Why you don’t know the best way to parent my children

My son was breastfed till 5 months then bottle fed, he was swaddled and rocked to sleep, he had a pacifier, we did lots of tummy time and assisted development exercises, he loves music and song, he used a walker for a LONG time, I baby wore him a lot, I helicopter parent him, we did pureed foods for ages, he doesn’t go to childcare and homeschooling is an option we are considering.

My daughter is five months old and exclusively breastfed, I have co-slept with her from day one, she has never had a pacifier, she has never been swaddled, she loves to snuggle, she feeds to sleep, we do not have a pram for her, I am going to try baby led weaning when she starts solids (no purees), we never forced tummy time, I baby wear her a lot.

Two babies, both my own, I have done some things similar and others quite different. Do you know why I parent my children this way?

No. You don’t.

Because you are not their parent.

handDuring the past week I witnessed an online discussion about a particular method of parenting. Parent A was a big advocate, parent B really loved the theory but after years of trial and error had needed to deviate slightly with her child, parent A wasn’t exactly understanding.

I read the conversation and shook my head. Whether you believe in the ‘mummy wars’ or not there is no denying that when it comes to parenting even the most rational people can get very judgmental and super defensive. I know, I have totally done both. The fact is we tend to get more emotional about matters that are close to our hearts, and being a good parent is of paramount importance for most people. Our choices often leave us feeling emotionally exposed. But what we forget is this journey is not black and white…and no, you will never know the best way to parent my children.

Like any parent I live and breathe these two souls. I am with them every morning to see them greet the world, to see what makes them cry and what brings joyous giggles. I see anxiety, fear or frustration rise in their bodies when others only see an awkward smile. I know what each of them needs to feel safe and loved. I see what motivates passion and inspiration in their actions. Because oh golly gosh they are complex beings with so many little quirks that only I will notice. They are unique individuals with needs that are theirs alone. This is why I am parenting the way I am.

Am I parenting the way I dreamt I would? No. To be honest there are some things I do that I don’t agree with, yet in our situation it is necessary. For instance I would really rather not helicopter parent at parks, but I happen to have a son that has gross motor challenges and a skull with giant holes in it, soooooo bring on the propellers people. Parenting is a journey of trusting your instincts and trusting your child, because each one is on a different path that requires a unique approach.

kiss bostonDo not get me wrong, I am all for sharing information and methods and tools; what works for you? what studies have been done to support it? what makes you uncomfortable? And yes, if a parent is at the point of seriously endangering their child with their actions, of course intervention is important. But when it comes to the nitty gritty, when another parent is obviously trying their upmost to do the very best for their child, wouldn’t it be nice if what we felt was not judgement but instead admiration and empathy.  As a parent wouldn’t it be nice to feel understood and accepted for the choices you have spent countless hours contemplating and evaluating. Let us all remember that every parent is the specialist in their child’s life, and they alone can discover the best way to nurture their child.

Mum out there…

Dad out there…

You are doing an amazing job xox

The Problem with an Easy Baby

Boston was a far cry from what anyone would call an “easy” baby. He always demanded quite a lot of attention and time, never happy to play by himself, he wouldn’t fall asleep on the boob instead needing to be swaddled and rocked, oh and then there was the whole born with a rare genetic syndrome that added a little more “hard” to the basket. Lets face it, there is no wonder our baby son really needed us. Ruby, however, is different.

IMG_4468_fotorRuby is this joyful little soul who will beam a smile out at anyone who cares to glance her way. She will fall asleep on the boob, in the car, in a carrier, on a plane…you get the point. If you have arms that hug you will probably be able to keep her happy. Sometimes she is so peaceful I actually forget that she is there (worse mother award to Nell).

But here is the problem with an “easy” baby. Sometimes we forget that the world is still a huge, frightening and completely bizarre place. We forget to pay attention to the misshapen schedules, to the new places, to the different arms they are passed between. We don’t realise it has been a day with too few sleeps and too many distracted feeds. And those wonder weeks people swear by, well gosh we just don’t even think to look.

Our “easy” baby swallows it all in and has little time to express they are feeling  overwhelmed. But the fact is that the unease within them does need to be released. Maybe it won’t come out straight away, maybe it will but in subtle signs only those closest could detect.

Now, when every few weeks I am awoken by Ruby through the night, on the hour (every crazy hour), for nothing more then a quick feed and cuddle, I remind myself that she too has emotions that need extra connection. Because of my little ray of Ruby sunshine I have learnt that it is so important to honour our “easy” babies and allow them to have the unsettled times they so deserve.

Parenting following instinct

One of the things I love about parenting our second child is how naturally I can follow instincts. With our first I lacked confidence and questioned everything, predominately I was swayed by opinions and values that had shaped my view of parenting. At times I felt like I was swimming against the current, fighting the natural wants of my baby because some preconceived idea didn’t think it was right. It was like I had to enforce every little thing that happened, I had to be in control, because surely a little baby couldn’t be the master of their own life.

What I have learnt on my parenting journey is that babies and young children are very very clever. Not in the academic intellectual way or the cunning charismatic way that may be deemed superior in our adult world. No…our children are masters of instinct, they are geared for survival, and all they do is expressed from their truthful pure self.

IMG_4076_fotorSo second time around I don’t look at the clock as much, I don’t count feeds or stress over naps, there is no schedule which is not Miss Ruby Jean’s schedule. If you ask me how often she feeds I seriously can not say, some days it may be a couple of times in every hour, other days it is one time every couple of hours. My baby wants someone to hold her MOST of the time and you know what?…that is completely natural. Yes I take my baby to bed with me, we sleep side by side like two peas in a pod, she loves having me near and I love not having to get out of bed to breastfeed. I also understand that she is ever changing and evolving as all little people do, I understand that what works for her today may not work tomorrow, I understand that the only thing that will work is honouring her instincts and adapting with that journey.

Now I realise that she can be the master of her life and in fact she is also my master for this time, that probably sounds scary as hell to some and maybe just a bit ridiculous to others, but guess what? WHAT!? I am less stressed, I have more energy and…following Ruby’s instincts is a WHOLE lot more rewarding then forcing my preconceived ideas.