Friday, 11 July 2014

Not the Perfect Parent? One or two realities

Of course we are all going to be perfect parents aren't we?  We read the countless books on parenting before we have our first child. We buy weekly magazines showing us the best way to give birth, what our baby will need, ideal nursery furniture and snippets about how our bodies will change.  We smile. Take it all in our stride and have our plans.  And we all know what happens to those best laid plans don't we....

I put up my youngest two girls' school photos today in their bedroom. No, I'm not mean, but a whole class shot doesn't interest me as I have no desire to display a lot of children my daughters do not mix with or even know that well upon my walls. Therefore, individual photos go on the hall and lounge walls.  Class shots go on their bedroom wall.  Simples!

Anyway, I digress.  As I was hammering in the  picture hooks with a hammer that was clearly too small for the job, I realised that a lot of what I had read about being a parent was, well, quite frankly, bollocks slightly over-simplistically put and full of scaremongering too many things to worry a newbie parent.  Let me give you a few examples.

You will need locks on cupboards in your kitchen or your child will crawl up, open the cupboard and drink all your bleach.  No.  #1 cupboard locks are the biggest pain in the arse neck for parents to (a) put on properly and (b) use.  They have a knack of trapping your fingers when you do get them working but before that, you have to try and fit the stupid things.  #2 why would you allow your child in the kitchen to get to the cupboards in the first place?  So, cupboard locks play on our newbie parent paranoia.  Simple solution - put a gate up by the kitchen door.  They can't get in.  You can still open cupboards one-handed while cooking.

Baby monitors.  A necessary evil for most of us but oh boy, are those companies now ripping us off playing on our newbie parent paranoia that something awful will befall our child safely tucked into their cot.  For my first daughter, a simple monitor was fine. I switched it on in her room, had the second unit plugged in in the lounge or bedroom and that was it.  I could hear her rustling around.  No, I could not hear her breathing but it made me feel safe and kind of fluffy. I was being a good parent.  For my 2nd daughter (and third who inherited almost everything from basket to cot, toy, clothes and wellies) the monitor had become so much more complex expensive now having settings for motion/sound and how hot the room was. I could clip it to my belt (if I was a sad enough individual to wear a belt) and it could hear my baby sleeping from 200m away (how big do these manufacturers think my estate is - Sandringham?).  That was perfectly sufficient for my two but before you could say "what more can they add to make the cost higher?" they come out with a pad that you now lay under your baby and a 'babyCam' that you can watch them with too.  Oh FFS!  If you are *THAT* paranoid, just pull up a chair beside the cot and watch them in shifts 24/7.  If they don't move on the pad, then you'll be running up and down stairs checking every two minutes so pull up a chair.... and if they look odd in the darkened room on the webcam..sorry, babyCam, then you'll be checking every two minutes so pull up a chair...you get my drift.    Now, don't get me wrong, if your baby has complications I'm sure these things are fabulous for you but for the average parent, they are a means to destroy the last semblance of reality and cause stress induced paranoia.  Do yourselves a favour, buy a simple monitor and relax. Pop in every now and again to watch your child (as all new parents do anyway) and lean over the cot to hear them breathing or touch their tummy to feel it (yes, we all do that too) but don't drive yourself insane with a viewing/movement/temperature induced neurosis.

I weaned my eldest at 12 weeks, I know, shocking isn't it. How could I confess such a hideous crime against my child (shoot me now!) and not keep her on pretty much milk for 6 months.  But guess what? She's had no problems from being weaned early. Back then, (15 years ago) it was the done thing.  See, they (who are *they*?) say that's wrong now. Paranoia sets in again.  She was always a great eater, she still is (except she currently hates mushrooms she informs me - well honey, if you can pick them out, you can leave them on the side of your plate).

She also refused to be breastfeed as a baby, so she had formula from birth (shoot me again) and certainly hasn't suffered illnesses/lack of immunity or any such things poor newbie parents are warned about than my youngest two who were breastfeed for the best part of 5 months (as is the 'new' way of thinking - yeah, right).  In fact, my middle one wanted more than just milk earlier than the 20+ suggested weeks so I started to wean her early. Did I ask 'permission' to do so from the health visitors?  Did I heck!  I just got on with it.

My youngest breastfeed almost constantly.  I recall taking her to be weighed for the 2nd (and last) time with a health visitor who commented - and you'll laugh here - that she was "getting a bit overweight and you need to watch just how much you are feeding her mummy".  I told her straight she was BFsolely and her comment was utterly ridiculous.  I never went back. Don't be pushed into changing what's right for you baby by anyone who doesn't know the full story.  Most mums will know when things are right so stick to your guns.

I have to laugh to myself when I think back to plans I had, 'advice' I was given (most very good, much total tosh) and worries I had.  Take a piece of advice, look up about becoming a newbie parent to get some ideas then go with the flow and try not to let the paranoia that manufacturers selling a product (yes, remember they want to sell you these things, not give them to you for the health of your baby) try to instil into you. You'll do just fine.

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