So, I love parenting books, and I love France. Bringing Up Bebe was a no-brainer read for me, but I thought it would just be an exploration of French parenting. I was surprised by how much I loved it and related to the concepts it presented. I'm going to quickly sum up the take-home messages I got from it in bullet points.
- La pause. This means, essentially, wait a few minutes when your baby starts to cry. It means don't rush in to them immediately, but it also means don't let them cry for hours. Listen to the cry, try to figure out what it means, give your baby a chance to soothe herself, and then if your assistance is needed, head in.
- Waiting. This goes with la pause. Teach your children to wait by not always having everything but the kitchen sink in the diaper bag, but instead teaching children to delay gratification.
- Food. I agreed with this part so wholeheartedly. Abandon "kid food" like fruit roll-ups and pizza rolls and feed your children real food insofar as it is developmentally appropriate. No, Cal can't eat a steak, but he did a pretty good job picking up my cut up spinach gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce tonight. Also, if a kid doesn't like something, present it to them multiple times (a few days or weeks apart) to give them a chance to acquire the taste.
- Mom time. In my world at least, there is such a guilt complex for not giving your entire soul to your children. Even typing that out feels like a bad thing to say. However in France, parents believe they are entitled to adult time. I think this is healthy for marriages and mental health in general. Of course you want your children to be well-adjusted and loved, but it doesn't mean you have to be a helicopter parent.
- The after-birth body. In some ways this might seem like more pressure, but I think it might be a good paradigm to set. In France, women are expected to lose the weight by the third month postpartum. Obviously this is a silent rule rather than something enforced, but societally people look askance at the mama that hasn't lost her baby weight. I am nine months postpartum and still have many pounds to go, but I wish I could have lost the weight earlier and think if I had had that expectation for myself I might have done better.
Of course, there were also things I didn't agree with, such as the decreased breastfeeding time and the expectation that all moms work (not that I have anything against working -- I'm starting full time tomorrow. But I don't think it is the right thing for every family and doubt that it will always be the right thing for my family. Everyone is different). However, reading it was an interesting experience and definitely left me with many ideas to consider.