillows which creates a gentle barrier between baby’s skin and mess. What to pack for your first outing with your newborn Make your first outing quick and easy, somewhere close by and where you have been before. If your first trip out is in the car, don’t forget your car seat. Taking your pram with you may help if you would like to walk with your newborn. Take a blanket that’s right for the weather on the day. One of the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding is that your milk is always readily available. If bottle-feeding, make sure you have a sterilised bottle to make-up a feed while you are out. In your bag you will need nappies, wipes, breast pads if you are breast feeding, a changing mat, hand sanitiser and disposable bags for dirty nappies. (If your baby still has its umbilical cord, then don’t forget your cleaning regime.) It is also a good idea to have an extra set of clothes for your baby and a pacifier or some other comfort item, which can make a difference to both of your outing experiences. One of the important points to consider before you leave is to decide how much interaction you want to allow between strangers and your baby. Also be realistic in terms of what you expect to accomplish on your first outing and be prepared to take it easy on yourself if things don’t go exactly according to plan. Taking care of yourself As much as you've longed for your baby's arrival you could end up tired and feeling worn-out after sleepless nights. Remember to make time for yourself. Here are some quick and easy tips: Liquids: drink plenty of water, especially if you are breastfeeding so that you stay hydrated. Drink herbal teas or unsweetened ice teas and avoid drinks with caffeine as these can irritate your baby or prevent him from falling asleep Energy-boosting foods: healthy snacks, fruit, and veggies can help invigorate you with the additional energy needed to care for your baby Try to get enough sleep: This can be a challenging time in terms of finding an opportunity to sleep, making you feel a little edgy as a result. Try and sleep whenever your little one takes a nap. Another option is alternating night duty with your partner, so that each of you is “on duty” for 2 consecutive nights, while the other person gets to sleep through the night. You will definitely feel much better after a good night’s sleep. Don’t be afraid to ask for support: Asking your partner, family or friends to help around the house can make all the difference, easing your load and making you feel supported during this time. Schedule some time away: Although you may feel guilty taking “time out” from your little one, keep in mind that caring for your baby can be very demanding. Take time out for an hour - meeting a friend, going for a walk or putting in time at the gym or at yoga can refresh and re-energise you. This article is brought to you by Huggies; a 2015 Johnson’s Baby Sense Seminar sponso
The vital role of Dads - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

