baby

Oh, The Wacky Adjustments I Make For My Baby

The other day, my husband came home to find me standing in the closet with a blanket over my head, swaying from side to side. I hadn’t gone crazy, despite appearances to the contrary. I was rocking our 4-month-old son to sleep for his mid-day nap in the darkest environment I could create on a sunny day. I love that he’s a curious little boy, eager to explore the world with his eyes (and hands and mouth) but getting him to sleep for a day time nap when the sun brightens every room isn’t the easiest endeavor.

When he’s finally asleep, the last thing we want to do is risk waking him, especially at night, so a few weeks ago my husband and I decided to start brushing our teeth in the kitchen. Our bathroom is just too close to our bedroom, where he sleeps in a bassinet next to my side of the bed. We’ve also relocated half our wardrobe and pajamas to the guest room so that we can get dressed there and not in our bedroom.

As any new parent can probably appreciate, sleep has become the most precious commodity in our household and I’m pretty willing to make some wacky adjustments for the sake of everyone’s sleep. Friends had warned me that sleep was hard to come by after the arrival of kids, and while I believed them, I couldn’t really relate to it until I experienced it myself. Now I love to hear about the wacky adjustments that other parents make for their kids, both for tips and so I know I’m not the only one walking around with a blanket over my head.

Sleep isn’t the only thing that’s hard to come by in our household these days. I used to make a nice dinner from scratch almost every night, but our eating habits have taken a plunge from pretty healthy to somewhat questionable. The other night I found myself opening a can of corn, pouring it into a bowl, and calling it dinner. I didn’t even heat it up in the microwave.

Now that I have a baby, I finally understand the appeal of fast food. My scorn and judgment for plastic wrapped hamburgers and fries has translated into my own wish for ease and convenience when it comes to meal times. We now keep a constant supply of boxed soups and frozen pizzas in the kitchen. We do manage to have salad some nights, but I can’t say that we’re getting anywhere near the recommended quantity of vegetables a day.

Before our son was born, my husband and I fantasized about family activities we would do with our son. My husband looked forward to adventurously running around the forest and I was eager to bake challah together on Friday afternoons. I loved it when my mother let me help to knead the dough and roll out my own lopsided little braided loaves. It didn’t occur to me that with a baby in our lives, I’d be so sleep deprived that I’d be lucky to even remember to pick up a challah at the store on Friday for Shabbat dinner, let alone bake my own.

None of this is a complaint. I just didn’t quite realize what having a baby would mean. I’m crazy about our son, and I’ve started to adjust to four and a half hours of sleep a night. We have a perfectly reasonable variety of boxed soups in the cabinet and I like to believe that the veggies on our frozen pizza count towards our recommended daily vegetable consumption.

My husband is still looking forward to running around the forest with our son and I’m still looking forward to baking challah together, but for the time being, don’t be surprised when you walk into our kitchen and find toothbrushes next to cans of corn, and mind your step when you bump into me because I can’t see very well with a blanket over my head.



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Ilana SumkaIlana Sumka recently spent five years serving as Encounter’s Co-Executive Director in Jerusalem where she built one of the most respected organizations addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She previously worked at American Jewish World Service and has served as a nonpar­tisan inter­na­tional elec­tion monitor in Bosnia and Albania. Ilana is currently working on a book about her seven years in Jerusalem.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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