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Posts Tagged ‘apartment’

There is a great article that came out a while back the CTFD Parenting Method.  CTFD stands for Calm The F**k Down and it is simple advice that I need to take to heart.  In my quest to be the best stay at home dad I can be I have become too uptight in these areas and need to CTFD.

1.  Noise: Loud or sudden noises sometimes freak O out including sneezes and loud coughing or throat clearing.  I often hold in my sneezes or cough into a pillow as a result.  I need to CTFD and remember that I am capable of calming him down when he is upset and that he has to get used to loud noises sooner rather than later.

2.  Naps: My son’s nap time is my downtime/time to get stuff done and as such I want him to get a good nap in every day.  That being said, I stress way too much about when and under what circumstances he goes down.  I need to CTFD and realize that when he doesn’t go down right away for his nap it just means that we can go play more or do something else.  Experience tells me that he’ll just pass out in the middle of whatever we’re doing so why stress about it?

3.  Preparation: I have a pretty elaborate routine for when I exit the apartment with O.  It includes many things like adjusting windows/shades and getting together an elaborate collection of baby related equipment that would probably allow little man and I to survive for a month in a fallout shelter .  I need to CTFD and learn that all I really need when I go out into the world every day is a smile and the cutest baby ever.  And diaper, lots of diapers…

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So its been three months since I have posted anything here and we have been quite busy!  O has gotten pretty good at all sorts of new tricks like standing up and speed crawling.  We have done tons of baby proofing and plenty of worrying that it won’t be enough and he will somehow get hurt.  Perhaps the biggest challenge was dealing with the heat.  CT had several weeks of ridiculously high temperatures that saw most people we know huddling near their air conditioners.  This was not an option for us because we have no working air conditioners in our apartment.  We have a broken air conditioner sticking out of our wall and lots of fans but certainly nothing that blasts cold air/relief.  Narrow windows and lack of funds mean we just have to deal with the heat however we can.

Each morning I would go through a ritual of opening and closing various windows and shades while changing fans from off to on or intake to exhaust, reversing the process before O’s morning nap.  When he woke up I would give him a lunch consisting of some sort of vegetable and protein accompanied by lots of cold watermelon.  A wipe down, diaper change, and a quick dressing later and we were into my car and its glorious sub-zero air conditioning.  We spent most afternoons in either the Meriden or Manchester malls to bask in their AC and use their often crowded play areas.  The stress of a play area full of children whose parents are glued to their smartphones is bearable when you have an infant who needs to get out of the heat.  As a stay at home dad I found this to be irritating and I had to bite my tongue often as I tried to prevent rowdy older kids from running little man over.

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We would spend the hottest hours of the day hanging out  in the play place and walking around the mall.  The mall walking always included the food court and the salespeople pushing free samples as if that wasn’t why I was there.  I got to try sesame chicken made by three different places all calling it something else but always saying theirs was  “Number One in America!”  So there are other places calling themselves Cajun who make sesame chicken?  Apparently if you are the only one that makes you number one.  Both malls have good family restrooms which makes this all possible though it seemed like the same episode of Dora the Explora was on loop every time I changed the little dude in Meriden.  Can you say repetitive? (blink blink) Good Job!  After yet another exciting mall experience we would head home for a bottle and a nap.  By this time the worst of the day’s heat had gone and the apartment is cooler than outside due to some strategic closing of windows and shades.

Some days O was able to handle the heat of the apartment and take a good afternoon nap.  When he wasn’t we went swimming in our apartment complex’s pool to cool off and wait for my wife to return home from work.  While at home he spent all of his time in a diaper and dealt with a little bit of heat rash but overall he was good.  Has anyone else dealt with this sort of situation?  Does anyone else’s baby sleep in the pool like this?

