A Mother’s Circle by Sandra Kunhardt Basile with Jean Kunhardt, M.A. and Lisa Spiegel, M.A. of the Soho Parenting Center
Book description~ A Mother’s Circle chronicles the experiences of nine new mothers in a parenting discussion group led by Jean Kunhardt and Lisa Spiegel. “A Mother’s Circle is informative and reassuring,” writes Miriam Arond, Editor-in Chief of Child Magazine. “It will help you feel confident and supported, qualities that are so important in helping you enjoy this wonderful new stage of your life.” The revised edition covers important topics such as feeding, separation and attachment, marriage, co-parenting and a woman’s identity. The first chapter defines Responsive Parenting, a thoughtful approach that allows parents to make more finely-tuned responses to their baby’s needs, whether it is setting a limit or nurturing and coddling. The expanded chapter on Sleep includes a Sleep Chart to help parents track the progress their babies in learning to sleep through the night.
What an amazing resource! While having lunch with one of my mommy friends from high school 2 months into my pregnancy, she insisted that if I read ONE parenting book it be this one. I couldn’t be happier or recommend this enough. Whether you’re a first time mom or adopting a child, or even plan to raise a family, I highly recommend you pick this up! The book takes a much less “preachy” approach, but a “village to raise a family” type approach. The Soho Parenting Center is an amazing place where new mothers come weekly to discuss, as a group, their concerns and talk openly with other new moms in their same shoes. “A Mother’s Circle” shares fears, concerns, and issues raised by the mothers in the group, and real life examples of how to overcome them using psychology, medical knowledge and overall common sense. I loved how the book was separated by category (Responsive Parenting, Feeding, Changes in Marriage, Sleep, Your Mother’s Legacy),which touch on more than just poopy diapers and spit up. Also, it’s easy for medical or psychological professionals to write a book, but it’s another to read first hand accounts from mothers over a decade.
The book offers so many useful methods, techniques, and ideas that can help you through the first year with a newborn/toddler. Each child is different and reacts different, as do each mother and father. The book also offers sample feeding schedules for each stage (newborn, 3-6 months, and for when you begin introducing solid foods).
The two most important sections I wanted to touch on:
1) Sleep Work
2) Your Mother’s Legacy
This book takes the stance that withholding sleep from your young baby is as damaging as withholding nutrition, as sleep is the foundation of a baby’s development. Without proper amounts of sleep each night, a baby will be more fussy during the day, and cannot possibly have the energy to focus on its developmental stages. The book focuses on techniques that when done properly, can help you and your baby achieve a full night’s rest as early on as you decide to commit to the process. The chapter on sleep work carefully outlines how parents can use time-tested methods, psychology, and patience. Starting with 0-3 months, the transition phase 3-4 months, then working up to sleeping through the night at 4-12 months, the chapter then fleshed out topics like crying, when spouses disagree on methods, sleep charting (and gives a sample template), supporting one another, being consistent, and early morning wakings. I felt like my eyes were open so widely to so many things and reasons for why many parents get frustrated that they can’t get their kids to sleep through the night. I feel like my husband and I have a heightened awareness having read this, and are thankful we’ll have each other along the way to lean on.
Your Mother’s Legacy
Regardless of whether you had an amazing childhood, were adopted, or had a lukewarm relationship with your mothers, its inevitable that through pregnancy and child rearing, issues from the past will surface. This section was very though-provoking and profound for me and I highly suggest this to anyone who has questions about how to deal with their past and views on maternal role models.
Takeaway- you are your own person, not bound by the shackles of past hurts, regrets, or expectation. No one is perfect. No mom is a perfect mom. However, by bringing a child into this world, it IS your responsibility (in my humble opinion) to try your best and ask for help when you need it; this is non-negotiable. 🙂
11 down, 15 to go!
Up next: The Wednesday Letters & The Philosophical Baby