The Peaceful Home
Eight months into twin parenthood, there is no bigger compliment to me than when people come over and comment on how peaceful our home is, considering we have just doubled our family size. Why is it such a big compliment? Well, it’s like anything else in life. When you work hard to make something happen, and it does, you feel good that your hard work paid off. My husband and I like a quiet, uncluttered living space. I feel that it is crucial to my sanity. For me, it is the equivalent of an exotic vacation with calm waters. When I got pregnant, I knew things would change, but I wasn’t going to be okay with useless baby contraptions littering the house or children that were terrorizing our property. I wanted to ensure that I was well prepared for what was coming, and had a plan of attack that would encourage relaxed, happy babies. A peaceful home may not be important to some people. In fact, there are lots of people who thrive on just the opposite. They need the craziness. They like all the toys lining their living room. Sometimes I envy people like that. Sometimes I wish I could be okay with all the clutter. But I am not that person, and probably never will be. I have come to accept that there will be disorder and messiness (and now that we have started solids this is more of a reality than ever), but I will never be okay with complete disarray. So how did we do this? How do we have two infants and maintain such a peaceful environment? There are a few things that I feel have been crucial to this, and planning for it starts during the pregnancy. Decide what is important to you and what will help you stay calm and then work towards achieving that. This is what it was for us:
Material things. Simply do not purchase things that you are not sure you will need. “How to Have Your Second Child First” is a great reference for first time parents, as it talks about all the things parents tend to do differently or “relax” about, for their second child. One of those things is the list of what you and your baby will really need. Car seats? Crucial. Bottle Warmers? Not so much. The list goes on, but we pretty much just stuck to the basics, because with two babies, we had no room for extras. We purchased what we felt we would absolutely need and use, and any necessity that popped up after the babies were born, we got at that time. Even now, at 8 months, we don’t buy any of the extras. Any knickknacks, stuffed toys or playthings the boys have, are gifts that they have received. As much as I enjoy people’s generosity and thoughtfulness, these toys are mostly things that they play with for about a minute and then they discard them. They are much happier playing with Tupperware containers. The less “things” you buy, the less clutter there will be in your home. Thinking about this one thing alone can really make all the difference in how your home “feels”. A piece of furniture that doubles as storage for toys can also be a great investment.
The next thing you need to consider for a peaceful home is your baby’s (or babies’) sleep habits. Are they napping in their room? Do you co-sleep? Do they sleep snuggled up in your arms while you are watching television? There are many different scenarios, but for us, it was important that the boys sleep in their own room as soon as possible. Babies are not capable of staying up for much longer than 30 minutes to an hour for the first several months of life. That means they spend most of their time sleeping. Keeping them from doing that is a one way ticket to the town of Meltdown. For us, this meant they had to sleep in their cribs, in their own room. Having your baby sleeping in their own room, allows you to tidy up and enjoy some quiet time in your living space. We let grandparents, friends and other family know that they are welcome to come visit but when it’s time to go down, the boys will be going down. They can sit and chat with us, but there will be no extra snuggles or playtime. No, not even just this once. Do not let family and friends coerce you into changing whatever your routine is, because this means an overtired baby. That is the worst kind.
Finally, how much does your baby cry? This is a huge factor when looking at how peaceful your home could be. If they are upset all the time, there is nothing peaceful about that! Babies should only cry if they are hungry, or wet, or tired (or otherwise in some type of discomfort). By putting them on a schedule, and encouraging healthy sleep habits from day 1, our boys were very predictable. Knowing when they were due to eat and sleep helped us know if their cry was warranted or not, and allowed us to remedy the situation. Our babies did not have colic or GERD, and please don’t send me angry emails but I have read in more than one piece of literature that the term “colic” is overused. TRUE colic only affects about 20% of babies (again, just quoting from a book, I haven’t researched this number myself). Most babies who are crying for seemingly no reason are later found to just be overtired or hungry. Do you know what the maximum amount of awake time is for your baby according to his or her age? When they are that small, keeping them up even 10 minutes past their window of awake time can mean the difference between a baby who falls asleep peacefully or one who has now gone into the overtired zone with no hope of coming back. Learn the proper awake time, and signs of a tired baby, and ensure your baby is being put down accordingly. If your baby truly does have Colic or GERD, a trip to your doctor should help. They often are able to provide your baby with the relief they need. On a side note, we used Dr. Brown’s anti colic bottles. I don’t know if they truly work in preventing colic and gas, but our boys had no issues so if you are bottle feeding, you may want to get these.
Get to know your baby and ensure they are sleeping enough! This will mean that when they are not sleeping, they are well rested and happy, which means your home is peaceful!
All of these things contribute to a peaceful household, but more importantly, a peaceful YOU! The more calm you are, the more calm your babies will be. And that is good for everybody!
What type of parent are you? Do you love the craziness? Or do you like to have more of a serene atmosphere? I’d love to hear how you handle it!