Accepting the Reality of Infant and Toddler Sleep

Imagine if we, as a society accepted normal infant and toddler sleep. 

I mean really accepted it, in all its glory. 

Every part of society, from every generation, every family, every profession, every community, every culture, every religion.

What if we knew and accepted it as expected and respected elements of a child’s development? 
What if everybody knew well before having their own children that their child would need night time parenting for the first few years of life? 
If everybody knew that waking frequently to nurse was the biologically normal way for an infant/ toddler human to sleep? 
If everybody knew that we are in fact ‘carry mammals’ and that our young require near constant contact with a caregiver for the first few months to continue their growth and development outside of the womb? 
If everybody knew that a baby’s and toddler’s sleep can fluctuate a lot  over the first couple of years as they grow and develop at a phenomenal rate? 
If everybody recognised that a baby’s and toddler’s need for comfort, closeness and nurturing at night is just as valid and important as their need for these things during the day? 
What if nobody doubted the value of night time parenting and wouldn’t even for a moment consider that they could trade it off so they could be a ‘better’ parent by day? 

We, as a society, would come at infant and toddler sleep from a whole other place than we do right now.

There’d be no sleep training and therefore no sleep training industry.

There would be less focus on the baby and their behaviour and more focus on the dyad as a dynamic pair and nurturing the nurturer.

There would be focus on all levels from family right through to the political sphere on the kinds of support families need to navigate this time in their lives.

Antenatal classes and Mums and Bubs groups would be all about helping mothers to build their support network and discovering options that will allow them to meet their baby’s needs while also meeting their own.

For mothers who are struggling with intense high needs babies, the support would recognise the extra level of challenge these mother face as they run the Ultra Marathon of her life and help put the supports in place that mother needs and deserves.

Mothers with mental health concerns would be nurtured and treated in ways that respect her child’s legitimate needs day and night.

Families making decisions about paid employment would do so with the full knowledge that their baby will still require night time parenting.

Wouldn’t the world look so different to the way it does right now.?

The stress, strain, struggle and sacrifices made all because so few people know and recognise what has always been and always will be the way our tiniest most vulnerable humans find sleep normally.

I was told that new and expecting mothers don’t want to know that babies continue waking for a couple of years. I was told I was scaring them unnecessarily and that it was the equivalent of telling horror birth stories to a pregnant mama as she prepared to birth.

I strongly disagree.

Knowing and accepting what IS likely to happen as your baby grows and develops is not a horror story. No one knows how your baby will find sleep in this world but one thing is for sure, they will need you and that is not something you need to fear. Instead of fear, it gives room to mentally, physically and practically prepare. It takes away the element of surprise. It removes the angst of ‘shouldn’t they be sleeping better yet?’, ‘why does my baby still wake?’

A birthing mother doesn’t need to hear every horrific tale of every horrific thing that may or may not happen to her. That does nothing to help her towards her own journey. But it equally does not help to tell her that it will be easy, straight forward and you practically just sneeze and the baby falls out without pain/ discomfort.

A pregnant or new mother does not need to hear every detail of every form of sleep torture she may or may not face in the years ahead with her child. But she equally doesn’t need to sprint to some arbitrary finish line that someone has told her and think that her child’s night-time needs will magically cease and her sleep will return to that of pre-baby.

Let’s be real. Let’s be honest and let’s give new parents the very best chance to set themselves up with realistic expectations for the early time in their child’s life where they will be needed just as much at night as they are by day.

I know this may seem like a pipe dream right now, but all it takes is for voices to rise. Mothers and babies of the future deserve better than what is offered up in mainstream society today.

When we know better, we can do better and so, for all of those in the know, it’s our turn to share our voice, speak our knowledge and share with all we can the truths of normal infant and toddler sleep.

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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 mellow mediocrity around Mothering

There is an undercurrent in all things mothering today that really worries me. There seems to be this push for keeping a lid on all things mothering, to keep things mellow, to keep things ‘safe’, to keep things mediocre, to stem discussion.  
A blind acceptance if you like, that whatever a mother does, doesn’t really matter because she’s doing her best, so hush you and your big voice. The ‘mummy wars’, ‘mum shaming’, ‘fed is best’ and other such campaigns and slogans are the biggest and most obvious pieces of evidence of this overwhelming push to perpetuate the myth that the choices we make as mothers don’t really matter.

