Posts Tagged ‘Instincts’
Bite your tongue: to stop yourself from saying something because it would be better not to, even if you would really like to.
My inability to bite my tongue has always got me in trouble. I often wonder if it stems from my senior school days where I wish I’d bitten my tongue a bit less and lashed out a bit more. It wasn’t an easy time as those of us over the age of 18 all know, and it’s a period of my life that I’d hate to relive with a passion. A time where you’re not a child, yet equally not an adult – where everything can be a bit scary and overwhelming. You learn a little more about the world you live in and discover that it’s not all Care Bear hearts and flowers, but that it can be tough, unforgiving and unbelievably cruel at times. I found maintaining friendships at secondary school very tricky and always thought about everything far too much. I was never relaxed and able to go with the flow like most of my peers, and would lock myself away in an extreme dark mood if I thought I’d been wronged, which obviously led to me being the butt of many a prank and sarcastic comment. I was easily wound up, and still am.
When I look back at who I was and how I behaved as a teenager I see a lot of similarities between myself and my daughter – however, where I (mostly) kept quiet and retreated into myself and my OCD, she very much vents her frustrations outwardly so everyone knows about it. And she is without doubt far more stubborn that I am, which is really saying something. I’ve written about this many times before and yet somehow, in spite of everything I’ve tried, things have deteriorated between us somewhat to where we have both openly said that we don’t actually like each other very much at the moment. Which makes me feel incredibly sad. Everything is a battle – she won’t eat anything that contains any goodness in it whatsoever. She refuses to drink water. She hates cleaning her teeth and showering as they are just too much effort. She’s exhausted, yet will not sleep before half past ten. Her room is forever messy. And I find myself constantly wondering whether this is all normal?
Don’t get me wrong it’s not all hideous, we do have wonderful mother/daughter meals out and time when it’s just the two of us and it’s magical. And recently we discovered something new which worked wonders. I suggested that she went and wrote me a letter, as honestly as she could and that if she wanted me to read it I would, or if she wanted to keep it privately then she could. And it was a really useful tool in diffusing her anger, yet like most things the positive effect was short lived.
Many people I know do not have twelve year olds, and I’m really missing those reassuring conversations where someone else says their tween is exactly the same. There are no toddler groups for tweens, no stay and plays or tween massage sessions. Health visitors don’t come round and ask how you’re getting on and there are no 13 year checks. It’s a time where parental instincts really do have to kick in as you blindy go where you’ve never been before and tackle challenges you didn’t know could exist. I understand why she is like she is, and I know I can’t fix hormones and make this period in her life any easier, but I do want to make it more bearable for us all, I just haven’t worked out quite how to do that yet and I’m not prepared to ‘wait ten years until she comes back to me’ as many have suggested. Life is too damn short for that.
What I do know is that my instincts are definitely telling me that I have to learn to bite my tongue more. I’m ashamed to admit it and am being painfully honest here when I say that she often succeeds in dragging me down to her level, and we’re like two teenagers arguing and I’m no longer behaving like an adult – and I’m mortified and know I need to reign it in. I have to accept that she’s going to be challenging, that she feels like she hates the world and the world hates her and that everything and I mean EVERYTHING is so horribly unfair to her that it’s unbearable. And I have to find something good to praise…something…somewhere, but it’s far from easy.
So please, if you have any tried and tested tongue biting techniques share them in the comments below, for my instincts are also telling me that at the moment, I need all of the help I can get…
Today’s Wednesday Words is going to be another short but sweet one. I have just seen this photo posted on Facebook (for once on FB something I actually agree with!) and had to share.
My instincts have never sat comfortably with any form of controlled crying…have yours?
Instincts: Any behaviour is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience (that is, in the absence of learning), and is therefore an expression of innate biological factors. Sea turtles, newly hatched on a beach, will automatically move toward the ocean. A joey climbs into its mother’s pouch upon being born.
Manual: Manual may mean: Instructions. User guide. Owner’s manual. Instruction manual (gaming) Online help.
This morning I sat down to write a post. A post which I had been meaning to write for sometime, but had never quite plucked up the courage. For this post might just be a little bit controversial. Now, if you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I always try to be fair and balanced, but the name of my blog itself implies where my loyalties lie in this particular piece…however I will, as always, try to look at it from every possible angle! And before we get started I’d just like to say that I am not saying don’t ask for advice. I think asking for advice and support is brilliant…I just think you should ask for it from the best possible places.
