When you find out you are pregnant, you know things are about to change forever. You’re ready for that (as much as you can be, anyway). Changes are going to happen to you, and to the way you live. What you may not be ready for is the way they will keep changing for the next several years. In many ways, that’s the story of parenthood. One huge change accompanied by endless smaller ones.
For example, the meaning of the word “settled” will change for you in the first year or so of having a child. The idea of having a set routine within that time is meaningless. Your baby will go through so many changes in that one year alone, by the time you’ve settled into one routine you have to turn it on its head. It makes moving house look like changing socks, by comparison.
Is it fair to say that after that first year, things calm down? Sure. But again, the meaning of “calm” has changed. Where once it meant sitting in front of the TV for hours on end, now it means “Nothing, right now, has baby poop on it.” They enrich your lives, no doubt – you just have to be ready for life to change.
In The First Year
The first year of being a mother is a rollercoaster from start to finish. Some highlights include the point in Week Four when baby is likely to start making cooing noises to try to communicate with you. None of them will be understandable, but they want you to talk back. You absolutely should – the sound of your voice is fundamental to them learning.
At three months, be ready to look at your baby and think “How did they get so big? What have I been feeding this thing?”. The difference in size between a newborn and a three-month-old is known to most of us. But seeing it, in reality, is something else. At this time baby will giggle, and play a lot more. This doesn’t mean they’re much more robust, though, so be careful.
Sometime between now and month six will be the right time to change your baby’s sleeping arrangement, too. Moving them from the bassinet to a crib is essential because, having grown, they’re starting to master movement. They’ll want to roll over and sit up, and need space for that. So around this time, get shopping for cotbeds.
By month six, they’re picking up on gestures and (sort of) forming words. If you wave at them, expect them to wave back. And they’re curious, too. Which means that everything you don’t want them handling or licking needs to be well out of reach. This curiosity and thirst to learn will only increase right up to the one-year mark and beyond.
“Beyond? Tell Me About That!”
Although the pace of change slows after the one-year mark, it is still there. Parents talk in hushed tones about the “Terrible Twos.” In the first year, everything is new and a constant source of wonder to your baby. Their feet are hilarious. Your dog is like some kind of fantasy lion creature. A rattle is a solid hour’s entertainment before they need a nap.
At, or just before, the two-year mark, baby will start to exhibit defiance. Their feet will no longer present hours of comedy. The dog’s need for the occasional nap will be met with outrage. The rattle may, now and then, become a weapon – usually thrown, most parents report. But in many ways, the terrible twos really aren’t that terrible.
During this time, we can look at baby’s actions as defiant, or in another way altogether. They seem defiant because they don’t fit into the same boundaries anymore. To look at it another way, they are exploring and finding out more about the world.
Very few things are completely new to them, so they learn in more depth. They also become keen to help out; harnessed correctly, that can become a way of teaching them what you do around the house and that it can be fun.
Grow Together And Not Apart
The pace of change, as noted, slows down from early on in a child’s life but in some ways it will feel faster. As your child learns more and gains more independence, you can feel as though they need you less. The truth is, they’ll always need you, but for different things. They will constantly be learning for the next eighteen years at least. So will you. They’ll be changing all the way. You will, too. And that’s no bad thing.