Monday, June 28, 2010

A Mom's Manual That Really is a Must-Have to Survive Birth to Age 6 - BOOK REVIEW

by Janis Brett Elspas

Don't you just hate it when friends or family give you unsolicited advice about raising your kids?  How about feeling that as a mother you must always be doing the same things for your own children that your friends are doing for their's?   And last, but certainly not least, why is it you feel guilty getting a babysitter so that you can go out alone for some quality time with your hubbie once in awhile?

Readers: Don't Forget, after reading this book review to leave a comment below this post sharing the most annoying piece of unsolicited parenting advice you've ever received as a mom.

After you've read The Must-Have Mom Manual from Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, your answers to all those and many other questions about parenting will likely change for the better.  That's at least the essence of what real-life mommies and friends Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett intended when they co-authored this unique advice guide for successfully navigating the modern challenges of motherhood from birth to age six.

Ellington, an ultra-organized, bottle-feeding mom who left her job to stay at home and Triplett, a self-described messy, breast-feeding mom who went back to work outside the home, are as different as night and day.  Nevertheless, these two women do an amazing job of finally bringing forward a huge and important concept lurking in the sub-conscious minds of mothers everywhere:  The fact that there really is no one way to be a good mom.  In the words of the introduction, "There is no one-size-fits-all formula for motherhood.  This book is about making your life easier as a mom and paring down a lot of information modern moms have to deal with."

The Must-Have Mom Manual is a book that you will be tempted to approach like any other parenting guide you may have looked at before -- especially if you are feeling desperate.  I mean what mom of us doesn't feel that way at one time or another?.  A word of warning about that:  don't just dive right in.  Instead, take your time getting to know Sara and Stephanie, reading the introduction thoroughly first, before going on to referencing specific chapters because the intro otherwise known as "Momology" is full of valuable insights that will help you get the most out of this book.

Pictured at left are the authors' first children, both daughters, that were born 3 weeks apart.  The girls, who each have since been joined by a brother, are now in elementary school.

Everyone has unrealistic expectations about how wonderful things will be before we become moms.  We might even still be in denial after our beautiful babies have arrived.  Sooner or later, though, we eventually all come to realize that those "magazine moments," as described so aptly by Ellington, are in reality, "far and few."  This book helps put that runaway dream to rest for good, not only for those of us who are already mothers but for those who are now in the before-children honeymoon phase.  Keep reading and you'll discover the authors' list Thirteen Things Not to Feel Guilty About which includes -- among other things -- actually feeling good about getting a babysitter so you can get out of the house without the kids regularly either for a girls' night out or for a romantic dinner for two with your DH.   All that and a whole lot more you'll read and learn about -- before you even finish the first 16 pages of this book.

Practically speaking, beyond the introduction, this book continues to be structured well and speak to mothers as if we are gathered as friends to air our frustrations about our little ones during a playdate.  The title's all-important heavy-duty Momology is followed by 11 substantial chapters with sub-chapters within each to make it easy to zero in on the things that concern moms most.   Green mommies, especially, you'll also be glad to know there are "Clutter-Busting Resources" listed at the end of each part with helpful website addresses and recommended books.  The authors certainly have cut down the research and paper work us moms might have had to do otherwise.

The first chapter, At the Hospital, has an excellent section giving new dads advice on ways -- for example -- of showing their appreciation to the new mother.  After all, no man has any idea of what pregnancy and childbirth are really like, right?  This is followed by chapters that truly speak to moms on coping with baby when she/he comes home for the first time and maximizing the every day life experiences with your child.  Later chapters offer modern advice for a host of other essentials: managing and organizing your household; ensuring the health of your family; enhancing your marriage; balancing work, home, and life; dealing with an expanding family (both new humans and pets), and lastly sharing with others like ourselves in the Mother to Mother chapter.

Get an insider's peek at this book by reading an excerpt from The Must-Have Mom Manual here.  Below is a photo of the authors from Sara's Facebook page.

Overall, this book is quite good and useful.  To be fair, for sure, it covers ground that has not been covered before in a title targeting the motherhood and parenting niches.  However, there are a couple of things that can be improved upon.

First, this manual (even though the title implies it's just for moms) only gives new fathers advice for right after delivery in the book's beginning.  If moms are going to get their significant others to read this and subscribe to its teachings, and ultimately, get our partners to help when we need them most, there ought to be specific tips for dads in every chapter, at every stage.  Women often know naturally what to do and say as mothers, but I think you really need to spell things out for fathers since they don't mind read nor do they speak Woman-ese.  Men need more blatant prompts now and then, otherwise how will they know exactly what we moms need or expect from them?

The only other shortcoming I see with this advice book is that it ends when your child reaches 6, because that's the stage the authors were at when they wrote this title.  As those of us who have older kids know (I'm in the heat of the teen years with 13 year-old TRIPLETS, plus big brother, 14 now) there are challenges at every stage beyond that age.  In fact,  some moms -- myself included -- might argue that it only gets harder to raise our children the older they get.  

For all of our sakes, I hope these two clever mom authors who have brought us moms a truly must-have guide to making it to kindergarten are working on a sequel to address issues that us mom will all have to contend with as we muddle our ways through our kids' elementary, middle and high school years.  Moms, though, with children six and under are truly lucky to have a reference like this available to them right now.

The Must-Have Mom Manual by Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett, 544 pages, Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, 2009, ISBN 978-0-345-49987-5.  Cover price $17 (U.S.) and $20 (Canada) and available in book stores and from online booksellers.

MommyBlogExpert Wants Your Comments Below
What's the most annoying piece of unsolicited parenting advice you've ever received as a mommy?  Please feel free to vent keeping in mind that this blog's content is family-friendly, and leave a comment about it below this post.

FTC Disclosure: MommyBlogExpert received a copy of The Must-Have Mom Manual for review but did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this post.  See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.

1 comment:

  1. My mother-in-law tried to convince me that children had to wear shoes when they were learning to walk. This from the mother of a son with flat feet who wore shoes from the time he could roll over! Of course she also thought cow's milk was better for a newborn human than human milk!