The vital role of Dads

It is important to realise that children need both their parents. The input of both parental temperaments – and the rich tapestry of what each parent brings to the child’s development. How can Dads make a real difference in the lives of their children? In my article Adjustment to parenthood I discussed the various ways in which a parent is affected by the birth of each baby – especially the first one. I mentioned that it can be categorised as one of life’s most traumatic events. It certainly is life changing. However, as is the case with any crisis, adjustment is possible and, if positively handled, can also prove to be a wonderful opportunity for personal growth. Traditionally the emphasis has been on the role of the mother in the bearing and nurturing of babies and young children. Dad was seen as the provider and his role was seen as being more important as the children grew older. Caring for children was seen as “women’s work”. Changing nappies, feeding, bathing and getting up at night were largely tasks assigned to the mother. When a Dad did venture into this female / baby territory, he often felt somewhat embarrassed. Over the years many Dads, who strive to be more modern and involved in child raising, have shared with me that, even when they do try hard to attempt these tasks, they feel clumsy and inept. One Dad told me recently that, when he really tries, his partner hovers over him and tells him how it should be done. His response was that he felt that he might as well leave it to her, as she clearly does it better. This is a great pity. It is a basic principle of effective communication that, if we wish to encourage a person to develop their skill in a particular area, we need to be patient and understanding. Offering encouragement, accepting that there are different ways in which to do things, allowing the other person to learn from mistakes etc is sometimes difficult, but is essential in this matter of co-parenting children. Obviously one would not allow blatant mistakes – which might have a negative impact on the child. But, as in the case of allowing our children to learn from trying and finding their own ways to accomplish tasks, we need to develop this ability with our partners. Society has changed enormously over the past 50 – 100 years. Mothers now choose to continue their careers after child birth, or they are forced to do so due to economic necessity. I have been distressed by the numbers of mothers who are working a full day and then still attempting to take on the primary role in child care. Many working mothers work all day, collect children from day care or school, shop, cook, see to homework etc. And their partners appear to believe that this is till her role. A Dad said to me a while ago that he just feels that she does it all better. He will lend a hand when necessary, but still prefers to take on the more masculine tasks – mowing lawns, taking out the garbage, fixing the gadgets. These are all necessary tasks, but the children do need a father’s emotional connectedness and genuine interest in their lives. And the mothers do need to feel that there is a balanced approach to the role of parenting the children. There is no doubt that I have seen a really positive change in the attitudes of fathers towards their parenting role. Many new Dads will make it very clear that they intend to be as fully involved as possible – right from the start. And they do an amazing job when they are genuinely committed. Gone are the days when the new Dad would be excluded from the planning for the birth and definitely not welcomed in the delivery room. The typical picture of the father pacing the corridors and then being admitted once the baby was safely delivered, wrapped and the Mom all cleaned up and ready to introduce the new arrival to his/her father. The support and involvement of Dad in the labour ward and delivery room, are now considered to be very important. After all, he did have quite a part to play in the making of this new little person! How can Dads make a real difference in the lives of their children? 1) Support his partner through her pregnancy: Dads need to be involved in the whole process. His partner needs to know that he is genuinely committed to being by her side. His empathy and interest will be the most important “gift” he can give her. And this will facilitate the bonding process, as he will feel more actively connected to his baby. 2) Understand fully just how enormous the changes are for his partner: While there are huge changes for him too, those expected of the mother are really daunting. Her hormones will be out of balance for quite some time. She will possibly have mood swings and even levels of post natal depression. She may feel confused, lonely and even resentful of the enormity of the impact on her life. The ability to show empathy, to try to understand that this is not personal but that with calm handling, will pass. Often the most important role of the new Dad, is to support the Mom, so that she can develop confidence in her ability to cope with the demands of the new born. 3) Express needs and feelings: Dads are so crucial to the family equilibrium, that, when the new Dad feels unappreciated or side lined it is so important that he does not suppress his feelings of resentment/ confusion. He may need to set some of his negative feelings aside for a while, as the needs of the Mom and baby will take precedence initially, but this should not be allowed to gather too much momentum, as unexpressed negativity almost always leads to eventual outbursts or emotional disconnection. 4) Accept that sex may be on the back burner for a while: Many a new Dad has felt really side lined by the arrival of the baby. “She seems to have fallen in love with our baby and out of love with me “ is expressed by many a new father. The truth is that she needs to be totally immersed in this new little person. She is exhausted and the last thing on her mind is a romantic evening involving sex. This will return. Maybe not immediately after the 6 week check up, but, with patience and understanding it will reignite. Many a new Mom has shared that she feels so bad because she actively pulls away from intimacy. “ When I hold his hand or hug him, he feels that this is the signal for more intimacy. But all I want is the hug or the hand holding.” Persevere with the signs of affection. Help her feel good about herself. Many new Moms suffer from feelings of low self esteem, as they battle with their post pregnancy sagging tummies and leaking breasts. Not very appealing to her or her partner. With positive input and genuine connection, these initial hitches will almost certainly evolve into a closer and warmer understanding of each other- and your baby will benefit enormously. 5) Develop confidence in your role as father: While many Dads feel enormous responsibility for providing financially for the family, especially after the birth of the baby, and there is no doubt that this role is vital for the immediate and longer term well being of the family, it is important not to lose sight of the need to remain closely connected to the family – physically and emotionally. Fathers often share that they feel more confident when the babies get a bit bigger and can do “real things” - like play at the park, swim, play games etc. This is very important and Dads do often provide the physical elements in the child’s life – like camping, climbing, doing the more exciting activities.But Dads also need to show that they can be empathetic and “soft”. To connect to the child’s emotional world. Especially with sons. Dads can role model that it is the sign of a real boy who can show feelings, cry when he needs to, and generally show that having a softer side is not “ un masculine”. Daughters need their Dads every bit as much as boys need them. Play Barbie dolls with them, encourage their fairy fantasies and go to watch the ballet concerts. Girls who have close bonds with their Dads are really well prepared for future relationships with males. Finally, it is so important to realise that children need both their parents. They need the influence of both. The input of both parental temperaments – and the rich tapestry of what each parent brings to the child’s development. It is, in my opinion, a really positive advance in the realisation of the importance of both parents, that fathers are receiving more equally balanced time with their children in the sad event that the parental relationship ends in separation and divorce. This is an issue to be discussed separately, but suffice to say that Dads need to have as fair an amount of time with their children as is possible for their best interests. Dads – do remember that you are vitally important in the lives of your children – as are their Moms. Connect to them physically and emotionally. Develop your skills and strategies. You provide a vital balance in their lives that they will be the poorer for being deprived of. By Anne Cawood Anne Cawood is the author of Children need Boundaries, Toddlers need Boundaries, Children need Grandparents and Adjusting the Boundaries. For more information from Anne Cawood go to or email her at
Children and Wills - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

