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Reflections on weaning

It’s been two weeks since you last tried to breastfeed.

It’s been much longer since you last nursed.

I can’t remember our last feed.

25 months almost to the day, you had your last attempt to see if there was anything left in your beloved ‘boobies’ and as you latched on and came off almost as quickly, you declared to me and your dad and big brother, ‘nothing there’ before diving off my lap and jumping onto the bed and laying down next to daddy and and bro to enjoy a bedtime story instead.

You weren’t sad.

You were very matter of fact about it.

There was simply nothing there now and you left it at that.

The warning signs were there, you’d been reporting for weeks that, ‘not much there, mum’.

You seemed happy enough to get what you could while it lasted.

My supply had been in steep decline as the pregnancy hormones ramped up.

Weaning by pregnancy it seems, is what I do.

My first was weaned at 16 months due partially to pregnancy but also with a heavy push by me due to near- unbearable nursing aversions (no doubt pregnancy related).

I night weaned my extremely high needs guy when he was 15 months and though I sought gentle advice and supported my baby throughout, I have to admit now, in hindsight, that the process was indeed quite traumatic for my guy. Not just in the ‘I don’t want you taking away my boob’ kind of way, but in a more distressing, ‘I still really needed that mama, I wasn’t really ready’ kind of way.

I don’t harbour guilt for this though. I did the best I could in the circumstances and with the knowledge and experiences I had.

This second baby though, has really highlighted to me how gentle the weaning process can be, even if it is parent-led in parts, once a child is ready for the change.

Night weaning my second was a breeze at nearly 20 months. I could still feed him to sleep. I had just worked hard to ensure he understood that once he had night boobie, the boobs would sleep until the sun came up. It took exactly zero tears for him to get the hang of it. He was ready. He was able to understand. He felt supported and capable.

As far as day weaning went, well ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ worked brilliantly with my first (who actually Day weaned easily after the night weaning was done), but my second guy never needed me to offer, as he asked about 50 billion times a day, so I found distraction and delaying (we can have boobie when we get home from the library) was a better technique for us. Once the frequency decreased, it decreased rapidly, as did my supply thanks to pregnancy and the normal drop you’d expect from reduced nursing.

Before I knew it, we were only nursing twice a day- one before his lunchtime nap and once at bedtime.

Then his reports began, ‘not much there, mum’ and we had to find new ways for him to find sleep.

I wish I could recall the last time he had a big long nursing session in my arms, but I can’t.

I had no idea it was our last.

I can’t even remember the last time he fell asleep nursing.

I had no idea it was our last.

Because weaning was so gradual and slow, with very steady decline and no rapid changes, I didn’t even feel the effect on my boobs nor my emotions. No weaning blues like I had with my first after such a rapid wean. Certainly no sore boobs or discomfort.

Just a faded memory of what was our 25 month nursing journey.

A journey I shall treasure for life.

Through tongue tie, oversupply, severe engorgement, mastitis, mastitis again, growth spurts, all-night sessions, sick baby , scared baby, sore baby, teething baby, snuggly baby, busy baby, tired baby … nursing saw us through.

And so, as I reflect on a time now in the past as I look forward to the dawning of a new journey later this year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and awe. I will be forever grateful for getting to nurse my babies and in awe of the incredible power of breastfeeding and the role it has played in my mothering experience.

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Bedtime Battles? 5 ideas to try instead

Bedtime in many homes can be far from the peaceful scene portrayed in Children’s Books and is often fraught with frustration, tears (from all parties) and a battle of wills that can result in exhausting marathons.

But what if a difference in approach could change all of this?

There is so much information out there about Bedtime routines that help lead your child down the sleepy path and most of them look and sound very similar- low stimulation, soothing baths, darkened lighting, quiet voices, calming books, cuddly toys, soothing music, kisses goodnight and then … sleep.

But many skip over two key elements to more peaceful bedtimes- Comfort and Connection.

It is not an exaggeration to say that many bedtime battles would cease to exist if a child’s need for comfort and connection was met as they fall asleep.

Falling asleep is a vulnerable experience. Yes, it is biologically driven and ‘should’ occur quite naturally as sleep pressure builds and the Circadian Clock in our body signal time for sleep, but these sleep regulators can only act effectively when other human needs have been met. Regardless of how much you have tried to create a ‘safe space’ for your child to sleep or worked to create ‘self soothing/ regulating’ behaviours in your child, it is natural that they will feel safest to be at their most vulnerable and relaxed when they know you are there as their comfort and when they feel connected to your presence (physically and mentally).

