I remember when I first had Jack, I was given a parenting book to read and told it was the 'Bible' for mums. I read it as I had no clue what was about to happen to me, book marked pages and when having Jack, I literally followed each page to his every milestone. Jack fitted this book perfectly so I couldn't really understand when my friend's kids were going through tough stages. The book never mentioned any. Jack followed the routine and when it said he will be sleeping through the night at this many weeks, he did. He was the perfect baby and all thanks to this book. Ha! Who was I kidding!!!! Little did I know that when my second bub arrived, she would completely prove that everything written in that book was absolutely, not even close to fitting every child's nature. I kept thinking what am I doing wrong, she should be following this routine and she's the complete opposite. Why isn't she feeding every 3 hours and sleeping 6 hours through the night. I'm a complete failure! Is this sounding familiar in your past or current experience?
So it got me thinking. First I thought, everyone that swore by this heavenly book were all at first time mum stage and like Jack, had relatively easy babies. I say that lightly because even easier babies can keep you up all night and have their moments. Secondly, if every baby, as this book explains, follows their ways, then everyone would have perfect and easy to care for children right? And if this book did this for every child then this really should be the only book on the parenting shelf at the book store. So the third thing I did, was ditch the book.
Before I lose all you book lovers hear me out. When you are about to become a mum and especially the first in your family or friendship circle, then books have advantages in giving you insight as to what to prepare you for. Parenting books are also full of information about specific circumstances for example allergies, disabilities, gender differences, pregnancy, labour etc. BUT! And is say this with the most enormous BUT! Every author and book will have it's own one opinion about parenting style. This is dangerous in my opinion because you can very easily get trapped in your thinking like I did and assume every child will fit one single method. I have three children who are all completely different. They have all been nurtured a similar way but their natures are nothing alike. How could I possibly fit them into one book's method?
Jack was such a quiet baby and just went with what he was told... and still does. He thrives on routine, likes to know what's going on and is a huge rule follower. He made my first time as a mum quite breezy with only a few stressful and exhausting moments here and there that were mainly teething and sickness related. Eva on the other hand, I heard screaming as I entered the floor of the maternity ward coming out of my c-section recovery. The screaming lasted six horrid weeks. She fed like a pig one minute and then vomited after a thirty second feed the next. She fed three hourly, four hourly, two hourly and slept through the night right from the beginning so I constantly checked her every few hours. She then woke up and proceeded to scream again for the day. Kill me now! Franklin was a whole different story again. He came out of being in the ICU for two weeks and had been on such a strict feeding routine from being tube fed that he stuck to that literally crying seconds before the clock ticked over the third hour. He was so sleepy and chilled and didn't achieve any milestones in his age bracket. Not even close! He's three in February and just starting to talk now. Eva and Jack were singing the alphabet and songs on the radio and the same age. If I was still following the book I read with Jack, even though Frankie's my third, I would be a mess!
As you can see my first few months with each were very different so what would the author of the parenting bible have to say about this? Did I fail? Was there something wrong with my kids? Should I have forced them to do what it said against their own needs, wants and nature? What do you think?
Are you wondering if I read parenting books now? I do actually but a bit differently and I want to encourage all of you to do the same if you aren't already. So pretend you are about to have a baby or just had one (this may actually be true for you) and you ask me this. Hey Kell, what book do you recommend I read to help with parenting my bubs? My answer is this:
1. Either read nothing or everything: Don't be trapped by one style and like me, have a second baby who is completely different and can't possibly fit the book's mould. It will only stress you out and you will miss the most important rule about the first few weeks with your baby.... get to know each other and build your relationship. If you are trying so hard to get them to follow one style you will never understand or learn their personality. They deserve to have one don't they? And don't you want to encourage each of your kids to have one? To be individuals? So read lots of different books to find what fits with you, your family and your bubba.
2. Ask your mumma friends: One of the reasons I created Mumma of the Month was for you to relate to everyday mums in the community like my friends I interview. For me, all the mums you are reading about are my parenting books. This is the advice you will always get from me when having a baby. Ask! I thought why read a parenting book written by someone I don't even know when my sisters have kids, my mum had me and I think I turned out ok. My friends have kids and do an incredible job. I may as well copy them right? So I ask them; what do I pack for the hospital, how do I know when I am in labour, when will I know feeding times and sleep times.... Even though I write this blog to help you and help my mum friends out newer than me, I still ask. I'm no pro and my kids are still growing and with each age comes a whole new set of milestones and issues. Eva just turned 5 and literally woke up the same morning with a new bunch of girly hormones that neither of us are dealing with too well currently. She is crying about everything and having tantrums worse than when she was two. I didn't have that with Jack so the first thing I do is ring my sister who has three girls (all grown up now but they were 5 once) and ask my friends with older girls. Help me before I go insane generally is how I ask and I'm so not ashamed of it.
3. Accept Help: Now in my experience with some mums this has been really hard for the personality types that is not good with being given advice. If this is you.... DON'T be ashamed or think you are a failure because you want to a pro from the beginning. If you know a mum who is experienced in what you are going through with your bub for the first time, then listen to them! If you don't like their advice, fine but go and ask someone else. I gave advice to a friend about toilet training after going through it with Jack and Eva and was told I was completely wrong and before this mum had even started the process with her only toddler. I just laughed later to myself and said nothing else. Which brings me to a spin off from accepting help and that is to not give or offer advice if it's not asked for or wanted. It's very overwhelming and I remember being 39 weeks pregnant and getting told about five thousand horrific labour stories and what I should do with my child. I seriously wanted to crawl in a hole because I was fine up until that moment and then started to freak out.
4. Use all different resources: Apart from asking friends and family, you can seek information and help through so many ways. Hello what are you currently reading?! Blogs are great and the whole idea of THE REALISTIC MUM is to help readers and show them parenting through all my own experiences. I never felt like books ever really helped with the things I was experiencing with being a mum. I never read about the feelings I would have watching my baby achieve a milestone or how I could cope after four days of no sleep. Do you assume the parenting books you read are written by people who are actually parents? Why not read about parenting from a mum who is doing your journey with you? One of the biggest responses from these blogs I get is YOU MAKE ME FEEL NORMAL ....goal achieved. That is all my site is. A way to make you feel like you are like everyone else and what you do, feel and think is completely normal.
5. Join a Mum's Group: There is no better way to learn than with another mum. A mum's group is full of valuable information and first hand experiences. In this little community you can get encouragement, support, advice from more experienced mums, acceptance from mums who are where you are at and friendship. I have had mums say to me they don't do mums groups, it's not their thing. That's totally fine because I know they can be perceived as something clicky and other negative ideas but there is nothing harder when you are a mum than doing it alone. If you aren't in one and this has made you think about going to one, look them up in your area or ring the hospital and ask where they are or ask to join a friend's one. My sister still hangs with her mum's group every once in a while and their first kids are now 16. These mums become you and your kids, and even the hubby's friends for life.
I hope you have found some valuable info in here to help you if you are struggling with your bubba and can't find any answers. Alternatively if you ever want to ask a question or advice more specific to you and your situation then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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© The Realistic Mum
P.s I have just released my new children's picture book 'Look At The Clouds, What Can You See?' as an animated iBook on iTunes. I'm selling it for the low price of $2.99 (aud) so grab yourself a copy and enjoy. Click on the link 'My Picture Book' above or the tag below to own your copy x
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