I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
Before I had children I thought it would be easy. Having read several books on parenting and the importance of establishing routines before said precious gift arrived, I thought I would nail it. Truth is, I didn’t find it easy and it didn’t come as natural as I believed.
Having been at home from the hospital for two weeks and my little angel not playing by any of the rules in the book, I was at a loss. One particular book which I shall not name, had me in tears. I remember reading it in the bath one night, crying at how I was clearly failing and also failing my baby. Why could I not open the curtains at 6am, feed baby, shower, get dressed, prepare a meal and clean the house all before baby was due its next nap at 8am?
What was wrong with me? Actually nothing was wrong with me, it was the silly book and unrealistic routine for me and my baby. I couldn’t get up at 6am to draw the curtains, because I hadn’t actually gone to sleep until 5.45am after being up all night soothing my baby.
My next fail with this book was trying to follow the feeding instructions for a breastfed baby. The advice was ‘feed baby every four hours at exact times.’ I remember one particular occasion crying because I knew my baby was hungry, by this point he was screaming, and I didn’t know if I should feed him because it hadn’t been the magic ‘four’ hours. I called my mum in a hormonal and hysterical state to see what I should do. Her advice: “Feed him”. Without hesitation I did. We both relaxed, he cuddled into me and I started to feel better.
That was the turning point for me with the book, that particular book anyway. I threw it in the bin and vowed to never, ever read it again. This was when I knew my mummy instinct was the best way to parent my children and there is no making up for that in a manual.
Next up was the sleep issue, and let me tell you, we had a major problem with this. At one very low point, I had been getting up hourly. Each book I read, told me different things. Try control crying, try gentle separation, milk before bed, no milk before bed, gentle music, light on, light off. I’m sure you can see where I am going with this…
I think having tried all the various techniques the book advised, my little bundle was so over stimulated and confused that sleep was never going to be an option. Being totally sleep deprived for over three years was one of the hardest things I’ve been through. Being constantly tired and barely functioning was making me miserable. I then made the decision to do what I felt was the right way to help my children go to sleep and stay asleep. Books safely in the bin, my children now sleep for a blissful and non-interrupted 12 hours a night.
I’m not perfect, I’m not great at art and crafts, I can’t build Lego, I’m not good at being a ninja turtle and my dinosaur roar needs much more practice. But I am good at being a mum and doing what comes naturally for my children.