by Amy from The Parent Patch
I remember vividly being pregnant with my first child and wandering through a bookshop looking for some special books to add to my baby’s room. It was here that I stumbled across my first ‘baby routine’ bestseller. As I flicked through the pages, I decided it couldn’t hurt to take it home and educate myself on ways to make the transition to motherhood as smooth as possible. As I read through the pages, I was immediately overcome with a sense of relief as I believed it would be as simple as following a set plan and that there was a good chance my baby would be sleeping through the night within a few months.
The book took pride of place on my bedside table. However, when my daughter arrived I was overcome with anxiety when nothing in the book worked! I was supposed to wake my baby at 7am, but she never slept past 5am; I was supposed to feed her at certain times during the day but she would just scream in hunger; I was supposed to put her to bed at 7pm but she never made it! I felt like a failure until I realised I had stopped listening to my child. I had trusted the book over my own intuition and the book was banished to a shelf.
At that point, I made a decision that really changed the way I now parent. My daughter was not born into routine, she was still trying to find her way on the outside and I needed to believe that she knew what she needed in those early weeks and months. I simply had to listen and work out what it was. Sometimes she was hungry, others she was tired or overtired, sometimes she simply wanted a change of scenery or other people to interact with, but what she didn’t want was a routine that wasn’t specific to her.
As the months passed, I did refer back to the book at times. It was nice to research when was a good time to drop down to one sleep; when to introduce solids; how to incorporate meals with milk; however, if it didn’t work, I simply tried something else.
When we live a busy life and are used to routine and structure, it seems natural to treat parenthood with the same attitude and beliefs, but I do worry about what this does to new parents and how it makes them feel about themselves. As babies can give you very little feedback and reassurance on a job well done, it can break even the toughest of us. I believe books have their place, but I also believe that friends, family, support networks and a mother’s instinct work together to achieve the best possible results for any parent and their child.
If you are becoming frustrated with something that doesn’t work, then stop and take another path; if you are feeling overwhelmed with finding any kind of balance in your new world, then stop and take one day at a time. Books may promise results but keeping it simple and listening to your child is in my opinion, the best way to get through each day.
Amy provides practical resources and advice to everyday parents who are looking for simple, actionable ideas and strategies to manage young children and enjoy each day to its fullest. Check out The Parent Patch website, or visit them on Facebook.