Friday, 23 November 2012

Becoming a parent is like starting a new job...

A few weeks ago, i had a revelation that has changed the way i approach parenting.

Becoming a parent is like starting a new job

When you start a new job, a few things happen:
  • You change the way that you do your work- unsure of how things are done at this new job, you work in a way that is slightly differently to normal until you find your feet
  • You expect things to take time to feel normal again
  • You are nice to all your coworkers, even if you don't like them or you think their way of doing things is strange, because you are still getting to know one another in this new role and are unsure of how you will blend your different work styles together
  • You are especially nice to your boss, even if they are very demanding
  • You work your hardest, knowing that it will be exhausting but that in the end, this is your dream job and you have worked so hard to get it here so it must be worth it
  • Even though it is hard adjusting to your new boss' demanding schedule you do it
  • You accept that your boss and even your coworkers may have very different ways of approaching tasks that would never have occured to you, or that even seem ridiculous to you
  • You don't expect to be an expert at your new job for some time
Have you picked up where i am going with this yet?

Now read through that list again, substituting 'your new job' with 'parenthood', 'your new boss' for 'your new baby', and 'your new coworkers' for 'your husband' and you should see what i am trying to say.

The analogy even works when having a second (or third, or fourth) child, only then you are at the same job you've been at for a while and your boss gets demoted (from only child and centre of the family, to sibling) and a new boss (baby) comes in and takes over.

If parenting was approached the way that we might approach starting a new job, think of how many tears could be saved? How much more compassion and patience you would show to yourself?

  • It's okay to suck at it in the beginning or to not know what to do, because you're new here
  • It doesn't feel like your old life, because it's not your old life and that's okay
  • Your husband has no idea how to work with you or how you think you should do things, because this is a completely new role for him too
  • Your new baby wants your best efforts, and that is totally reasonable and achieveable
  • You are here because you wanted to be here (in most cases), so give it your all
  • It takes time to feel like you have a handle on your new role as a parent, remember, you've never done this before.
 And while the analogy doesn't always work (you can't really quit this job, even if your boss is a jerk), it has helped me to be kinder to myself and to my husband and to my fellow new mothers.

I hope it helps you to do the same (if you're a mother) and to show respect to those people around you who have started new jobs (if you aren't).

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The next chapter begins...

Okay, lets begin.

I am 29 years old and 3 months ago i left paid employment to have my first child.

And when i use the word 'left' i do so quite loosely. It was all planned neatly: work, have baby shower, finish work at Youthworks, have a party, work, finish work at OOSH, have a party, have 2 weeks at home to relax and get organised then deliver a baby with the help of drugs, then breastfeed.

Funny how best laid plans sometimes don't work out...

My little bub was in a hurry and came a month early and in a fast labour (so fast that when the midwife checked me for the first time to see if i was dilated, she could see the head).

We spent some time with the support of the Special Care Nursery and after a few scares, a week later we brought our daughter home. The next few weeks were spent trying to get breastfeeding established (it didn't work out) and having her weighed every 2 days but eventually she reached the magic 3kgs and things began to settle down.

Having been on a routine since birth due to concerns about her weight it seemed to work for us, so we continued to feed on a regular schedule. This has been one of the most fantastic things for us. From the time she was 5 weeks old to now, bub has been feeding at the same times every day. This has worked for her (her tummy knows when she will get food) and for me (i can plan outings and visitors round her feeding and waking times), we are fairly rigid with feed times, waking her up if she hasn't woken naturally, but have flexibility within the system, eg. if she wants to feed extra one day (growth spurt) that is fine, we still have our regular feed times as well though. She also controls when she goes to sleep.
Because of the routine, it was easier to figure out soon what her different cries means, i can say with 90% certainty what a cry means now because the routine has allowed me to see things over a consistent time.

The way we do it is wake to feed (if necessary) at 7am, 11am, 3pm, 6:30pm and originally also 11pm and 3am. She chose when to drop the night feeds though as that is the only times we won't wake her for food. She dropped the 11pm feed first (at around 8 weeks old) and then dropped the 3am feed at around 10 weeks old.
So, amazingly, my baby has been sleeping from 8pm to 7am almost every night since she was 10 weeks old!

This has obviously done wonders for my own health and for hers and has meant that i have found the beginning of this new life together to be easier than expected (so far).

If, at some point in the future she changes her sleeping habits then i know at least that i have had an excellent run, that she is capable of it and have managed to store up a lot of sleep myself.

But so far, despite the unexpected timing of the beginning, the beginning of the next chapter of my life has gone very well and i look forward with much anticipation to the changes the next few months will bring!