There are a few things, in regards to motherhood, that I get a little cray and jump up on my soapbox when they come up in conversation. I know that we (here at RATMM) and a lot of other mom’s say that it is so so so important not to compare your child’s development to any other child. That’s incredibly hard not to do. I mean, even the standards by which your child is judged at the pediatrician’s office is basically a huge ass comparison to all the other children that are your child’s age (i.e. that percentile shiz). And obviously, it’s important to have some kind of guidelines so that you know where your child stands and if he or she needs some extra help in a certain developmental area. But for real though there are a lot of milestones that our children are expected to hit at certain ages that are not necessary. Let’s just take a moment to do a brief sidetrack into an example of an expected level of development that is basically unnecessary –
Once at a well visit, my pediatrician asked my then 3 yr old if he knew that he was a boy and that mommy was a girl. He had no fucking clue what she was talking about, and I was shocked that he was even supposed to be aware of that. I said, “oh he doesn’t know that – is that something he should know at this point?” And she said, “Well yeah, that is something most children his age are aware of. Or should be aware of.” I just left that appointment so confused and bewildered and annoyed. Now, I freaking love my pediatrician. She’s the bomb. I’m sure that was just some box she had to check on a form. I totally get that. And I don’t have anything against my child being self aware of his gender. Or my gender. I just wanted to express how knowing that by age three was not something I expected my child to need to know – I’d never pointed it out to him. He just knew the people in his life as people. He called them and recognized them by name – not by gender. So, my long winded point is that : so what if 99% of all the other 3yr olds are aware of their gender and other’s genders. It’s not necessary or relevant to them being able to function. Why is it even a thing we are measuring?
BUT – to my main point of writing this post..one of the motherhood/parenthood things that makes me just cray is how much people talk about and define a child by their sleeping habits which is basically indirectly judging your parental skills. For me, the real stressor is when you have a newborn and someone’s very first question about this newborn is “And how are they sleeping?”. They are asking with the expectation of hearing some ‘good news’ scenario wherein my 3 week old is magically sleeping in 9 hour blocks of time. In their own bed. Without being rocked. Sans a paci or nighttime bottle.
Listen. Babies don’t sleep the way we sleep. Generally newborns actually sleep all the time. They just don’t sleep in large blocks of time like we do. At night. Between the hours of 10 pm and 7 am. I used to joke with my mom that if I could just hire a sleep nanny. You know, she’d show up at ten every night and leave the next morning at seven. If I could just do that I’d be so happy and beautifully rested. Pipe dreams, huh?
Sleep deprivation is a serious thing for new parents. We all desperately just want to be able to sleep. The people who love us want us to be able to sleep. So, naturally we (and they) are concerned about the sleeping habits of our babies.
However, when you constantly barrage me with questions about “how well” my baby is sleeping. Like. I just want to … stare at you blankly and then turn away. Cause. My baby is not freaking sleeping and neither am I. Thank you. Very. Much.
A baby’s sleep schedule is shit. I don’t ever want to sleep like a baby. I have. In fact, I still sleep like a baby sometimes – cause my kids still sometimes sleep like babies despite the fact that they are no longer babies. I’m for sure looking forward to those lazy teenage years. 😉
The thing is – let’s just chill out when it comes to measuring ‘how well’ a baby is doing/developing in regards to their sleep patterns. Let’s stop asking new parents about it. Cause those new parents are already stressed AF over the nonexistent regular solo sleep patterns of their newborn. That new parent has probably sat in her living room rocking chair while holding a newborn that just wants to sleep in her mommy’s arms, but mommy desperately needs to lie in bed to get some real rest. She can’t though. Her baby won’t let her. Her baby just needs to be held. She literally needs it. So mommy is sitting there with giant tears streaming down her face while she muffles her sobs cause she knows daylight is coming in a few short hours – and she’s exhausted. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally.
And the most tragic part about all of it, is that new parent is being made to feel like he or she could be doing something to change the way their baby sleeps. Google has filled our heads with thousands of magical ways to establish sleep routines. Step by step guides to get your baby to sleep through the night. A hidden switch that you just have to find and flip. To make you, the parent, feel inferior because you’ve tried all the tricks and none of it is working.
Four years later and your baby STILL doesn’t consistently sleep through the night? He still needs a paci to sleep? And a sippy cup of milk? What in the world is wrong with your parenting?
What’s wrong with me? Nothing is wrong. What’s wrong with YOUR warped expectations of reality???
So, you know what you could do for that new parent in your life? Instead of asking how well their baby is sleeping: volunteer to be that beautiful night nanny. Seriously. I’d have let you. I’m sure most new parents will. Maybe not in week two…or maybe not even in month two. Month three though? I guarantee at that point, those new parents would sell their soul for a night nanny. Be a peach – and save their souls AND minds by taking the night shift sometime.
- Babies/kids don’t see the same values in sleep that we do. So they are just not going to willingly sleep the way we do.
- Don’t let someone tell you that rocking your child to sleep is going to be detrimental. Rocking my babies was one of my most favorite things. You don’t want to rock your baby? Cool. I’ll do it for you.
- If your child needs a paci, or blanket, or doll, or pot holder, or sippy cup – to feel comforted and safe enough to sleep on their own. Well – give it to them and let them tell you when they are ready to give it up. It’s not hurting anyone. So why not?
- Hey dad, you should also be getting up in the middle of the night with your finicky sleepers. And you better not be using breastfeeding, your job, or any other lame ass reason as an excuse not to.
- I wholeheartedly believe in sleep routines. It’s what works for us. We do bath and then straight to bed every single night at the same time. Even if they just had a bath four hours earlier. Even if they just woke up from a 3 hour nap two hours prior to bedtime. I figured all that out after several years of being in the trenches of unsuccessful attempts at finding our bedtime/sleep rhythm. I paid attention to what worked for MY children and ME – I didn’t follow some step by step Google guide.
Listen. Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Godparent, Grandparent, Guardian – when it comes to getting sleep and getting your child to sleep : You do you boo. Don’t stress it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. And don’t be afraid to tell someone to mind their own bizznassss when they come around with their unsolicited opinions/advice.
Sleep is a beautiful and necessary part of survival – get it girl. However you can.