I wanted to write a post about books. Namely manuals and books all about babies. The kind of books you buy when you are pregnant with your first and then promptly ditch or use as a coaster with your second or third. You may have put your feet up on maternity leave, read these books and thought you had it sorted, that this parenting malarkey was going to be a doddle because you knew what was coming and were going to be in control. That these mums whose babies didn’t sleep through the night, were fussy eaters or had tantrums were bad parents and had done something wrong. The manuals made it all sound so easy, so simple, so straightforward.
Or were you a new parent, overwhelmed and completely sleep deprived searching for answers, seeking much needed help? Were you desperately trying to find some way of making your baby sleep because you were led to believe that a baby that doesn’t sleep is indicative of a bad parent? Were you sat on your bed in the middle of the night scouring these books to find a solution, and then did you try a gazillion different things suggested these books,that didn’t work? Whilst all the time not even looking at your baby to see what it was they actually wanted?
Now, I might have angered a few of you already. Have I made judgements? Assumed things? Or would it surprise you to know that in both of the cases above the person I have been taking about is me? I’m not ashamed to say that with my daughter, twelve years ago, even though my instincts were screaming many things and me (as was she!) I still attempted to follow the rules and listen to advice which told me what she should and ought to be doing. I still read the (often conflicting, one size fits all approach) books and believed that sleeping through the night was something that had to be achieved and then I could become part of an exclusive club. I know we all like sleep, but surely the needs of our babies are more important?
The more I read in the media and on social media the more upset and frustrated I become. I fear that parents are becoming less empowered to trust their instincts. That so called ‘experts’ are making parents believe that they are not doing the things right, and are sucking the natural parenting instincts and confidence out of new parents through feeding off their anxieties. These ‘experts’ are now, thanks to the wonder of social media, more available than ever and can even come into your house and make you believe the only reason your baby is now sleeping is because of them, and what they told you to do. That if you didn’t follow their often very strict advice and guidelines, then you’d be in a mess because you are not an expert. That if you don’t do 100% of what it says in the book that you and your baby are doomed for life. How does a mother then feel when left on their own or when what is said in the books just doesn’t happen…possibly worse than they did before?
Many of the authors of these books are not parents themselves, however, I would also argue that even if they are they would still not be the experts on my children or indeed any children but their own. They might be an expert on mixing formula, or creating a nutritious meal, but not about all of the intricacies of a baby that only a mother knows. Now I’m not saying that these manuals are the reasons for all doubt, for all anxiety and all loss of trust in our instincts, but I am saying they undoubtedly don’t help. So what would help?
I know a lot of mums I have spoken to tell me that when their baby was born they felt they had no instincts. That they didn’t know what to do. That they couldn’t read their baby who cried all of the time. And it got me thinking (yes again, sorry!) about what I could do to help. Is there a market for a book about trusting your instincts? A book that empowers parents to trust theirs? And if there were then what could I write in that book that would help, comfort, and reassure mums? (yes I do appreciate the irony of a mother who has just written a blog post about her avid dislike for baby books wanting to write one, but this book wouldn’t be a manual ok?!) It would be honest and tell of real accounts of life with babies, possibly elaborating on my previous blog posts like the one on sleep and potty training. And instead of pages and pages of instructions on what you must do it could have questions at the end of every chapter to help you read your baby and learn to trust your instincts? Your baby, your instincts, your choice.
Yes parenting is hard, yes at times it is draining, debilitating and more frustrating than anything in the whole world, but it’s still a journey I believe you and your children should undertake together. You’re not always going to get it right, but if you have the confidence to trust your instincts you’re never going to be far off the mark.
So let me know, what do you think would help mums trust their instincts more?
I wrote this post for myself and my blog, but have agreed for it to be shared on What to Expect.
I think this poem says it all…
Short and sweet once again! This quote is true of so many things and situations…..and not just in relation to being a parent. 😉
Sleep: Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterised by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. It is distinguished from wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, and is more easily reversible than being in hibernation or a coma. Sleep is a heightened anabolic state, accentuating the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems.
