Mommy advice needed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I'm a work-from-home mom. I think we're all aware of that.

In my head, it's a pretty dreamy set up. While baby naps, I sew and catch up on customer emails. While he's awake, we run errands and play.

In reality, that's far from how it actually goes. In a perfect world, I'd be fully engaged with him whenever he's awake. But in real life, there are often times I have to work and have to keep him occupied at the same time. That's when things get hairy. He is becoming more mobile - not yet crawling, but scooting on his belly and getting where he wants to go - and he's putting everything in his mouth. Because I work with tiny little pieces like buttons and pins and beads, it only takes about 30 seconds for him to find something on the floor and try to put it in his mouth. I usually lay out a blanket for him with lots of toys and books to keep him entertained for a few minutes. But it's not 30 seconds before he's made his way toward the glue gun or a jar of buttons - and while I can keep some things out of his reach, I can't keep it all up and out of the way while I'm working. It's a frustrating scenario. I get nothing done. He gets annoyed that I keep pulling him away from things he shouldn't have.

So what do I do? What do you, moms, do? I've looked into a baby gate or "super yard" that I could section off a part of the room like this one. But is it just me, or does that look like a baby prison? And the fact that they use it for animals, too? (Enter the mommy guilt. It looks like I'm putting my child in a petting zoo.) He does play in his jumperoo for a bit, but would usually rather be free to crawl around.

Ok... you get the idea. Is there something I'm not thinking of?

25 comments:

  1. This is just a hard phase!! From mobility to about 2-2 1/2 everything goes in the mouth, and they can't keep occupied without you!! It gets easier, but in the meantime, it is hard on you!

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  2. In my dreams there is a jolly jumper that runs along a track on the ceiling so that little miss would be slightly contained. Maybe I should invent that.

    In reality, I think your best bet is probably the super yard. I know at first you'll feel all kinds of guilt about it, but I think it's your best bet in protecting him and accomplishing what you need to do. Babies are SO SO resilient, and before you know it he'll be used to his new play area.

    Good luck! I know how hard it is to try to balance all we've got on our plate as mama's.

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  3. My own mama and I had a conversation about this yesterday, and it has me wondering when parents started looking at play pens as baby prisons and stopped looking at them as a Godsend (which is what my mom and her *entire* group of friends declared this past weekend). It really seems to be a recent shift, and it certainly doesn't help that the current of generation of moms has to tread water on the Internet, sifting between ideas, advice, inspiration and judgement. We've got it tough in a way that no other set of moms has had it before. Yikes!

    But regardless of the connotative guilt (be it self-imposed or external), I think there is something to be said for a system that creates a safe place for littles while mom and dad are not available to maintain it themselves. And there is a big difference between setting your kid in the pen while you finish a task (exercise, meal prep, sewing) and leaving your kid in the there whole day. We will absolutely be investing in a play pen for our boy.

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  4. In my opinion: safety over prison ;) LOL I have a 13 month old and sew frequently. I ended up simply gating her into the living room, but also looked at the gated section. I'm thinking on getting one of those for outside this summer because we live right (and I mean RIGHT) on a large creek. In theory, if I turned my back for a second she would be heading down the bank and towards water. My biggest issue with pack n plays (playpens) for playtime was that my kids often napped in them, so as soon as I put my child into the pack n play and it wasn't nap time, all 'you know what' broke lose! :) I would definitely say go for the circular gated section of the room. As I mentioned, you can take it outside too when the time comes! The difference between gating in a child vs an animal is that gating in the animal is to keep them out of parts of the house. The reason for the child is to keep them safe from things that Mom/Dad can't always be watching for. And one last thought... :) I have been told many times that I spent the vast majority of the first 2 years of my life in a playpen, obviously I don't remember it and I'm fine :) (at least, I thought so!) So, your little man won't remember, and you will be keeping him safe.

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  5. I say use a pac n play. You can put some of his favorite things in it. He can see you and be with you but still be occupied. He will cry at first when he wants you but get up and rub his head and kiss it but don't pick him up. ...or He will think that every time he wants out he just has to cry. He will learn to enjoy just being in the same room as you. :)

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  6. Boundaries. We all need them, beginning with babies. My advice is to use a baby gate or pack and play. While he is at this stage, he does not know it is wrong/ dangerous to put small things in his mouth, he is just exploring. While he might not always be super happy in the pac n play, he should get used to it. While you sew, he hangs out there. Rotating toys may help. Soon the game will be Liam throwing all the toys over the side and you retreive.

    And about animal gates/ fences, we live on a farm and we use fencing for the same use, to keep the sheep safe: out of the street, out of the sink hole, etc. We have a separate little area for the lambs to hang out.

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  7. When I was a nanny, I found that the pac n play, or others like it, either worked or didn't work. Some babies just won't have it. It may take some getting used to for Liam. I bet he'd learn that it's time to play on his own when he begins associating the pac n play, or another play area, with your work time. He seems like he could be a pretty independent child when the mood is right. I always tried to put it by a low window so the baby was also entertained by seeing the outside world. And music always helped to set the mood for playtime and block out any noise I was making to make baby need to be by me to see what I was doing.