So the very first idea I would suggest you try, if you haven’t already, is

#1 Stay with your child as they fall asleep

Hold them, lay down with them, sit by their bed. Stroke their hair, breastfeed them (if they are nursing), rub their backs, hold their hand. Be there for them.

Do this consistently over a week or more to see if this makes a difference to the tone of bedtime and you may not need to look for any further ideas.

Sure, you may have chores to do, other children to attend to, want some adult time with your partner, a strong desire to have some alone time, but by meeting your child at their point of need as they find peaceful sleep can be ever so rewarding and affirming if only we can adjust our mindset to allow it to be of utmost importance, too. Surrendering to this need for comfort and connection ourselves, often translates into a calmer, less frustrated small person, also.

If you are already on board with #1 but you are still facing an uphill struggle at bedtime, the next thing to consider would be –

#2 The Timing of Bedtime

As a culture, we have some pretty fixed ideas of when an ‘appropriate’ bedtime is for our young children and often this centres around the holy grail of 7pm. But this is a societal expectation, not biological fact and as a result, the reason some of us are battling with bedtime is quite simply because our children are not yet tired enough for sleep.

You’d know yourself just how frustrating it is to try and get to sleep when you aren’t actually tired enough to sleep and this frustration is the same for our children. Sleep is not within our conscious control. You cannot make yourself sleep and your child cannot either.

The release of Melatonin, is key to the feeling of needing to fall asleep and a 2013 study out of the University of Colorado found that in a study of 14 toddlers, this release and subsequent peak varied from child to child but averaged out to about 7:40pm. Once Melatonin is released, it can take 30-60 minutes for the need to sleep to come on.

It’s worth considering whether or not your child’s bedtime resistance is less to do with behaviour and more to do with the lack of sleep inducing chemical at that time.

We’ve always found this very apparent as our little ones have transitioned their number of naps or if on one day they’ve had longer or later naps for whatever reason. Less sleep = earlier to bed, more or late sleep =later bedtime. By accepting and expecting this variation, we saved ourselves the time and frustration of trying to get children to sleep when they were not physically ready.

If you think you’ve got #1 and #2 sorted and you are still facing issues, then here are 3 more out of the box ideas to consider-

#3 Rough and Tumble Play Before Bed

This seems very contrary to all the calming, winding down and low stimulation that is usually recommended but for those facing bedtime struggles, this may an option worth trialling. It would be useful at this point to look at the level of physical activity available to your child each and every day. I know, as the mother of two extremely high energy children, it is always much harder for them to find rest unless they have been vigorously moving throughout their day. Riding bikes, running, climbing, bouncing, swimming, walking and adventuring … all make for a much less restless bedtime in our house, but sometimes, even after the rigours of day, my two still have some remnants of wriggles and niggles that they need to shake off before they can settle for the night and so, after bath time in our house, we have a crazy nudie run around time and rough and tumble play with Daddy before we swap to Pyjamas, a quiet story or two and soothing music and snuggles to sleep. This last little Razz Up seems to work wonders for my babes and though may have quite the opposite effect for some, it’s worth considering if you wish to try something different.

#4 An Evening Walk

On nights where there’s been some extraordinarily long, or later naps and we know our guys won’t be ready to settle, we go for an evening stroll as a family and we let the night air work it’s calming magic on all of us. When our babes were smaller, we did a combo of older babe in pram and little babe in carrier, then both in pram and as they have grown, quite often one or the both will stroll along with us until the weariness hits and then it’s the pram to home and straight off to bed.

My husband and I have found this option is fabulous for our relationship, too as lengthy night time settles in dark rooms have meant very little time for us to talk and reconnect at times. These walks allow us to catch up and relax into our worlds together while our babes are happy and calm.

The light exercise also worked wonders on our weary bodies as it wasn’t to strenuous but helped us work out our own restlessness before bed.

#5 Get Outside in the Dark

If you’ve not got the energy or inclination for option 4, there is still great calm to be found in simply getting out into the night with your unsettled little person. Cuddle or sit together and star gaze. Look for the moon and talk about it’s size and shape. Look for any night animals and listen for night sounds. Admire any lights you can see and any glimmer of sunset that is left. Feel the breeze on your cheeks and talk about the calmness of night. You may enjoy a song together and a cuddle until you feel a little more ready to try bedtime.

