If you have new parents in your Facebook friends list you know doubt read regular accounts of frustrations in parenting. I do my best to support my friends but sometimes I have to wonder why they took on such a heady task of raising a child if all they were going to do was complain about it?
Granted there are some special cases where parenting can be difficult and there certainly are some ‘seasons’ in a child’s growth that prove exceptionally challenging, but most of the frustrations in parenting that I read about are easily remedied by simply changing your way of thinking.
If you’re not a regular reader to GoodByeCityLife.com allow me to fill you in on my own situation. For the first nine years of my own daughter’s life I was a single mom. No, not the kind you see on television and not the kind that live next door to you. I was completely independent (no social assistance, no alimony or support, and no family reliable enough to leave my small charge with for even five minutes). Should you think I was a control freak that is exaggerating about the reliability of my ancestors, consider that at 11 months of age, while taking a short trip to Florida with my family, I was asked to walk over to the store to purchase milk for dinner. I was gone less than 4 minutes. By the time I returned my baby had fallen out of the Winnebago and smashed her forehead on the concrete slab 2 feet below resulting in multiple wounds and a black eye. Two adult relatives had been asked to keep an eye on her.
My point in telling you that is that I was a single mom in every sense of the word, so I speak from experience. I will also tell you that my girl is off to college in less than four months and she has already excelled in work experience, sales, entrepreneurship, self-confidence, and more. My theories and methods on the most beneficial mindset to raise a child are quite obviously sound.
Today I want to share with you one part of that mindset and then share a few tips to help you through the rough spots.
The child under your roof may be of your flesh and blood, may be dependent on you for all facets of life, but they are not your property. This is the most common mistake I see being made by parents throughout the generations. Children are thought of, or treated as, cheap labor — bossed and bullied. Children are not allowed their own voice because they are mini-representations of you — if you don’t want them acting a particular way in public then don’t act that way at home plus explain to them (with kindness, not condemnation) why any particular behavior is inappropriate. Change your mindset, and you can change your relationship with your child. Allow them to find their own voice, discover their own personality — they will never reach their potential if you are forcing them to become a mini-you.
If you’ve been graced with a baby, my guess is that your current frustrations in parenting is lack of sleep. Honestly? There is no fix for this. You will never sleep the way you slept before you had a child, again. Even when they are old enough to manage their own illnesses you will still arise in the middle of the night to hold her hair back when she is sick from the flu. Even when she is capably on her own you will awake at the first ring of the late night call should she need to talk.
Sleep deprivation is par for the course in parenting. Fortunately, there are some strategies and tips to help you get some sleep even if you’re as woefully independent as I was. My sleep secret as a single mom was to keep my baby in bed with me. She slept better, I slept better and it is completely natural in all cultures – although it is a tradition that the modern world has largely forgotten. If you’re interested, start your research with a book called “The Family Bed”.
Tips To Ease Frustrations in Parenting
Two Parents Take Turns
When your baby cries both parents usually awake even though only one attends to the baby. The best plan is for mom and dad to make a plan of who will get up when to comfort the crying baby. Many couples find that taking turns is the best option and will help everyone get just a little more sleep. However when one parent has a high-stress job they must get to in the morning and the other parent is on maternity leave, the stay-at-home parent is better suited to deal with night time needs.
Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
This one is so simple I don’t know how so many parents miss it. I know many people who would never have taken an afternoon nap before becoming a parent and who never actually slept on a nap when employing this technique, but just laying down and closing your eyes for the hour or two midday nap will help stave off exhaustion. Try it.
Accept Responsible and Intelligent Help
If you have a network of trustworthy family and friends who want to help, let them. Exercise extreme caution on this one though. I surmised that my stepmother had raised two babies of her own and therefore my baby would be fine for four minutes with her – but as you read above, she wasn’t safe. No one can look after your child better than you can – no one has such a strong investment or understanding of her facial expression, the tone of her cries, or her newly formed habits. Choose wisely and you’ll have a settled baby that grows up trusting others. Accept just any help and tragedy may occur.
Feed Your Baby Then Get Yourself to Bed
Babies sleep longer on a full stomach. It only makes sense that if you put yourself to bed as soon as your baby goes down for the longest sleep of the day, you’ll get more hours in yourself. If you’re working at home as I did, however, you’re probably burning the midnight oil so this won’t always work out as planned. I would force myself to work right through until her mid-night feeding and then get to bed for optimal rest. If I had gone to bed an hour before she awoke and had to wake up to feed her I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. Yes, this sounds hard, because it is, but no one said raising a baby would be easy.