In our house, we have books for all seasons.
Books play a fundamental role in how we parent and there have been so many situations that we wouldn’t have been able to prepare Sydney for, as well, without the use of books.
Whatever the circumstance; whatever the mood, we have a book to suit each occasion.
Books have been my most powerful allies throughout the last three years and they have helped in so many important ways. I fully expect to still be relying on books to help my girls understand why things happen, how to deal with difficult situations or just books to make them feel like they are not alone with their feelings, throughout the rest of their lives.
I have found that books are immensely helpful for helping Sydney to understand or cope with new experiences. By reading her books about each new experience, it helps her to understand, and to prepare for different situations.
The first books that we got that were like this were books about me being pregnant. She was two and a half and I didn’t know how much she understood, but she loved listening to the stories, looking at the pictures and getting excited about the baby in my tummy. From there we then had books about her becoming a big sister, potty training, her fear of poo (that’s another story), going to the hospital and having her tonsils out, having injections and stopping sucking her thumb.
Every single book has helped her – with the most powerful, being the most recent about Charlie’s Thumb, a book about a boy who turned into a rabbit because he wouldn’t stop sucking his thumb. (Sydney stopped sucking her thumb overnight and still says some mornings: “Look Mummy, I don’t have a tail or bunny ears do I?”)
Sydney seems to be able to relate to the characters in the various books and gets great comfort from the sense of normality and the feeling like she is not alone. The story is always the starting point for lots of conversation and questions as well as giving her an opportunity and time to process what is going to happen and how she feels about it.
I will always try to introduce the book well in advance of the event happening so it is familiar to her, and then a few days before the event itself we will read it a few days in a row before bed to reinforce the messages from the story so it is fresh in her mind.
Goodbye Tonsils was brilliant in the lead up to her tonsil operation as it really helped us prepare her for what was going to happen in almost a step by step way with pictures of the operating theatre, a little girl in bed with a bandage on her hand afterwards, all things that helped to prepare Sydney for what might happen.
You can tell if something is bothering Sydney as she will ask questions about it at random times. Out of the blue she may ask a question about it, or will ask for reassurance in the middle of a conversation about something completely different. It is then I know we need to read the book again, have more of a conversation around it all and try to give her as much reassurance as possible as well as a treat or reward at the end of the ordeal (special sweets she’d chosen herself for after her injections, a scooter and a cake and lots of ice-cream after her tonsil operation).
Whenever we go through any kind of new experience or situation, I can guarantee there is always a book out there that has been written for that specific scenario, which is brilliant as it also helps me as a parent not to feel so alone with dealing with the situation as well.
I have always read a lot of parenting books as well as parenting blogs and forums and have, myself, always got great comfort in feeling that I am not alone and not the only person going through a certain situation. It’s one of the most brilliant things about being a mum, the fact that so many other people are going through the same worries and difficulties you are – and that there are subsequently so many ideas and suggestions readily available about how to deal with them,
I already know that there will be a lot of new books in our house over the summer next year about Starting School and helping Sydney to prepare for that. Fingers crossed there are a few available about how to prepare Mummy for her child starting school as well as I will definitely need them (sob!)