Children and Wills

When you have children, it is important you update your will because it offers you the peace of mind knowing that your child(ren) would be supported if an unfortunate event did take place – despite how unlikely it may well be. Every parent will know that times begin to change once they have a child; your lives begin to become busy with everyday tasks and responsibilities – however we all know how no parent would ever change it for the world, as it is an amazing and indescribable experience. That being said, it can often mean that certain tasks are forgotten no matter what importance they hold, for example updating or even creating a will. When you have children, it is important you do this because it offers you the peace of mind knowing that your child(ren) would be supported if an unfortunate event did take place – despite how unlikely it may well be. Wills are important, it is always important to be prepared for anything. Even if the thought is barely worth thinking about, it is important that you know what would happen with your belongings if something unfortunate were to occur. A will is a way of securing where your assets go when you one day no longer have control over them. On top of this, it can also account for how you wish for your children to be brought up (for example, who will look after them?) in a situation where you no longer could do so. Your will can cover your current children, and also any unborn children – so you can make sure that your entire family is protected no matter what happens. This kind of peace of mind only comes with a well written Will. Wills are crucial; if you don’t have one then you can leave your family with further difficulty on top of the emotional scars that might never heal if such an unfortunate event were to happen. Wills allow you to share your belongings with your family and give them some items of yours that could hold very high sentimental value. If you didn’t have a Will then this opportunity is missed and photos they own may be all that they are left with. Without a will your child will also not have a certain guardian to go too, and it will all have to be figured out largely by law. As everyone knows, the law is general and in cases like this it may not be sensible to leave the decision of who your child’s guardian would be down to the law, for such a personal decision. This can all be solved by creating a will and anyone can do it, and its not difficult. Although you can get cheap will packs or do wills online this is not advised, as these are legal documents and any mistake, no matter how small could have big implications later on. This is why it is always advised to speak to local will lawyers who have specialist knowledge of wills and local laws which could effect you. Click here. to download a basic wills questionnaire covering the basic questions that has to be answered when you create or update your will. This article was supplied by Neves Solicitors. If you’re from Milton Keynes then Milton Keynes solicitors, Neves Solicitors might be able to offer you help or advice and you can .
The seasons of a mother’s life - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