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I try to re-purpose our stuff for O whenever I can because we live in an apartment with limited space.  Having too many items that serve only one purpose would turn our happy apartment into a miserably cluttered mess.  The picture above is a great example of a re-purposing idea that I learned from a Facebook friend.  The common solution to baby safety is a bath seat but I find that a laundry basket is much cheaper and it works better for a baby who can sit up.  It keeps him from tipping over, gives him something to hold onto and contains his toys as he splashes and plays.  He doesn’t need to lean out and try to grab them plus he learns how to balance himself in water in a way that he could not in a traditional bath seat.  When he was younger we used a bath sponge that you can lay him on in the tub.  It worked great and we still use it occasionally.  When we visit family for any length of time we will re-purpose a couple of adult sized towels to reproduce the same basic function.  If we hadn’t gotten the sponge we probably would have used the towel method instead.  We also had a hand me down baby tub and found it to be a hassling space thief more-so than a helpful bath tool.  When it comes to bath time there are clearly many opportunities to re-purpose stuff you already have instead of spending more money on single purpose items that will just hog precious storage space.

Another example of re-purposing is our baby station.  The idea is to take any piece of furniture with a top roughly waist-high and turn it into a changing table by stuffing it full of diaper changing supplies and throwing an inexpensive changing pad on top.  We went a step further and had my father in law build some custom shelves for the sides to create the ultimate baby station.  I talk about our changing station in an older post “Diaper Central Command” which has an excellent picture of how it turned out.  When we went out looking for baby stuff we were dismayed by the cost of specialize baby furniture.  It was nice looking but we had a hard time with the idea of spending $100+ dollars on a changing table that we would use for only one purpose for a few years and then promptly try to shove into the limited storage space we have in our central CT apartment.  Re-purposing has been the right solution for us and ended up producing a piece of furniture that is way better than anything we could have bought from a Babies R Us.

So that is how we have done a bit of re-purposing for our baby in an apartment.  What kind of creative re-purposing have you done?  Have any re-purposing tips that this stay at home dad could use?  Share in the comments section below so we can all benefit from your experience!

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When my son was 6.5 months and still couldn’t sit up, wasn’t mobile, and didn’t have any teeth I was a  worried. ” Why can all these other children his age do these things and he can’t?”  “Are we doing something wrong?”  “Have I done something to screw up his development?”  “Am I a horrible dad?”  The rational part of me knew none of this was true but the emotional part of me couldn’t help being anxious about my son’s development.  We are loving parents and I work hard to provide my son with a fun and stimulating environment every day but it is easy to doubt one’s ability as a parent.  After all, I’ve never done this before right?  How should I know what is best?  I’ve just read a few books and talked to friends and family about how to raise a child right?  When a milestone is finally reached it is truly amazing but the implications of that achievement can be quite scary.  For example once a child can move around the room on their own it opens up a whole new world of potential injuries and necessitates significant room layout rethinking and hours of baby proofing work.  I call this phenomenon “Joy in a fear sandwich.”  The sandwich’s meat is so tasty but that bread can suck sometimes!

There is a lot of fear surrounding developmental milestones, but it’s amazing how quickly all of that disappeared the first time I saw my son stay sitting up on his own.  In my years with the YMCA I taught 1000+ children how to do everything from swim, to kick a soccer ball but this moment topped them all in terms of how proud I was.  When it comes down to it I probably had little to do with him figuring it out, but I felt proud as though I had directly created the nerve connections and muscle capacity that enabled him to do it.  Perhaps some of that pride was because my anxiety about him not sitting up yet was gone.  I have to admit that it was getting the best of me when I started practicing sitting up with him much more than I had when he first reached 6 months old.  I was so worried that I hadn’t been working with him on it enough!  At that time I was thinking, “He’s just turned 6 months old he’ll figure it out in the next couple of weeks.”  Those weeks passed with no real improvement so I began practicing more with him but I still did not see him getting any better at it which only fueled my anxiety about his development.  O ended my anxiety and fear about his development in one joyful 24 hour period during which my now 7 month old son got his first tooth, mastered the continuous roll, and managed to stay upright without assistance.  It’s like his little brain and body reached the point where they were ready and he started doing all sorts of new stuff all at once.

I know my role as a parent is important to his development, but I think sometimes I worry too much.  I am a stay at home dad and my entire day revolves around the well being of my son so I think this amplifies my natural parenting fears.  I don’t mind because the added anxiety is far outweighed by my joy in witnessing these incredible moments that will only come once in his life.  I have a sneaking suspicion that these amazing moments will almost always be book-ended by some degree of anxiety and fear but I know that the pride and joy I will feel will be worth it.

