If you are feeling the mommy guilt, here is one phrase you need to tell yourself. And, after you do that, just know that if something isn’t working, you don’t have to keep doing it. Post contains affiliate links.
“Put the baby to bed in her own crib in her room,” everyone said. Start out how you can hold out.
To be honest, that sounded good to me. I need my sleep and wanted the baby to learn to sleep well. So, after a respectable time period of 4 days of age, she went into her nursery to sleep. Just two doors down from us.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
Later that night, as if by the miracle of parent’s intuition, both my husband and myself jerked upright in bed. We heard this coughing choking gagging noise from her room. We jumped up and ran in there like crazed zombies and there was my firstborn in her crib, clearly struggling to breathe, and turning a funny color.
I grabbed her, held her upright and burped her as hard as I could without crushing her tiny little back. I felt the panic only a 4-day old mother could. Very quickly she swallowed the mucus (says the midwife) that was obstructing her breathing and she went back to sleep. I swear I nearly died of shock that night. My husband and I still give each other The Look when it comes up.
About 3 Mississippis after she started breathing again, I immediately decided she was sleeping in the same room as me and that was that and I didn’t give a hoot what anyone else said was right.
The right thing for us was that she was close and I could touch her stomach approximately 1,456 times per night to be sure she was breathing. Oh, and close enough I could nurse her and put her back in her crib without being wide enough awake to go for a midnight jog.
And I’ve done that with every single child ever since. Each one staying in our room longer than the one before. And this even when they’re sleeping through the night without waking.
Because… I Don’t Give A Rip what the “right” thing to do is. I care about what works for us and keeps my sanity.
Motherhood winds us up, makes us high strung, and convinces us that there is somehow One Right Way to do things. We worry if we don’t jump on that bandwagon it’s gonna ride off and we’ll be left raising our kids in the ditch.
We have access to 25,565,366 million opinions from mothers, experts, bloggers, and talkative women at Wal-Mart so we file it all away in order to access it during times of crisis. We want to do everything right and we want to look put together doing it.
And that’s all fine and well and good.
If Mama Ain’t Happy
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Until it isn’t.
Until we get so caught up in Streams of Thinking and Ways of Doing Things and we worry until we can’t make heads or tails of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We can’t just forget about what anyone else thinks and figure out if what we are doing is okay with us. Right for our family. Or, basically, if it’s even working.
You know you’re making good choices if what you are doing bears good fruit. It’s that simple. Now, I’m not saying to give up after one go, but if you’ve been consistently doing something for a while and you don’t like how things are going… you can stop.
Mama, if you are feeling like your home is all out of whack and you are completely overwhelmed and can’t tell if anything you are doing is working… I’ve got something to tell you.
If it isn’t working… you don’t have to keep doing it.
You don’t have to keep breastfeeding if you’re up pumping 15 times a day plus before and after every feed and your baby isn’t gaining weight and you are so exhausted you want to Eat Pie and Die.
You don’t have to keep nursing on demand if your baby wants to feed every 25 minutes and will never sleep except in your lap and you never have time to eat or shower.
You don’t have to keep nursing on a schedule if you are losing milk and going nuts and the baby is starving.
You don’t have to stop saying “no” to your kids until you’re barely able to string a sentence together since you’re so busy trying to find a positive way to put a spin on not hitting sissy with a broom handle.
You don’t have to keep co-sleeping if no one is actually sleeping and your husband has moved into the living room.
Or, you don’t have to keep putting the baby to bed in his crib if you’d prefer him in the bed with you and stuff what anyone else says, just do what helps the baby sleep.
Mama, sometimes when you do what’s “right” it’s wrong.
You don’t have to keep making baby food from scratch if it makes you super stressed when you can get organic baby food at the store and feel like a new person.
You don’t have to do purees or baby led weaning or anything else, you can feed your baby how and what you want.
You don’t have to keep finding “natural consequences” for bad behavior when all it does is make you run around in circles googling what on earth a “natural consequence” is for all the crazy things your toddler does.
You don’t have to keep spanking if it just makes your child more angry, defiant, and doesn’t fix things.
You don’t have to avoid timeout if it’s easier for you and the kids respond to it. Or conversely, you don’t have to keep doing timeout if it changes nothing.
You don’t have to require your kids to eat one bite of everything on the plate (or finish the plate) if it makes mealtimes utterly horrible for everyone. You can give them two choices: take it or leave it.
Just because you want it to work doesn’t necessarily make it work
You don’t have to keep aiming for a stricter routine if it makes you crazy and the kids are fine with the minimum of predictabilities.
You also don’t have to avoid doing a routine and follow the baby’s lead if you need more structure. You, after all, are the mom.
You don’t have to keep a reward sticker chart that everyone ignores but you.
You don’t have to keep baby wearing if it hurts your back or you’re an introvert and Need Some Space. Or, you can babywear until your kid goes to Kindergarten if it floats your boat.
You don’t have to give baths before bed if it is a manic crazy time. You can give a bath in the morning or before lunch or after nap or whenever you want.
You don’t have to buy your babies designer clothes they will only spit up on and wear twice before growing out of, they can wear white Carter onesies because No One Cares.
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The fact is… just because something is right for others doesn’t make it right for you.
If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s okay to do something else.
Even if that something else isn’t something you have wanted to try before.
We may hae similar goals, but we don’t have to get there the same way.