Newborns really don't spend very much time awake.
When Fox is awake, calm and ready to interact with the world I love to monopolise his attention staring into his eyes and telling him how wonderful he is.
But in the short moments when Fox is awake and I have my hands full with some essential task Fox makes himself busy with some other work.
I didn't realise the word "work" could apply to someone so small but it can! When Fox is interacting with these materials he sure is working hard. His gaze is intense. His concentration is forceful. His whole body is engaged in the activity - his legs are pumping, his arms are reaching and stretching. It looks like physically and mentally exhausting work!
He has a black and white crocheted "Eggs and Elephants" mobile which was given to Bear.
I made this black and white pinwheel mobile with paper, some buttons, the lid of a yogurt tub and a hot glue gun. I found a tutorial on pinterest for making the pinwheels. Fox loves the contrast and movement of this one. The pinwheels spin with the slightest movement of the air.
"Yay!! Mobiles are fun!!"
The wall mirror is also good fun. He watches his fists moving around or stares into his own face. It is especially useful for tummy time.
He works for a few minutes then cries out to be cuddled and drift into blissful sleep!
Tom was away with work all last week. He left at 7am on Monday morning and finally (thankfully) came home on Friday afternoon. Life is so much nicer with him at home!
Bear, Fox and I were left to fend for ourselves and try to keep things running smoothly. To add to the challenge we were all sick with colds and the boys were just that little bit more difficult to keep happy. I was forced to try some new things and step out of my comfort zone. I was also able to lean on the help of lots of friends. Thank you!
I spent a lot of the week carrying Fox in the Babybjorn. He was unsettled during the day and didn't sleep very well at night. Could he have noticed that Daddy was away? Maybe he was responding to the extra tension in his mother? I suppose it could have been the snuffly nose.
I appreciated spending the extra time with Bear. I think I got to know him better. He is changing so quickly and becoming more capable and independent every time I look.
He can be so gentle and careful with his little brother. So diligent and enthusiastic when helping me. These little moments - Bear washing Fox in the bath or Bear helping wash the dishes - they gave me a boost of energy at times when I was exhausted. Tiny little people sure are capable of wonderful things.
Bear missed his Daddy. He found Tom's towel, showed it to me and said "Dad" - a word he knows well but uses very rarely. He wanted me to play the games Daddy plays with him over and over again - but I just can't wrestle like Daddy does. We were all relieved when Tom came home!
"The parents' challenge is to establish a home environment that encourages the development of concentration from the child's infancy and that supports flow experiences for all family members. Such a home reflects the complexity of life."
When we're inside we spend our time in the playroom. It's my favourite room in the house. It's beautiful and sunny with big windows, a skylight and a Northerly aspect. Most of Bear's toys are kept here. The piano is here. It's the centre of our house. There are doors leading out to the yard, Bear's bedroom, the bathroom, the laundry and the carport. I've made some changes to make a special place for Fox to join us in this space.
It is a challenge balancing the needs of the 2 boys in the same area. Bear needs freedom, independence and lots of movement. Fox needs safety, calm and predictability. On the one hand I want to allow Bear plenty of access to his little brother but on the other I need to protect the little guy from Bear's clumsy and enthusiastic affection. I think the only way to have them share the space at the moment is with constant, diligent supervision. This is how the space is arranged so far:
A Floor-bed and Mirror
During the day Fox spends a lot of his time on a floor-bed. It is a thin cot-sized mattress tucked away in a corner. Bear brings his toys to work on the black and white rug so it's very close to the action. Fox is still asleep most of the time so he sleeps here covered by a small crocheted blanket. When he is awake he is happy for short periods looking at himself in the mirror or watching and listening to us play on the mat. Most of the time he is happier being held when he is awake.
I am trying to teach Bear that this is a quiet, gentle area. He is welcome on the bed and he is allowed to touch Fox gently. He's starting to get the idea. He often comes and lies next to Fox, or brings toys over for him, of pats his belly.
A Changing Area
I'm using the top of a chest of drawers as a change table. The drawers are stocked with nappies, wipes and all his clothes. All the drawers have child-proof latches to keep Bear from rummaging through them and emptying them out!
Bear sometimes carries his little chair over to us and stands on it so he can participate. He likes to pull out a baby wipe and help wipe Fox. Or take a cottonbud, dip it in water and clean Fox. I love it when he does these things. It reminds me how closely he watches the things I do because he imitates them so carefully.
An area for feeding
There is a comfortable couch next to the play area that faces out the window. Through the window I can usually see the goats grazing and the chickens wandering around. There is a high table next to the couch where I can sit my hot drink out of reach of little hands. On the floor next to the couch is a basket of books for Bear that are rotated weekly. It is perfect for us all to cuddle up together and read a book while I breastfeed Fox or it's close enough to the rug for Bear to chat to me while he works.
I have a few mobiles for Fox but I haven't put a hook in the wall to hang them yet. Hopefully I'll get them up sometime this week because I think he is already developmentally ready for them. I would also love to make a black and white quilt for Fox to lie on for tummy time. I'm not sure when I'll find time to do that but I can dream...
I'm writing this at 4.30am with my precious little Fox bundled up on my lap - wide awake. The perfect time to write his introduction.
Praise God Fox was born naturally without induction 3 days before his due date. My labour was speedy and dramatic. Contractions started in the middle of the night and within a few hours were coming every 1-2 minutes. We were met at the hospital by my brilliant midwife just before I started to bleed and Fox blocked off his cord. The midwife called for the doctor to come straight away but amazingly we were able to deliver the little guy safely before he arrived. I've never been more relieved than when I heard him cry for the first time!
Fox has been a wonderful newborn. He's very calm and relaxed - he seems to have a very different temperament to Bear (if it's possible to tell this early on - and I suspect it is possible). He's sleeping and feeding really well so far and I am absolutely soaking up his sweet newborn cuddles. It's so nice to have a soft, warm little person who just loves to be held close (Bear's much too busy for cuddles most of the time!)
Bear has also been wonderful. I was so nervous about how he would react to this big change. I had heard stories about toddlers ignoring their mothers completely, or having violent tantrums, or regressing developmentally. He hasn't done any of these things. He has just accepted the change. He seems to understand that there are times when I need to tend to Fox and I can't do as he asks. He goes off and does something else or sits with us and talks to me about Fox or reads a book with me. Developmentally he continues to thrive. He's in the middle of his word explosion and continues to communicate more and more effectively. Toilet learning progresses - yesterday he even did a wee on the potty! I'm sure it is our Montessori environment and attitude that has allowed him to cope so well. He can access his work and entertainment without my help. He wants my interest and my company but he doesn't need me to be hands on.
It's been just over a week of being a family of four. I can't believe how lucky we are - our boys are wonderful. I'm so excited about all that lies ahead.
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.