So with these ideas in mind I wish everyone more peaceful bedtimes starting from tonight x

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My thanks to Attachment Parenting

Attachment Parenting can get a pretty bad rap.  

This is hardly surprising in a society that places little to no value on the natural, biological development of our infants and toddlers in favour of behaviourist interventions that force babies to conform to an ideal that allows adults to get back on with the more ‘important’ business of life with as little disruption to their productivity as possible.

Interestingly though, it also gets a negative review from many a mother who while initially drawn to the basic attachment parenting tenants, then found/ decided they were unable to follow them in their setting.

Plenty of mothers explain that while all of it sounded great in theory, they simply could not or would not be able to make it work for them or they felt they ‘outgrew’ this style of parenting or felt stifled and restricted by it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading another account of how a mother felt ‘let down’ by Attachment Parenting as her children grew older and when a subsequent child didn’t respond well to the techniques recommended.

This got me thinking about my own experience with Attachment Parenting and how it has shaped me as the mother I am and the mother I continue to strive to be.

I can say that I am eternally grateful to the Attachment Parenting movement for all of the ideas, guidance, confidence boosts and belief it has provided me with in the early phase of this mothering gig. I am grateful for all of this being done without ever feeling like I had been told what I HAD to do to mother my unique children.

I am grateful because they spoke of a norm I would otherwise not have known existed.

They offered me an explanation and coping strategies and mothering techniques that no one else told me were okay let alone what might be exactly what my baby and I needed.

They helped me see why my baby only slept calmly in my arms or on my chest and offered up babywearing and co-napping as normal and natural ways for me to meet my baby at his point of need.

They encouraged me to feel confident that my baby who breastfed SO frequently did so because this was not only his source of nutrition but also his preferred method for comfort, soothing and reconnection. They also didn’t place arbitrary limits on when my baby should stop needing me so and instead encouraged me to trust that I could follow his lead with no notion of it being ‘bad’ or that I may be stifling his development.

The work done by Attachment Parenting advocates to normalise and educate about safe bedsharing is perhaps their greatest gift to me and my family. It is, to date the single best thing I have done as a parent. It saved me, my husband and my baby. It is no exaggeration to say, my life did a complete 360 turn when I finally felt like I could make this arrangement work. I finally had a way to survive my High Need baby’s non stop extreme frequent waking. I had tried EVERYTHING to ‘fix’ him. Nothing worked. But, Attachment Parenting didn’t disown me the way mainstream advocates did. They threw me a lifeline. I could still be a ‘good’ mother even if my baby woke 59 billion times a night and on top of this, my husband and I could get the best quality sleep we could get while still meeting our baby’s needs at night.

Our night time parenting schedule remained gruelling. There was no miracle that occurred or peaceful, perfect family bed image to paint here but we could live again. We could survive and most important of all, we finally felt we could accept our baby for who he was and that included being extremely wakeful.

For me, I didn’t ever feel like I HAD to do XYZ to ‘be’ an Attachment Parent. But then again, I wasn’t striving to ‘be’ anything in particular other than the best mum I could be to my babies.

I didn’t feel constrained or judged if I needed to do things in another way as I followed my baby’s lead and my own heart.

With my second baby, my parenting repertoire was a source of great comfort to me. I had no idea who this little person would be, but I felt comfortable knowing the norms of human infant behaviour and I felt confident knowing that I had the range of skills and techniques to help me meet him at his point of need wherever that may be.

I didn’t feel bound to bedshare but I knew I would keep him close to make night time parenting manageable for me. If he needed my closeness, then into our bed he’d come. If he relished his space, I happily prepared a safe sleep space next to me in case.

I experimented continually as he grew to work out how he felt most comfortable finding and maintaining sleep by and day and night and I rolled with it. Sometimes we babywore, sometimes he slept in the pram. Other times we co-napped with a boob in his mouth or he snoozed alone on our floor bed.

I didn’t HAVE to do anything other than respond to my baby in the way that worked best for us.

As my babies grow, I thank Attachment Parenting for ensuring I continue to actively question commonly accepted mainstream practices. I have found gentle parenting, respectful parenting and peaceful parenting as well and I continue to read, grow and learn with my babies.

