Parenting is a minefield. No matter how you prepare yourself, you’re gonna feel kicked in the face most days. Whatever ideals you had before kids can easily go up in smoke when faced with a screaming toddler who keeps flinging themselves on the floor in frustration. I had so many rules and regulations that I was going to try and enforce. It started in pregnancy, as I told myself I was going to only eat healthily and listen to classical music. Ha. Oh Shante, you funny little sea urchin. Now, I just work around Rosie’s personality and how our family works best and it keeps us sane and at peace.
I’ve always been a pretty chilled mother. Sure, there are some things I can’t deal with such as barefoot kids in public (no judgies), or leaving the house without hand sanitizer, but when it comes to other “obstacles” that could have incurred a meltdown, I’ve let them slide. We’ve also looked at particular patterns of behavior in both us as parents, and in Rosie, that could be potentially harmful and we’ve made choices based on making sure we all stay happy and content. Here’s what I’m very glad we have chosen to do:
- Serving milk cold. I’ve mentioned before how difficult it was to get Rosie to take to a bottle but after much perseverance, we now can’t get her off them. One thing I’m very grateful for is for not warming up her milk. I had a few raised eyebrows from folks when I mentioned it originally and a few jokes about how it was mean, but knowing that I can be anywhere and I don’t need to look for a warming facility is awesome.
- Letting her cry. Moving Rosie into her own room and into her cot falls jut behind having to endure the ring of fire in labor. The first night of letting her cry was so traumatic. However, she was the type of kid that just wanted to be on the boob, or rocked to sleep and she would wake every 30mins and it was crushingly exhausting. I know a few people will tell me that I should have just endured and enjoyed the moments because she wanted to be with me, but you also need to keep yourself mentally healthy. The first night was rough. The second night was better and the third night, we seemed to have broken through the wall. No, it didn’t mean she slept through the night, or that we didn’t struggle going forward, but it made life easier. Now, we have a good bedtime pattern…even if there are nights when she doesn’t sleep through.
- Being stern with my Nos. I’m the first to admit I’m not a warm person. I like my own space far too much to have it encroached on and when Rosie was born, a few people wanted to be in our space. I was very firm about it and I don’t regret that. It takes a lot of energy to get me to leave my introverted bubble, energy that I was pouring into my baby. I won’t jeopardize what works for our family for social events – it sounds restrictive, but kids benefit from their routine and if I go to a braai with her and we only start eating after 8pm, I’m done. I’m going home. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Choosing creche. Okay, this one is difficult because I have days, mainly when she gets sick, that I wish I hadn’t put her in creche but, for the most part, it has been great for us. This sounds like a selfish thing to admit, but for the sake of being able to grow our businesses and offer Rosie, and ourselves, the best life, we have to graft hard. It’s also boosted her immune system as she has been exposed to all sorts of bugs, and I’m glad shes stronger now before the new baby arrives.
- Letting her explore. If you’ve seen this post, you’ll know that our house is very open. We keep our cupboards door-free and right by Rosie’s play area, we have a book shelf. By not constantly saying “no, don’t do that”, and keeping things in the open, Rosie hasn’t been tempted – because we ALL know that kids want what they can’t have. So amazingly, she doesn’t scale the shelves and isn’t interested in unpacking cupboards because it’s not off limits; She knows to be gentle and to play “softly” and I strongly believe that by showing her how we take care of our things, it has instilled that same sense in her. We were told by so many people that we would need to childproof our home and we haven’t because we haven’t made anything seem appealing by constantly telling her “no, don’t touch that!”
- Ignoring people when it comes to parenting advice. I am the type of person who will do the exact opposite of the advice you have given me just because I want to discover what works for me…and because I’m so stubborn. A lot of the advice that I did listen to turned out to be kak and it just reinforced the truth that you can’t learn everything from other people, you do need to experience it for yourself because each and every child is different. It’s also extremely important to myself and my husband that we discover and appreciate Rosie’s own personality and what we stand for without trying to fit ourselves into other’s moulds.
- Letting Rosie be. She’s a shy kid. At parties and social gatherings it can take her a full hour before she releases herself from me and goes and plays. When she meets new people, or even people she knows, she doesn’t always say hello. In the beginning I used to feel awkward about it, I used to try and force her to greet people and then I realized that she is only two. She has her whole life to demonstrate social decorum but I’m not going to lose my head over her not wanting to greet everyone. As for hugging and kissing, her body, her rules. I will NEVER force her to hug or kiss anyone. It will probably cause issue with some family, and be misconstrued as rude, but if I’m telling her that she can’t let a boy at school kiss her, why is it okay to make her kiss Aunty Ruth? It’s not. P.s, she is fantastic at saying goodbye. You won’t meet a kid who can say farewell with such enthusiasm as my daughter.