So these days it seems that everything comes with a label, even parenthood. Little did I know before entering into this mummy gig, that there were so many labels from which to choose. You could be a Helicopter Parent, or an Attachment Parent, or you could even be an Asshole Parent! I'm actually about 90% sure my 2 year old thinks I'm an asshole parent most of the time, especially when I won't let her ride on her baby sister's back like she's a pony. There's another term though, that's been popping up quite a lot lately on different pages and sites that I frequent. The term is Lazy Parent. My initial reaction to this was that 'lazy parenting' was basically being neglectful, but it's more about making life a little easier for yourself, or 'breaking the rules'. You know the rules I'm talking about. The ones that are drilled into you the second you become pregnant, such as,
'Don't let the baby sleep in the bed with you, she'll never leave'
'Don't let your kids watch TV'
'Do controlled crying'
'Don't do controlled crying'...
The rules are endless! In any case, the more I read about this lazy parenting style, the more I realised that I in fact already was a lazy parent. Yes, my name is Kirsty and I'm putting my hand up to say I'm a lazy mum, and here's why;
I baby wear as required, because I don't have all day to spend rocking, patting, shhhing, or doing the desperate 'PLEASE GO TO SLEEP' jiggle to settle the baby. I have a 19 month age gap between my children; I simply cannot leave the toddler unattended for too long while I attempt to settle the baby. There have been many helpful suggestions, and I've tried using the TV, a movie, new books/toys to entertain her, but some days no matter what I try, it doesn't work, she's a toddler after all! In my second daughter's newborn phase, baby wearing was my saviour. I don't have three sets of arms; I simply can't cuddle a needy baby and save the Kamikaze toddler from plunging head first off the couch... Even if it was a perfect forward roll. So, I strap or wrap the baby to me, it's a win, win. Not to mention, when you've got a baby boobaholic that constantly wants to feed... ta-da!! You get hands free boobing!
We followed a Baby Led Weaning approach to introducing food. We did this for no other reason than the fact that neither of my kids will eat anything off a spoon. They have both insisted from a very young age, that they will feed themselves. In addition to this, it's an absolute certainty that the more time I spend making special baby/toddler food, the less likely my kids are to actually eat it. They eat what we eat, and now, much to my dog's dismay, there's less food landing on the floor, and less going in the bin. What's more, I've come to terms with the fact that if they're hungry, they'll eat. If they don't eat much at dinner, what am I going to do, force feed them? Not the most appealing way to spend my evening.
We often co-sleep and bed share, not because we are avid attachment parents, but in our particular set of circumstances, it's the calmest and easiest way for everyone in the family to get as much sleep as possible, and I am all about the sleep. We never intended to do it, and we tried for far too long to have everyone sleep in their own beds, but after way too many sleepless nights and 3am arguments, we had to reassess. Our nightly game of musical beds often leads us to having mummy kicked out of the big bed, and trying to curl up in the toddler bed, or daddy sleeping with a toddler's foot in his belly, or palm to his face, but hey, these days sleep is sleep!
Now I'm a 'hate people in my personal bubble' kinda gal, and with all this constant body contact throughout the day and night, I crave 'me' time constantly! Especially now that little Miss '2 going on 12' has given up her day nap. So, if my kids are playing on their own, rolling around in the mud, or redecorating the playroom and they're happy... Then I'm going to leave them to it and find a moment of peace and quiet, and I often utilise everyone's favourite 'Peppa Pig' if I need a few minutes to myself. I'm not going to feel guilty about screen time, because half an hour here or there can help to save my sanity. We've also secured (toddler-proofed if you will) the back yard, and the phrase 'Go and play outside' is a win-win! After all, since all of my showers now come with its very own audience, and I can't remember the last time I went to the toilet on my own, any chance for quiet a minute is golden.
All this leaves me with just the tiniest little bit of extra patience, and I mean tiny, minute, minuscule... (patience not being one of my main virtues you see) I figure, I'm going to need it when the next toddler meltdown occurs, because the banana has been eaten (by her), or when the baby has had yet another face plant because she thinks that 8 months is plenty old enough to attempt to climb onto the couch. I'm going to need that patience to kiss and hug it all better again.
These various practices by definition make me a 'Lazy mum'. They make me lazy because their function in our daily lives, makes life easier, and more manageable. Why suffer through doing things the hard way, or as so many of the parenting gurus would have you believe the 'Correct' way. I'm not saying that this is a perfect formula, it's just what sort of works for us, and yes, I mean sort of. I love that the baby can have a nap on me, while I fold washing, or do dishes, or any number of other things, and I don't have to go through the never ending settling to sleep, especially on the days when we've both had enough. I'm so over worrying about whether I'm creating 'Bad habits' because in my experience (albeit limited) there haven't been any habits that haven't been broken with just a little bit of work... and what Mrs. Kravitz across the street considers a bad habit, I might consider a godsend. All of these things change on a day to day basis, after all kids can change quicker than a Victoria's Secret model changes her undies, and a parenting fail is expected at least once a day. I'm simply all for the choice to parent your kids however the hell you want to. If you grew them, had them yanked from your body (one way or the other), or have haemorrhaging bank accounts because they're expensive little critters, then you do what you choose... And so if making life easier for myself, or choosing which battles are simply not worth the effort is deemed 'Lazy', then I'll happily wear that label.
