You’re a first-time parent. You’ve gone through nine months of pregnancy, hours of labour and delivered your beautiful, healthy baby. Congratulations!
Now it’s time to go home and start this crazy parenting journey, and you might feel like you’re not too sure what to do and how to do it. Between the sleepless nights, feeding clusters and loads of trial and error, your everyday routine can feel overwhelming and immensely exhausting. But just so you know, this is absolutely normal – yep, every new parent feels this way in the first few months of parenthood.
One big reason why first-time parents feel so overwhelmed is because of the little knowledge and experience they have in early childhood and care. It’s difficult to understand exactly what it’s like to parent young children until you’re actually doing it. This is why Harmonious Homes founders and early childhood advocates Natalie Figueroa and Naomi O’Rourke developed a home organisation business with early childhood development in mind.
Harmonious Homes provide services that declutter, reorganise and create learning environments for young children ranging from 0-5 years.
After you’ve received all the baby shower gifts and purchased all the things you think you might need for the baby, Harmonious Homes can help you sort through what is actually useful for your child’s learning and development and let you know what’s really going to give them the best start to life.
They’ve also developed a Purposeful Parenting Program, showing first-time parents and parents-to-be how to navigate their first two years of parenthood. The Purposeful Parenting Program includes six sessions that cover parenting styles and strategies, early childhood development and milestones, and the importance of setting up the home environment so your children have the best start to life.
“Your child’s environment in their first year heavily influences their development and ability to reach developmental milestones. To support this development, we suggest parents create a safe and purposeful ‘Yes Space’. A Yes Space is an area in which your child can feel safe, comfortable and confident to explore, play and develop their gross and fine motor skills. As your child ages and matures, so should their Yes Space,” says Natalie Figueroa.
Harmonious Homes suggest new parents go further than just baby-proofing their homes by installing child locks and gates, and look towards creating a Yes Space that provides their new baby with opportunities to independently make decisions, without direction.
“It’s important to provide children with spaces that allow them to explore and choose what they want to learn, without the input of a parent or caregiver, in a safe way,” explains Naomi. “A Yes Space not only gives children this opportunity, but it’s a great place to get new parents to understand the importance of observing their child and how to respectfully and purposefully parent.”
Just like the development of your child, Harmonious Homes recommend parents also evolve the Yes Space to suit their child’s age and abilities. Here are some suggestions for your child’s first year of life:
Birth to 4 months:
“By the time your child is four months old, it is likely that they have begun to move their whole body, lift their head and chest when they are lying on their stomach and begin rolling from side to side. It’s during this time that you create a space large enough for your baby to explore their movement in a safe yet stimulating environment. Provide two or three resources around your baby to motivate their movement, and let them do it all on their own without your ‘coaching’. This is the stage you want to establish that your baby trusts in their environment.”
There are a few essentials that you should consider:
- A soft rug: Not only is this comfortable for your child to move around on, it can also promote your child’s sensory development as they are able to explore the texture of the rug.
- Passive wooden and soft toys: placing these toys around your baby will encourage your child to coordinate their body and move towards and even reach out for an object.
- Floor-length mirror: During the first four months, your baby is also likely to reach certain cognitive milestones such as smiling, laughing, looking at light/dark contrasts and faces, and more.
4 months to 8 months:
“During this stage it’s important you support the development of your baby’s cognitive skills. In the Yes Space you create, ensure you provide your baby with stimulating objects they can manipulate and explore with their hands and mouth. In this space your child will have the freedom to choose what they want to learn about, how long they want to learn about it and when they want to finish and move on to something else.”
A couple of tips:
- Instead of placing everything right in front of your child, place objects a bit higher, such as on a low shelf, and put toys into baskets so they have to reach in. This will help develop your child’s exploration through touch and feel.
- Offer your child objects with different textures, from wooden blocks and stacked rings to toys that crinkle, to engage your child in sensory play, develop their motor skills and initiate problem-solving, which all help to build nerve connections to the brain.
8 months to 12 months
“Your baby will be going through some emotional milestones, so to ensure they feel secure and safe spending time playing on their own, you need to determine how comfortable and confident they are to be left to play independently. A safe Yes Space helps reassure your child that they are safe and secure to play independently, which helps build their self-confidence. You can also role model this by sitting in the space with them and explore the resources yourself.”
With 15 years of combined experience working in the early childhood sector, Natalie, also a mum, and Naomi, a professional nanny, know what works and how to create learning environments that help young children thrive.
If you’re a new parent and need support getting a routine in place, sorting out your home and navigating developmental milestones, contact Harmonious Homes and book in your free consultation.