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  8. Whitney - great points already shared - teaching boundaries early, there is nothing wrong with this! Keeping that beautiful baby safe should be your first priority, giving him a set space to play and entertain himself in gives him a sense of safety as well. When I lived in Munich, FRG it was common for young children to wear a harness with a strap attached, it allowed little ones to walk along but were kept from stepping in the road or wandering off. I continued to use it when we returned to the US and was accused of treating my son like a dog ~ no, I kept my little boy safe yet gave him enough room to develop a sense of independence within safe boundries. Get the play fence, let him be safe and allow you to be productive! :-)

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  9. I'm so glad you've asked this question! My four month old is not yet mobile but we're almost there. I have no advice, but I am grateful for your commenters' wisdom:)

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  10. Hi Whitney - I've been following your blog for some time. I appreciate your passion for the Lord and your enthusiasm for doing what He has called you do. You have been an encouragement to me as I too am a work from home Mom. You are in a tricky stage (fun, but hard!). Liam will soon be able to be entertained for longer, so hang in there! For now, do not for one moment feel guilty about a play yard or pack and play. It is really great for him and you. He will learn how to occupy himself a bit and develop curiosity, imagination, and independence. I've always had a "quiet alone time" for my children during the day, and it has been one of the best things for us.

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  11. I say pack 'n play. My little is only three months and I'm not quite to the point where I have to worry about this, although she already expresses that she wants to be near me. So for now if I need to work I set her up in her bouncer seat right at my feet so she can see and "talk". I don't think a pack n' play should make you feel any mom guilt (though I completely understand what you mean) - I always remind myself of different babies and moms around the world who strap their babies to them all day so they can work with them or probably set them down or have other siblings entertain them - we moms do what we gotta do. Additionally I think it's good for baby to have some time each day to learn how to play by his or her self. And honestly, if you are a loving and caring mom (which you are) you will dote on him plenty at other times and it will not harm him. My mom tells me all the time how she would set us up in the pack n' play and turn on sesame street while she got stuff done. She was worried we would turn out couch potatoes but all three of us are very active and two of us don't have cable and hardly watch TV. :) I have no memory of "baby jail" hah!

    Long response, but anyhow. You get the gist! Do what you gotta do, mama!

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  12. One idea now that the weather is hot, is to place him inside a hard plastic kids pool with only a thin film of water in the botton, just enough to entertain him with tiny little splashes and keep his body cool. And the pool could also be used without water, with a blanket on the botton serving as a limited area for him to stay. Just an idea...

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  13. I don't usually comment, but I do agree about the little baby pool. If you wanted to keep it inside, Target and Walmart sell the packs of plastic balls. My kids love a home made ball pit. There are also tunnels/tent setups that might keep him entertained. And you can even do the balls in the pack n play. Baby Einstein via YouTube is also a win-win-win. The "Baby MacDonald" nearly guarantees you 30 minutes. :)

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  14. I’m an advocate for a Pack and Play. Put toys in there and some Baby Einstein and get at least 30 minutes out of it.

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  15. I think this can be a struggle for any mom, even if we are not working. I've always struggle with feeling like I need to be playing with/caring for Isaac constantly to be a good mom, but it just isn't true. We all have stuff that needs to get done and sometimes kids just need to entertain themselves (easier said than done). Don't feel bad for using a pack n play or gate, you're keeping Liam safe and you'd feel much worse if he hurt himself with a pin or choked on a button. I recently read this article that Suze (from Moody) wrote and it helped me gain some perspective about what is really important in parenting.

    http://www.genesisthejourney.com/blog/post/the-mother-god-wants-me-to-be

    Oh, and I definitely second the baby Einstein (and we're going to try out baby signing time here soon!)

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  16. I agree with the comments about the pack n play. I have three under three and my older two are very active! We use the Growing Families Int'l parenting module (co-author of BabyWise) and though I was resistant to it at first, we have now implemented "room time" & "play time" (in the pack n play) in addition to "quiet time" (this is a reading time for each child where they sit on a chair and quietly read to themselves). Both kids now look forward to that time! Even my super active 18 month old (he started crawling at 5 1/2 months...always on the go type of guy). We start pack n play time as young as 4 months...it teaches them to entertain themselves and eventually makes play time with the siblings more special. I personally don't like my young ones watching tv or computer videos and they have both done well contenting themselves with toys. It was difficult in the beginning but once they realized that there was I wasn't going to come get them, they quickly adjusted to playing well by themselves.

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  17. I agree with the comments about the pack n play. I have three under three and my older two are very active! We use the Growing Families Int'l parenting module (co-author of BabyWise) and though I was resistant to it at first, we have now implemented "room time" & "play time" (in the pack n play) in addition to "quiet time" (this is a reading time for each child where they sit on a chair and quietly read to themselves). Both kids now look forward to that time! Even my super active 18 month old (he started crawling at 5 1/2 months...always on the go type of guy). We start pack n play time as young as 4 months...it teaches them to entertain themselves and eventually makes play time with the siblings more special. I personally don't like my young ones watching tv or computer videos and they have both done well contenting themselves with toys. It was difficult in the beginning but once they realized that there was I wasn't going to come get them, they quickly adjusted to playing well by themselves.