The single best thing Attachment Parenting has gifted me is to ensure that while I pick and choose and grow and evolve, at the heart of my parenting decisions is my heart. Decisions are made with ALL of the humans in our family considered as valuable people worthy of respect. My children’s childish nature is not held against them, just as their babyish behaviour wasn’t while they were infants.

As a family, we work as a team, to meet each other right where we are at and see value in each other for who we are.

I will be forever grateful for the healthy questioning that Attachment Parenting stirred in me. To feel confident in questioning accepted parenting practices, to look more deeply at why they are popular, what outcomes they may have and what their impact may be, intentionally or unintentionally, is so important to me.

So thank you Attachment Parenting for opening my eyes to possibilities.  
Thank you for having my back when I couldn’t fit with the mainstream.  
Thanks for having my baby’s back when my faith in him was at its lowest.  
Your work in this world is so needed.  

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Lessons my babies have taught me- if it’s hard for me, it’s even harder on them

Empathy.  

I am an empathetic person. Some may even say I am too empathetic (if there is such a thing).  
Empathy comes to me naturally and without much prompting, or so I thought until my babies taught me a thing or two about myself.  
You see, society has done a damn good job of removing a certain ‘relatability’ from our relationship with our babies.  
It’s almost like in the quest to push our babies towards independence, we have lost sight of the whole person underneath. The push to sleep independently, play independently, eat independently, dress and toilet independently; it all seems to consume so much of what we see in our babies, for good or bad.  
We view and form opinions of our own experience with our child based on how they make us feel or the demands they place on us, the parent.  
I got caught in the crush with my first baby and his whole being was minimised down to his ability/ inability to sleep without enormous input from me.  
For the longest time, my conversations and thoughts centred around how tired I was, how over it I was, how frustrated I was, and how sorry I felt for myself being stuck in this shitty situation with this baby who would not let up.  
Poor me. Pity me. Hard done by me.

For an empathetic person, I was pretty bad at seeing past my own nose to look at my beautiful baby who was struggling ever so much to find and maintain sleep.  
It may have been the hardest most relentless time in my life but he wasn’t doing it for kicks and he certainly wasn’t doing it to make me suffer. He wasn’t out to get me. He simply needed me. All of me and then some.  
He was a whole person and his experience and his feelings about it all were just as valid and just as important as my own and as the completely dependent person who was only months into life on this earth, HE deserved every ounce of empathy and understanding he could get.  
I came to this realisation eventually and life with an intense, high needs baby became ever so much more enjoyable once I could see HIM.  
All of him. The good, the bad, the easy, the hard, the beauty, the challenges… all of him. 
The whole person, worthy of being treated as such.  

My second baby, is currently a teething mess. I have never before encountered such horrific looking gums as he has right now as he simultaneously erupts molars and canines.  
I had an appointment this morning and the lady asked me how the boys are and I explained that the littlest is really not himself with his mouth so sore.  
Her response took me aback a little, ‘oh poor you, I bet you’re not sleeping then. God, I hate teething babies. Right pains in the arse they are. Fingers crossed they are through soon so you can get some rest.’ 
You see, she’s full of empathy … for me. She can relate to me, the mother, but heaven forbid she show an ounce of compassion for the poor wee soul who is living this painful struggle day in, night out right now … my baby.  
Yes, I am freaking exhausted. Yes, I do hope they come through quickly so I can rest, BUT more importantly, I want them through so HE can rest without this horrible pain. I want him to get back to his cheerful self, without this terribly sore mouth pulling him up short and dampening his day.  
HE deserves every ounce of empathy I can muster. This isn’t all about me and how I’m suffering (although sending your sympathy is fine, provided it’s not dissing my baby).  

My babies have taught me the importance of seeing the whole.

The saying, ‘your baby isn’t giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time’, has been a real game changer for me.  
Sure, I am still often having a hard time along with them but this is not due to some deliberate act of my child. They aren’t malicious and they aren’t manipulative. They are babies being babies and kids being kids. Their babyish or childish nature is not an act against me.  
The challenges they face as they grow and develop at a phenomenal rate, would have us desperately tied up in knots even as adults. It is hard on them and they are just as entitled as you or I to voice and show their feelings.  
For goodness sake, the last time I had a toothache, I was as cantankerous as an ogre!

