Posts Tagged ‘ attachment parenting ’

Bedtime Invasions: Can They Be Stopped?

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

Every parent has an opinion on this. And it’s happened to all of us at least a dozen times. It’s 2:00 a.m. Your four-year-old daughter comes scampering into your bedroom unannounced. You can’t see or hear her, as she’s standing silently in the dark. Afraid it may be a ghost, you hold your breath and peer into the darkness. You finally see her, of course, when she’s within arm’s length, frighteningly staring at you with a blank expression, like that girl in The Ring. At this point, a ghost would’ve scared you less. So what do you do?

There are two camps, and they are quite distinct. You either welcome your terrifying child into the bed, a spot religiously left vacant for her where your sex life used to lay, or you send her packing, refusing to bend to your children and their ongoing, selfish quest to invade your pillow space.

Even if you don’t have kids, you likely know a parent who is one these two extreme types. Let’s break them down.

The first one, let’s call her “Clingy Parent,” sleeps next to her 6-year-old son every night. The boy, let’s call him “Tommy” sleeps between her and her husband. Every. Single. Night. Any half-hearted attempts to break the cycle have been quickly thwarted by Tommy, with little to no resistance by his over-accommodating parents. From what I understand, relations between mom and dad…they’re not so good.

The second type, which I’ll call “Stiff Arm Parent,” has never once let either of her children into the bed in which she and her husband (or boyfriend, girlfriend, dog, hey, I’m not judging here) sleep. I mean, maybe once or twice when they were babies and were teething and miserable, but certainly not once since they became toddlers, and full-fledged kids. They say no, and by God, they mean no.

Personally, I take issue with both of these approaches. Now, I don’t judge either parent, because I’m a big believer that there is more than one way to skin a cat and there is certainly more than one way to raise a happy child. But both methods are extremes, whereas I believe the healthy approach to anything usually lies somewhere in the middle.

When dealing with this issue, there are two clear, distinct goals, and to ignore either would be irresponsible.

  1. To ensure your child is given age-appropriate guidelines for when it is acceptable to come running to their parent’s bed and when it is not
  2. To ensure you’re getting enough sleep to deal with their nonsense and have enough space to sufficiently relax after a long day of dealing with their lovable, yet occasionally absurd behavior

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer in nurturing our children, giving them a neck to wrap their arms around when their alarm clock casts a menacing shadow on their dresser. However, I’m also a believer in setting boundaries so compassion doesn’t transform into a bad habit that becomes increasingly difficult to break.

Put simply, there’s a reason that “Tommy” in the “Clingy Parent” scenario is an only child. His poor parents are never alone to conceive another! If we allow our children access to our beds every night and never allow them to be nocturnally independent, they’ll take even longer to “let go of our legs,” so to speak, ultimately making it much harder for us to break them from the habit later on.

And the “Stiff Arm Parent” approach is a bit too cold for my liking. I see it as ultimately more beneficial to the child’s well being when compared to “Clingy Parent,” but seriously, how do you muster the will power to follow through on a child development plan at 3:00 in the morning? This, frankly, is where I crumble. If I’ve had a stressful day at work, operating at 35% mental capacity and my son crawls into my bed and starts snoring, guess who’s letting him stay there for the night? You got it. In fact, most of the time I’m not even aware he’s there until the next morning, when it’s far too late to put my foot down.

Ultimately, I’ve opted for positive reinforcement. My older son will go between 10 and 14 days without a nighttime visit, then suddenly starts popping in three or four days in a row. My wife (who, if it needs to be said, is the real brains behind this whole parenting thing) has implemented a rewards system. It just started this week. We put a magnetized “reward calendar” up in his room, and for every night he stays in his bed until morning, he gets to put a magnet of his choosing on the corresponding day. The kicker? He gets a surprise each time he’s successful. Not like a bike or anything, but something as simple as getting to pick out his dessert after dinner that night. It’s a little way to motivate him and to get him excited about doing something he wouldn’t normally be excited to do. Some people call it bribery. But those people would understand if they were parents.

So, while I firmly believe that our children’s needs override our own, I don’t think we’re being fair to ourselves (or potentially our significant other) by ignoring our needs completely either. It’s a delicate balance of instilling confidence and comfort in our kids while also maintaining a healthy “bedroom lifestyle” for ourselves as adults. In truth, splitting the atom was probably less complicated.

