Um... well.... it's kinda complicated... but here goes...
It's completely different to what I thought it would be. I was a believer in routine. In my limited experience babies were in bed by 6pm and slept until morning. They slept in their own rooms in their own cots. We tried that route and it felt so unnatural that it caused
me us, much stress and heartache. Hence, we become baby wearing, co-sleeping, demand feeding parents.
Now secure in my newfound knowledge, I have some advice to pass on to you... or you can pass it on to anyone who would like to hear my take on things...
I'm aiming to do this in 10 points or less... let's see if I can :D
- Bugger everyone else, trust your gut – you know your child best, even if baby is only a peanut in your tum, a few hours old or (I am lead to believe) 37.
- You don't need to read all the books. Some of the books are
shit...um... interesting with fancy titles, that are there to distract you and confuse you. If you read them, don't take them as text book, your child will most likely be very different to the child described. Take on the useful and toss the crap!
- Trust your partner – this may seem like a “no shit Sherlock” moment but it's hard. You will feel like you are your baby's world and that he can't help him/her the way you can. And you are right in one thing – he isn't you but he can calm, soothe and protect in his own way. Even when your baby is older you will need to remember this - especially when your 2 year old is half way up a cliff face at the time. (It took me too long to realise this and I think I still need to apologise to Stud1 about this!)
- Routines are important but too strict a routine means that a lot of learning opportunities and memories can get missed. In the first weeks set up your routines but don't clock watch... it causes you all too much drama when Baby wakes up 10 minutes early. Or you need him/her to be in bed a little earlier so that you can leave earlier.... And DON'T get me started on daylight savings time! We did this and now have a little guy who is not phased by changes to his day and welcomes “expotitions”.
- Go with the flow, even when the flow you're going with is upstream. It is hard work to stick to your convictions when you are the only one who holds them dear. I believe that if you are happy with your choice, your baby is happy. So stick it out... and if all else fails see Number 1.
- Don't cling to your pre-baby ideals... Allow yourself to learn from your baby. Trying to force your will on them will backfire. Like the old saying about square peg, round hole... it's bloody hard work and one or the other will break or crack. I believe that babies are people from the start and their personalities are there from birth... You need to be adaptable, parent the child you have and not the one from the book you read or the one you dreamed of having.
- Mess is good! Let themplay in mud, jelly, sand, paint, bark, grass, water etc. They learn so much from that and it makes for awesome photos. It also allows you to relive your childhood. Of course playing in dangerous things would be bad...
- Set the expectations high and help them reach them. I'm not sure if this comes from my parenting ethos or my teaching ethos but when I was teaching I'd meet parents who'd say “Johnny won't eat anything but nutella sandwiches washed down by fanta”. I'd reply with the standard “Children will not allow themselves to starve – only serve him x, y or z for a few meals and he'll eat when he's hungry enough.” Yes it means you'll have tantrums etc but in the end you aren't doing it to punish them, you're trying to help them. Same applies to expected behaviour and manners. Come down on them hard and demonstrate the desired behaviour as often as possible. Monkey is well known for being the lovely boy with the great manners. It makes it easier for others to smile it off when he's having a bad day and isn't himself.
- Laugh! It's easier said than done some days but it is the best thing to do. Whether it's a dumb sitcom after baby is asleep or while baby is feeding or whether it's a Tickle Monster attack when Monkey is driving me nuts and I'm considering staple-gunning him to the ceiling. LAUGH! Like you mean it!
- If all else fails go to a cafe and have a coffee. If you have a toddler go to one with a playground or get a takeaway and go to a playground. Remember to combine this with Number 9 and 7 for optimum results! You may meet up with old friends or make new ones *gasp* or at the very least get to speak to an adult and find out that your day ain't that bad after all!
Well there you go, I got it in 10! I'll have a think and see if there's any more wisdom left in this brain and maybe write another post :)