Phen, Odin and I just completed a 2000 mile road trip to Iowa and back- and did it without a screen playing to occupy him. In that time I had great friends to keep me company on the phone (hands free of course thank you bluetooth technology) but when I wasn't chatting I had a lot of time to think. One friend and I were talking about current topics- I then had a few hours to think more about it. My thoughts/soapbox on some 'current' parenting topics and some of my general parenting thoughts that Ive been wanting to blog about for a while.
Lately there has been a lot of buzz lately about "putting your husband first" and giving children independence. We get asked "does he have his own room? when will he? why does he sleep with you still? he's 10 months" A friend just posted that their baby is sleeping in her crib "such a big girl now." When did we as a society start thinking that isolating our children was a valid milestone to how "grown up" they are. Attachment parenting is the parenting method I most relate with. This is why I am a self proclaimed lazy parent- lazy in that we do what works for us. One week something may work, the next week it might not- parenting is truly about trusting your intuition!
Putting Your Husband First
On the whole "I put my husband before my children" "Children aren't a religion" crap that is going around. I say husband because that is my situation, this applies for any partnership. The underlying point is valid and I agree- you need to make time with your husband or partner and show your child(ren) what a good, healthy, working relationship looks like. This may be one of the hardest parts of becoming a parent- finding that balance and figuring out your new roles. That being said- if there is a fire you better bet Im grabbing my baby before my husband. Life or death- the baby gets the win. Child, husband, dog; in that order. Unless you're on an airplane- always put the oxygen on yourself before assisting others ;)
I can see both sides of this point- it is important to foster the relationship with your partner- that is (mostly likely/hopefully) how you ended up with a child. You each need to be nurtured as a man/woman/husband/wife. Take time for that. While your child is young, that time is while they are sleeping. Theres more times to have "together time" than at night in your own bed. Get creative people! Think like a teenager..... Once your child is older by all means take date night! Your child will love to see their parents in love. What gets me is parents putting themselves first- oh I need ME time, I need this, I need that. Nope you had a baby- that baby NEEDS you. You are an adult, that baby is still so new to this world. Give them safe harbor.
To add to the baby as a religion aspect and "my child can do no wrong" but you can complain about your husband, mom, sister, etc. Nope- not true- you are living in fantasy land! Every child and every parent has gotten to the point where they think there kid is just being annoying, or a jerk, or whatever. This is not intentional and yes I love my child to pieces (see above^^) but sometimes when Im tired and being kicked in the face, thats just ugh! So your child is not perfect, none of us are. And tell your child this (in a nice way) because the child that is told they do no wrong and are really rude and not nice turn into adults. Those adults who no one really cares for- they were kids once and their parents should have told them about their undesirable traits.
Co-Sleeping and Bedsharing- and general attachment parenting points
This brings me to my next box/point. Babies and children need safe harbor.
Attachement parenting- do some research before you start talking about this. Attachment parenting is not coddling your child and saying that they are perfect (no one is). It is not about no boundaries and no discipline. Its about keeping them close, adapting to them and working together. I love Mayim Balik's book on the subject. Go read it. At least read these 8 principles. Bet its not what you thought it was.
Now the nice part about attachment parenting is it allows you to be super lazy. In a good way. In a get more sleep and more done and more sanity kind of way.
We bedshare. That means the baby sleeps in the same bed as us. Co-sleeping is when a child is in the same room as you, may or may not bed share. So if you bed share you co-sleep; if you co-sleep you don't necessarily bedshare. Clear? Ok. This means when he needs to eat at night I don't have to get out of bed. I have to roll over. He's old enough now I rarely even have to get my boob out- he knows where his milk is. We both get more sleep. You want to bedshare? Get a king sized bed now- it will make everyones life easier, trust me- the little people are bigger than you think. When does he get kicked out of our bed? I can't say. He will transition at some point and we would like to follow his lead. If this means we need to get another bed and have a giant bed thats fine. We are one of the few cultures that doesn't sleep as a family. I am in no hurry to meet a "milestone" or checkmark of getting him to sleep independently. I have seen so many parents fight to do this just to end up with their kid in bed with them. How about instead of fighting or struggling or bribing you just let them lead the way? Again lazy me.
