Thursday, March 12, 2009


I hate giving advice. Really hate it. Now, don't mistake me. I love giving my opinion on things. Like, you know, what necklace you should wear with that dress or what color you should paint your wall. I hate giving advice about the big things--parenting, marriage. You know, relationships. What I prefer, and what I think you'll find peppered throughout this blog, is to give examples of things that have worked for me, for us, for our family. To share our experience. And you can take it from there.

Within just a few days last week, a good friend had a baby and we attended an engagement party for another good friend. I think those events have made me think about some great advice I've received. Advice my grandmother gave my mother and that my mother gave to me. And, so dear readers, I'm giving it to you in this post. (Please note, not specifically to the friends mentioned above!) Take it or leave it or claim its irrelevance to your life. All I'm doing is putting it out there.

First, for your marriage: "I don't want to know about your fights."

That's basically a direct quote from my mom before I got married. And, it was a direct quote from her mom before she got married. To be more general about it, the advice is to not involve your family in the disagreements between you and your spouse. Because, here's the thing: you and your spouse will kiss and make up. But your mom (or your dad or your sister or even your best friend) won't forget and move on so easily. They'll take your side every time because they've known and loved you your whole life. And if you do this too often, there might grow a resentment toward your spouse, which you certainly don't want to encourage.

Now, this isn't to say that I haven't grumbled to my mom that Abel was driving me crazy. Or complained about something or other. And to be honest I can think of many occasions where Abel has sought my mom's opinion and she's sided with him (the nerve!) on a disagreement. But, folks, we're talking small domestic things. Not any big things. Those are between us. We work them out and move on without the involvement of our family and friends.

Second, for your baby. Again, sage advice from my grandmother: teach your child that nighttime is for sleep as early as possible. The idea and method here is that even as a very small baby, you can lay the groundwork for an understanding that we sleep at night.

Here's the method, which we started with Lucas, oh, the day he got home from the hospital. Set a bedtime. Maybe early on, when they are eating every few hours, that is 10pm or even later, but it is a set time, nonetheless. At that time each night, do a little routine: wash their face, change their diaper, put on jammies (yes, they may be wearing jammies all day and they may be getting a new outfit every few hours, but make this part of the routine), dim the lights. From that point until morning, keep things quite and dim. When you wake for feedings, don't turn on the lights, don't watch TV, don't play with baby. It is nighttime! Things are different than daytime.

During the day the curtains may be open to let in the sunlight, the lamps may be on along with the radio or the TV. You might carry on conversations or watch TV while feeding baby. But, at night these things don't happen. Yes, you meet baby's needs--feeding, changing, soothing. But, you do it in a fairly basic manner. It is business that gets done without any extra fanfare. I truly believe this also sets the stage later--for both you and baby--when he or she is older and wakes at night not for a true need (e.g. food) but for comfort. I never could stand to let Lucas cry it out for very long. But, I would go in for minimal soothing: retrieve the paci, pat on the back, etc. He did not get fed or rocked to sleep. At night we were all business.

Now, I'm just the mom of one, though Lucas is indeed a champion sleeper. But this method was used with great success by my mother-of-six grandmother, mothers-of-many aunts and several of my cousins.

So there you have it (wiping hands). My two best pieces of tried and true advice. They are yours to take or leave. To gratefully accept or scoff at.

The end.


  1. I agree 100% with your marriage advice!

    And I would love to hear opinions on wall colors. I am overwhelmed right now with all of the choices. What is the name of the color of your living room walls?

  2. I think you should add to this entry that you hate giving advice, but when you do, you fully expect your advice to be followed! haha. Has anyone else out there received the wrath of smilingmama after seeking but not heeding her advice? :)

  3. great advice!

    We are lucky enough to have a GREAT sleeper and we did and do the same thing... good stuff!!

  4. Good advice! The best advice I ever got was from my sister as I left for college. She told me to bring my own toilet paper with me to frat parties.


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