Book Review: Calm the F*ck Down

This is a real book entitled “Calm the F*ck Down: The Only Parenting Technique You’ll Ever Need” and it is written by a real person named David Vienna. This was gifted to me by my son’s godmother. I’m blessed beyond reason to have godparents that send me and my child gifts monthly, and this particular month I had called with some catastrophe. I don’t actually remember which catastrophe this was – life with a toddler involves a lot of them. But I think it was when he got his finger caught in the pedal of our kitchen trash can.

He pushed the pedal down with his hand, and when he stopped his finger was caught and the mechanism and got sliced open. We got him out and his hand was gushing blood and he was screaming and I was surprised to find my mind was blank. What… what do I do? One does not simply put a band-aid on a toddler. He’d pull it right off. And that’s a lot of blood, why is there so much blood? How can you tell if he needs stitches? Oh man there’s blood on everything, uh, quick, lets put him in the bathtub. Of course, a bath on the best day makes our son scream, so this upset him quite a bit more than he already was, and he was still bleeding, and my mind was still drawing a blank on what to do. So I called and his godmother said put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. A piece of knowledge that did, in fact, reside somewhere in my brain, but that I was unable to call forth in the heat of the moment.

Anyway the moral of this story is that often, new parents aren’t under-educated or uninformed. Often, our questions and need for advice stem from simply being freaked out. Dear godmother had not actually read this book before sending it and prefaced it with “this might suck” but the title had grabbed her attention and it alone was very good advice. So let’s take a look!

Like many parenting books that I’ve reviewed before, this one seems to not be intended as a cover to cover read. Rather, it’s split up into topics like “my child does not understand consequences” or “I’m not the kind of parent I thought I’d be.” However, there’s no reason not to go ahead and read this one cover-to-cover. Why?

  1. It’s REALLY short. I read it in one sitting while I was having my hair done.
  2. Each topic listed has 1-2 pages devoted to it – that’s it. And there’s pictures.
  3. It’s really funny. Even if a topic isn’t specific to your situation, you’ll probably get a chuckle out of what it has to say.

I mean I basically don’t have anything bad to say about this book. It’s an entertaining, light read. It would actually make a pretty good bathroom book. It’s broken up into short, sweet reads, and maybe it’ll make you not want to hide in the bathroom to escape your kid(s). Maybe. No promises.

You can probably guess from the title alone that the book’s advice for most of the topics is to “calm the f-ck down” (abbreviated in the boot as the CTFD method). So you know when you flip to “my boy likes girl toys” or “my baby ate something off the floor,” you’re going to be told not to worry about it. But it’s more than that. A lot of this book is about empathy, and understanding that these things happen and usually have no long term effects. But it’s also empathetic about the fact that you’ll still worry anyway, because you’re a parent and that’s your job. It validates your feelings. And it also taps in to the fact that even if you’re not worried about a topic, someone you encounter probably will be. Your mother in law will be appalled you let your son have a Barbie, your aunt will act like you need to call 911 when she sees your baby eat a dust bunny they happened upon. People freak out, you freak out, but we all need to practice the CTFD method.

This is not to say that every section is just things not to worry about. One that caught me by surprise was this one pictured: “I haven’t kept up with CPR training”. I’ve taken CPR classes a few times over the years, most recently when I had my son. But before that I had taken it for being a babysitter, a camp counselor, a life guard, I think we even did it in girl scouts once. I have not been worried about it. Can I recall exactly what to do, and the numbers, and every step? Uhh… I dunno. No? Not really? But I’ve taken the class several times, I know basically what to do. So imagine my surprise when this laid-back book took the hard stance that you MUST take this class EVERY YEAR. It never uses scare tactics like some other parenting books (I’m looking at YOU, What-To-Expect!), but it just says hey, go take these classes. I hope you never need them, but you’re going to want that info fresh in your mind if you need it. That’s a good point, book. So I’ll be heading back to class soon. Well, yeah, it’s partially because I’m pregnant and they make you. But next year? It’ll be of my own volition.

Another thing that caught me by surprise is that this book is for dads! I guess the language might should have tipped me off, as moms are, generally speaking, a little more fluffy touchy feely in their diction when talking about babies. But what’s strange is that I never got the inkling that this book was specifically for dads until the second to last section, titled “Parenthood.” Which is still gender-neutral. But here there were topics like “I don’t feel like a dad,” and “I don’t plan on taking paternity leave.” The advice here is, of course, applicable to both moms and dads, but the language only specifies dads and paternity. Again, the entire rest of the book didn’t specify one way or the other really, and it’s not a bad thing. I was just surprised when I got to the very end and it was suddenly talking to dads so specifically. Still, both moms and dads should give this a read. Even the paternity-specific topics apply to both.

That about covers it! Like I said, I read this cover-to-cover in one sitting, and it was a very enjoyable read. Good for a gag gift that doubles as a whoa this is actually useful gift. If you’re a stressed out new parent who loves to read but doesn’t really have time to get through a traditional chapter without interruption, this is a light, interrupt-able read that will make you smile and leave you better equipped to handle those moments your mind goes blank. Buy it by clicking here. Give it a read and remember to CTFD.

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Book Review: The Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Year

If you saw my review of The Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, you know how excited I was to read this. But this review will probably be much shorter and less glowing than that one. In a nutshell, this book is a bit superfluous. And coming from me, that’s saying something. I love reading and researching and will jump on just about any chance to do so, but in this case? Well, let’s jump right in.

There’s nothing really wrong with this book, it’s just kind of boring. Most of the information in it is a retread of info found in The Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, and I would recommend reading that over this. Once you get past the first few months of having a newborn, there’s a lot less to worry about. Or at least, there’s different things to worry about. But you’re no longer in that stage where sleeping, eating, and falling are life or death situations. Once your little one’s a bit older, you rely more on common sense than needing to look up what to do.

The Pregnancy Guide’s chapters on the first few months offer great coverage of breastfeeding, immunizations, sleep training, and all those things. This guide really just elaborates, and I found the elaboration to not really be necessary.

One thing I did really enjoy about this book were the parts on what it’s like to be a new parent emotionally. It’s very cathartic to read that your feelings, especially negative ones and “baby blues” ones, are common and normal. And it offers good ways to cope. But again, rather than recommending this book, I’d lean more towards suggesting finding a book that exclusively focuses on parenting and feelings.

The more utilitarian information is all stuff that you’re gonna hear from your pediatrician. Developmental milestones, when to get immunizations, introducing solid foods, these are all going to be covered if you’re seeing a pediatrician regularly. Don’t replace that with a book, babies need all those checkups each month. Your pediatrician will tell you when your little one can start table food, and you can judge if you want to go ahead or wait on it.

If you don’t have a communicative pediatrician and can’t switch, or if you don’t have other mom friends or your own parents around to talk to, then maybe this book would be helpful to you, but honestly, once the baby is out and growing, you’re going to get floods of information from everywhere. From programs like WIC where you have to attend occasional classes, to alarmist facebook posts from well-meaning in-laws, you’re going to hear about most everything. Plus, that first year goes by so fast, you’ll hardly have time to research each step (or read a book, for that matter).

So yeah. My consensus is basically “meh.” There’s nothing bad or wrong about this book, it’s just kind of dull and an extra thing that you don’t really need to be fussing with in your child’s first year.

Sorry this wasn’t more exciting to read, haha. Meh reviews are hard. I’ve got a few more parenting/pregnancy books to read since I’m unexpectedly pregnant with #2 on the way. Stay tuned!