If you are finding you are caught up in your own adult struggle with your kids, do the whole family a favour and focus on finding a way to empathise and connect with them as whole people. You’ll all feel better for it. The tough times are so much easier to take when you don’t feel like the helpless victim in it all.

Our perfectly imperfect little people deserve our respect, understanding and empathy.
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‘Kids these days’ are the product of mainstream parenting and yet mainstream society can’t see that

With the regular rounds of memes and articles that get around harping on about ‘kids these days’ and how they lack discipline and are basically entitled, disrespectful little blighters, really come as no surprise whatsoever. Throughout time, older generations have bemoaned ‘kids these days’ and waxed lyrical about ‘back in my day…’. It’s nothing new.  

What is interesting today, is that with social media sending these things viral, it isn’t just the older generation having a dig. Nope, now everyone, sometimes even those who would still be categorised as a ’kid’ these days, or even those currently raising the kids of today are buying in and jumping in on the bandwagon of blame.

Nearly every single one of these posts will recommend a stronger, more authoritarian approach to child rearing. From Cry It Out for babies, to smacking toddlers and children, to shaming and humiliating children and teens, all for their own good. So they know their place. As they apparently did, ‘back in my day’. All of the problems we face as a society with the youth of the day stems from parents being too soft, too easily pushed over, lack of boundaries and lack of physical punishment for consequences.

I am a parent of young children and also a primary school teacher so I have a pretty good exposure to mainstream, commonplace, socially accepted parenting practices that are happening right now and I have to say I am deeply confused.

Mainstream parenting is mainstream because it practiced by the MAJORITY of parents in society, right?

Well mainstream parenting IS pretty much all of these authoritarian components! I know, because I choose to parent differently and I am completely at odds with the vast majority of parents around me.

Mainstream Parenting Toolkits are full of- 
Sleep training  
Rewards, Bribes 
Threats, yelling and standover tactics 
Control and obedience  
Non logical consequences 
Isolation through time outs 
Humiliation 
Shaming 
Ignoring 
Withdrawal of affection and approval 
Smacks, taps and clips around the ears 

I honestly cannot see very much room for many families to take a ‘tougher’ approach than they already take without it becoming downright cruel.

But this brings us to the main point- if most people are already parenting in this harsh authoritarian way that people so wholeheartedly believe will raise the children we want and need for the society of the future then WHY is this current generation still bemoaning ‘kids these days’?

If after all is said and done, the majority of children are still not growing to be the adults we wish to see in this society, then maybe the way the majority of people raise their children may not indeed be the best way to achieve the goal.

Very few families raise their children using gentle, peaceful or attachment parenting principles. Very few people are indeed ‘soft’ with their children. But as someone who is living and breathing a gentler style of parenting, I do not fear that my own children will grow to be simply ‘the kids these days’. I do not fear it because I do not rely on my children needing me or their dad to put the fear of god into them to make good, fair, respectful choices. I do not fear it because my children will be raised as fully connected, fully understood, fully appreciated people in their own right who are comfortable in their own skin so they feel comfortable with those around them. I do not fear it because they are being raised as empathetic, thinking, feeling humans. I do not fear it because they have had boundaries set and held with compassion as their age and needs have dictated.

That’s right, boundaries. They are healthy and necessary. The difference is, they can be fair and they can be held with compassion, not just because, ‘I said so!’

You cannot blame the woes of society and youth on practices that are rarely employed and rarely the issue.

Permissive parenting is an issue but I have very occasionally seen parents of the gentler ilk who genuinely struggled to guide their child and establish the boundaries that were needed but more often the permissive parents I’ve come across have been mainstream but more ambivalent to their children in general. I can vividly recall many occasions of parents yelling, threatening and telling their child, ‘no’ before giving in as though they’d been defeated. This isn’t them being in any way aligned with a gentle approach. Their decision to change their mind does not mask their very mainstream approach to behaviour and it does not mask how it fails frequently when it comes down to power plays and power struggles.

Mainstream society- it’s time to take responsibility. It’s time to reflect on what is really going on. It’s time to see that maybe ‘tough love’ isn’t the way we are going to see any real change in society that is already a harsh enough place as it is.

If you want more responsible, empathetic, independent thinking people, let’s start treating our children with respect from their very first days so that they know that they belong, that they matter, that those around them matter. Let’s stop teaching them to only do things because there is a reward or punishment attached. Let’s stop expecting them to blindly obey us and then wonder why they are so easily lead as teens.