So, what tactic do you employ when approached mid-sleep by your child (if any at all)? Send me your feedback and thoughts by adding a comment below!

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

 

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Mom Guilt: Why Do I Have It? How Can I Get Rid Of It?

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

When I walk in the door after having a sitter, my mere presence sets Emmett off. He is like a cat that can sense me a mile away. He starts howling. This has happened with the previous nanny, with every sitter…. basically everyone but Phil. Phil is excluded because the same thing happens when he walks in. Emmett wails.

He could be perfectly happy playing or eating, but wham, we walk in and he is suddenly aware that he hasn’t been with mom or dad and starts to cry. Often real tears stream down his little face. I usually walk over to him, pick him up and hug him. “Emmett,” I say, “it’s okay. Mama’s here.”  His crying immediately ceases. He burrows himself into me, his arms down at his sides in a little cocoon. We call it “pod-ing” like he’s a pea going into his pod. I kiss his head. And every sitter says the same thing, “He was fine until he heard/saw you.”

I know this is part of an infant-toddler’s development. But it gets me every time. I have this heart pull. It’s not even conscious. It’s a visceral reaction. I know my kids are in excellent hands when they aren’t with me. Three days a week Fia is in preschool and absolutely loves it. She is really blooming there too.

I know Emmett has loads of fun with our sitters. I honestly don’t believe in the extreme version of attachment parenting–where you’re supposed to be with your kid 24/7 until they’re 3. Or 13. I’m not judging those who do it, but for me, I know exposing my kids to different people, different races, different environments is good for them. So why is it so hard to NOT feel guilty? I wish I knew…

I’ve said before that I think moms with full time jobs in some ways have it better. They have a purpose, whether it’s career aspirations, or providing for their family, etc. I’m in a murky place because I’m freelance and I don’t have a set job. Each time I plan my week I do it in a way that I get enough play time with Em, enough with Fia and enough with both. Then I fill in the gaps with a sitter. But why do I even have to make sure I clock in with my kids?

In November I stopped having a nanny. Now I have about 15 hours a week of help. But the fact that I want to say in the next sentence “but I try and book my sitter while they are napping” is just whacked. It’s like I have to continually justify to myself that I’m not abandoning my kids. I have to make sure people know that “Hey, I’m a good mom. And I’m around.” It’s ridiculous on so many levels.

My sitter Michele is amazing. She was our night nurse for, oh, 7 months. I didn’t feel guilty about that at all, because with Fia, my lack of sleep led to an insanity that wasn’t pretty.  I am terrible without sleep. I never pulled an all-nighter in college. So justifying my night nurse for Emmett was easy. I have no regrets. I was a better mom to everyone. I don’t feel like I “missed out” on anything.

When we didn’t need Michele anymore she offered to babysit during the day. And get this: she has 5 kids. Yes 5. Her oldest is 19. Her youngest are twins Fia’s age: Maci and Cruz (pictured below).

As a veteran mom, Michele is always telling me to stop feeling guilty. She pounds into me that we all need our own time.  I know she is right. But in going to my yoga class this morning, leaving to the cries of Emmett, I felt that usual pull on my heart. It sinks deep into my stomach. Not for long, but it is always there. Should I be doing this? In downward dog I noticed how bad my toes look. Damn, I need a pedicure. I guess I could do one while they nap tomorrow, since I have Michele again, I thought.

I am seriously pissed at myself for thinking this way. I would have slapped myself silly in my pre-kids day if I ever thought I would be like a walking blanket of guilt.

I often ask Michele to bring her twins. They go to daycare most days, but if Fia isn’t in preschool, the three of them have a near perfect chemistry. Plus, instead of saying to Fia, “Michele is coming today!” and her replying, “No mama, I only want you”, (cue the guilt) I can say, “Guess what? Maci and Cruz are coming!” She jumps up and down. “Yay! Yay! No Way! [pause] Ballet” (her new thing with rhyming words). I am reassured she won’t miss me. That I am ok. 

It’s like the rational side of my brain can’t reconcile with the primal side of my being. Logically, I know I need a break. I know it’s okay to go to the store by myself. I know it’s okay to do yoga, get a pedicure, write a blog, and have time to myself. I also know it’s good for my kids on so many levels. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t even consider it. So this is all on me.

So how to get rid of the guilt? Maybe I need to go back to my hypnotist. Or maybe this is just the way it is when you’re a parent… battling conflicting emotions that put your heart and head in the middle.