Ok, so this maybe a slightly ranty post and I’d just like to start by saying it is not written out of any bitterness that my children don’t sleep. Because they do. We have no bedtime battles and only one or two 10 minute night feeds with the baby. No…this post is written out of frustration, out of repeatedly seeing post and tweets and hearing conversations about babies and sleep and the ever elusive ‘self-soothing.’ Out of hearing the question ‘Is he good?’ repeatedly asked about babies…as if any baby could be bad! Out of suddenly, whether or not your baby sleeps through has somehow become the mark of being a good mum. It always seems to be one of the first questions asked of any mum, and it drives me nuts! Why does whether or not my baby sleeps matter? They are a baby of course they probably don’t sleep through (and if they do you are very lucky!) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I’m 36 and I don’t sleep through!
Sleep training is a hugely profitable business. It feeds off a mother’s desperate need for some shut-eye, for them to feel part of the ‘my baby sleeps through the night gang’ and not a complete failure as a mother. Obviously if your child doesn’t sleep you are in no way a failure, but certain books and ‘experts’ and unwanted opinions can sure make you feel that way. The very phrase ‘sleep training’ sends shivers down my spine. Are our children dogs that need training or robots that need programming? Um no, no they most certainly are are not. How about we talk about ‘sleep encouragement’ instead? I do believe that it is our role as parents to set up good associations with sleep, to encourage our children in to good sleep patterns and help them to go to bed happy, but you do not need to enforce a strict routine that may go against all of your babies natural instincts to achieve this. You do not need to use horrible techniques like CIO or CC which only serve to make everyone distressed. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should all be attachment parents either, some babies don’t want to co-sleep even if you would like them to, and some mums just aren’t comfortable with it, which is ok. I just wish we were more well informed, and that people would be more honest about how their babies sleep. I have recently read feeds on Twitter and Facebook encouraging CIO with babies less than three months old, with one even suggesting feeding solids to a 5 week old baby to try and get them to sleep, all of which understandably terrified me. The people who wrote these posts all said these techniques had worked for them, and that now their babies miraculously sleep through. *sighs* I find this hard to believe, and if it is true, then at what cost?
What I would love to encourage is for mums to know that the words ‘baby’ and ‘sleep’ often don’t go together. That it’s normal for babies (especially breastfed ones) to wake during the night…until they are quite old. Developmentally night waking is a protection against SIDs, it is instinctive and meant to happen. If breastfeeding, the night feeds are the richest and help to produce more milk. I’m not going to go into the scientific reasons behind this or start talking to you about baby’s brains and their development because I am not an expert in any way shape or form. But I am a mum who trusts her instincts and will accept night wakings and try to look for a reason why it is happening and address it, not try to fix it, or ignore it in the hope of more sleep. Babies are not robots, some are naturally good sleepers and others need some encouragement. Never in my opinion does leaving them to cry or forcing them to sleep at certain times for certain periods of time induce a good association with sleep…for anyone.
My children have all slept very differently. My daughter was breastfed and never a great sleeper at first, and I wish I’d trusted my instincts more then and co-slept as I feel she would certainly have loved this, but twelve years ago 24 year old me, a me who was terrified of doing anything wrong and followed rules to the letter, wouldn’t go against the advice which was not to do it. Because I was led to believe that if I did do it my baby would die and it would be my fault. So we endured lots of nighttime cuddles with me forcing myself to stay awake so that she could sleep, until (as mentioned in a previous post) it was suggested I did controlled crying with her by the health visitor trying to help with my PND. I hated every second of it and vowed never, ever to do it again. My second child was much better. He liked sleep and would drop off anywhere, a cot, a car seat, a playmat. He still had nights when he didn’t sleep and needed someone there with him, but co-sleeping was never an option for him and these phases never lasted for long. Now, at his bedtime, if we’re not in the room when his tv programme finishes (yes, he’s allowed to watch TV before bed, it calms him down!) he will come and find us and tell us it’s his bedtime, always more than happy to go. And then there was my third baby. Ah and boy did he not sleep at all when he was born…co-sleeping was the only option. I still felt very nervous about it and this time, as I was not a single mum like I was with my daughter, I would make my husband sit at the end of the bed and watch us to make sure I didn’t roll onto my baby whilst I was asleep. Over time I became more relaxed about it and would co-sleep without him watching us. And now my son, even though he was held, rocked, cuddled and fed to sleep everyday for the first three months of his life at least, sleeps best on his own; in his cot.