When you are at your lowest and most challenging, you always learn more from those who bother to listen, connect and support you. Our children are no different.

The time for change is now. If you have recently clicked ‘like’ on any of these ‘kids these days’ posts, it’s time to do a solid review of what is really at the heart of the issue.

If tough love isn’t working, is tougher love the answer? Or perhaps, is simply love the answer?

It’s worth contemplating and discussing further. .

Our kids these days are worth it!

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Mothering Matters… why can’t we just own it?

Mothering Matters… why can’t we just own it?

What is with the fear that something we do as a parent may actually be important?!?

Yet another one of these posts is doing the rounds trying to give us all a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card from the very real impact we make as parents and I just can’t stomach it anymore.

This particular one went viral and I totally understand why and I actually tried very hard to just get on board and like the shit out of it but I can’t because it’s not true.

The choices we make and the hand life deals us and our families DO matter and do have an effect and therefore should not be downplayed as mere ‘thoughts’ in our head that do not matter.

Mothering matters.

Anyone who had a less than ideal childhood, anyone who has dealt with a narcissist parent, anyone who has attachment issues and relationship problems stemming from their childhood would tell you, parents and how they treat their children DOES matter!

Loving them IS enough IF that child actually feels the love and benefits from the loving, connected relationship with their parents.

Loving unconditionally within your own heart and mind is one thing but true love without conditions only lives when it is felt by the one that you love.

I feel so saddened that any mother who breastfed for 2.5 years, coslept and babywore any chance she got could feel that at the very young ages of 3 and 6, that her efforts have not manifested themselves in such a way that she feels what she did to mother her babies and young toddlers was worth it or even matters.

Don’t get me wrong, the author of this status is in no way looking for my pity. She sounds very happy with her conclusion but it is this implication that upsets me because it seriously undermines the value of the efforts of mothers currently putting their heart and soul into their babies and wondering if it is all worth it and then they read this and suddenly think, ‘F#%^ it, none of the sacrifices I am making will ultimately benefit my child so why have I worked my arse of to maintain my breastfeeding relationship despite heavy social pressure to wean, why don’t I just throw my baby in its cot to CIO, it won’t effect my baby long term and screw having a 6 year old who still wakes. While I’m at it, that baby can also learn to sit quietly in the pram, babywearing isn’t helping them long term and screw trying to introduce a wide ranging healthy diet, they’ll end up eating like shit anyway. I also want my kids to behave so maybe I better get tougher now.’

What a freaking cop out.

I don’t make my parenting decisions for my baby or toddler based on how they will behave at 3 or 6 years of age. This is a long term game.

I am fully aware and in agreement that MANY things about my children and who they will ultimately become will have NOTHING to do with my parenting. Absolutely. There is so much about my boys that is already evidence of this.

BUT this does not absolve me as a parent from my own role to play.

All these things that are downplayed here and in many similar posts are actually central to the way I choose to mother because they (through no mistake by nature) are what my baby and toddler NEED from me at this age and stage to feel unconditionally loved and cared for.

IF I was unable to breastfeed, or safely cosleep, or babywear, or provide a wide range of healthy nutritious foods, I would do my utmost to acknowledge where the weak spot is and look into ways to meet these needs with the best alternatives I could find. My responsibility remains.

Why, oh why, are we so freaking obsessed with avoiding any thought process that may result in guilt? Guilt is not something to be scared of and is not something we need to allow ourselves to be consumed with and is absolutely not something we should be so desperate to disguise and avoid that we go around looking for ways to go get around it.

WE ARE ADULTS! Adulting is tough. Parenting is even tougher. You don’t get a get of jail free card from me. You don’t need one.

Own your decisions, own the cards you’ve been dealt and do whatever you need to do to make sure those babies of yours needs are met and they feel every bit of unconditional love you feel in your heart.

Mothering and mothers matters.

Never underestimate the impact you are having. Your effort, time, love and patience are not in vain.

Keep at it mamas 💙😘

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The 12 month itch- When will it get better?

The 12 month itch- When will it get better?


‘The first 6 weeks are the hardest, it’ll get easier after that.’ 

‘My babies all slept well after three months, the fourth trimester is such hard work. It will get better.’

