i was talking to my brother the other day about parenting philosophies and the idea of committing to doing things certain ways. i said, very sagely, with the vast authority of two months of parenthood behind me, that having set ideas about parenting is never a good idea.
s and i went into this with certain ideas about how we were going to do things, but our overarching mantra was ‘we’ll see how it goes’. we wanted to make plans, but not cling to them too doggedly. set out purposefully, but keep an open mind if things didn’t turn out as expected.
i’m really glad that we took (and continue to take!) that approach, because if we’d set our hearts on our perfect ideals we’d already be feeling like massive failures. almost nothing has turned out exactly as we’d expected. for example:
before arty was born we stocked up on cloth nappies with the intention of using them exclusively. we bought one packet of disposables for emergencies, but didn’t think we’d use them all. hah!
disposable nappies keep arty a lot more comfortable overnight, and when we’re going to be out for a while and potentially go for longer between changes. they absorb the moisture and draw it away from the skin. we tend to only use cloth when we’re at home and it’s convenient to change him at least once every hour.
as he gets older and goes through fewer nappies a day we’ll probably start using cloth more than we currently are, but right now we’re doing what makes him most comfortable, and keeps the nappy rash at bay.
we were never going to bedshare because our bed isn’t big enough for the three of us to sleep safely in it, so we decided we’d sidecar arty’s cot onto our bed. we tried it for the first couple of weeks, but couldn’t get him to settle in the cot while it was arranged that way. i think part of the problem was that our movements disrupted him too much.
now we have his cot about two feet from our bed, so we are very close and he knows we’re always there, but he has his space and sleeps more soundly. it’s working out really well.
we remain committed to keeping arty fed exclusively on breastmilk for as long as possible. i’m very proud of how hard we’ve worked at that, but it wasn’t easy, and it didn’t pan out as i’d expected (i’ve already written about the early stages of our breastfeeding journey here). we still have to use a nipple shield in order for arty to latch effectively, and i sometimes find that very frustrating – especially when he’s hungry and i have to hunt around for one. this isn’t how i’d pictured breastfeeding but the outcome is still what we wanted, so it’s alright.
our backgrounds in education and psychology (and our common sense) have taught us that all children are individuals, and they bring their own set of preferences and needs to any situation. we knew we’d have to be open to arty having different ideas to us about some things. and that’s ok. he’s not going to get to call all the shots, but he does get to have a say. you might think he’s too young to express his preferences, but he has his ways!
this doesn’t mean that we’re throwing all our plans out the window. it’s been important to be determined about some things because they’re worth fighting for, like persisting with breastfeeding, and not letting the paediatrician push us into putting arty on formula in the hospital. but clinging to idealistic plans when they’re not working is a recipe for failure, frustration, and an unhappy family.
ideals are wonderful things, and they’re great guides for the big picture. but when it comes to the everyday, compromise is what keeps the wheels on.