While I love writing full length articles and exploring the intricacies of the nutrition and wellness worlds with my readers, there are many times, more than I can count, when have random thoughts on topics related to about anything: health, nutrition, parenting, etc.–thoughts I really want to spit out into webosphere, yet not go into too much detail, or even try to expend on them. Just random thoughts, begging to be released from my ever busy thinking head. Sometimes I think that the only way to escape them and put them to rest is to set them free, exposing them to the outside world. So… I could no longer hold myself back–I decided to start a new category on the blog. I am still playing with a proper title for it, but for now I will call it RANDOMNESS.
Task #1 for you, my dear reader, is to throw out some great ideas for a proper title for this category. You can leave your ideas in the comment section UNDER THIS POST. 🙂
Task #2: with each post, as with all, I would love to help you unload your randomness too–feel free to share you random thoughts with me and other readers, by leaving comments under RANDOMNESS posts. Your thoughts could be on the topic of my thoughts, or anything that is bugging you that day or that week. All I ask is you being thoughtful :), polite, and use PG vocabulary :).
So, with that said, let’s get to my first RANDOMNESS post. Today it is all about PARENTING.
A little something I knit for my OSU fans 🙂
11 Things to Know (or to avoid) about Parenting
- Enjoy it! I do have to get this one off my chest to feel better. Don’t you find it odd that when you say something about your kid or kid related happenings (good, bad, or indifferent), some people feel the need to tell you to ENJOY your baby? No, really!? What else do you think I would be doing with a child I wanted for 8.5 long years? Expressing a thought about a time in your or your child’s life, or an emotion, does not mean that you are NOT enjoying the experience, it simply means that you want to get something out of your brain or off your chest. Sheesh! I do feel better having said that.
- “You’re Spoiling Your Child!” Hubby and I were flying in from a trip to Washington State in August. I had Sprout in a baby carrier on me. An elderly lady, standing a few feet off, approached me and said those very words. Then she said: “What are you going to do when she is 25 lbs?” Well, what I really wanted to tell her her was: “I did not ask you for your opinion, and it is none of your rude business!” But I was much softer in a way I told her the same thing. Now that I have a child of my own, the notion of spoiling your child by holding her when she wants to be held is totally ridiculous to me. Imagine that a baby spends 9 months INSIDE her mother, totally attached to her, always feeling her. When she comes out of the womb, just the mere separation from the mother is the opposite of being spoiled. Holding her, cuddling with her, co-sleeping, or even carrying her in a carrier on you is NOT spoiling–it is slowly letting her get used to the separation after 9 months of total togetherness.
- Attachment Parenting. Yep, I know you all are dying to know (read sarcasm here :)), but I had formed an opinion on this. I have seen and read about some extremes–anything from holding your baby on you 24/7, to letting your kid cry it out for hours, so “she would develop better coping skills” (shaking my head now). We settled where it works for us–in the happy middle. First, about the attached attachment parenting–if it works for you, if you can keep your sanity, if your kiddo functions well independently for reasonable spans of time–more power to ya! Knock yourself out doing it… BUT do not judge those who cannot do the same! Man, I ran into some serious PARENTING THOUGHT POLICE trouble when I expressed even the smallest idea of something contrary to this practice. Think about those moms who have to go back to work 6 weeks after giving birth. They simply cannot practice attachment parenting the way supporters of this method can. Think about C-section or prolapse moms, who physically CANNOT haul their bundles of joy around, even if they wanted to. Think of those who think differently than you do, and lay off them! Can’t we all just get along?!
