I've started to come up with a list of things I want to at least attempt to do differently this time around. We're in a different place financially, socially, and environmentally. We're also a very different family than we were even a year ago. Dynamics have shifted since we lost Andrew and - at least for me - I've redefined what I value and think of as vital when it comes to the kids. There's no telling if I'll actually do any of these things, but I want to spend some time over the next 14 weeks giving them some serious thought.
1. Cloth diapers.
Pros: Environmentally friendly. Much cheaper than disposable diapers. Supportive friends.
Cons: I already struggle with the insane amount of laundry we generate. Lack of support from family.
Compromise: Use cloth at home and during short jaunts out. For longer days out, use disposable. Insist the kids continue to do all regular laundry, but I will do diaper loads.
To Do: Learn about the different types of diapers out there. What detergent do people use? Do they line dry or use the dryer?
2. Jarred food.
Pros: Cheaper. More control over preservatives, dyes, etc. I won't ever have to buy anything from Gerber. (That's another story... for another day.) Kids could potentially be supportive and helpful.
Cons: Time (or lack thereof). Storage. (I'm not very good at freezing things.)
Compromise: Establish a list of foods that can be made in small batches (squash, banana) and supplement with organic baby foods. Find things that we eat as a family that can easily be turned into baby food. (Applesauce in the fall.)
To Do: Borrow baby food cook books or find recipes online. Look into containers and storage methods.
Pros: I did this with the girls, so I know it works. G, however, was a wiggleworm and not only did he refuse to be "worn", he refused to be confined to a stroller.
Cons: It takes me forever to recover from my delivery, so wearing won't be something I do for at least 6 - 8 weeks post partum.
4. No TV before age 2. (This includes electronic devices in general)
Pros: Better for baby's brain development. Keeps the noise level down during the day, reducing (my tendency toward) overstimulation issues.
Cons: I actually ENJOY toddler TV. Max & Ruby, Charlie & Lola, and Little Bear were my favorites. The fact that the kids liked them, too, was just an extra added bonus.
Compromise: Focus on keeping the first floor TV off as much as possible. Keep the first floor TV tuned to only toddler safe programming (no Justice League, gory news shows, or excessive American Pickers viewing... American Pickers will be the hardest thing to tone down. Love all of those silly shows that focus on retro stuff.)
5. Sleeping in the crib, NOT our bed
Pros: We sleep better without the kids in our bed. K has sleep issues and I believe they're related to the 2 - 3 years she spent sleeping with us.
Cons: It's sooooo lovely to just doze off while nursing a sleeping wee one.
Compromise: I fully intend to nap when the baby naps. Housework be damned! (For a few months, at least!) Maybe I can get my naps in a little easier if I let him sleep with me during naps? Or will that make the crib transition more difficult at night?
6. Successfully mastering the bottle and breast feeding method.
Pros: I can run to the grocery store or to a meeting without taking the baby with me. This is less disruptive for the baby and easier for me, therefore less stressful for everyone. The kids will also be able to take part in the feeding process and I think they'll enjoy that.
Cons: I hate (HATE HATE HATE) the smell of baby formula. I also hate how expensive it is. So I'll have to establish a pumping schedule and I am not good at schedules.
Compromise: Remember that the nursing years are short and fleeting. If the bottle feeding never takes off (never did with the younger two), remember that. Even when it drives me nuts, remember that he's only going to be little for a very short period of time and I don't want to miss any of it.
7. Developing a schedule for the baby despite the chaos of the older kids.
Pros: It's so much healthier for munchkins to have schedules. It's also a way of forcing me to say NO occasionally.
Cons: Flexible kids are so much happier. The reality is I'm going to have to deal with soccer and Scouts and the associated chaos.
Compromise: Focus on a daytime schedule, maybe? The older kids leave for school at 7:30 and come home at 3:30. That gives me 8 solid hours to establish nap and feeding schedules. Then insist on being home by 8:00 so we can do our bedtime routine? Maybe?
I hope that 6 - 9 months from now I revisit this and find that I've made peace with these things. I hope I tried all of them, adjusted accordingly, and didn't allow myself to wallow in a puddle of guilt for even a second for the things I wasn't able to do.