Mothering Matters.

Mothers and mothering may not be valued highly by society or indeed by some mothers themselves but this does not make their work, their impact and their legacy any less profound.

I am passionate about all things mothering. I take great pride and put a huge amount of time and energy into my mothering and I strongly believe that as a passionate mother, who is passionate about mothering, it is my role to help set some fire in other mother’s bellies or stoke the embers of fires on slow burn.

I have been told on a few occasions now, that I am nothing but another little, insignificant ‘mummy blogger’. The term ‘mummy’ before blogger is used derogatively – as though being a ‘mummy’ makes my writing somehow inferior or unimportant or unworthy fluff, as if whatever a ‘mummy’ may have to say is not worthy of respect.

I am a loud and proud ‘mummy blogger’ who aims to write intelligent, thought provoking articles to reach other mothers who are currently on their mothering journey and benefit from the support, ideas and questions I raise in their setting.

I don’t need to quieten down my passion about the way I do things for fear of upsetting other mothers. One feature in most mother’s journey is vulnerability. Another feature is uncertainty. The blind acceptance model of ‘whatever you do is just fine’ is horseshit in my mind.

We all come to parenting with preconceived ideas, our own childhood experiences, family situation, personalities and beliefs. Each child is born into a unique family, with their own unique personality, needs and challenges. There is no one size fits all approach to mothering but at the same time, it is ridiculous to assume that a mother will not grow and learn throughout her journey.

She does not live in a vacuum. 

If all she is surrounded with is the messages that what she does, doesn’t really matter, how can we ever hope to do better than mediocre? Yes, she will no doubt be doing her best, just as we all are, with the knowledge and resources she has at the time, but does that mean that maybe, just maybe, there may be ways and means to improve as she travels along her journey? I honestly believe there always is. If she is only ever met with walls shutting down passionate conversation, if she only ever gets to read weak as piss articles of fluff, if she never has one single view of hers even slightly challenged, how will she ever grow and become all she could be as a mother?

Becoming all she can be as a mother will look vastly different for each and every one of us. I am not trying to say we should all strive for any one ultimate image of mothering. THAT would be disrespectful.

We are not drones, we are not robots, we are not stuck with the program we are wired with that society and culture dictates.

It is no coincidence that the loudest voices in the campaign to shut down debate and questions come from the camps who stand to lose the most if attitudes did shift.

In today’s society, a mother’s instinct and ability to trust it and her baby is shunned and mocked on so many levels and yet, a mother who is encouraged to listen to her gut and watch her baby to work out whether the path they are on looks and most importantly FEELS right, would save so much heartache. And yet, the mother who breastfeeds on demand, with no regard for birthdays, the mother who answers her baby’s cries unquestioningly, who holds her baby to sleep, who cosleeps or bedshares will need to battle her way through mainstream society and its misguided disdain for her efforts and her work.

A mother who chooses to mother through instinct and follows her baby is not a martyr. She is not setting women’s right back 50 years, she is not someone who sees herself as in anyway superior or inferior to her peers. SHE is nurturing her child in the way that feels right to her.

Her nurturing may seem selfless or even a ridiculous waste of time to the outside world but the mother who has the courage and support she needs to nurture is mindful of her power. SHE has great power and influence.
She is the future. 

Mothers are of infinite value to our society and their own belief in their own impact on their children’s lives and their ability to grow and learn on their mothering journey is central to breaking out of this miserable mellow mediocrity that currently pervades motherhood.

Mothers who have found your inner fire– it’s up to us to raise our voices and speak of our learnings and the journey yet to come. It’s up to us to place mothering and mothers higher on the mantle. To give this role the respect and honour it deserves.

No more mediocrity, no more blind acceptance or silencing of debate. 

We can and should do better as a society. We owe it to mothers and the future generations to come. 

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