Did you know sleeping through the night for a child under 12 months is considered a 4-6 hour stretch? Did you know its natures way of protecting us to wake a night? Did you know that from an evolutionary standpoint it is strange to sleep such large chunks? Best part of co-sleeping- I don't look at a clock, I don't know how many times he wakes and it doesn't matter.
*I am very fortunate I am able to stay home with him- some parents have to work and have schedules. You must do what works for you. Im not so far up my own that I think otherwise- again my ramblings and my POV.*
9 months, for 9 months this child was inside me and safe from everything. Your child is the only one who knows what your heartbeat sounds like on the inside. He was all safe and warm and floating around and BOOM! birth rocked his world and all of a sudden there are new and scary things. The only things he learns to be safe are mom and dad (again my situation, applies to all parents of different types). Babies are designed to stay close to mom; for both of their safety. Nursing is the natural way this happens (nature didn't give us boobs for Hooters and bikinis believe it or not). Milk is golden- it is not only food and drink but is comfort and immunity. I could go on about milk and how awesome it is but that would be its own post. So nursing= safety. (I will point out that Im not saying formula or bottle moms are bad or wrong or whatever- just this is what nature intended by giving us boobs. This is also my experiences so before anyone gets all huffy just hakuna your tatas a minute). Lazy me- I don't have to prepare anything or take anything with me. If Im with the baby he has food and drink. Done. Easy.
Babies like to be held. They like to hear your heartbeat. (Im literally writing this with him sleeping on me) You like to go to the bathroom and make food and let the dog out. Enter babywearing. For me babywearing has been how I get things done, how I keep them close, how I keep the little stinkers out of trouble. Babywearing has also introduced me to a new community of mamas. Quadruple always win. Oh and they are pretty. I prefer woven wraps- that is just me. It may look difficult but for me its easier to take a piece of fabric (wraps are more than just a piece of fabric but roll with me here) that fits in my diaper bag than to lug a stroller around. Throw him up there and boom we are ready to go and I have both hands (or at least one) free and Im not juggling a bucket seat or trying to get a stroller through tight spaces and lots of people. Oh and my giant baby didn't fit in his bucket seat more than 3 months, it isn't good for them developmentally to be in them or any sort of container (hello flat headed babies) and they are heavy even without a kid in them. I think we used our bucket seat 3 times in the house when he was sleeping? Lesson learned on that.... go with the convertible seat from the get go. We love our Diono and will be what the next one(s) have. Again Im lazy and for me that means taking the minute to learn to wrap (ok its more than minute but you can learn a simple carry pretty quickly) and throw them up there than to mess with a stroller.
In summary: Im lazy. Cosleeping and nursing means no getting up in the middle of the night and out of my bed. Nursing means no making bottles. Wrapping means no lugging around a stroller and not chasing them around when they're being stinkers.
I love my baby and I love love love love being a mom. Somedays it is overwhelming- any job can be. Sometimes it is truly a job. Somedays the time flies from waking up to going to sleep at night. Somedays we just cuddle. I want my child to feel secure and safe. I want them to know that mom and dad will always love them, will always be here for them and will always be their safety. It has been shown that children who have this sense of 'attachment' are better adults. It is my intention to follow his lead (and the individual need of any other child we may have) on when they are ready to be independent. Its about letting them explore while feeling safe. One day he will run off to play with his friends not thinking twice about mom, so yes I will let him cling to me in new situations. Someday our nursing relationship will be over and he will eat an entire pizza and still be hungry (feel free to donate to the teenage food fund) so yes I will nurse you in public, in private and whenever you need (also milk is more than just food so yes I will answer your needs whenever and wherever) And mostly I will hold him as long as I can and wear him as long as I am able because someday he won't want to be worn and someday he will leave me. Someday I might hug him goodbye as he goes off to war and I will not regret a single second that I held him in my arms. Someday he will find the love of his life and may move far away from me and I may only see him every now and then- so no I will not regret a single second he shared in our bed. That someday is inevitable. There is no need to speed up that someday.
Now this mama is off to nap with her little one and take in all the cuddles she can. If only there was a way to bottle up the cuddles.