Parenting Life (cont.)

I feel like I am on alert every waking minute. My baby is 5 weeks old. When will it get easier and I can relax a bit?

It takes quite awhile, I have found, to start to be able to relax. I remember being on hyper alert for quite a long time. Granted, I have always been the kind of person who worries, dare I say even obsesses, about every new stage my children pass through. Let's just say I haven't quite relaxed about the teen years yet, so I'm still worrying 16 years later.

However, I can tell you that the 'round the clock anxiety does begin to wane after a month or two. Mother Nature couldn't allow you to sustain this level of anxiety indefinitely, or you would quite literally begin to burn out. As you become more comfortable with your baby and more confident in your own mothering abilities, you will find that only brand-new situations put you on hyper alert. The rest of the time you will feel increasingly relaxed and confident and able to enjoy all the joys that mothering brings.

Any tips for handling mom and mom-in-law? I know they both raised children but this is my child. They mean well with the advice, but we want to do it our way. How can I get them to understand this without alienating them? I want to have my cake and eat it too -- I want them to baby-sit sometimes, but not to tell us how to raise our baby.

This is truly the mother of all balancing acts, isn't it? On the one hand, you want their love and support, and baby-sitting skills, but on the other hand you do not want to be bombarded with advice that may leave you feeling like a rank amateur when it comes to raising your own child.

It often works well to establish boundaries on the advice-giving issue -- to let friends and family members know that while you will consider the information that they offer, you are the mummy and therefore you will make the decisions where your child's health and well-being is concerned. People may initially be a little taken back by your stand on this issue, but over time they will come to respect you and realize that you are really only doing your job as your child's parent.

If you are faced with somebody who is particularly aggressive on this front, you may want to use my favorite tactic, which is to tell the person you will check things out with your baby's doctor. Only a true rabid advice giver will not back off at this point. Hope this helps.

How do I find a new mother group? I chose to stay home when my son was born, but I miss talking to adults. However, I can't really talk with my old co-workers; their interests and mine are different now. I'm all about the baby, and of course they aren't. I think a new mother group would help, but don't have any idea how to find one.

You are very wise to want to hook up with the other new mums in your neighborhood. The best way to find the groups is to hang out at the playground or park and ask the other mums if they know where the groups are operating. Ask your pediatrician or ask the children's librarian at your local library if they know or they know of someone who might know where these groups are running.

Find out if there is a local parenting newspaper. You can find these basically anywhere parents go: your pediatrician's office; at the pool; the community center; grocery stores, or at the library. Often they are available for free, so they are truly the best bargain in town. And also, a lot of these publications have web sites; so don't forget to hit the worldwide web, too. Often these papers have calendars filled with playgroup listings, new mum group listings, and other activities you may want to know about. They can be a lifesaver is you are feeling cut off. Hope this helps.

Sometimes these groups meet at a local church or synagogue. Check with them as well.

I have to work, so my baby is in daycare. But compared with being a parent, my job seems so unimportant. And I feel guilty, too. How do I get focused on my work again when all I can do is daydream about staying home with my baby?

Well, guilt is truly the universal emotion of parenthood. I have to tell you whether you are at home with your baby or working outside of home, guilt will get you sometime in your career. It got you earlier. Seriously, it is very difficult to cope with the feelings of regret when you want to be home with your baby but have to work outside the home. I am assuming you are working for financial reasons, because it sounds like if you had the choice, you would definitely be home with your baby.

One thing I would encourage you to do is to possibly look at other career options that might allow you to work from home or to work part time or otherwise juggle your working options, so that perhaps you might not have to be away from your baby quite as many hours in the week, since it seems to me, from your message, you would prefer to be with your baby more hours in the week if at all possible.

Sometimes working full time isn't necessarily that much more beneficial than working part time or having a home-based business or some of the other working options that people come up with in order to bring in an income. But you have to be quite creative. You also have to realize that if you are operating a home-based business you will still need childcare for your baby. You can't give 100% attention to your business and 100% attention to your baby simultaneously. That is a myth.
There are several excellent books on this topic so I would encourage you to explore the work/life sections of your library and do some reading on this very important topic. Good luck.

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