As I may have mentioned, I do work for state government. While I usually enjoy my job, there are moment where it is absolutely clear that I work for government – those moments where red tape and bureaucracy seem ridiculous. One such example is that we have SOPs for EVERYTHING (Standard Operating Procedures, of course). These documents are supposed to be guidelines on how to perform even the most obvious or minute tasks correctly.
That being said, my boss recently offered to watch Stella if we ever just needed to get out and blow off steam for a couple of hours. The caveat was that I would have to leave very exact instructions – an SOP – on how to take care of her, as he has no idea what to do with babies. That, of course, got my head going. How would one really leave such a document, again assuming that the caregiver in question had never single-handedly sat with a baby?
My Stella SOP for this week (since it changes week by week based on her ever-increasing mobility and abilities):
Playing with the baby: You pretty much can just sit with her, occasionally handing her a toy or fetching one that rolls/is thrown too far away. Don’t expect that a baby’s definition of “play” and yours are one and the same. A toy piano may be lovely for about 45 seconds, but banging a plastic disk on the ground is good for 15 minutes. Go figure.
Diaper changing: This, too, is one of those ever-changing aspects of child care. While the older baby’s diapers are less volatile than a newborns (see pile of previous blogs related to explosive or low-viscosity poos), they can still surprise you. Treat diaper changing the way a chef would treat his/her station. Have your mise en place ready at all times. In this case, this is your diaper (opened and oriented correctly such that you merely have to grab it and slide it under the butt) and the appropriate number of wipes depending on what’s in the diaper you’re removing. Vigilance is crucial. If you remove your eyes from the kid’s diaper-area, you can quickly find the freshly-wiped butt marinating in a puddle of pee. You could also look down and see something which would suggest a mid-sized dog dropped a steaming pile under your baby’s buttocks. This was not a dog (or at least not at my house, where we’re cat people). Your kid can simply poo very quickly once they start eating all those delicious fruits and veg. You would, too, if your diet was all fiber.
A final word of caution on the whole diapering thing: they get quick! They roll. They thrash. They grab. I’d keep the kid on the floor in order to remove that vertical hazard element. And for your sake, keep the soiled diaper and wipes (usually in a pile before you have a chance to roll them up together in that unsavory dumpling) AWAY from their hands. If not, you may have a very messy baby and a revolting display of Huggies-brand confetti.
Eating/drinking: The baby is becoming more aware of what you’re consuming, and if it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for her. If you fill up a water glass from the fridge, you must first give her a drink from your glass. Most of this will end up down her front and on the floor, but hey – it’s only water. I would caution to observe the glass carefully before you yourself drink. Sometimes she will “cheese” in it (“cheese” is that lovely curdled milk stuff they sometimes barf up). I tell you this based on my own unfortunate experience. You can also not eat in front of the baby without offering something to her. Bits of banana are wonderful, but it’s really best if you feed it to her. Otherwise, you’ll have banana goo all over her face and within the dark reaches of her hamfists. And were you aware of how popular wiping a baby’s face is?
I could go on and on. Maybe I will one day. As it is now (and as it usually is all the time these days), I’m running short on time.