Over the past few months two of my closest friends have became parents for the first time. Steve and Colin both welcomed their kids into the world this year, and as such we've given them a few tips and tricks and advice when asked. I gave Steve an Isofix car seat tutorial, a big shift from the last tutorial I gave him which might have been on how to set up Google Chrome on his new phone. Colin asked for help with burping and took a video chat from Canada with Etta used as a live doll to demonstrate some of the sleep-saving tactics that we used on her.
One bit of advice I'd give any new parent is one that has become near essential for Connie and I to survive - it's all about routine baby.
When Joni was young she suffered from extremely difficult eczema across her body and as such we had to lather her in oils and creams and ointments for near on a year and a half religiously. This was key to keeping her skin under control, and it took a lot of pain and trial and error to find what worked. We were always told she'd grow out of it, and it is now managed very well, but what it meant was that post-bath at night a routine had to be followed to the letter, with the creams on in an order and quantity each night without fail.
This lead us to discover that we'd stumbled onto a key feature of sleep-training - that of the routine. Shortly after we started the routine, Joni got on board, and now, three years later, survives only on that routine. If we deviate slightly, at first it was a nightmare. Now, she rolls with the punches a lot better and full steps can be truncated and even missed if we have to, but most of the time, no matter where we are and what we are doing, we try to strive and keep the routine on course. Even when flying we tried it, and it seemed to work.
Etta has of course melded into this routine. The girls bath together and then get dried and dressed. We've changed up the routine each time a change is needed - new bedrooms, teeth brushing, even stories have all shifted into new orders over time, evolving with each new requirement; the key one now is that Etta and Joni both get storytime together on our bed - something we used to do when Joni didn't have her own bed, and was in the cot Etta is now in.
A change that occurred a year or so ago was that ouyt of now where, gradually, we started to sing songs to Joni after the story. I think once it started out of a need to calm her down, maybe due to her illness or something - Of course, we used to sing to her to get her down as a very young baby, but the songs dropped off for a while, but are now back and bigger than ever.
Each night we sing somewhere around eight to ten songs, all taken from what I've taken to start calling the playlist, and each night is a set list. It started with Skinna-ma-Rink, for which I don't know the real name, and moved to three songs, and now the full set. It takes around ten to fifteen minutes of course., and I wouldn't stop it for any reason.
Every so often a new set of songs gets added to the playlist and added then to the set list. For example, recently we've added four television theme songs (Paw Patrol, Puffin Rock, Mouk and Postman Pat) as well as the Green Bottles on the Wall classic. Connie introduced Five Little Ducks and Five Green and Speckled Frogs a few months back to great acclaim. I even started doing a "Slipknot style scremo" variant of the Duck song, much to everyone's amusement.
The one that got everyone excited was my introduction of what is called Daddy's Song, or better known as The Music Man (we've sneakily changed to The Music Woman, because of course we have). That is uproarious when adding odd things like bagpipes via Scotland the Brave and the triangle to the normal Piano and Trombone options.
Singing to your kids is a joy, and that's only matched when they start singing along with you at night; Joni's "Bababoo!" at the end of the Puffin Rock theme is brilliant. But the real proof of the pudding is when she just starts singing Daddy's Song randomly in the kitchen, apropos of nothing.