Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to Tracy G. Cassels of Evolutionary Parenting for writing this exceptional post about parental sleep obsession. I hope you all will read it too. Then, I hope you will share your thoughts on the article. Here are mine:
Parenting is difficult. Our culture sees the words “difficult” and “undesirable” as synonymous. So, I guess I’m basically saying that parenting is an undesirable venture. Let me unravel this a little further… Kids aren’t convenient. They frequently inconvenience us. We can hardly eat, sleep, or bathe without taking them into consideration. In contrast, when looking at our current marketplace, I think it’s fair to say that our culture highly values convenience. So, is it any surprise that “parenting experts” emerge to “help” us make our children more convenient? Of course not. Now, they don’t package their products as “convenience-making” but as helpful advice to make my baby healthy and me happy. Well, I’m calling bull sh*t.
In my group of Mama friends, one confided to us during the first few months of parenthood, that her husband repeatedly insisted they must be doing something wrong. “This shouldn’t be this hard,” he stated despairingly over and over again. Did they have a particularly “high-need” baby? No. Parenting really is just that hard. Finally, her husband embraced the difficulty and ironically, this has allowed him to enjoy fatherhood more.
I have decided to walk the unbeaten path by embracing that parenting is just hard (Who am I kidding? By “embracing”, I mean “surrendering while kicking and screaming”). I’m not going to fight a losing battle. So, I’ve decided to run a little experiment and not put Luca on a schedule. Gasp! Ok, honestly, it just seems like a set-up for disappointment and frustration to me. Kids change so fast and have so many different growth spurts and other sleep hindrances (like teething) that it seems pointless to even try that during the first year or so. Also, Caleb and I have fluctuating schedules ourselves so it wouldn’t really fit. I understand that some parents live in a more scheduled environment due to work or whatever and so structure is a priority for them. I value flexibility because my days aren’t structured. Fortunately, I’ve discovered that Luca will nap in different places and at different times. He sleeps more some days than others and I believe that he sleeps according to what his needs are for that day. So long as I’m providing him a comfortable sleeping environment when he gets tired, I feel like I’m upholding my parental responsibility to meet his needs.
I realize that not all babies are flexible like Luca. Yet, I wonder how many babies are more flexible than we think, but their moms never get a chance to experience it. So many “experts” have told us that sleep needs to look a certain way, moms are instructed not to follow their baby’s cues but the prescription of authors. How many of us have been brainwashed to believe that our babies should sleep the same exact amount of hours at the same exact time every day? That’s just not right. How many nights in a row do you sleep the exact same amount of hours at the exact same time? And aren’t their days when you feel more tired/energized than others? Why would our babies not be the same? Especially when they are going through such drastic developmental changes. I agree with what the author said about training causing babies to disregard their own needs. Our baby’s needs are going to be different day-to-day.
So far, I’ve noticed that naturally, Luca does have a general schedule. He tends to get in phases where he will nap around the same times and for the same amount of time. Yet, it changes weekly. Also, if he misses a nap he usually just sleeps longer the next time. Of course there are days when he doesn’t sleep as much, and I’ll be honest, those days are frustrating because I don’t get as much done. I’ve chosen this experiment knowing that there will be frustrating days because let’s face it, even if he were on a schedule there would be frustrating days. I think frustration just comes with the package of parenthood because our lives are no longer our own. This just seems to be the path of least resistance for our family. I realize that it would be maddening for others.
I really want to hear your thoughts on this guys! I know this is a HUGE issue in the mommy world. Seriously, when you meet someone with your baby, what is one of their first questions? “Is he/she a good sleeper?” There is so much pressure to deal with how our babies sleep. How are you handling it?
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