Tuesday 17 May 2011

Parenting Principles

I like to think I'm not alone in this, but before I had a baby I had some pretty conceived ideas of how I would roll. But as time has gone on, I have 'got real'. I thought I'd visit some of the things I thought I'd do, ways I would be, and how, as time has gone on, I have changed. And maybe not always for the best.

Out the window

Bottle-feeding Never did I think I'd be a bottle feeder.I had some pretty dumb misconceptions about formula. Joseph was so low birthweight, he required more than breast milk. It took me a long while to understand that, that he was born in "artificial" circumstances, and it wasn't my fault, he just needed more. I was so unprepared for bottle feeding, I had no idea about brands of bottles, sizes of teats or sterilising methods. I felt I was totally unprepared for a bottle fed baby.

Television I've blogged about television before. We do a lot during our days, walks to the park, toddler groups, craft activities etc, but it's a reality that TV plays quite a bit of a roll in Joseph's day. I am selective, it's always CBeebies or other specialist programming, and the TV is off for long periods in the day, but he just loves it! And I am sure it has taught him a great deal. It's also helped us to find story books, to go new places, and given me ideas of activities. Cake case creatures anyone?

Toys When Joseph first came home, we started acquiring toys. I love toys made out of fabric and wood, I love natural toys, gentle toys. Slowly we were given gifts, many of these toys were plastic, they had buttons and flashing lights. Gradually I have realised that to help his development, Joseph does need stimulation, and plastic things, things that flash, that go ding, are important! He still has some natural toys and he loves wooden blocks, and is starting to do creative play with stuffed animals.

Toys with Television Tie-Ins This is one area where I actually do feel a bit of a cringe about. TV and its marketing is so insidious and clever. The first toys I bought were the In The Night Garden toys. They are so cute, and beautifully made. And Joseph loves them. Which doesn't make it right, but there you are. He also has some Zingzillas toys. Zingzillas is a musical programme and it definitely has enhanced Joseph's understanding of music. Joseph's new discovery, like millions of children before him, is Thomas the Tank Engine

Held on to

Cloth Nappies  Joseph was in disposables in hospital, his bottom was the size of a small snail, his changing schedules were not always when I was able to be there, so I decided that it would be better to stick with disposables. As soon as he was home I made arrangements to switch to "real nappies". There are times Joseph is not in cloth, such as when we are travelling. I feel the same way about disposables as I do about ready meals, there are times when these things are completely appropriate, and occasional use does no harm. But for the majority of time, Joseph has a fluffy bum! It's no hassle, its not really inconvenient, and its certainly saved us money.

Baby-led weaning We couldn't do traditional baby led weaning, where the baby feeds themselves from the outset, but I used the principles. Joseph ate modified family meals from the outset, always with us. I always served something he could attempt to hold. Two years on, we eat as a family. It's been delightful, its helped my cooking and my own eating, and made me think more about what I am eating.

Reading time From the time Joseph was tiny, I read to him. Special care baby units are wonderful places, full of knowledgeable staff, cutting edge equipment, and gorgeous babies. They are also exceedigly boring. Your baby is very often in a box. You can't hold the baby, there's only so much leaning in and massaging you can do. So I used to take story books in. Reading is a very important part of our routine, not just at night time, but during the day as well. "Book" is one of Joseph's first and most used words! He can't or doesn't yet say television, so I can't have gone too wrong.

Reaching out I don't often talk about this, but when Joseph was in hospital I felt so lonely. I felt completely alienated. I felt like no one else could possible understand what I was going through. Of course, thousands of families go through this in the UK every year. I promised that I would never allow anyone to feel this way. I have met, both online, and in person, people who are going through this journey with their children, or have been through it and still feel frightened, alienated, and traumatised. I have kept my promise, through my on line activities, volunteer work, and most importantly this blog. I hope that I have helped people, and the art of reaching out has certainly helped me come to terms with all that has happened.

Motherhood isn't what I expected it to be. The start was far harder than I ever thought it might be. The toddler years that we are experiencing now, are more fun, more delightful, and more enriching than I ever thought possible. OK so some things I had planned have whooshed out the window, but that's a good thing, it's right to be challenged, to alter the way you do things, as long as its for the right reasons


  1. Great to read a post about mums finding their way! It's such a learning curve, really enjoyed this post! Xx

  2. Couldn't agree more with all the above, we read loads while in hospital. One thing I swore I'd never do was sleep in the same bed or stay with them until they went off but its amazing what tiredness can do, once in a while it took over and in the name of actually getting some sleep we did! Now at 7 & 4 they sleep perfectly. We learnt loads in scbu as well & I can relate to the isolation you felt x

  3. So true. You have to take each day as it comes and adjust. Motherhood is a huge learning curve. It's sometimes hard to let go of principles you hold dearly, but parents should never feel guilty about evolving their principles for the right reasons.