I love mummy blogs. Since having my own baby, I have spent many hours reading about the experiences of other new mums and how their tiny humans have transformed their lives. I knew our lives would be different and I thought I was ready for the change but the relentlessness of this responsibility isn’t something you can prepare for.
Every decision, big or small feels like it’s going to dramatically alter the course of your baby’s life and you just don’t want to get it wrong. Should we co-sleep? Breast or bottle? How often should we bathe her? How do we form a routine? Should we let her cry or always cuddle her? Every question feels like a minefield as there are so many opinions on each so in those early weeks I spent a ridiculous amount of time scouring all my favourite blogs for the answers (usually during the 3am feed) – what do other mums do?
I really enjoyed reading about their experiences and how honest so many women are about how challenging motherhood can be. Although as the weeks went on there was something that kept coming up and it started to bother me – these awesome ladies having to justify, or apologising for their choices. For example: “I know it’s not recommended but sometimes I let baby sleep in our bed as it’s the only way any of us get any sleep.” Or “As part of our bedtime routine, we bathe baby every night. Sorry! I know you’re not supposed to do that” and “Bad Mummy – fish fingers and chips for toddlers dinner tonight”
I get it. They are pre-empting the army of women that did it another way and will tell them that their way was better. But why should they have to? It’s YOUR baby and no one knows him or her better than you or your partner. The decisions you make in raising your child are no one else’s business. There is no perfect way, perfect parent or child. Every single one of us is just doing our best – sometimes we get it wrong but if the choices are made with love (which I’m sure they are) then that’s all you need.
Almost 4 months in, I’m trying to follow Baby D’s lead. I’m learning her cues, what her different cries mean and I’m just using my own mummy instinct. We don’t have a strict daytime routine but she’s guided me to give her a bedtime routine as she starts getting grizzly post 6pm. She doesn’t like long naps in the day, but when she does sleep its in my arms. I really hate seeing (and hearing) her cry – so I avoid this as much as I can by always picking her up and giving her a big cuddle when I think that’s what she needs. She usually sleeps in her own cot but when NuDad does the early morning feed he often snuggles up with her in our bed afterwards because it might be the only time in the day that he really gets that quality time with her. She is a little individual with her own personality coming through and we are learning to get to know her just as she is learning to get to know the world and us. There is no book written about what we should do with Baby D because the only people who could write it are NuDad and me. And that’s exactly my point – we know our baby and you know yours. You don’t need to justify your choices because you’re doing your best and everyone thinks their way is best – and it is – for their family unit.
New mums are forever second guessing themselves, always worrying if they have done the right thing. Let your baby be your guide – you’ll know if something is wrong or working just fine.
The time where they are so tiny and dependent is going so fast that I’m really trying to savour every cuddle, every smile and that yummy milky smell she always has. Soon she’ll be a big girl that doesn’t want to nap in my arms or sleep in our bed – and I know I’ll miss all these moments. (ok, maybe I won’t miss the 3am feed…)
So my message to all my favourite mummies is don’t feel like you need to justify your parenting style to anyone. If it’s working for you and your family then that’s all the justification you need.