What I have done with all three is practise the theory of trial and error, and once I’ve found something that works I’ve stuck with it. From birth night feeds were done in the dark with no noise, but I’ve never done a regular routine as such. My daughter had awful eczema and the advice then was not to bathe her regularly as it dried the skin. My children have all had muslins as comforters, the boys had dummies and my daughter her thumb. My youngest is one and is regularly fed to sleep, I’m pretty sure he won’t still be needing a bottle of milk to soothe him into a peaceful slumber when he’s 21 so I’m not worried. I’ve fed them all on demand and if that demand is at three o’clock in the morning then I will meet it. I’ve always used a verbal sleep cue and learnt to recognise the signs that they were sleepy. If they cried I would, and still do go to them, straight away and address their needs. Each of their natural times to sleep, including for naps, have been very different and it frustrates me that children are all expected to slot into this 7pm to 7am sleep time! It is simply not true!
Sleep deprivation and disrupted nights are tough, and it’s a part of parenthood that is hotly debated and treated differently in every family. But I’d like to end by reassuring any mums out there with a baby that doesn’t sleep that is it perfectly normal, and accepting it is a great first step as it takes the pressure off. It is also perfectly normal for babies who were previously ‘good’ sleepers to change. There is no need to analyse everything you do and then subsequently beat yourself up and feel guilty for ‘doing it wrong.’ Chances are, if you are responding to your baby and letting them show you their natural instincts and individual intricacies then you are not failing anyone. Don’t feel pressured into pressuring your baby to sleep through, they pretty much all get there eventually. You cannot spoil a baby with love, you cannot spoil a baby with cuddles and affection. You cannot get into bad habits that can never be broken. And one day, you will without doubt have that all elusive 8 hours uninterrupted sleep…I promise 😉
It’s another week, another #wednesday words and another quote from me (well from someone on Pinterest actually!) Has there ever been a time when you just knew something even though you didn’t know how you knew it?
Short and sweet today… (Am I overdoing the instincts thing a bit now lol?!) 😉
Philosopher: A philosopher is a person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy who uses this knowledge in their work, typically to solve philosophical problems. Philosophy is concerned with studying the subject matter of fields such as aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, as well as social philosophy and political philosophy.
Today’s #wednesdaywords is a quote, unsurprisingly about listening to and trusting your instincts! 😉 It is from a lady called Harriet Beecher Stowe. She was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery. The quote is simply this…
Recently my instincts have been at the forefront of my everyday life, and they were recently challenged by someone, who implied that parents cannot survive on instinct alone. Trusting your instincts is hard, but is something I am so passionate about. So today, I thought I’d share with you how mine have helped me, and my family recently.
They have helped my four year old son, who has coughed for as long as I can remember; dismissed as asthma by the doctors my instincts told me it was something more, something digestive and sure enough it turns out that it looks like it is something more.We don’t know what yet, possibly Coeliacs, and blood tests and x-rays await us at a hospital appointment. I’m not one for visiting the doctor unnecessarily, but in this case my instincts kept me going back to ask for help….and I was right to listen to them.
My one year old has also been testing my instincts recently too. He’s never slept through the night (three chest infections in three months haven’t helped) and when you tell people he still has a feed in the night they are horrified, and pretty much always suggest training him out of it. But my instincts tell me he needs it. That it is not for comfort. That it is a full feed. It’s often sleep and feeding issues that can test a mother’s instinct (no one likes sleep deprivation!) and this may be when some might reach for those books to look for suggestions about how to make your baby ‘sleep through.’ Stories of how babies slept for twelve hours a night from ten weeks and how they eat more than you do don’t help, and can make you feel like you are doing something wrong. But, much as I’d like a full eight hours of sleep, as you all know I read my baby, and right now, he’s telling me he needs that feed. So that feed he will have.
