There are mothers out there who believe (or have been told to believe) that they need to be with their baby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They hold their babies around the clock, they feed their babies around the clock, they sleep with their babies and when their babies cry, the respond immediately to them, to stop the crying. There is no denying that these mothers are loving, caring and nurturing. These mothers want the best for their babies however by doing what they do, they put their own important needs to the side.
Many of these mothers are struggling. They may not like to admit it, but they are. They are badly sleep deprived, they are exhausted, day after day, week after week and they are simply just “surviving”. They are stressed, anxious, on edge and even though they are wonderful mothers, going above and beyond to meet their baby’s every need, inside they are sad, and they are miserable.
Then there are mothers (myself included), who believe they don’t need to be with their babies every minute of every day. They hold their babies when their babies need them however when they don’t, they give them their own space and time to be alone and feel comfortable with it. They feed their babies when they are hungry, not simply for closeness and comfort. They encourage independent sleep for their babies, choosing the cot or bassinet over having their baby on them or in their bed and when their babies cry, they leave them, they listen and then they decide if they need to intervene or not.
These mothers also want the best for their babies but, they also want the best for themselves. They want time on their own, so they can breathe. They want sleep, so they can get through the day without walking around in a daze. They don’t want to be stressed, anxious, on edge and they don’t want to simply “survive”. They want to be happy and rested so they can be the amazing mother they want and know they can be.
If, to be a caring mother and to raise a loved and attached child, you must always hold your baby, always feed your baby, sleep with your baby and never allow them to cry one tear, then we would all do it. There would be no question about it, we would just do it.
But there are so many babies out there who don’t get the constant, 24/7 attention I am talking about. There are many babies out there who sleep alone in their cot or bassinet from early on, who aren’t always held, who feed for hunger and who cry. And these babies are happy, healthy, content and securely attached to their mums and dads. I know this because I see it every day in my own children and the families I work with.
Having a baby shouldn’t mean months and years of long, exhausting days and sleepless nights. Having a baby shouldn’t mean you just need to “survive” and get through in whatever way you can. Sacrificing your own needs for your baby does not make you a better mum (or dad). I know for myself, when I am well-rested, and I get time alone, I am much happier, much more patient and I appreciate my gorgeous children so much more than when I’m stressed, sleep deprived, and I never get a break.
My wish – to make mums (and dads) realise that yes, their baby has needs but they have needs too and it’s OK to pay attention to both. I want parents to know that their baby will happy if they are given time and space to be alone from time to time. I want parents to know that if their baby sleeps alone in their cot or bassinet, they won’t feel like they are unsafe and unloved, and I want parents to know that if their baby cries, they don’t need to rush to their side every single time.
Happy, healthy mum and dad equals happy, baby is happy, healthy baby and vice versa.