There were two girls I used to care for a lot back in the day. The first girl, I started watching soon after I was Red Cross Certified and she was a toddler. Then, when her sister was born, it was kinda cool watching them as they grew…. I was their primary baby-sitter for several years. I'd watch the girls occasionally throughout the school year. During the summer, their mom would work (she usually stayed home during the school year or would alternate her schedule with her husband's) and I'd watch the girls for roughly 8 hours Monday through Friday during my summer vacation.
Sometimes I wish there was a better way to practice for a coming baby. Sure, I used to babysit a lot when I was younger, but stopped doing that when I was about 15-16 years old…. It's been awhile…
In my human sexuality class in college, each of us were required to check out a baby… doll. It ran a program with a few different schedules. The doll would cry, and to make it stop, you had to insert the correct key for affection, feeding, or diapering. We had to record what time the baby cried and which key was the right one. The doll also had sensors so if you bashed the forehead or held it upside down, it would alert child abuse.
I actually was very good – getting the right key the first time, every time.
But really, it wasn't realistic to me.
Then there's classes that teach you how to properly diaper a baby, using a doll. Sure, that's good practice for someone who's not familiar with how a diaper works…. but what baby lies perfectly still during a change?
Other People's Kids
I love how people will propose that taking So & So's kids for the day/night/weekend/month is “good practice.” In my opinion, not really. I mean, it can give you a glimpse of issues that may arise, but it's still not the same. I don't know about you, but even if I'm very comfortable with the people I'm around, I'm always a bit wary of doing/saying something not quite right with their kids… because they aren't my kids. I was probably about the most comfortable handling my first nephew when I was younger because he was definitely family.
Then, there's the issue of just suddenly taking care of a *insert age here*. That isn't good practice for a newborn and it doesn't allow for the growth and adjustment of parenting through the ages. At least, I tend to think our style and comfort would grow along with our children. But what do I know? This is my first!
There's also the behavior bit to factor in. Some children are incredibly well behaved when their parents aren't around while others will take advantage of testing boundaries and manipulation.
And finally, you know you'll be able to give this one back. If they won't listen to you at all, it's only a matter of time before they go back to where they came from!
Cats – The Extreme Solution
While I don't believe any of our 3 cats really provide any good practice for child rearing, I think they could come in handy.
Remember how I said diapering a doll is unrealistic due to the stillness? Well, the other extreme would be a super wiggly cat that would try to escape. Try putting a diaper on them – heck, dress them in an outfit too! Can you do it without them getting away or falling on their head? I wouldn't suggest trying to bathe them though, that may result in some serious injuries.
If you are a first time mom-to-be, how are you preparing for the ins and outs of baby care? If you have children, how did you prepare? Did it help or was it nothing like the real thing?
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