How to Stay Immersed with a Newborn

If you are a parent of a very young child, or about to become a parent, this these next few posts will be geared towards you. Let me tell you a little about myself, so you understand where I’m coming from. I started learning Japanese before I got pregnant. I was roughly 500 kanji into my studies via Heisig (following a similar path to ajatt’s track) and effectively immersed when my baby was born. I felt two very strong thoughts at that time, and I still feel them now.

Nothing will get in the way of what you want. I want to learn Japanese, so having a child in my life wont stop that.

and secondly;

I believe that its my duty to my child to spend as much time as I can with her for as long as she needs me. (Children begin to get more independent as time goes naturally, and I did not want to rush that process in any way, especially for selfish desires.)

So as you can imagine, this meant that serious, book drawn out studying pretty much was minimum. What this did allow for was a ton of immersion, daily, constantly, everywhere, all over the place! Not only that, but I now had an audience to practice my Japanese on, a partner in learning, and a loving and forgiving listener who didn’t care if my words were wrong, or stutters, hesitation, or even out of tune singing from time to time, learning something new.

If you’re use to sitting down with the world quiet around you, focusing on studying for hours or so, you might be in for a bit of a shock, as studying with a young baby is hard. You never quite know what to do between all the diapers and feedings, and what not. How long will they sleep this time?

Even if you’re mom, there is a lot of immersion that you can do, and even a few studying tips. As new parents you’ll find that sleeping is a commodity you’ve probably taken for granted, but don’t worry, the sleeplessness will only last for so long, so remember to enjoy your baby. Serious studying can be squeezed into little boxes of time, and it defiantly helps the “do it now” feeling stand out. I was amazed at what I could fit in 30 minutes, since knowing she’d wake up at any moment.

Before Baby is Born

Prep is a wonderful thing to take care of. Think about it like this, you wont be able to search for tons of stuff leisurely for hours on end most likely when you’re a new parent, often times you wont have your hands available, but you still have ears and eyes. I didn’t know what to expect exactly, since every child is different. Some like to be held a lot, some not. Some like body carriers, and some not. It helps to prepare for a few types of activities, rather than focusing on only one.

Studying Materials: Don’t overload yourself with materials that you wont be able to get to, rather, take your current studying tools and see if you cannot break them down into tiny little steps that could be done in 5 minutes. Here is a small method I sometimes used:

  • 2 mins learning new material
  • 2 mins practicing
  • 1 min reviewing

This takes a bit of effort to set up, but you’ll be reaping the benefits for a long time. You accomplish a lot this way too. If you’re tired (which every new parent is), then just 5 mins of learning, practicing, and reviewing isn’t hard at all. You’ll want to do it because its simple and easy and fast. And mostly, you’ll remain motivated because you’re always accomplishing things.

Immersing you: grab as much movies, shows, music, books, media anything really that you can find, if you can’t go through it all, that’s okay, don’t worry. The point here is to get so much stuff, just waiting for those little spare moments. Fill up your drives with loverly goodness, make youtube  playlists of music you like, and tons and tons more, or sign up for radio. Find enough to last you at least 9 months! I’m not kidding. My little girl didn’t start getting really independent until about then. Up to that point, I really only had her nap times during the day, and when she’d go to sleep at night.

Baby Immersing: Babies love to be sung to, so why don’t you go learn some Japanese lullaby’s and nursery rhymes (I’ll post some great reference sites soon too). If you’re able to buy some books, try board books and soft fabric books that have lots of colors. You’ll want to find books that aren’t just stories, but perhaps just colors and objects. If you cannot find ones in Japanese, you can always buy English ones, and draw the kanji/kana yourself next to the colors and objects too. Doing this when you have a lot of time to do it is a lot easier than trying to do it when you’re holding a baby in your arms. Babies love to be read to, no matter what language. And at the same time, you’ll build a great foundation of basic vocabulary the same exact way children to naturally anyhow. This can apply to television shows too, but you don’t need to worry about it now, as your child wont be interested in television for a while.

Just Born (from 0-4ish months):おめでとうおねがいします!

Activities you’ll be doing a lot.

  • rocking
  • feeding
  • diaper changes
  • not sleeping 😀

Luckily, you can put Japanese into all four of those. Babies can sleep through anything, so having that Japanese on in the background is easy at this point (and if not, hey, that mp3 player is golden). Let your ears and eyes have some fun. My daughter loved to be held a lot. I also enjoyed this too, so I’d sit and rock her for hours on end while watching shows on my computer and listening to music. This is a pretty easy time. I breastfed, but I’m sure doing the bottle thing would be similar in terms of being able to listen at the same time with no major complications.

Also, during this time, if you have prepped lessons to be mostly hands free, then you’re set. CD tracks like Pimsluer are fun for times like these. And before you complain about its slower speed and what not, its better than nothing at all. If you want to have a bit of progression, this is what is workable. Pod casts are similar too, you can use these at times like this. Often times, I held Vivian with my left arm and wrote kanji with my right. I wanted to keep progressing in my studies. One handed typing, yeah, you’ll get great at that :D. is also a great program that doesn’t require much hand usage, and can easily be paused if baby is in need. I tried to keep anything I did short and simple, that way I wouldn’t get lost if she needed something.

As for when the diapers are going, try placing one of those kanji posters up at the station. When you set your darling down, look at a few, change the diaper, and when you pick your darling up, hug them and while you’re doing that you can look at a few more. You could do this with articles and all sorts of visual aids at this time. Keep it simple.

At this stage staying immersed with music, tv, shows, and such is easy. If your baby likes a carrier, then you can get studying done easily too as your hands will be free. Just remember for studying: short, simple, and easy steps at any chance you get.

to be continued….:D

4 Responses to “How to Stay Immersed with a Newborn”
  1. Daniel says:

    I’m glad to see you got this article up so fast! It’s really helpful, and I’m looking forward to the next one 🙂

  2. Daniel says:

    Hello again! I was hoping to be able to talk to you about a related new baby/Japanese/general geekery topic, but hopefully a bit in private (ie: e-mail). If you were up for it, I believe you can see my e-mail address in the post…

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  1. […] the last post of this series, way back in November, I talked about how to get ready for your newborn, and the first four months. […]

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  • Read More or Die! 2011

    _2011 End Results_
    Total read for Tadoku:
    __433.3 pages!__
    Placement: 115/188
    October 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 97/120
    End Tally: 59.2
    July 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 86/142
    End Tally: 195.6
    April 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 62/106
    End Tally: 154.5
    January 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 84/99
    End Tally: 24
    August 2010 Contest:
    Placement: 20/41
    End Tally: 160

  • Read Or Die 2013

    Goal: 600
    Total: 906.26
    blew my goal outta the water!

    March 2-Week:
    Goal: 125

    Goal: 250
    Total: 314

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