Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Most of us when we decide to become parents have this “perfect” concept of how we will parent our children. However, this Stepford Plan that we create in our minds does not take into consideration the whims, fancies and peculiarities of our little ones who have their own unique quirky personalities. We think we know best, we’ve read all the books, seen the “mistakes” others have made and we’ve got this parenthood thing figured out. And then the baby comes along and we get knocked for six. My journey has not been “perfect” but I’ve enjoyed and celebrated its imperfections. Here are a few of the “imperfections” that have been a part of my parenting journey.
1. We practised co-sleeping for nearly 3 years.
Let me be clear that I’m neither for or against co-sleeping. I’ve researched the pros and cons and you just have to know if it works for you or not. My son has never been a great sleeper and I made the decision to co-sleep when he was around 5 months. I had just resumed work and getting up every hour and a half to two hours simply wasn’t working out. Like his father, he likes to cuddle and he slept more soundly next to mummy and daddy. Of course we took precautions – no excessive pillows on the bed and no cover sheet that he could get caught up in. To this day, even though he has his own bed, he still doesn’t sleep through the entire night. So if co-sleeping works for you, don’t beat yourself about it.
2. I breastfed until my son was 3.
Breastfeeding, especially in public, is a contentious issue worldwide, and society often tries to dictate an expiry date for breastfeeding. When I first decided to breastfeed my goal was to reach the first 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding which I did. Unfortunately, my son has allergies and I was advised that if I introduced formula it would have to be one that is hypoallergenic. So, when he reached 6 months, we tried and he hated every brand, refusing to drink a drop. When I resumed working shift, I thought that he would ultimately cave and accept the formula.
The child probably caved once or twice, but then he quickly realised that sooner or later mummy’s coming home so I’ll wait for my boobs. Also because I was avoiding the common allergens like fish, dairy, gluten, and nuts, I was producing his own personal hypoallergenic brand that didn’t cause his skin to itch or break out. Since then we’ve never looked back. We officially stopped breastfeeding 3 days after his third birthday at the start of 2020. Don’t let society determine what your breastfeeding journey will be; even if you prefer not to breastfeed at all. A happy baby is a fed baby, however you decide to do that.
3. My son doesn’t have a bedtime
I know! I know! You’re horrified. Kids need structure and they need to get adequate rest. Agreed, but a set bedtime hasn’t really worked for me. I learned very early that if I put my son to bed at 8/8:30p.m. he would be up again anywhere between 1 and 3 a.m. If I’m lucky he would be back down by 4 or 5am and often I wouldn’t go back to bed because I would start preparing for the day. This meant I was really short on sleep and tired in the late afternoons. So I learnt my lesson and now my son goes to bed anywhere between 9 and
10 p.m., occasionally later. And no, he doesn’t get up super late as most people think. He usually gets up between 5:30 am and 6:30 a.m.
4. I’ve embraced screen time.
The use of technology is another hot topic. My little one loves YouTube and while he does have his fair share of PJ Masks and Peppa Pig, he also enjoys the Octonauts, and Akili. Some of his favourite videos focus on the alphabet, numbers, shapes and the planets. So for our family YouTube isn’t just about entertainment, it’s also about learning. He also has an app called ABC Mouse that enhances his learning experience as well. Most importantly, his screen time is balanced with puzzles, evening walks, helping mummy take care of the vegetable garden, and hide and seek amongst other activities. So my advice - use screen time as a tool, not a babysitter.
5. I wasn’t horrified when my son called us by our first names.
Now this might seem like nothing major but a lot of parents freak out when their child calls them by their first name. Some people think it’s downright rude. Personally, it has never been a major issue. Our first names are what our children hear us being called daily, so it really shouldn’t be a shock when they follow suit. What I loved most about this habit was that our son knew our names. Haven’t you heard about those situations where a child goes missing at an event and when he’s found by an adult he can only say that his parents’ names are Mummy and Daddy? So I was very happy that my son knew his parents were Daddy Alex and Mummy Julia and besides, this habit doesn’t last forever. Ultimately, on this parenting journey you have to do what works best for you and your child. The parenting roadmap isn’t made from one mould that works the same way for everyone. Figure out what works for you and makes your family happy. Perfection isn’t attainable but happiness and contentment are.