A lot of you know I had basically ZERO baby-sitting experience growing up… I was much happier with my own lawn mowing business during summers or doing other things to make money during college… so when it came time for Drew I thought I’d raise him in a similar style to how I plan events (that’s what I do for a living, in case you don’t know J). Sounds strange, I know. But here are the things I’ve learned over the past eight years as an event planner:
1. The boy scout motto: Always be prepared. For any event I always have the basics with me: cell phone numbers, extras of any document I may need, scissors, tape, pens, etc. I found it works pretty well to approach Drew in the same way… he may need anything at any moment so in his diaper bag I keep it well stocked with formula (in case I am in a situation where I don’t want to nurse him), bottles, clothes (I’ve never met anyone who changes their outfit so many times in one day so we always have at least three outfits in there), endless amounts of diapers and wipes and some toys. And burp cloths… what I should really have in there are extra outfits for me…
2. Have a schedule but be flexible. This sounds like an oxymoron but with any of the events I plan I have things written out in a minute by minute time table so everyone can be prepared. BUT of course things come up (like what happened at an event a week ago… a concert my guests were at went over by 25 minutes… ugg. So lunch was delayed. You work with it…) so I need a flexible attitude to figure out what to do with the detour in the schedule. That’s similar to how we handle Drew, especially at night. He knows that at 8pm he’s going to bed… but I’m not about to keep him up till 8pm if he’s losing his mind at 7pm (that would just make both of our lives miserable).
3. Communicate. Endlessly. One of the things that I’ve learned, especially recently, is that you can never communicate enough. You might think I’d equate my event planner lesson with communicating with AJ… and of course I need to, but I also find that the more I’m talking to Drew the happier he is. He’s getting used to my (our!) voices and, I hope, learning things. For example, whenever I’m blow drying my hair I’m talking to him and telling him “Drew, this blow dryer is pink… Drew, this straightener is purple.” :)
4. Think through everything that could go wrong. I guess this is sort of like #1 but whenever I have an event I think through all the possible problems so that I’m not as freaked out when something goes wrong. With Drew it’s as simple as knowing he could lose his little mind in the middle of the mall and I need a back-up option… whenever I have a million errands I need to run I know I can use my mom and dad’s house as an in between place to nurse, change him, play with him, etc. Plan. Plan. Plan for freakouts or naptime to be shorter or three feedings in an hour.
5. Know your limits. I’ll be the first one to admit that when I have a long weekend of events (ex: Homecoming) I know I’m going to have a nervous breakdown in the middle of it because of the stress of the events and because of lack of sleep. It’s sort of the same thing with raising Drew… I knew before having him that I would have mini nervous breakdowns, mostly because of the lack of sleep and because parenting is soooo CONSTANT. I know that I can’t be “on” with him 100% of the day… I plan specific times for just me. Like this morning, I took him out in the baby jogger because I knew he’d sleep and because I needed that for me to feel more like “me”. Or take right now, for example, AJ just took Drew out for a walk so I have the whole house to myself (except for these VERY loud chicks right next to me).
6. Be adventurous. I’m not too scared when it comes to planning a new kind of event, I feel like I have the tools to succeed at it and if I don’t I’m not too proud to ask for help (which I often have to do). AJ and I want to raise Drew in a manner similar to this, we want him to not be scared to do things or go places. We bring him practically everywhere with us. We want him to be accustomed to seeing new things and being with new people (obviously we have healthy limits here, he’s not going to the house we are flipping where wall board is flying off and he’s not going to sit with some creepy stranger).
Those are the lessons I’ve put into practice so far… it’s been a fun ride over these past four months. He’s such good baby but my friend Nancy put it wisely when she said it’s so constant. Every parent knows it’s a 24-7 job and sometimes my event planner rules just don’t cut it… but for the most part they are working out pretty well. :)