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Routines and Schedules for Your Baby
When you have a baby everyone wants to give you advice - at least that's what I found...even old ladies at the bus stop!
It can be hard when so much of the time you are quite tired and very focused on trying to "get it right". There have been (and still are many times) when I feel there are a number of options to try and am not sure which to go for. And other, harder times, when I feel like I have exhausted evey idea and possibility that I know of and want to talk to those that I trust to help me out.
I guess what I 'know' as a psychologist and what I experience as a mother tells me that this is partly the result of having to do the hard work of "being in relationship". Having a baby is having a growing person, and getting to know your baby is a relentless task - made all the more so as they are learning new things every day and developing different ways of knowing about themselves and the world around them...sometimes faster than you can keep up with! Just when you think you have a thing down pat, they go and find a new thing to test you (and them) with.
As a therapist I say to people that the most treasured things in this world are our relationships and that everything else that we do, achieve and aquire affect the stability and longevity of those relationships. What I know now as a mother is that each time I reach for something outside myself and my family, I need to think carefully about the consequences of that. Books, relatives, courses, midwives, health visitors...they can all be useful and they can help from time-to-time, but they don't live with the relationships in this family and they are not invested in the same way as we are as a family.
I know several people who have come unstuck trying to follow some book, or some advice telling them to implement a schedule or routine, with sad and difficult consequences. Most of the casualites are the mothers's self-confidence in her ability to know and understand her child. It worries me when I hear health professionals talking as if they know my child better than me - how can they? They are afterall only hearing what I can translate of what I have interpreted...I often wonder (especially when they are getting emphatic or strident) how they are so sure of themselves?
When I sit with a mother or father and talk about the difficulties they are facing with their little ones I try very hard to work with what that parent knows about their child - afterall, what use will my cleverness be to them if I have failed to listen to what they know.
And when, as a mummy, I don't know, I try to sit with that for a bit longer than I used to. I am supposed not to know some of the time and I am supposed to respond to that by thinking - carefully (full of care) and lovingly - don't you love it when you find out that someone has really thought about you? Just that task, the thinking, is part of the loving and part of the "getting it right". And the marvel of the love that you have for your baby is that time and time again, you will think and apply and learn and think and apply and learn, because you don't have to "get it right", you just have to try...
So maybe next time you are feeling out of ideas and unsure, sit side-by-side with your little one and try and listen with your heart rather than your ears, and let your wisdom as a mummy or daddy guide you. Be brave and take a chance, afterall we expect our little ones to learn every day and experience new things without getting disheartened.
Let go of the "getting it right" and be gentle with yourself...perhaps you will even play...!