Everyone always tells you that parenting doesn’t come with a rule book or a manual – but it does.
This rule book will be the most contradictory and confusing guide you have ever came across. You will be given these rules in the form of advice which starts to bombard you as soon as you are pregnant and doesn’t stop until…well, actually, it doesn’t stop. Now, don’t get me wrong, more often than not you will get good advice from well meaning people, but you will also get a long list of does and don’t that leave you wondering what on earth you are meant to do.
The pressures of being a Mum in this day and age are incredible. The array of ideas of what it means to be a good mum are never ending (and ever changing). Breast is best but don’t let your child feed for comfort. Co-sleeping is best but don’t co-sleep because it’s unsafe. Don’t carry your child too much, it spoils them but also wear your child. Don’t let them use a dummy but if they are crying a lot give them a dummy to soothe them. You need to go back to work and earn money for your home but also what kind of Mum leaves her children? The list goes on and doesn’t stop at new mum advice. You’ll have a new set of contradictory rules for every age of parenthood.
As a first time Mum, before I even left the hospital I was told, ‘Babies love to be swaddled,’ but also, ‘You must never swaddle a baby.’ Next, ‘Safe sleeping is with a baby in a cot beside your bed,’ but also, ‘A Mother is meant to be as close to her baby as possible, let them sleep in your bed if you want.’ If I hadn’t of been caught up in the fact that a double decker bus just exited my body then I would have been very confused!
For all the advice you will ever hear, the only thing that is best for you and your family is HAPPINESS. Happiness is Best.
Happiness is when you find out what works for your family, whether that be sleeping beside your baby until they are 4, or shipping them off to their own room at 6 weeks, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, using the naughty step or using a rewards chart, only buying organic or dishing out of a jar, if you feel like reading them a story at night or drawing a circle of salt round their beds in hopes they’ll stay in it then you do it – it all boils down to whatever makes you and your child happy. (as a side note, if your children do stay in their beds then please get in touch and share your secret, what sorcery is this?)
No two families are the same. And no matter the stage we are all just making it up as we go along. I have 3 little ones now and every time I master one routine somebody has a growth spurt, or changes the food they love or simply just doesn’t give a sh*t that I feel like I’ve got my act together and says, ‘LETS DRIVE MUMMY INSANE!!!’ so everyday I live by my mantra of Happiness Is Best. Because it is. For you, for them, for us.