- Cry It Out Method. This is the other extreme of parenting methodology. For example, you are supposed to put your kid down for a nap and, whether s/he likes it or not, let him “settle into it” by letting him or her cry (if they get upset) until they fall asleep. Now, I am a STRONG person, and I teach Sprout not to be fussy without a reason, but I simply cannot let her go on and on crying. I just cannot! Call me soft, but my brain cannot take it! Her first full night, after she was born, I had nursed her for the night, Hubby took her and placed into her bassinet–next to our bed. Poor thing cried for two hours after, inconsolably (and try we did), because she felt torn away from me. We picked our battles–got a co-sleeper nest, placed in on our bed (don’t you go for that parenting police stone on me!) and had a happy baby since. I could not imagine letting her cry even for 10 minutes, trying to get used to feeling alone. The normal separation that comes with independence between a mother and a child will eventually happen. Thankfully I have the luxury of working from home and letting it happen gradually. Now, if you have stronger nerves than I do, and love your baby but feel you have to try this method–more power to you! I know that it does not mean that you love your child any less than I do. Simply do not judge my choice! My child will NOT grow up being insecure, clingy or anything otherwise because I do not let her cry it out. You should see how Sprout loves being around people and how well she functions independently–a true crowd pleaser. This, actually leads me to another random thought…
- Co-sleeping. Yes, Sprout co-sleeps with us. But let me tell you the why and the how. When we felt it was time to move her out of our bed into the bassinet next to us (about 6 weeks after she was born), we gladly did that–I wanted my bed space back. Some nights she did well sleeping on her own, some she woke up every couple of hours. When the time came, we moved her into her own crib–a bit farther away from our bed, but close enough to get her for middle of the night feedings. Well, she would not have it! One week I gave it all I got–every time she woke up and cried, I would console her, put her back to sleep and back into the crib. She was waking up every hour, and sometimes three times an hour. Yes, I know, those of you who have been through this are itching to tell me that I needed to stick with it–and I DID! Five nights later I was a walking zombie! I could not function. Since Hubby has an out of the house job and a set schedule, I did not want to bother him at nights to “train her”, so it was all me, and I, simply, could not take it anymore without losing my marbles. I wanted to SLEEP and I wanted to keep my SANITY. Yes, I caved in, and happily, Sprout spends her nights in our huge bed, allowing ALL of us to get sleep (interestingly she sleeps for long spans of time in our bed :)). I have my sanity, I get more sleep, and I know that when the times comes, she will be out of our bed, and years later we will look at our current situation and remember nothing but the sweet moments she got to spend close to us, cuddling with us, curling her tiny body against ours, and us loving every single moment of it… even if some do not agree with us (but we actually do not solicit other people opinion’s n this:)). We do present her with opportunities to learn sleeping separately from us, but we are taking our time.
- Insecure Children. I do not what “specialist” came up with the notion that kids who either co-sleep, or sleep in the same room with their parents will somehow be socially undeveloped, insecure, etc. Apparently not one who understands parenting or knows human history. My parents raised fourteen of us (yes, 14(!) :)–all from the same mother and father, and no, we are not Catholic, if you are wondering; and yes, every child was welcomed by our parents and counted as a blessing). My oldest sibling is 20 years my senior. At the time when my parents got married, post WWII, people normally did not have huge houses; some had only one room for the whole family (as it still happens around the world!), so the bassinets and the cribs were normally placed next to the mother, so she could have better access to the child, as needed. In some cases you could have (and probably still can) find a toddler and a baby sharing the room with their parents. Now, as I said, there are 14 of us, and NONE have insecurity issues, or social problems. If sharing sleeping space were the cause of these issues, more than 3/4 of the world would be socially inadequate, insecure and unstable. I, however, propose, that sleeping space does not make a secure child–good parenting skills do!
- Parenting books. I have nothing against them. However, you have to take everything with a grain of salt (sanity that is :)). After all, books are written by humans, just like us, some of whom do not have the same life experience as many parents do, some have no kids of their own and some have one or two. Reading a book is a great idea, if it aids you in the learning process; talking to moms around you, who know what they are doing is a better idea (especially our moms and grandmas), but at the end of the day, parenting is going to be a lot of trial and error–there are several billion people in the world, and all of us have different personalities. To imagine that what works for one child would work for another the same way is insanity! Trust your instincts! If you read books, keep the good and throw out the bad. This leads me to my next point…
- On Being Baby Wise is a book I read at the suggestion of some, and against caution of many others. The book has a lot of useless (to us) information in it, some of which I found offensive (such as calling parents who choose to co-sleep, or share their rooms with their kiddos insecure), while some of it is great, common sense parenting techniques. When I had Sprout the midwives encouraged us to let things play out, as, supposedly, after a few weeks, everything was going to fall into place. WRONG! Six weeks later, I was sleep deprived, zombified, on the verge of insanity, worn out Mom. Having read On Being Baby Wise, helped me to set a schedule for Sprout and I–it worked! I got some control of my life again. She took scheduled naps (give or take 30 mins or so). While I was not rigid with our schedule, it gave me a sense of control–I, the parent, was in control! That was the part of the book that I found useful. The rest, such as letting your kid holler it out (although the author does lead parents through understanding that there are times when a parent needs to RESPOND to tears and know WHY the baby is crying) went out the window. (If you do read this book, make sure to read EVERY word, since many misunderstand the author’s instructions and let their kids cry hysterically without investigating REASONS for those tears, which later leads to this book bashing, as I discovered having been “assaulted” by the PARENTING POLICE :)).
