Before you have your first child, you may have pretty fixed ideas on the type of parent you want to be. Within the first few weeks and months, these ideas can change dramatically when your baby shows his or her own preferences on how you should live your life. The baby becomes the boss and your life will revolve around the wants and needs of your tiny little dictator.
Who knew parenting could define us so easily by the choices we make? Weather those choices are co sleeping, extended breastfeeding or having a night nanny, we all make decisions on how to parent though trial and error, and sometimes, necessity.
So let’s play a quick game. It’s called The Honest Parents Quiz and it covers all aspects of parenting and parenting ‘styles’.
1) Do you co sleep because:
a) You believe that it is best for your baby
b) It makes nighttime breast feeding easier.
c) The only way anyone in your house gets any sleep at all is if all the children are in your bed: You gave up hope of your child sleeping in their own cot and grew tired of getting out of your nice, warm bed ten times a night to soothe a crying baby. Being intermittently kicked in the back and punched in the face all night and woken up at 6am by a toddler prizing open your eyelids with their razor blade style fingernails is a small price to pay for 8 hours under the duvet.
2) Do you baby lead wean because
a) The latest research shows that baby led weaning is best
b) Chewing food from a young age helps the development of speech.
c) You once spent ten hours in the kitchen lovingly preparing six different purees from scratch with more organic vegetables, fruit and fish than you have seen in your life. You steamed, boiled, mashed, decanted into ice cube trays and froze. Your baby turned his nose up at every single one, and one by one, each of your tirelessly prepared purees went in the bin (and your hair, the floor and the walls) while your baby clambered to grab your sandwich crusts instead. These days, you’ve ditched the Nigella routine and let your baby take his pick from your plate.
1) You carry your baby in a sling because:
a) You like to have your baby close to you as it promotes bonding.
b) You have older children so like to keep the baby close but your hands free.
c) The second you put your baby in your brand new, £800 pram he cried so hard that you thought is lungs would explode. No amount of sheepskin blankets, head huggers or even the dummy would stop the incessant screaming; the baby hates the pram. You have resigned yourself to the fact that you will have to carry this child everywhere until he reaches toddlerhood and will end up with the arms of a weightlifter.
4) You never leave your child with a babysitter because:
a) You practice attachment parenting.
b) You would miss your child too much and would worry.
c) You once hired a babysitter so you could go to a friends wedding when your precious first born was a year old. You phoned home approximately twelve thousand times to check up on how much the baby had eaten, if he’d had his nap and if the house was on fire. You spent all day worrying that the babysitter would forget that your little darling has a rusk at 3pm sharp and likes his broccoli served luke warm, despite the fact that you left a list of instructions longer than war and peace. After a few glasses of wine, you ended up looking though all the photos of the baby on your phone, sobbing while remembering ever horrific bad babysitting story you have ever read and convinced yourself that you had left the mot precious person in your life with a would be serial killer. You left the wedding at 8pm and rushed home, scooping up your baby like you had just retuned from war. It was far too stressful to ever contemplate doing again.
5) You don’t use a dummy because:
a) They are bad for a child’s teeth.
b) Some people say they cause speech delay.
c) You don’t use a dummy because your baby would not take one. Oh, how you tried to get him to suck a dummy! Anything to relieve the nightly pacing up and down for sic hours trying to soothe him when he was at the peak of colic, or to stop him using your nipples for comfort. You tried every shape and style of dummy on the market, but no, he wouldn’t take it.
6) You breast feed until toddlerhood because:
a) The World Health organization recommends breastfeeding until 2 years.
b) You believe that it’s the best start in life for your child.
c) Little Billy couldn’t even look at a bottle without screaming. You tried to start mix feeding at six months to get ready for your return to work, but every bottle was refused with a look of utter disgust. So, breast feeding continued and so did the extreme hatred of any other form of milk in any other vessel apart from mummy’s boob. You have taken to consoling yourself with the fact that no secondary school children still demand to be breastfed, but some days, you can’t see an end in sight without the tears and tantrums that you can’t be bothered to face yet.
So, how did you do? I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you answered c to any of the questions, then you are completely normal and are doing this parenting thing just fine. Parenting is one long game of juggling your expectations against your child’s needs and despite society needing to pigeon hole us into categories of parenting, sometimes you just have to go with the flow, pick and mix approaches and do what is best for your sanity and the happiness of your family.