The Must-Have Mom Manual - Two Mothers, Two Perspectives, One Book That Tells You Everything You Need to Know by Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett
This is by far the best informational, advice, fun mom book I've read this summer. If you are looking for answers, but not the typical Dr. Sears type answers (which are wonderful in their own right), but rather you want the answers you'd get from a close co-worker or a best friend or your mother or sister - this is the book you have been looking for. It's so easy to read, FULL of information about literally every topic you could possibly wonder about in parenting. It's written by two friends who have very different opinions on some big topics (bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding, crying it out to sleep vs. being rocked, etc.).
(image from Google)
From the authors on page 4, "But oddly enough, it's our differences that have brought us closer. We've learned that we don't have to be the same kind of mom to be good ones," and "The two of us are proof that a working mom and a stay-at-home mom can be best friends. That a breast-feeding mom and a bottle-feeding mom can be best friends. What has worked for one of us so often just wouldn't have for the other because we're different people. That's the simple message we have always strived to share with other mothers: there's no one way to be a good mom."
I just bought this book as a baby shower gift, because it's definitely something I wish I'd had in the beginning after bringing home my son from the hospital. However, it's not just for brand new parents. There is info in here for children birth to age 6. I found it really helpful.
The authors are Real with a capital R. They tell the truth, in a way you can hear it. Still, sometimes pregnant women don't want the truth, so this might be a book better suited to those who have taken baby home already. On page 9, Ellington wrote, "The bottom line is that your child isn't going to love you more because you made her the perfect birthday cake or hand-sewn Halloween costume. What kids want most is your time and attention. That's what they'll remember. If we get too obsessed over minutiae such as perfect party favors, we often miss the important moments like seeing the pure joy on your child's face as she bounces in an inflatable moon walk with her friends. So quit sweating the small stuff and putting pressure on yourself to be the kind of mom that doesn't really exist or that leaves a kid needing a lot of therapy later on in life."
The authors wrote a lot in this book about the guilt most moms feel at some point or another - or daily! - in their parenting journeys. On page 12, Ellington wrote, "Stephanie and I always say that after women give birth there must be a guilt gene that gets turned on in our DNA." The authors agree that this is normal, but unnecessary. We can't be perfect parents. We just do the best we can, cross our fingers and hope our kids turn out OK. That's all you can do, so stop stressing about anything more. I love that attitude!
I LOVED on page 13 the section titled, "Thirteen Things Not to Feel Guilty About." These things included getting a babysitter, not scheduling your kids in activities, going out with the girls or your husband, not breastfeeding, not looking exactly the way you did before you had children, going to work or staying home, etc. Loved this! A must-read.
Breast-feeding vs. bottle-feeding
I loved this chapter! Since breastfeeding did not work for me and I pumped instead I used bottles from the start. I love reading a book that says that what I did was OK, that I did not screw up my child's IQ or immunity forever, and that yes, low and behold I did in fact bond with my son despite him not eating from my body. One of the authors breastfed and the other bottle fed. They both wanted to breastfeed, but it just didn't work for one of them.
On page 51 the authors include "The Bottle-feeding Mom's Bill of Rights," which I absolutely loved. Mostly it includes things like having the right to bottle-feed without guilt or lengthy excuses. I love that. It's so true. I see it all the time.
Loved this section, too! On page 63, the authors wrote, "The following sentence is the only thing you really need to know about pacifiers: if it allows you to get some sleep and makes your baby happy, then use one." How great is that?! LOVE IT. I feel the same way, and I was one of those people who swore I'd never allow a pacifier in my baby's mouth, ever. Three days after he was born, after a circumcision that dad attended and found very sad and painful to watch, the baby had a pacifier... and he was and still is completely fine. He was weaned from it at age 6 months, no big deal. I am definitely in favor of them. I know it was a big thing that helped my son feel more secure at the time, as he came out of me sucking his thumb, so had a real need for sucking to soothe himself to sleep. These authors agree, it's not a big deal to use them. They even referred to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) approving the use of pacifiers for baby's first year. Something I didn't know, from page 63, "The AAP also says giving babies pacifiers at naptime and bedtime may reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome." We took away the pacifier once our baby fell asleep in naps and bed time... but still they are OK in my book!
There is every single topic you can imagine in this book, I swear. From having kids with a pet in the house, to having baby number two on the way, to not being so perfect, to planning birthday parties and feeding solids. It's awesome and very specific. I found many topics in this book that I'd never seen in other books, but that are definitely things on your mind as a new parent and things you'd ask your closest friend in a mothers' group.
Too much to share here - check it out!
I looked up the authors' Web site and it looks like their blog is not updated. Their Web site is www.themusthavemommanual.com and that is up and running. They also wrote another book, The Mommy Chronicles: Conversations Sharing the Comedy and Drama of Pregnancy and New Motherhood , that I intend to review next!