This afternoon I was scrolling through my beloved Pinterest when I saw a pin titled “Help Your Child Sleep In.” My Girl has always been an early riser; 6am wake up calls are a blessing around my abode. So that tag line immediately got my attention. And then it got me mad.
It simply starts with: They wake up that early because you let them! And this, folks, immediately hit a nerve with me.
If there is one thing that burns my skin in the world of motherhood, it is when parents assume that because a method worked for them, it will work for you. And if it doesn’t, you must surely be doing it wrong.
When will we realize that one-size-fits-all will never be the situation when it comes to parenting? And that following a bullet point list will never guarantee a behavior out of anyone – must less someone still understanding how to say the word “Please”? If that was the case, we would all be have great sleepers, green bean eaters and gracious children and wouldn’t be resorting to Pinterest tips on how to survive the toddler years.
Don’t get me wrong – I am all for sharing words of wisdom when there is a parenting success. The more tools we have in our shed, the better. But when those words come with a dash of “you must not be working hard enough” condescension, I believe it does more harm than good. Moms certainly don’t need more guilt trips handed to them.
As for her tips, I have tried them all. For over a year, I have tried every single method she suggests with consistency. I have tried comforting and placing back in the crib, soothing words, crying it out, reasoning with “it’s still night-night,” adjusting bedtimes. Not much has impacted My Girl’s rise and shine time.
The same is the story with her napping. My pediatrician told me that if I just kept her in the crib for 45 minutes, she would fall back asleep. I did so for five weeks with no other result than getting her incredibly upset and inconsolable by the time I would go in her room. I have tried lying down with her. We’ve not gone anywhere in the mornings as to not overstimulate her. We have tried going to multiple functions before nap time in the hopes it would tire her out. Everyone said school would get her on a longer nap schedule, but six months in, she is still the first one up from a nap.
And you know what I’ve learned from this exhausting process? My kid isn’t a robot I can program. It isn’t all up to me. She is her own being. She has preferences and dislikes and ingrained personality traits. I do my best to guide her & teach her, cater to her needs and provide a safe & stimulating environment, but she is still an individual who ultimately can make her thoughts known (in her toddler way).
My Girl is a great eater. She began sleeping through the night at three months. She keeps hair bows in her hair. She says no thanks, excuse me to the dog, and places a napkin in her lap at the dinner table. And as much as I’d love to take 100% of the credit for these wonderful actions, I know that just isn’t the case. As with all parenting successes, it is part my actions and part my daughter’s inclinations that get us where we are. And I believe the same goes for so-called failures, like My Girl wanting to start the day before 6 am. It is simply not all in my control.
So if you have an early riser, a bad sleeper, a public tantrum thrower – rest easy. It’s not always because you let them!