The fear about his development is gone now but it has been replaced by the terror of a mobile baby in an apartment that is not baby proofed.  I’m sure I’ll have a post coming soon about that journey, but in the meantime please share your baby proofing suggestions or stories below in the comments section!

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O loves to sit on my knee and stare at the fish tank.  He kicks his legs and makes all different kinds of cute noises.  The dragon seems to be a favorite since it intermittently releases bubbles from its nose and because the fish tend to congregate around it when I feed them.  We usually sit and watch the fish twice a day.  It’s a great way to keep him upright after he eats, but it also allows him to practice his balancing skills.  His folding play mirror and the full length mirror in the hall are favorites as well.  However, the best free entertainment is going on a walk.  I have not been doing enough of that with O, but that is quickly changing as my cabin fever becomes more pronounced.  I went on a great walk yesterday that included the bank, D+D iced tea, and an egg roll.  The local library is on my short list of places to get to in the coming week.

What do all these forms of infant entertainment have in common?  They are cheap, simple, effective and do not require a screen.  We try to limit O’s screen time as much as possible so I listen to the radio during the day and we have a large bag that we use to block O’s view when we need to.  It’s not perfect but avoiding screen time at this age is a priority for us.  Any stay at home dads out there have anything you enjoy having on in the background during the day?  I recommend your local NPR station, ours is WNPR out of Meriden, CT.  I find that intelligent talk radio helps me feel like my IQ isn’t slipping throughout the day.  NPR, good times

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I have noticed lately that being a  stay at home dad has altered my sense of time.  I often find myself surprised when it starts to get dark outside, or when O shows signs of being ready for his morning or afternoon nap.  It’s really easy to space out and have a whole day go by just taking care of O in the apartment while meeting his moment to moment needs.  This becomes a problem early in the week when I don’t have any set plans to go anywhere.  It seems lately that my son and I aren’t getting out of the apartment enough during the first few days of the week.  There are several tools that can help to combat this problem.

The itzbeen timer was a great gift and it has definitely helped me keep track of when O needs to changed, fed, etc.  However, it does not help the aforementioned SAHD time warp.  That’s why I downloaded the ibaby app for my android OS phone.  It does what the itzbeen does but you can create custom buttons to track whatever you want plus create quick reminders and make time stamped notes with pics and videos to log what has happened during the day.  The main advantage the app has over the itzbeen is that you can look back over the day and see things like how many oz of milk your baby drank or how long they slept or how long its been since they pooped.  It also comes with quick log widgets for android OS phones that you can put on your home screen to make it easier to quickly log things on the go.  I enjoy being able to look at the log before I go to bed and see all that I did to care for my infant son and it definitely helps to fight the time distortion that comes with being a stay at home dad!

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Many of my stay at home dad experiences with O and my wife have been  in our old two bedroom apartment.  We tolerate its flaws because the central CT location is great, the price is right, and we have a nice view.  We were both initially concerned that O would have trouble sleeping with all of the noise that comes with living in an older building.  We provided background noise and refused to succumb to our “shhhhhh the baby is sleeping” impulses and over the last couple of months I have noticed the results of our efforts.  O sleeps through our neighbors screaming outside his window.  He sleeps through the UPS guy’s loud knocks on our door.  He even stays asleep when our upstairs neighbor’s 2 year old son jumps off their couch and runs above O’s room.  I am very thankful that O sleeps like I do, but I sure wish he wouldn’t freak out when I let out a loud sneeze!  Does anyone else’s baby do that?  He’s napping now so its time to prepare for an outing when he wakes.  Such is the life of a stay at home dad.

PS: He slept for another hour and a half so I ended up heading out on my own after I started dinner and my wife got home.  I finally got my netbook, we’ll call him lillappy, back from the repair shop.  This is the third time I have been there to pick it up but the first time it was actually fixed.  I wish PCW had their act together more but they don’t.  At least they stuck with the quoted price despite them needing to do more work on it.  They must have felt guilty having me come back twice to pick up my fixed computer only to find it wasn’t totally fixed.  The good news out of all this is that I now have a workable computer I can easily post from anywhere with wifi.  To date most of my posts have been done from my phone using the wordpress app which works but takes longer and makes editing more difficult than it needs to be.  More posts to come for sure about my life in CT as a stay at home dad!

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