Highchairs, pack and plays, cribs and car seats, baby swings, bouncy seats and walkers, not to mention strollers, carriers and backpacks for hiking. What do all these wonderful things have in common? They all try to keep our babies safe and happy. Contained where they won’t get into trouble and entertained long enough for the containment to be meaningful so that parents can have a few moments to shower, take a walk, or the holy grail of life with a baby, sleep.
For the first few years of babyhood, contained and entertained becomes the order of the day so that the business of life can continue. Now matter how much we treasure and enjoy our time kissing baby toes and playing peek-a-boo, (my personal favorite), there are still basic human needs that must be met for the other members of our families and even, heaven forbid, for ourselves.
Teeth must be brushed, houses cleaned and food prepared. None of which is even possible, if at least one parent is not busy at work as well. This would be enough to do if only parents didn’t suffer from that one pervasive characteristic that undermines the efficiency of even the best-laid plans. Parents are human beings! Scandalous news, I know, but it’s true. There are even some parents who want a chance to have some time to themselves, to read, to exercise, even to reconnect with their partner. Wow!
That’s why the contained and entertained products are so useful. In many cases they are sanity savers and privacy protectors. (Have you ever tried to use a bathroom with an infant in your arms?) While some of these products may not be completely necessary in every household, how nice it is to have a choice and know that if one doesn’t work well for your situation, there are literally hundreds of alternatives. Simplicity is a beautiful goal and I wholeheartedly agree, I just suggest that it can apply to the expectations as well as the baby gear we all collect.
Relax a little, embrace what works for you and helps you not only get through, but actually enjoy the experience of the early, crazy days of parenthood. Use what works, let go of what doesn’t, even if that means some the perfection expectations we impose on ourselves. Adjust to the new normal and remember that life with a baby is a little bit like the weather in New England; it’s always changing.
Maybe contained and entertained applies to more than just baby equipment, maybe it applies to our aspirations to be perfect parents as well. I believe that perfection is an illusion, so it might be best to take that over-wrought superhero parent illusion and get it contained and entertained so it will stay out of our way and let us get back to the business of living in reality. It might be the kindest thing we can do to take care of our children and ourselves.
Marilynn Halas is the founder of 4Sunflowers Media, a company committed to empowering children and parents through stories, books and online community. 4 Sunflowers was built on the premise that childhood is messy, loud… and magnificently human. Like us on Facebook and get your very own free “I’m Not Afraid of the Dark” kit