In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a part of #CarseatFullstop – an initiative to raise awareness about car seats. It’s an awesome campaign and we hope that by boosting awareness we are able to save lives. But it also got me thinking about how much time we spend in the car every day. Most of us in car-centric cities spend a lot more time in our cars than we might like or be aware of. For example, every morning, Harley and I take Dean to work and then return home. In the afternoon, we pick him up again before returning home. Sometimes, we go shopping together, or go to a meeting, or go to TopTots, or visit friends or any number of activities. Each of those require strapping her into her car seat and sitting in the car for anywhere between five and 30 minutes. On an average day, that’s what – at least an hour spent in the car? Why not make the most of those car rides?
Luckily, Harley often sleeps in the car. It’s something about the movement and the noise that combines to conk her out like nothing else. In fact, when I went to an awesome seminar earlier this week, I timed it perfectly – changed her nappy, nursed her and then drove to the event. The combination of clean bum, full tummy and car ride combined to successfully knock her out for a couple hours so I could actually engage with the learning opportunity. But when our little ones are awake in the car, it can also be a learning opportunity, too. Here are some ideas of ways that you can make the most of the time spent with your spawnling in the car.
I didn’t grow up in car culture. I grew up in New York City, where public transportation and taxis and walking are the norm. As a result, I didn’t grow up around cars and car seats, instead learning about them once I moved to car-centered cities as an adult. This is actually a good thing, though – the information about child restraints has evolved a lot in the past 20-30 years, and research continues to show the importance of rear facing seats. Harley’s infant seat was obviously rear facing, as is the norm for all infants, but she will probably grow out of it in the coming months, which means we’ll need to buy her a new one. But she will continue to face the back of the car, and here’s why.
At the moment, Harley’s bones aren’t really bones – they’re basically cartilage at this point. They will continue to harden as she grows up, but she simply doesn’t have the hard skeleton that we think of just yet. But it’s way more than that. Think about the adults you’ve known who have been in collisions, or cliche movies from the 90s – whiplash is a big deal. In a car accident, your head flies forward and then backwards, with only your neck to keep things in place. As adults, it’s pretty awful, and our heads are way smaller in proportion to the rest of our bodies than our little ones. It’s part of what makes Harley so cute, her bobble head appeal, but just check out this cool image showing the actual proportions of head to body as we grow up.
Dean has always said that I have a soft heart. I have compassion for people, I just can’t help it. Part of it is that I have empathy, that I can feel for other human beings and imagine how hard it must be in their situation. I also am a writer, and I know that it wouldn’t be hard to write the scenario where Dean and I fall on hard times. It’s a common story for so many people – economies struggle, jobs are shed, people get hurt, the list goes on and on. I know that Dean and I work hard for our life, and that even our comfortable existence could be turned on its head.
Since Harley came along, I’ve become even more sensitive. I mourn for strangers as someone’s baby. I feel for other mothers, no matter the struggles they experience, and I want to do anything I can to make life better for other people. However, I have noticed that my sensitivity and empathy might also be making me an easier mark for con artists.
Food is a treacherous area for many of us. What foods are “good” or “bad”? Which foods are “safe” or “comforting”? Sure, taste and temperature play a role in it, but so, too, does texture. From crispy bacon to creamy mashed potatoes to gooey melted cheese, there are all kinds of food out there that I love (or hate) for different reasons. Growing up, I was quite a picky eater (although I did have a bit of a refined palate, too) and it’s something I’m hoping to help Harley to avoid. That’s why I’m doing baby led weaning, and helping Harley to develop her other senses at the same time.
Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is basically about sharing foods with your baby from an age that they’re ready, allowing them to eat normal food with the family instead of getting the mushed up variety. There are a variety of reasons I’m doing it, namely to improve future food acceptance, help with the development of her motor skills, and as a source of fun texture play.
It’s Mandela Day here in South Africa, a day when we’re all encouraged to spend 67 minutes to help make South Africa and the world a better place. I will be striving to do that for the next 67 DAYS as a part of #CarseatFullstop, so while it would obviously be great to go volunteer my time somewhere, at least I sort of feel like I’m making a difference. So instead, for Mandela Day, I want to look at the 6 or 7 ways my life has changed since Harley came into this world.