eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Saturday, May 6

What to do When You Want to Have a Tantrum

Ask for help.
And ask for more help. Call friends, call relatives, call API, but make sure you call. You and your husband should not carry the enormity of parenting yourselves.

I found this refreshing coming from the Attachment Parenting International site. Attachment Parenting has some great goals for caring for children. I think it's great to be informed about childbirth and parenting and to be responsive to your child and his or her needs. My experience, though, is that the actual practice of it as stated will result in parents who are exhausted, frustrated, stressed, and possibly depressed.

A brief glance at the eight ideals supports this.

1. Preparation for Childbirth
2. Emotional Responsiveness
3. Breastfeed your Baby
4. Baby Wearing
5. Nighttime Parenting and Safe Sleeping Guidelines
6. Avoid frequent and prolonged separations from your baby
7. Positive Discipline
8. Maintain balance in your family life

The most important item is listed last, self care isn't even on the list as a separate item, and the first 6 items are geared around what the parent does for the baby. The fact is that there are a lot of other things that are important in a family besides the child's immediate emotional and even physical needs and some of them are necessary to providing for a child's needs.

I don't have time now to do an exhaustive list of priorities and needs in a family, but one of the top items I consider important for functioning well and maintaining balance in life is sleep.

If a child doesn't sleep well, he can be cranky and have a rough day. If the parent doesn't sleep well, especially over long periods of time, she can become cranky and have rough days too - only she has a lot more responsibilities and needs to be in top mental and physical shape to attend to her children well. Of course, everyone will do better if they get more sleep. It hasn't been my experience, however, that this happens over the long term with co-sleeping and heavy attention to "nighttime parenting".

Some people can sleep quite well through anything and find it difficult to wake up, and having a young baby near might help with hearing the baby well enough to wake up. (Then again, it's probably more dangerous if the parent really sleeps so heavily). For a light sleeper, every little noise and movement is a stimulus and interrupts sleep. In either case, the parent will likely sleep even more lightly so as to be careful about not rolling over the child.

Someone rolling over, touching me at all, or even a sigh can awaken me! I did eventually get exhausted enough to sleep through some of this sort of thing, but passing out from extreme exhaustion isn't exactly something I'd consider a benefit to co-sleeping.

This applies to the children as well. Co-sleeping with a child who awakens easily may actually make it harder, generally, for the child to sleep. Co-sleeping with a heavy sleeper may not have much impact at all either way. Children don't need to have their every whim met to feel cared for. They might be frightened about sleeping apart at first, just as anyone might be about a new experience, but once they have confidence that they are going to be ok and are cared for, they'll do fine.

Of course, to some people, this will seem like common sense. It isn't, really. There are whole cultures where it is common practice to co-sleep. I think this tends to be in places where space is expensive, but it could be that some parents and children do well with it!

The point is, it's not the co-sleeping or the breastfeeding or any of that which matters so much as having everyone's most important needs met.

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