 

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Now for the Positive Boob Comments

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Ah, the boob. Between the Time Magazine story and my blog, I’m now actually sick of my breasts. In light of that, I thought I should post some of the positive comments from my controversial post (ie: Why The Boob Rocks).

In all seriousness, I got to thinking that while I’m opinionated, I also like to consider myself fair. And in my rebuttal post, (My Boobs Are Taking a Hit. Ouch!) I only singled out the negative comments. My hypnotherapist would be disappointed.

Here are some of my favorites from you guys.

(#1) Breastfeeding rocks !! It helps and makes things easier & it goes even better if you have a husband that helps out & don’t see it as a job but as team work!  I love my Boobs & Husband!

(#2) It forced me to stop and sit down, rest and think. That was priceless for my sanity. Now that I have #2, same story.

(#3) I’m breastfeeding #4 and feel exactly the same way as the author. Sometimes I feel like it’s the only one on one time I get with him! So I AM going to enjoy nursing him, even if that means my three other boys have to learn patience and my husband has to get up to make breakfast.

(#4) Thank you for this article. My husband and I are trying for baby #2 and this helps me to put everything in perspective. I was worried that I would drown in extra childcare duties but maybe it won’t be so bad after all! LOL. And I SO miss nursing. Excited to continue with the next child.

What’s funny is my blog became a huge debate on a) how the husband should or shouldn’t help and b) my selfishness in pushing for my husband to help/wanting to have alone time with my infant and c) breastfeeding while having a glass of wine.

Alcohol is always a controversial topic when it comes to the boob. You already know where I stand. But here are a few more commenters who feel the same as I do. And let’s all be grateful we live in a country where we CAN speak our minds, as opposed to a place like, say, Iran (where I would clearly be dead by now). So cheers ladies!

(#5) While pregnant at a nursing class at NY Presbyterian Hospital in NYC I happily learned–As long as you don’t pass out, drinking while nursing is fine! Breasts are filters. Placentas are sieves. Drink Up!

(#6) Omg ladies, get a grip! Yes sometimes the toddler has to run amok a bit while I nurse #2 but he hasn’t burnt the house down or eaten the dog yet. A glass of wine isn’t going to hurt anyone- moms and docs around the world agree. This is my life too- but husband travels so I do a lot of juggling. It was meant to be funny- not as a “everyone do as I do or you’re a failure”! Lighten up!

(#7) Get a grip ladies! I found the humor in this article, so should you all. My husband was deployed for the first 8 months of our daughter’s life and I’m finally getting a 36 hour break while he takes her to a family wedding and I stay home. Am I selfish? Probably. Am I ecstatic that I’m finally getting a break? Hell yes. I also have a drink while or before or even after I breast feed my daughter (yes we are still breast feeding at 13 months) and she is perfectly healthy, happy, and active. Relax, have a glass of wine yourself, and find the humor.

(#8) Geez girls some of us seem to have our negativity hats on today.Instead of thinking she’s being selfish try thinking she’s teaching her daughter to be more patient, more self soothing and self sufficient (skills she’ll need as she get older) as for her husband…let’s see…ummm…she’s letting him be a dad! Raising kids is frustrating even for us Mom’s and 80% of the time someones not going to step in for us and take over as she clearly says she does for her husband. If this was a piece written by a father who admitted he took a little quite time every day under the guise of doing something else (honestly do you think their “guy stuff” is all work and no play? My husband has admitted it’s not and he does some of it to get away from the kids too). Your comments would be quite different and I’m pretty sure the word selfish wouldn’t have been uttered.

(#9) Being a mom IS a JOB. Regardless is he works or not, he should help. That’s the problem with a lot of dads, they thing they can just push the children off on the mothers because most women fall into that “oh well my husband works” crap. Even if moms do work the men still get a get-out-of-jail-free card simply because they’re men. Did any of you ever think that…hmmm…before baby #2 she did spend time with child #1 and now she wants to give baby #2 as much as attention as she can to bond with it more while giving the dad and their daughter time to bond? Didn’t you read where she said while her husband goes back to sleep she plays with THEM (being BOTH her children). And drinking ONE GLASS of wine is harmless!

(#10) How dare you call her a “Lazy mom” just because she likes spending one-on-one time with her children, and yes she may be getting a break but she is still bonding with her new child while giving dad and daughter a chance to bond.

(#11) Last feeding happens, then wine time! Best time of the night.

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