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  18. I feel you, Momma! It's a blessing to stay home, but at the same time, every once in a while, I think, "If I could just sit in a quiet room by myself for TWO HOURS, I would get all of this work finished and not have to worry about it for the rest of the day!" At the same time, I suffered huge mommy guilt when I realized that Kayleigh sat up for the first time while I was engrossed in a student essay on the floor next to her. I cried that day.

    What you're dealing with is challenging. A growing, active little guy, a need for safety, and the desire to consolidate possessions and be ready to be mobile. Yikes! That's hard! The super yard seems like the best option to give Liam freedom and safety at the same time (but maybe not the most...packable if you're thinking about a big move?) Some of them are pretty big, and you could work it so that you had him right next to your chair. Pack n Plays are made pretty small these days (not like the huge square play pens we all grew up in!) and I can see him getting frustrated as he grows and has less room to move in there.

    Once you know where the next chapter of your story will take place, it will be easier to envision what's best for the situation. Praying for you as you lean on Him and wait to see what unfolds!

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  19. What about a pack and play? http://www.amazon.com/Graco-Pack-Travel-Playard-Green/dp/B005UV0UEA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369339146&sr=8-1&keywords=pack+and+play

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  20. When it works for me, I set a timer so my son (16 mos) knows its time to get out of the pack n play. That can help teach him that its not fussing or whining that makes "pack n play" independent play time over... its the fact that the timer is beeping. Independent play is a great skill for little ones to learn. Start small and build over time. Perhaps a small play yard of gates would be easier. I have often wished for one :) And being consistent when possible will help him transition. For example, from 10:00-10:30 is independent play time, etc.

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  21. When I was a nanny we used a play yard that was really big. It was also amazing and could be used as a large string of gates to block off a hall or something. It was amazing at keeping the baby in the main living area in that mansion of a house. But then just this week while I was shopping for my new puppy I realized that the play yard my boss had was actually bought for her puppies before she had children. I felt pretty bad for a little bit, like I had treated him like a dog, but really, it got the job done, and it was a lot bigger than ones for babies. It also kept him out of the dishwasher (he had a bizarre obsession), away from his sisters tiny doll toys, and safe and sound where I could keep an eye on him.

    I just went back to keep him for a long weekend, and can I say I am so thankful I allowed to him to develop independent play. He played by himself for hours, just as happy as could be. His older sisters, who were played with and hovered over or plopped in front of the tv do not have the same abilities...

    Also other tid bit, I have a degree in early childhood education and almost all of the nurseries/preschools I worked in while completing class requirements kept the babies in play pens or cribs for a small part of the day. And they were all top of the line, research based facilities.

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  22. One thing that worked really well for us was blanky time. We started doing it when my daughter was starting to get more mobile. We always used the same (large) blanket every time, and we'd put books and toys on it for my daughter to play with. I'd tell her that she needed to stay on the blanket for blanky time. If she started to scoot off of the blanket she'd get a little smack on the hand, not hard enough to hurt but hard enough that it wasn't pleasant and would get her attention, and I'd put her back on the blanket and tell her again to stay on it. It took about a week of doing it every day for her to get it and we kept doing it until she was probably 2 years old. Once she learned to stay on the blanket, I could take her anywhere and not worry that she would get into things. It was also nice because she could still be close to me and she didn't feel confined.
    It definitely took some work to train her, but it was so worth it! And it's never too early to start training your children in obedience.
    Hope you find something that works well for you!

    Jamie

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  23. I grew up in a play pen next to my mom when she was sewing. I even saw pictures of us kids (she had 3 under 4 years old) in our play pen when we were outside! It was called a "play" pen - not a prison. A play yard or pack and play are both good alternatives to your little angel getting into things. What you and all moms need to get rid of is guilt. There is simply too much of that! It wastes time being a good person. Sad fact is that in these times, both people need to work to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. I was a working mom all my life (had to) and I have asked my kids if they seem like they "did without". Neither said they did. And because I worked (and my husband did too), they went to college and came out debt free to start their life. My daughter is also a working mom with 2 kids. She has both sets of grandparents around to help out. Her girls are definitely happy! Stop the guilt moms!! I really admire all that you do!

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  24. Use the play yard guilt free, and remember that you are working so Liam can be warm and fed and cared for!

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  25. Mommy guilt is so strong. To add to these other wonderful comments, Liam is the only baby of yours who is likely to get this much focused mommy attention. I look at the difference between my first born and second born, and there are definitely things I wish I had taught my firstborn from a young age that would have fostered independent play, waiting patiently, etc. etc. He's a great kid, don't get me wrong. I just think that now (17 and 14) I can see the mark of birth order. I'm saying all that to encourage you to set boundaries and not pile on the mommy guilt. It is a very busy season, this too shall pass, you just have to get through it, he won't be neglected if he has to wait a moment for you to finish something. I love the idea of playing music while you work. My kids loved CDs of kids voices singing.

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