- Schedule Feedings. This is another stone throwing topic for many well intentioned parents. While some moms can enjoy a non-schduled, non-scructured day, most are working outside the home and have to have their children follow some sort of schedule, which means that there are a going to bed and a getting up times, while they will depend on their childcare providers for nap times to be followed. Most childcare providers, since they take care of more tiny miracles, than the love of your life, cannot guarantee a set and sufficiently long nap schedule, while those of use, working from home, have a better handle on that part. As with all things, we, as a human society, have some set feeding times. For most it is breakfast, lunch and dinner, with some snacks in between. Our children are no exception–they need structure with their feedings as much as with their sleeping. While the “on demand” crowd will violently oppose the “on schedule” crowd, there could be a happy resolution to both. An on demand feeding is just that–when mom perceives her baby hungry, she offers her either the breast or the bottle. The problem with that is many kids will take a bottle/breast, whether they are hungry or not–for some it is a source of comfort, while for others it is a snack. Now, you know I am all for snacks, but it is good to have a full-meal times. It takes a while for new moms, like me, to figure things out and find our rhythm, but it is possible. Schedules are not a bad thing–and it does not mean those who follow them deprive their bundles of joy–even preemies (prematurely born children) are normally placed on a strict 3-hour feeding schedule in hospitals, and most thrive. Working moms, even if they work from home, still need some kind of structure–at least I do, so we follow either a firm, or a flexible schedule. Now that Sprout is 9 months old, I have clearly learned her hunger signals. She gets fed when she wakes up (in the morning or from a nap), then, within an hour or so, I offer her snack. If she is not excited about eating, we simply try again later, or, if she gets super excited at the site of food, she gets her snack earlier. Simple as that. When she goes through growth spurts, she simply ends up eating more at her feedings, or, if I see she is hungry, she eats on demand at that point. So, while having a flow during the day, we are still flexible.
- The 2-3 hour rule at night. This, I believe, is a trouble maker for a lot of us. It was our midwives, and I read it in some books, that insisted that babies need to be fed every 2-3 hours, no matter what. While I believe it is mostly true for day feedings, at night the rule needs to be abandoned, otherwise (and we did this just like many new parents), we end up torturing our kiddos, waking them up for a feeding, create a new, bad habit, deprive ourselves of much needed rest and later try to break that habit and retrain kids into sleeping through the night. It was super silly of me not to go to my wise mother for an advice on this first, after all, all of us survived, and certainly NONE were ever deprived of nourishment. Sure enough, during the day she was feeding us every 3, and eventually as we got hungry, hours, but at night, she let us sleep, unless we woke up hungry or needed to be changed. Some of us, since birth, slept through the night, while others eventually got there. This is one thing I wish we had done differently, and I know we will do with our next child–let him/her sleep at night, unless he is really hungry, so we won’t have to retrain him later.
- Unsolicited Advice. Why does almost everyone feel the need to offer an unsolicited advice on parenting, even if they do not have kids? It is almost inevitable that someone, when they hear that Sprout co-sleeps with us, will try to tell us that she shouldn’t, so, needless to say, I avoid the topic of parenting at all cost–one less reason to get annoyed. If you are one of this people, let me give you my unsolicited advice–if you value your opinion so much, do not give it so freely (without being asked for it), otherwise it is wasted. If you have something valuable to say, wait to be asked to say it, then it will be appreciated. Otherwise, as we say it in our family, opinions are like armpits–everyone has at least a couple and occasionally they stink :).
With all thing said, I was recently reminded about the importance of parenting that we could live with. A few months ago our family “adopted” (began sponsoring) a child from Africa–a little girl. We tried to pick one close to Sprout’s age, so they could grow up writing to each other, and, hopefully, one day meeting. Our little Thresa was a couple of weeks shy of turning 2, when she suddenly got sick and died, from unknown to us causes. The night when we received the call, I knew one thing–her parents in their grieving probably thought not whether they were going to train her to be independent (make her sleep in her own bed, etc.), but of how they wished they had held her more, loved her more, kissed her more and had more time with her. Each moment they had with her was dear to them. So, each time we have a failed attempt at teaching Sprout to sleep in her own bed is embraced–we give her more hugs, more kisses, let her sleep in our bed, doze off in our arms, and curl her little body into ours when she wants to. There will be a time when she grows up, when she will want her own bed, her own room, her own time. There will be a time when she might move out and move away. As of now, each moment we have with her, we treasure–we enjoy and embrace her. Every chance I get to be near her, I take–it is one more chance to create a bond with the love of my life. At the end of the day, regardless of the parenting methods you might choose, that is all that will matter. Love never spoiled a child, or ruined one–bad parenting does that. Our goal is to strike balance, not only for Sprout, but for us and a lifetime of memories too.
Now, if you have your random thoughts on the topic of Parenting or anything else, I welcome them. Simply remember to be civil and PG rated with your vocabulary. 🙂