By: Suzy Martyn
Publisher: Mother’s Friend Publishing
Publication Date: October 2009
Reviewed by: Pamela Victor
Review Date: October 5, 2009
With all the parenting books out there, it can be difficult to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the flood of information and advice. Suzy Martyn’s book Enjoy the Ride: Tools, Tips, and Inspiration for the Most Common Parenting Challenges might make a nice antidote to the deluge. This slim book provides plenty of bite-sized snippets of concrete, easily applicable tips for new parents. Without getting bogged down in tremendous details, Martyn provides practical take-away tips for the most likely issues many new parents will face in the first decade of a child’s life.
What sets this book apart is its ability to cut to the core of an issue in a concise manner. When you have a newborn, time is in short supply and Martyn’s ability to jump to the heart of a matter will be greatly appreciated by many busy parents. For instance, under the heading “What’s Normal for Newborns?” Martyn utilizes two short pages to list straight-to-the-point, solid advice on the twelve most common questions a brand new parent worries about, like cradle cap, infant acne, and what a typical poop looks like. Personally, I remember being deeply concerned by at least three-quarters of these issues and would have benefited greatly from the snap advice in this book.
Enjoy the Ride has page after easy-to-read page of succinct advice, and Martyn has chosen an interesting array of parenting issues to tackle. Of course, there are the typical newborn, nursing, sleeping questions that are addressed thoughtfully. But then Martyn also advises on setting limits, handling finances, teaching responsibility, dealing with anger, and friendships. In the section entitled “A Little Bit of This and a Bit of That,” she provides a potpourri of tricks of the trade spanning a wide range, from a quick tip on how to get a slow-riser out of the house early in the morning (“Put them to bed in their street clothes. Choose something comfortable that doesn’t wrinkle.”) to figuring out what fills your child’s emotional tank (“If you do, chances are very high that you will have a content child who will feel less of a need to act out for attention…”)
The author provides a variety of handy formats to display her tips, making Enjoy the Ride a highly readable book. She alternates question-and-answer sections with lists, narratives and boxed text. She also provides cute personal anecdotes about her three daughters, Faith, Hope, and Grace, which serve to entertain readers as well as illustrate key points. Many of the quotes are quite sweet and charming; and others, such as the following introduction to the chapter on teaching responsibility, were ones that many parents can relate to: “‘I don’t want to do any chores, Mommy, because that is your job. And, when I’m all grown up can you come live with me and do them for me?’ –an unknown three-year-old child that does not live in our house.”
The author has overseen children in the classroom, in her own home childcare, and through her parenting consultation service. Most importantly, she is the mother of three daughters. However, Martyn primarily seems to aim her advice to mainstream parents of average-ability children. In the chapter about celebrations Martyn provides pages of useful tips solely on “Christmas Holidays,” such as “Bake a cake and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus…Make invitations and invite people to come celebrate the most important birthday of all.” You also will not find any advice about alternative approaches to child-rearing, nor tips on how to raise kids who have special needs in this book. Certainly it’s always good to keep in mind that any parenting book should be taken with a grain of salt since everyone has his or her own perspective.
Nevertheless, most parents of typical kids will find Martyn’s advice highly useful and helpful during all stages of parenting. She consistently encourages parents to think of the big picture, which can be hard to remember when the baby is crying over getting herself back down to sleep or nursing is a challenge. For instance, she counsels mothers that even after eight weeks, it’s not too late to switch from bottle-feeding to breastfeeding. “It will be tempting to resort to giving a bottle especially when it seems that baby is not getting enough from the breast, but try to think long-term. These few short days of struggle will seem like nothing once you have a happy baby at the breast.” In the chapter “Setting Limits,” Martyn provides concrete methods for parents that are positive yet firm and respectful for getting their kids to behave themselves. She writes, “After 25 years of professional and personal experience, I am convinced that what children need are clear, concrete limits with consistent consequences to show them there is order in the world and a place for them to fit into that.”
Enjoy the Ride provides guidance on another splendid, and often over-looked, parental issue: what parents really need to buy in preparation for the baby’s arrival. Martyn brilliantly classifies a variety of items on a baby registry as to what must be purchased new, what would be best borrowed or bought used, and what can be skipped altogether. The “Resources” section is teeming with other highly practical tidbits to make parenting easier, such as an infant feeding log, a quick reference summary of introducing solids, the top ten “Mealtime Manners,” and a behavior modification chart. All these resources plus topics ranging from potty training to reading and writing basics to handing finances and more are addressed in Enjoy the Ride. This little book packs a big punch!
Quill says: For the typical family, Enjoy the Ride packs a whole lot of handy information in a neat and tidy package.
For more information on Enjoy the Ride: Tools, Tips, and Inspiration for the Most Common Parenting Challenges , please visit the author's website at: Mother's Friend.