The seasons of a mother’s life

Say ‘no’ to exhaustion and ‘yes’ to a balanced life After 11 years of living abroad, we returned home. When I look back at the past six months, I see waves of emotion that filled our hearts and minds when we packed up our home, said our farewells and lifted our heads in anticipation for the future. We felt excited, scared, alone, stressed and completely overwhelmed. But for me, it was the exhaustion, physical and emotional that overshadowed it all. I could see it coming. I knew that relocating, finding a house, new schools, a church, a doctor and a hairdresser with two kids aren’t for sissies. We’ve done this before. In fact we’ve lived in 9 rental properties in 13 years. We were content with the fact that at some point the wheels will come off. It’s inevitable - things will get messy. So, on the days when I felt like throwing my toys out of the cot, curl up into a ball and sob inconsolably, it didn’t really surprise me. What came a surprise though was that when I hit the shores of South Africa and rubbed shoulders with moms in my neighbourhood, chatted to some on the school run and connected with old friends, I saw that I wasn’t the only one suffering from this illness called exhaustion. I saw nothing of the world that I see on Facebook – a world where everything is perfect, filled with beautiful scenery and postcard smiles. The reality was hundreds, if not thousands, of tired, overworked and over committed moms rushing everywhere. So I thought about this, long and hard and I think I know why we all feel the way we do. We pack too much in a day. I have yet to meet a mom who doesn’t use the 5 minutes before school pick-up to unpack the dishwasher, respond to a message on her phone or quickly wrap a present. We over-commit. We start off by volunteering at an event or an organisation, but before we know it, what is supposed to be part-time act of kindness, becomes a full time serving job at many events or organisations which steal our time. We set the bar too high. Good is not good-enough, we try to keep up with “the joneses” and we strive for perfection. There’s no more just jogging around the block to keep fit. No, we run what is supposed to be a 5-day hike over the Swartberg pass, in one single day. We over-commit, over-strive and over-perform. No wonder we’re tired, worn-out and simply exhausted moms. And do you know what is driving this behaviour? FEAR! Fear of rejection results in over-committing. We think: “If I say no to this, they’ll never ask me again”. Our fear of not being good-enough makes us do things that we really don’t need to do at this stage in our life. We fear vulnerability and we’re scared to admit that we are not the perfect mom we’d thought we’d be. On one of my recent “exhaustion sickbeds”, I received this wonderful piece of advice from a loving, caring, but concerned friend (which turned out to be my husband!). “You must learn to say NO”. The key word for me in that sentence was LEARN. To say no is not something that comes naturally to this people-pleaser-perfectionist-mom. But I was committed to form a new habit and say NO to stuff that leaves me feeling like I’m stretched in all directions. I had to practice and practice and practice. And I still have to practice and practice and practice. Because you see, motherhood is made up of seasons and what is important and possible in one season might not be in the next. Saying YES to the right things and learning to say NO to those things that don’t fit into your current season will free you up for more growth, more joy and more peace. YES to those things that create balance in your life. NO to those that create chaos. YES to those that energise you to spread love and joy to those around us. NO to those that fill your fear-tank. I’m practising to say NO to picking up toys scattered all over the living room floor, NO to hanging up the school uniform when my 11-year old should be doing it herself, NO to clearing the table when my 7-year old are capable of helping, NO to taking the dog for a walk when my husband is around, NO to getting caught up in watching a mindless show on TV when what I really need to do is get ready for bed, no, no, no! The problem with saying no is often the fact that we don’t know what to say yes to. So here’s my advice: Start off by carefully considering the season of motherhood that you’re in. Remember your situation is unique. Nobody else has your husband, your kids, your house, your job, your family, your temperament. Write down what is important to you. As tired moms, so often we’re unable to see the forest from the trees, so only focus on writing down one value and perhaps one goal that is important to you, now. Just for the moment, where you are right now. Then look at your life and see if there are anything in your habits, commitments that is keeping you from reaching that goal or from honouring your value. What is making you feel exhausted, overcommitted and over stretched? Practise saying no - gracefully. Here is a few examples of how can do say no to yourself, your spouse, your kids and to others: If I say no to doing this for my child, I’m giving him room to grow, develop and mature. If I say no to my snoozing alarm and get up, I will be ahead of the game. I need ample sleep, therefore I will say no to checking social media or switching on the TV when it’s near bedtime. My heart wants to say yes, but saying no is what I need to do in this season of my life. I’m honoured by your request but I’m in a season for refocusing my priorities and have committed not to add anything new right now. Though I would love to say yes, I must be brave and say no to picking another ball which I need to juggle. I’ve promised my family that I will not add any new commitments to my schedule right now. Thank you for our friendship that allows me to be honest with my realities. What you’re asking me is simply not fitting in with the season that I’m in at the moment. I’m sorry. Your turn: Is there anything in your life that you need to say no to? By Lizanne du Plessis Lizanne du Plessis is an Occupational Therapist and the author of Raising Happy Children. She is an experienced occupational therapist with a special interest in the identification and treatment of children with sensory processing disorder. For more information from Lizanne du Plessis go to or email her at

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