‘6 months was the golden time for us. Introducing solids seemed to help a lot. It will get better.’

’12 months saw it get so much better for my guy. Something just clicked. It will get better.’

’18 months, our baby slept through for the first time! I promise, it will get better.’

‘At 2, our babe started toddling off to bed at nap time. It will get better.’

It will get better, it really will, but I remember clearly hearing all these arbitrary points in time being peddled out to me with my first and I used to have to really regroup as each of these ‘finish lines’ or ‘lights at the end of the sleep deprived tunnel’ passed without so much as a hint of my baby sleeping better.

Each time, I’d feel the doubts creep in. The frustration rise. The worries that it would always be so and WHEN would it end?!?

It’s funny that although this caused me much angst and frustration in my own experience, I catch myself promoting this kind of benchmark thinking both in real life and in my blog. I’ve had to ask myself why.

I’m thinking the reason we do this stems from a very good place. It comes from empathy, it comes from wanting to support mothers who are currently in the midst of this incredibly challenging weary time in our lives and wanting to be able to offer them some relief and encouragement. ‘This too shall pass’ is the mother’s mantra but never had I heard more frustrating words than hearing those words while I lived day in day out with the kind of sleep deprivation that can only be described as torture and with no light at the end of the tunnel, I swear I felt like I might just drown. And so, the kind hearted people around me who keenly felt my struggle and knew what I’d been through already with my little firecracker would try to offer me the comfort of an end point …

The end point they offer is all so relative to their own experience though and what they call ‘better’ is not necessarily what you or I would call ‘better’ and so the confusion, frustration and worry continues.

If so and so’s baby slept through from 3 months, why is our little treasure still waking every 2 hours?!’ Or ‘So and so’s baby slept through once he had crawling mastered. She’s been crawling for months now and still we can’t get more than 3 hours straight .’ Or ‘Mum said, that molars can be really rough on sleep, but he’s had his for a month now, what else is going on?!?’

Nothing is wrong with any of these statements per se, for some babies, there does seem to be a magical wand moment where ‘zipadeedee fidalee fa’ suddenly the sleep seems to settle. Teething, milestones such as crawling, walking and talking, separation anxiety, the incredible physical growth of our babies during the first 2 years or so of their life is remarkable and ever so disruptive to their sleep. BUT, it honestly does not help anyone to compare what one baby did and when their sleep improved and make any kind of assumption about your own child’s unique sleep pattern.

It’s unfair on them but also, it is ever so unfair on you.

YOUR baby couldn’t give a toss about what little Joe Blogs did after he mastered crawling, nor how easily he sprouted teeth without so much as a hiccup in the night.

THEY will ultimately decide when they are ready and physically able to sleep more easily and for longer stints at night.

My little Grubby Bubby turns 1 in a week and I can tell you how much ‘better’ his sleep is than it was as a newborn but I can also tell you how much ‘worse’ it is than when he was 3 months. I can tell you how much ‘better’ it is to be able to pop him down for his naps than it was for the months he only slept on my chest. I can tell you how much ‘better’ it is now he only needs 2 naps a day instead of 5. I can tell you how much ‘better’ he is to settle at night now with a quick boob and he rolls as far from me as he can. But I can also tell you that at his ‘worst’ he can wake every 40 minutes all night.

Overall, things ARE better, but at 12 months, after a full year of giving, I think many of us really thought we’d be further down the sleep track then we are. I know, I too wish it were so.

 But, I think at this time, it’s important to give pause. Yes, there is a candle on the cake that wasn’t there last month, but apart from that nothing has changed, no incredible birthday leap into independence occurred. Our baby may now be a toddler but they are still babies.

They have come such a long way, WE have come such a long way with them. Let’s not let our weariness overcome us.

They still need us as intensely as they did yesterday, they are still undergoing enormous physical and mental growth and they STILL only need us this intensely for such a short time in the grand picture of life.

Keep faith in your baby, keep faith in yourself.

You ARE getting there. Every settle, every nurse, every cuddle, every wake up is one less time your baby will need you so.

Let’s reset again, tired mama. Things WILL get better but this is the here and now. Focus on this time with your baby, they won’t always need you so. Xxx
Here are some articles to help you understand why your 12-24 month old may be still waking-

BellyBelly

Sarah Ockwell Smith

The Wonder Weeks

The Milk Meg

Pinky McKay

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