Yesterday someone commented on my blog post about the Gift of Sleep, basically saying I have no idea what I’m on about and how mum’s need sleep and the Gift of Sleep helps families. I was ready to reply, I was forming a reply in my mind when I realised, I just don’t care anymore.
I don’t have a 6 month old anymore, I got my kids through that and I don’t feel like debating that or justifying my choices during a period which is long gone any longer.
Okay so I do care, I do feel for babies left alone to cry in their beds. But let me frame it this way.
My 19 month old has been going through a period of waking at 3-4am and thinking it’s morning. I did this for 3 days before I decided I am the parent, I make the rules. 3am is night time not morning time. So I went in, hugged him until he calmed down and talked to him, it’s night time, not morning time, you need to go back to sleep now. Put him down, go back to bed. And he’d get out of bed and bang on the door, so I’d go back in and repeat. He wasn’t left to cry, he would on ocassion yell at me as in “muuuuum muuuuuum mum mum mum!” He wasn’t distressed, he was pissed off. Eventually, he went back to sleep and it’s been improving ever since.
I think sleep training does have it’s place, for older babies/toddlers over 18 months old who can clearly communicate. Dr Louise Porter in Children Are People Too says that controlled crying was actually intended to be used for children over 18 months. That makes total sense to me. It’s an age where parents know their children well enough to be able to tell what angry/sad/distressed/pissed off sounds like, what a tantrum sounds like, what pain sounds like. To know when they’re asleep or simply laying in wait. And you know your child well enough to know their limits. I know my daughter will whinge for a long time when there’s not really anything wrong, she’s just tired, grumpy, over it. My son goes from zero to screaming in a matter of seconds to show he’s pissed off, but if I don’t go to him straight away it’s literally 30 seconds and he’s over it. But there’s a difference between the squeal he does to get my attention and the scream he does because he’s hurt or scared.
Now I know that it’s not in the “attachment parenting” framework. I should cosleep with him, right? I don’t sleep when someone is touching me, no not even my husband, that’s why we have a king sized bed so we don’t have to touch each other while we sleep. DS doesn’t sleep in the bed with us either, and DD sleeps in her own bed and sleeps all night. I’m not messing with that.
The endless debate of CC vs gentle settling methods is tiresome, there seems to be no end. We all get uppity about our chosen settling method. We all get a bit Holier Than Thou about it and everyone should do as we’ve done. Some of those claiming to be gentle parents seem to forget about talking with kindness and respect when talking to other mothers, and they forget that what we model for our children they are bound to copy.
I’m sick of the so called Mummy Wars, and I admit that I have at times been a part of them. But I just don’t care for debates on sleep or settling any more. I find it dull to be honest. It’s just not where I’m at any more.
Look, I still encourage mums to do their research, if they’re not sure do some reading and ask around. Use your critical thinking skills, who wrote that book, what qualifications do they have, what was their intention when writing the book? Does it resonate with you?
But here’s an even better idea, throw out all the books, from your Tizzie Hall’s, to your Elizabeth Pantley’s, the lot, put them away and just listen to your own inner voice. We all have our own instinct and inner voice, listen to it. Do you really think your little baby needs to sleep through? Do you think they’re an early riser or do they need your help to “reset” their body clock? Are they waking hungry, wet, nightmares? You know your baby, so stop listening to what people who don’t know your baby think is best.
I haven’t picked up a parenting book for a while now, I’ve flicked through something about illness for some ideas when DS had a cold we couldn’t shake, but other then that I’m really making it up as I go along. I remember when I was a kid my mum had one pregnancy book, it was very thin and it had two pages of baby names for boys and two for girls, some pictures of a baby developing and some exercise ideas. Mum just did what she thought was best and we turned out pretty good. I don’t remember her debating sleep or settling with her friends (my brother is 7 years younger then me). She certainly didn’t spend all day on parenting forums, talking about parenting.
Is this the problem, we spend so much time talking about parenting that we forget to get on and do it? Have we lost our natural parenting abilities because we’re always waiting for someone else to give us an answer?
I will admit to identifying less and less with attachment parenting and just doing what feels right to me. Wouldn’t it be great if we all discarded the labels and just got on with it?