My instincts have also been there recently about me. About how I am with my PND. The tablets may be gone, and I’m so much better than I was, but it’s still there. It still lingers on. Most days are amazing and I’m happier than I have ever been, but sometimes things can upset and distress me more than they should. And I need to listen to my instincts about how I am feeling, trust them, and ask for help and support on the days where I’m not in control of my brain. On the days where my brain tells me disaster is imminent and I am worthless and cannot cope.
I know it can be heard to listen to what your gut is telling you, and to have the confidence and trust to go with it. So much advice is conflicting; co-sleep/don’t co-sleep; form a strict routine/be baby-led…it’s endless and it can be overwhelming, making it hard to know where to start. And whilst you all know I think advice is invaluable and sounding out ideas is fantastic, it’s far better from and with trusted sources. Many mums worry when their children don’t do things ‘by the book’ or how have been made to believe they ‘should’ do things, but if you listen carefully and look at your baby you’ll know if what’s happening is ok and meant to be…or not.
Each baby different. Each situation different. Each instinct different. Listen.
Adverts: Advertising is a form of communication for marketing and used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to continue or take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behaviour with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common.
So, it is #rantyfriday and if you read my blog you know I often like a good rant, and sometimes that rant is about so called ‘parenting manuals!’ My dad once bought a manual to help him when I was a ‘difficult’ teenager. I don’t remember what it was called or exactly what was written in it but I do remember laughing out loud when I snuck into my parents bedroom to read it, thinking that the author clearly wasn’t a teenager as they didn’t get them at all! Maybe it was there that my dislike of parenting manuals began, who knows, but recently this irritation has spread to parenting adverts….
I was watching an advert for a popular squash brand this week and was infuriated by the tag line, ‘It’s great to be a dad, even better to be a friend.’ It is such a sweeping statement and I despair of parents who try and be their children’s friends; I’m of the firm opinion that you should be their parent! You, and they, probably have enough friends (I hope!) in your lives anyway. Parenting isn’t about being friends with your child, they are not supposed to like you, they are supposed to respect you and look up to you. Parenting is far more complex than friendship, and whilst I’m friendly with my children, I wouldn’t dream of actually being their friend. How would that help them? I’m supposed to discipline them, teach them the difference between right and wrong, nurture their talents and develop their personalities. I am not the one who should be having their first fag with them behind the bike sheds. Or be the first to hear about them losing their virginity. *shudders* I’m all for having a close,honest relationship with my children, but if they ask for my advice, the advice they will get is that from a mother, not a mate.
After watching that advert I then got a bit obsessed with analysing others. Nappies for example; ‘All your baby needs to wake up happy is your love and a dry bottom.’ What a load of sodding rubbish! I love my baby endlessly, and he always has a nice, clean and dry bottom, but does he always wake up happy, does he heck! I, for that matter, am loved and always have a nice, clean and dry bottom and I wake up in a foul mood almost daily.
And don’t even get me started on sanitary towels and, ‘Have a happy period.’ That was clearly written by a man. Why oh why would I or any other woman ever have a happy period? How could being bloated, tearful, irritated with everyone and everything, in pain, spotty and miserable as sin EVER be a happy experience. If a sanitary towel actually possessed magical powers and could make me have a happy period then I’d buy them in truck loads. Seriously, someone needs to invent that!
My point to this rant (albeit somewhat disguised!) is that parenting and life can be hard, and so many written words compound that. Books, magazine articles, adverts…if we read and believe them all we would go insane and never know what to do. Surely our instincts can tell us that if a child has a dirty nappy they will probably be unhappy. (and, for that matter, that we are never going to have the all elusive ‘happy period’)
My mum sent me this article in the newspaper this week (yes it was from the Daily Fail but still, I read it!)
In the article it says that 46% of Grandmothers listened to their own instincts. And the others shockingly took advice from Mothercare or Marks & Spencer. Can you imagine their advert, ‘This isn’t just any baby…this is a baby with the peachiest, smoothest skin. A baby whose cries sound like sweet music!’ Bleurch, you get the picture. Are these companies really that influential, do people actually listen to the words in their adverts? Are some men out there now changing their complete parenting style to be their son’s mates even though it could be going against every instinct they have?
The article ends with the sentence, ‘We think it’s important for mothers to be encouraged to discover their own inner instincts – something books can overlook!’
COULD NOT AGREE MORE. And now I think this not just about books, but hugely influential advertising as well. What do you think?