Yesterday I was at the first time mums group - basically the NHS corrals them all into a library and teaches them about stuff that any sensible person would know, but it's kind of an excuse to make mummy friends. Now the first amusement of the day was that the Health Visitor was talking about "Positive Parenting" - this is a huge project which the government has thrown bags of cash behind and essentially the gist of it is that instead of getting frustrated with your children when they misbehave, you should praise good behaviour and ignore the bad... Now personally I'm in favour of this, it's a good policy. Where it becomes a bad policy is when they have parents not telling their kids off for doing annoying/dangerous things because they believe in positive parenting... Um, no. That's not parenting, you just can't be arsed to discipline them. The Health Visitor seemed somewhat confused by what it's all about though. What she did say is that consistency is key - which I absolutely agree with.
She spoke about not getting enough sleep (not really a problem for me, except due to my own fault not getting blackout blinds installed). And also about how babies don't go to sleep on schedule (mine does). And how it's really hard to get them to eat (no problems there). And how you have to do so much housework and they don't want to be put down (um, no, mine's quite content to amuse himself for a bit). All the mummies wholeheartedly resonated with these problems smiling in recognition of these problems which bound them together as mummies.... She then went on to talk about routines and you could see the entire room of mummies recoil in horror.
Then I had a slight smirk on my face... Here are these mummies who have been told they have to be baby-led, demand feed and generally be slaves to this small person's every whim. They've all had about 4 months of no sleep, not being able to take a shower, not eating properly, feeling fat... And now the health visitor is saying "Actually there's a much easier way..." LOL! I'm sitting there with my wee guy, who is happily asleep and wakes up bang on 2:30 for his feed, then happily sits looking at all the other babies in some confusion since every single one of them was crying their eyes out at some point during the 2 hour session. He was just quite happy to sit and take it all in.
I'm very, very quiet about the fact that my baby is a Gina Ford addict. You mention her name anywhere in mummy circles and people look aghast - they mistakenly believe she advocates leaving babies to cry and doesn't feed them if they are hungry and won't cuddle them etc. Anyone who's actually read The Contented Little Baby knows that isn't true. It's actually about making sure all your baby's needs are met before they know they need it so there's less tears and stress.
Occasionally some mummies will say "Oh I couldn't do that - I'll do <whatever other baby book>" but essentially it is all the same thing - it's about balancing all the feeding, sleeping and playing so that your baby knows what's coming next and so you have some time off scheduled.
The Health Visitor predicted that although the mummies perhaps weren't ready to do a schedule now, they'd be back begging her for tips when the babies are a year old, they haven't had a full night's sleep ever, and they have to go back to work. Funnily enough, I tend to agree with her. I think having to go back to work was a huge catalyst for me putting this in place, as otherwise it would be impossible to work and look after CamdenX. The more time off we give mothers, the less incentive they have for sorting out their baby into a sensible routine. Do I enjoy getting up at 7am with him? No, definitely not. Is it worth having those predictable nap times and baby-free evenings? Infinitely so.
I've got DiamondTypist coming round to discuss an event we're planning for September on Friday. She doesn't have any childcare in place for her youngest and doesn't intend to until he's 6 months old. She also doesn't have him in any sort of a routine, which I just find mind boggling especially since she also has a toddler she needs to get to nursery in the mornings. I've got HotNanny and Indiegirl on hand to look after the littlies - I'm not sure if DiamondTypist is really going to switch off though. I doubt she's left her one with anyone yet.
It is bizarre, I just don't have that "Only I can soothe him" type response. He's not bothered who picks him up and cuddles him, which is entirely because he's been used to being looked after by other people from literally a few days old. I didn't think it was fair to set up that kind of expectation when it wasn't something I could continue long term. Same with breastfeeding - it wasn't going to be possible to do long term so we fed him in a way that meant he wasn't going to have to chop and change and get upset about it. I'm also now even more anti-maternity-leave since I just think it's cruel to let the baby have 10 months with solely being looked after by mummy and then rip her away. Far more sensible to have a staggered return where they do 1-2 days a week initially and then back within say 12 weeks.