I’ve been reading “mom blogs” long before I ever considered becoming a mom myself. So I’m no stranger to controversy over parenting styles – everything from breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding to co-sleeping and attachment parenting, to cloth vs disposable, spanking vs time-out and everything in between. And until you become a parent, you never quite know exactly what style you’ll follow.
(BTW, I guess this makes me a mom blogger now, huh?)
Something I realized recently is that one’s parenting style really begins during pregnancy. For first-timers, we’re kind of all over the place. Some of us read everything we can get our hands on and follow every single piece of advice to the letter. NOT A SINGLE DROP OF CAFFEINE! NO SOFT CHEESES EVER! OMFG IS THAT A SUBWAY SANDWICH? GET IT AWAY FROM ME! LISTERIA AHHH!!!
Others are content being completely clueless and continue to binge on Diet Coke and cigarettes – although they’ve “cut back” to just a couple of cigarettes a day.
And then there are those of us that fall somewhere in the middle, indulging in a latte here and there, or going for that blue cheese salad (as soon as we’ve double checked that the cheese has been pasteurized), and maybe even stealing a sip of wine or beer when we think no one is looking.
But it doesn’t end there. In fact, the differences are only just beginning. Then there’s the actual birthing of the baby and this is where things really get divided. You’ve got your home births and doulas, your water births, your anti-drug posse, your c-section schedulers, and your typical pain-managed vaginal births. And no mater what your birth plan is, if you’re even the type to have a birth plan (I’m not), then most likely things didn’t go exactly as hoped. And from there, the differences in parenting styles just multiply exponentially.
Before D was born, I couldn’t imagine him. I couldn’t picture having a baby in our house, in our arms while we sit on the couch watching TV. So naturally I couldn’t really imagine what sort of parent I would be. I had no clue. But just like everyone else, we’ve figured things out and I have to say that things seem to be going really well so far. We’re only 7 weeks into this whole “mom & dad” thing but our style of parenting is very similar, which makes us a pretty great team. So what is our style, exactly? What’s working so well for us?
The answer is really simple. Flexibility and common sense.
Here’s what I mean: If the baby is hungry, feed it. And not just what I think is enough. I feed the baby until he isn’t hungry anymore. Sometimes that means supplementing with a little forumla when I’m all out of breast milk, but so what? I’d rather my baby have a full belly than cause him discomfort by making him wait until more of my milk comes in. That’s just unnecessary stress for both of us.
If the baby is tired, let him sleep. Nothing is worse than an irritated, sleep-deprived baby. Except maybe a hungry baby (see above).
If he’s peed or pooped, change him. Even if it means waking him up. Even if I just changed him 2 minutes ago. Diaper rash is no fun for anyone, especially the baby.
It’s good to have a routine, but that routine should be flexible, unless you don’t ever plan on leaving the house ever. I mean, I don’t eat dinner at exactly 6pm every night. Sometimes I eat at 5, sometimes 7 or later. And miraculously enough, whenever that happens, I don’t have a total meltdown when I’m out of my routine. So I don’t want my child to have a meltdown either whenever we go on vacation or go to visit family and things aren’t exactly like our routine at home. And as long as we’re still following the above logic of eating when hungry and sleeping when sleepy, that shouldn’t happen.
Now I haven’t read any baby books, other than the What To Expect series, so I’m not claiming to be any sort of expert at this. I mean, I’ve only been doing this for 7 weeks for crissakes. I know NOTHING. But even so, what we’re doing seems to be working. Our baby is happy and healthy and developing right on schedule. We do tummy time, and play with him, and talk to him constantly – but I’m not going overboard with Baby Einstein, or limiting the length of time the TV is on during the day, or cutting back on the inappropriate humor and conversations I have with my husband in his presence. Eventually I’ll have to do all of those things, but he’s not even 7 weeks old, so not yet.
Really, we’re just living our lives as we normally would on any lazy weekend. The challenge for us now is to become more comfortable taking him out into the world. We’ve conquered big box stores and doctors offices, but have yet to try a restaurant or other public setting – like the zoo. All in due time, I suppose though. We’re just learning as we go, and so far so good.