When you become a parent everyone has advice. Advice that they are usually happy to share with you whether you asked for it or not.
Some of this advice can be kind and help you feel less alone, like the sympathetic mother who smiles at you in the baby aisle and gives you her recommendation for a pram toy. You can feel like she’s actually saying, “I feel you, parenting is tough, every little decision can feel hard but you’re doing a wonderful job raising your small human”.
Some advice makes you feel more alone. It usually goes something like this “don’t pick them up every time they cry or they’ll never figure anything out for themselves”. “If you just put them in their cot and don’t make eye contact they will learn how to sleep through the night” “just put them on the toilet when you think they are ready to do a wee and wait till they go, they’ll soon learn”. “Just throw them into the pool when you think they are ready, and they’ll have to swim”. Or the dreaded “you think a newborn is hard, wait till the toddler years”. This one is a beauty because it can be used at any age as long as the person saying it has children older than yours. Toddler – child age. Primary school – teenager etc.
In those moments of struggle, when parenting feels like an endless, exhausting struggle thus advice may seem tempting. Like when you haven’t had a full night’s sleep in three months. Or when it feels like all the other toddlers from your mother’s group are toilet trained and you’re still lugging around a full nappy bag. Who doesn’t like a quick fix? So, if I just avert my eyes while I am putting my baby down I’ll get a full, undisturbed night’s sleep?!
Sounds too good to be true. Or does it just sound weird that if you pretend a baby isn’t there, they will feel calm enough to sleep independently?
So, what advice can you trust? Well, that’s the tricky thing. There are few quick fixes or absolutes when it comes to parenting small humans.
The only cliche I can say is generally spot on is this- the hardest stage of parenting is the one you’re in.
Yup. Parenting isn’t hard because you’re doing it wrong. It’s hard because raising a small human is hard. And sometimes it can be completely consuming. Perhaps parents of older children forget the challenges of smaller ages. Maybe that’s the lack of sleep.
Child and Family Health Nurse