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OK. So I am obsessed with asking myself if I’m teaching my baby to be ‘flexible’ enough. No, I am not talking about teeny tiny baby yoga. I am talking about breaking routine just enough that she becomes adaptable and as easy going as possible, in order to make our lives easier and her potential future anxiety less intrusive on her short little life.
For example, having her get used to exploring places she’s never been (by ‘exploring’ I mean being taken there against her will because she’s a little baby and can’t decide jack shit). Or by having her accept that sometimes we’ll go out at night time and she might have to sleep in her pram or in a port-a-cot or on somebody’s spare bed (all safety precautions taken care of). You know the drill.
Another goal of making my baby flexible is to know that she’s adaptable enough to be left with a loved one for a few hours without being traumatised and can eventually sleep overnight with her grandparents or a babysitter. Because let’s face it, it’s been a long time between fun date nights or sleep in a child free house (which is SO different from sleep in a child filled house – obvs). I dream of getting to this stage because I think it will be important for both the Little Miss and for us. I look at the Little Mister (6.5 years old) and see the complete joy he feels when he’s told he’s sleeping over at his grandparents’ places. He begs for sleepovers. It’s fantastic bonding time, especially now that he’s older. It’s become less about gratefully ‘offloading’ him so we can go and have fun and more about giving him that wonderful time he cherishes so much. Not to mention, grandparents give more treats out and spoil the crap out of their grandkids haha. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with them more? I used to somehow convince my gran that ice cream was acceptable after lunch and bless her, she just went with it! Those are some of my favourite memories.
So, I overthink the whole ‘flexibility’ thing, is basically what I’m saying.
Every time we have slightly unusual social plans etc, I ask myself…is my hesitation to disrupt the baby’s routine because I’m being selfish or is it because my gut is telling me to let her stay in her comfort zone and I should listen this time?
I think it stems from the fact that I admit in hindsight that I used the Little Mister as a convenient excuse to avoid my own anxiety when he was little sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with him now (he has his quirks and anxieties but nothing debilitating and he’s doing well), so I guess I didn’t irreversibly fuck anything up, but I am very conscious of the fact that for my own sake, I need to make sure I’m not denying the Little Miss great opportunities because I’M not being flexible enough.
In perspective, it sounds ridiculous. She’s 4 months old, FFS. I need to CTFD.
Speaking of perspective, the Little Miss is our second child. This means she’s had to be flexible from the day she came home and met her big brother. She has to be carted back and forth on the school runs (she has to have short naps in the car) and weekends are noisy and busy at home during nap time (no matter how much the family is so considerate of her she just KNOWS things are different and that everyone is home and I swear she gets little baby FOMO).
She gets lots of stimulation, meets new people pretty much every day, is poked and prodded by clucky 6 year olds constantly and she is developing well, with lots of ‘play’ time. She’s also a really good sleeper as long as she feels well and my god, we are so freakin’ lucky.
Last night shook me a little because we took her out and she wouldn’t settle. At all. Didn’t want a bar of it. As it got later and later (I mean past HER bed time not ours), I knew I had to pull the plug and call it a night. I felt like I’d somehow failed her. I felt a bit silly in front of the other grown ups (even though I’m sure they wouldn’t be judgey – they’re very nice). I wondered if I’d stretched her too much or not enough. I asked myself, what if this is it now? What if we’re doomed? Or was this a one off?
Now in the light of day, I think fuck it. One not-so-smooth evening is OK. It might have been the cold air (even though she was rugged up and warm). It might have been the different smells (there was a lovely little fire). It might have been because she’d had a lot going on all day and it’s easy to forget what constitutes a ‘big’ day for a baby (hint: not a lot by big person standards). It might have been that she was at the tail end of recovering from her post immunisations week (yes week – my babies sure don’t love their needles). Who bloody knows.
I think the moral of the story is that I followed my gut and took her home. She slept through the whole night without complaint. It’s OK to take your baby home sometimes. It’s OK to have an off night. It’s stupid to overthink it and be so harsh on myself. We ask a lot of babies and they’re trying their hardest in this big, new world.
This post is a reminder to myself to stop being such a bloody over thinker and to be kind to myself and to keep perspective. We’re doing OK.