Today you’ll learn the 5 things I would never do as a therapist who works with parents and babies and a mom of 3.
If I had a baby today oh what a mom I’d be…
Don’t we all have perfect vision in hindsight? There are so many things I know today that I was clueless about back then. Important things! If I could only go back and talk to that frazzled and overwhelmed mama with an infant in her hands and a toddler jumping on the sofa…
But dear Tunester, I can’t do that. So the next best thing is to tell YOU all and hope that my wisdom, born of my professional experience and my never-ending search to be a better mama can help you through this time a bit.
A recent trend on TikTok had professionals giving short bits of useful advice from their years of experience in the field. I learned that doctors in the ER would never let their kids jump on a trampoline, and that a dentist would never drink out of a beer bottle in a crowded bar.
So here are mine (To see the post on Tik Tok click here):
5 things I would never do as a therapist who works with parents and babies.
1. I’d never get too obsessed about my baby’s schedule.
I really wish I could have told myself this one years ago when I had my first. I approached my baby’s schedule like an army general grasping for some order.
15:00 – Meal time!
T-4 – Sleep time!
Who was I kidding? The baby was my commander.
By my third I realized that the schedule eventually falls into place. The real work is finding the balance between following the baby’s lead and nudging their sleep and eating windows into consistent times when possible. Until of course they shift their schedule once again.
What I’ve seen from myself and you all over and over is that obsessing over ANYTHING baby related takes away from our bonding with our baby. Meaning, it shifts our focus from a flexible, open minded approach to a goal-oriented one.
Obsessing over the schedule is like being on a nature hike and burying your head in the map instead of enjoying the way the sun flickers through the trees and the salamander scurrying across your path
2. I’d never take on all the baby parenting tasks because I don’t like the way my partner does it.
I’ve seen this one over and over. One parent (often the mom but not always), feels that the other doesn’t know how to put the baby to sleep, change the diaper the right way, or soothe effectively. Usually the parent giving the critique is the one who spends more time with the baby and has had more opportunities for trial and error. They’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t, and when their partner tries the method that has failed, they can’t help but intervene – “not like that! Forget it, I’ll just do it myself”.
But what happens is disaster – the main parent takes on more and more tasks and the other parent slowly gives over control – having even less chance to practice and losing even more confidence.
The only way to avoid this pitfall is for the main parent to step away for stretches of time and let their partner become an expert in their own way. The more time they’ll have alone with the baby, the more empowered they’ll feel.
3. I’d never keep my feelings about isolation, depression and anxiety to myself.
Even with increasing awareness about postpartum depression, moms still feel shame when it rolls around. It’s so hard to parse apart – are we overwhelmed because of lack of sleep? The extreme lifestyle change? The monotony of the day? The isolation? Or the hormones? Our internal voice often says – that’s just how motherhood is I guess.
But keeping it to ourselves makes us feel even more isolated and anxious as the days go on, which makes us plummet even further. The fact is that all new parents feel some degree of anxiety, depression and isolation when their baby is born. Post partum depression can look very different for each person. For me, it showed up as anxiety. For someone else, it may look like sadness. Not sharing how we feel with others can increase our feeling that something is wrong with us and make us feel even worse in an already difficult time.
4. I’d never judge another parent for doing something that seems wrong to me.
Over the years, I’ve found that the things that we feel most strongly about when it comes to parenting, the declarations we make about how we’ll behave as parents (when I’m a parent, I’ll never do… or my kids will be…) are the ones that come back to bite us in the diaper.
Once we’ve actually got the unsoothable baby in our arms, or have experienced our 24th night in a row of poor sleep, we surprise ourselves with the decisions we make just to stay afloat. parenting a baby is hard and everyone is just doing their best.
That said if you see someone doing something concerning ask questions. See if your assumptions are justified.
5. I’d never insist on one philosophy or one approach.
You know why there are so many books on parenting? Because there is not ONE WAY that is best. For instance, you can find endless approaches for how to get your baby to sleep. At this point we don’t have the magic answer.
Not only that, your baby is constantly changing, and their needs shift daily . Taking care of a baby demands that we be flexible all the time and be sensitive to our own needs as much as the baby’s. Committing to one parenting approach means listening to a book created for the average baby instead of taking cues from the very unique baby in your arms and the relationship unfolding between you both.
To read the 9 things I wish someone had said to me when I had my baby, click here.
So there you have it. That’s my list. What would you add to it? Comment below and let me know.
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