The elusive ‘they’ that creeps into the beginning of every well-intentioned piece of early parenting advice.
In the first few months of motherhood and parenting, the most cautionary phrases often begin with a well-intentioned preface of, “they say…..”
- breast is best until the first 6 months. there’s research. stick through it.” — i did, but with way too much pressure on myself .
- don’t feed Z formula unless you really have to.” — didn’t but in hindsight, I should have topped him up much sooner than I did because my milk definitely wasn’t enough for him. would have also curved those 2 hourly feeds through the night up until his 7 month mark.
- you shouldn’t rock your baby to sleep.” — that, and singing him to sleep was my favourite thing to do when Z was tiny and didn’t weigh the equivalent of 3 watermelons.
- not to feed him in bed and let him fall asleep straight after.” — it was the only way he learned the difference between day and night in the first few weeks of his life.
- don’t pick your baby up too much, otherwise he’ll become too attached to you.” — great! yes please. more of it. i will forever pick him up if he stretches his arms out to me. even if he’s 16 years old.
- you shouldn’t go out when the baby is very young. he’ll be over stimulated.” — he was over stimulated by the time we left our bedroom and walked downstairs! i wasn’t giving up fresh air, hot coffees and melbourne brunches with the girls in fear of over stimulation.
- get him on a strict schedule so that he learns to fall asleep by 7pm.” — we weren’t on a schedule so why should he be? sure he took a bit longer than the others (7 months longer), but he finally learned to sleep through the night on his own.
- you shouldn’t always feed him yourself. He has to learn to eat with a fork and spoon.” — one of my most cherished memories when i was young, was being fed rice and curry by my mum’s hand. I do both with Z. I sometimes feed Z with his cutlery and sometimes, when we have rice and curry, I feed him with my hand and whaddyaknow? he still learned to pick up his own cutlery and eat along.
- you should send your kids to some sort of activity group early on, otherwise they become shy and withdrawn and don’t develop as quick.” — no signs of that yet — if one thing Z is not, is unsociable. Unable to walk a straight line? Yes. Unable to stop dancing even when there’s no music? Yes. Unable to talk in quite whispers? Yes. Unsociable, no.
Now, I don’t know who “they” are and I’m a 100% sure that “they” don’t know me or my little Z. But when one of my superwoman, supermum, besties, Preet said — on many an occassion, “As long as Z is happy you’re keeping him alive, you’re doing a great job.” I thought — I know who she is, and I like what she says.
Do what works for you and your little one. Advice from those who have walked the path before is always filled with knowing wisdom and should be listened to — but take it all in whilst silently repeating the mantra — ‘mumma knows best.’ ‘Cos you definitely do. No one knows your little one as innately as you. And that is a fact. They may have also said this, but this time, I’m saying it — and my name is Sureka Dharuman and I am an obscenely proud mother of little, one year old, sociable Z.
I write about my time as a 35 year old new mum to little one year old Z, navigating through life as a brown girl in a predominantly white world, and my struggles and triumphs whilst launching my start-up with my husband. You can find my other ramblings here: https://medium.com/@therealsureka/ and keep track of our start-up here: www.styylr.com. If you think this might be helpful for others on their entrepreneurial or parenting journey, recommend this article and share to your hearts (and my hearts) content.