I've spoken a lot about the difficult time I had during my first year of motherhood. There are so many things I wish I had been warned about. Maybe I would have shrugged it off and thought,
"Yeah, yeah, that'll never happen to me"
"My baby will NEVER be like that" (I'm laughing to myself as I write this because I totally said that to myself, and you know you did too!)
but maybe, I would have been able to draw back on it at times of need. Instead I went into it completely blind, because most people aren't honest to those around them, and aren't willing to divulge their actual truth (pretty much when I swore that I would forever more be an open book). We get plenty of the sugar coated, sandwich effect kinda truth, exhibit A;
'Oh he's just such a happy baby, he doesn't ever sleep, but when he's awake he's always smiling'
And I'm over here all confused like,
'Aw... Wait, what?... Awwww'
Yet so many people are so willing to throw advice at you, and to point out all of the things you could be doing differently (better), and not all are gems. There is one aspect in particular that I think is often overlooked, certainly for fear of judgement... Your relationship with your other half.
The absolute BEST piece of advice I received in the early days went a little something like this,
"The first few months of a new baby can be extremely difficult on your relationship. You will fight, you will argue and bicker, you will wonder who the hell you married/ are living with, and it will happen often."
This might not be true for all couples, but it certainly was for us! I cannot remember how many times I wondered what the hell I had done, why was I failing at motherhood, and now my relationship was failing too? To be fair, I wasn't, and it wasn't... but it's really hard stuff. A HUGE adjustment... no matter how many books you've read, or how well you think you know how to handle kids and babies. Don't get me wrong, I'm married to an absolutely stellar, hands-on dad here (he legit gives me the shits about 85% of the time, but he's freakin amazing at daddy stuff)... He's so good at daddy-ing and handles the sleepless nights waaaaay better than me, we share so much of this stuff, but let's be real here, IT'S STILL RIDICULOUSLY HARD.
I have always been quite fiery. I don't mince my words. I can be extremely passionate about things, I love hard and I fight harder. I somehow manage to get thoughts and words out of my mouth before I've had the chance to stop myself, and really think about it. It's an aspect of me that's been under (constant) construction for as long as I can remember. I thought I had it under control. That being said, I had it under control when my life was about me (not dictated by two tiny people), when I exercised regularly, ate well (and often enough), and most importantly, when I got adequate sleep... and when I didn't have adequate sleep, it was because I'd spent the night before out partying, and enjoying my youth (Ooooh, sweet youth). These days, I'm often tired, run down, or hungry (always hungry), because I've been too preoccupied with the kids to take proper care of myself, and as much as I try to concentrate on that, it slides sometimes (a lot of the time). This is when I lose control of that part of me. It is well known to those around me, that I lash out and say the most horrible things, not because I mean what I'm saying, but when my emotions are heightened like that, I can't think of any other way, I'm not rational. Add in babies that don't sleep, children that don't want to eat or are going through a never ending period of separation anxiety, or yet another cold, and I could see that part of me getting further and further out of my reach. Throw in a little self blame when things get too much, and it's an exciting ride.
When you stop and think about it, you still have all of the same external pressures in your life, and everyone's external pressure are different.... But you're now a tired, hormonal, lactating, emotional mess with puke on your shirt, and a knot the size of a tiny birds nest at the back of your head.... because you have a TINY HUMAN to love and care for.
I now know that,
It is hard.
You will be tired.
You will want to cry.
You will probably (definitely) cry.
You will wonder what the hell you've done.
You will want to palm off that baby as soon as your other half gets home, and bust out that door to sweet, sweet freedom, often.
You will want to bust out a can of whoop-ass in a Ronda Rousey/Holly Holm style cage match, on your other half.
You will want to throw things.
Banging your head against a brick wall seems like a perfectly legitimate way to handle your problems (but don't... it'll hurt, and then you'll have other problems).
At times you will simultaneously love everything about your new life, and hate everything about your new life.
I could go on forever, and cover every base, but you catch my drift. In my experience (albeit limited), everyone goes through, or feels at least one of these, if not all, and if you haven't, I applaud you. All of those aspects put a tremendous amount of pressure on a person, and certainly on a relationship... especially when you're both feeling it. I can guarantee you though, that somewhere along the lines, you will find your feet. You work out how you work as parents together, you take on your particular roles, and they'll be different for every couple. What works for Nath and I, won't be the cure all for someone else. As your life as a family progresses, you find the balance that you'd been looking for. It certainly has been the way for us at least. We have been through a similar thing this last year, adding Eliana to our little family. We had to survive the sleepless nights (amongst other things) and figure out how to make it work for us again. I imagine that there's an adjustment period every time you add a new member to the family. What I've come to realise is that it's not the end of the world, or your relationship if you're having a tough time of it. Raising small humans was never meant to be easy. It's not bad if you fight, argue, or disagree... but what's important is how you move on from that. For us, it's a matter of learning from our mistakes, hug it out, and put that shit to bed.... along with the kids!
Behind the blog...
‘The Mummysomniac’ is a lifestyle, motherhood and most recently, pregnancy blog, founded in 2015 by Kirsty McKenzie. She’s a mum of three, blogging about the highs and lows of motherhood, with a straight forward and honest approach, as well as a little bit of humour. Kirsty is passionate about sharing the realities of #MumLife, not the cookie cutter, high gloss version