“Sleep when baby sleeps!”
No fewer than seven people advised me to “sleep when baby sleeps,” when I was pregnant with my eldest. I quickly learnt that this wouldn’t be even remotely possible unless someone fitted me with a magic f***ing button I could press to send myself instantly off to the land of nod while standing in an upright position at the kitchen sink.
Oh, and I’d need another button to magically wake up 7 minutes later when baby woke up.
After a few days, I decided that was utterly ludicrous and it simply wouldn’t work for me. Both my babies have been short frequent nappers (though fortunately my youngest is proving a better night sleeper).
Turns out that isn’t the only s**t advice that people dole out to pregnant women and Mothers with young children. Here are a few other gems I was given:
Ignore the Tantrums… ALWAYS Ignore Them
So, my 2 year old is currently having a meltdown in the frozen food aisle of Tesco. It’s a Saturday. The supermarket is very, very busy and he is lying across the entire aisle screaming. What do I do?
A) Ignore him. Follow the advice. Of course it’s reasonable to just leave said child screaming in supermarket. After all, he only wants attention.
B) Pick him up and remove him from the supermarket as he kicks and screams. Abandon the trolley. The shopping can wait until the middle of the night when my husband can come back to the supermarket alone.
C) Bribe him. Pick him up. Console him. Give him my iPhone and a biscuit from the pack I’ve just picked up and place him gently in the trolley seat to restrain him.
It’s C, by the way. It’s always C. Because it isn’t always feasible to put the text book parenting advice to the test. Yes, we ignore tantrums in the house. But when we’re out and about, I’m taking the easy option. Bribery works. And I don’t hate myself enough to stand around the frozen food aisle waiting for a tantrum to pass while Marjory who lived next door to my Nan looks at me like I just killed her puppy.
Don’t hold them too much…it’s a rod for your own back
I’ve never really understood how the phrase, ‘to make a rod for your own back,’ came about. But I heard it a lot when my eldest was a tiny baby.
“Don’t let him sleep on you! He’ll get used to it. It’s a rod for your own back!”
“3 months and he’s still waking for milk? Don’t feed him more than once at night. You’re making a rod for your own back!”
“If you hold him too much during the day, you’ll have problems at night. Rod for your own back!”
What the f**k are you people talking about?! Like I have time to make rods when I’m changing nappies a dozen times a day, cleaning a house and trying to remain at least a little bit civilised.
Seriously though, I quickly realised with my first that nothing mattered more to me than those little moments during the day just watching him sleep on my chest. And yes, he was a terrible sleeper. But we’ve been the same with our youngest and he’s a great sleeper. So I don’t believe cuddles, letting them nap on you during the day and “holding them too much,” is a thing to worry about.
And if it turns out I’m wrong? So what? I enjoyed months and months of teeny baby cuddles and I’ll cherish those memories forever.
Don’t Let Them Watch TV or Use an iPad – Screens Are Bad
Do you know what? I accept that screens are not great for tots. But our eldest is two and he loves watching TV or playing games on the iPad.
And I am NOT supermum. If I need to feed the baby or need my hyperactive two year to sit still for 5 minutes, and an iPad or the TV will do the trick, then he can have one.
He gets outdoor time every single day. He gets creative craft time daily. He gets books and stories every single day and educational games too. So I’m way beyond trying to keep him away from screens like they have some sort of contagious disease. And I’m way beyond feeling guilty if he spends some time each day watching videos or CBeebies.
Screens are a fact of life. How can you expect your tot not to be curious about them when you’ve got one you keep in your pocket everywhere you go?!
I think advice like the above is silly. Everything in moderation! Advising people to just blanket ban things is just guilt or stress inducing. Screens are only bad if they’re not moderated and they’re used too much.
Our son’s iPad games have helped him learn all sorts when coupled with playing with Mummy and Daddy and reading.
Evangelical Advice in General
Everyone means well. But idealist advice, I found, just caused stress in the early days. I wish someone had just said to me:
- Survive the first month however you need to
- Just accept that you’ll be sleep deprived for some time
- Drink coffee. Lots of coffee.
- Things will get easier
- Don’t feel guilty if you sit your tot in front of the telly for a few minutes
- Cherish every moment
- Try and make 5 minutes for yourself every single day to just sit and read a trashy magazine or have a cup of tea
But I don’t suppose caffeine and TV is ever likely to be advocated by the professionals any time soon, eh?