Parenting advice you should feel free to ignore
From the moment you announce your pregnancy, everyone and their grandma has a hot parenting tip for you. Our resident mama-of-twins-plus-one is here to tell you which pieces of advice you can delete from your mental hard drive…
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was bombarded with unsolicited parenting advice. One mom friend insisted that I take her copy of a famous sleep training book because “not sleep training your child is just crazy”. Another kept telling me about all the expensive baby products I needed to buy to save my sanity.
I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know which advice to take on board. All my friends were new moms too, so we were just as clueless as each other. I wish I’d had an experienced mama friend who could’ve told me the real deal.
Well, ladies, here I am. After having three girls in two-and-a-half years (yes, that includes twins!), I learned a thing or two. Here are eight pieces of parenting advice that you should feel free to throw out with the dirty diapers.
Sleep whenever the baby sleeps
This advice grated on me so hard when my first child was born. I was on a crazy hormonal high that made me feel like I was Superwoman. I could survive on four hours of broken sleep per night! I felt fine! There was no time for napping!
Spoiler alert: I eventually crashed from exhaustion and became an anxious mess. But despite that, I still couldn’t relate to “sleep whenever the babies sleep” when I had my twins and I made the same mistake all over again. I just couldn’t imagine going to bed when the house was a bombsite and a baby was going to wake up any minute anyway.
So, my version goes like this: I know you feel great now, but your exhaustion will eventually hit you and you won’t be your best self for you or your baby. So, don’t sleep whenever the baby sleeps, but try to carve out some rest time every day. Leave one task that isn’t essential until later and go lie down. Ask your partner to have bonding time with your little one and take some time for yourself. I know how hard it is, I really do. Just do your best.
You’ll spoil your baby if you pick them up whenever they cry
Some people say it will spoil babies, while others say it will make them clingy, dependent or cause separation anxiety when they start day care. But experts agree that these are all myths and the same goes for feeding babies whenever they’re hungry.
In the first six months of life, it’s important to respond to your baby’s needs as soon as you can to help them feel safe and secure. They’re not able to manipulate you at this age because they can’t connect cause and effect. Around six months, you may want to start setting gentle limits around their wants and needs. Until then, hug and kiss and cuddle that sweet baby of yours.
Formula is poison and should be avoided at all costs
I bought into this hook, line and sinker. I breastfed my eldest until she was almost two and I never let a drop of formula go anywhere near her. I did love breastfeeding, but I ended up super skinny and depleted from the constant demands of my milk monster.
When I was pregnant with the twins, I promised myself I’d introduce formula as soon as breastfeeding became too hard on me. One of them needed formula at birth to regulate her blood sugar levels, so that took the pressure right off. I breastfed them exclusively for five months and mix fed them until 11 months when they self-weaned. I was a much happier mama for it.
The bottom line is this: breast might be best, but not at the cost of your mental health. There are some lovely organic formulas out there if you’re concerned about harmful additives. You’re not a failure if you use them. You’re very clever for putting your needs first.
Pacifiers will ruin your child’s teeth
Pacis are only likely to cause bite and dental issues when used past the age of two. Even the American Dental Association only recommends discouraging the habit after the age of four.
My eldest never had one because I was “anti-paci” (eyeroll), so she used my boobs instead (uber-exhausted eyeroll). My twins? They were binky addicts until the Binky Fairy whisked them away when they were two and they never looked back. It was SO worth it. Thank you for saving my sanity, binkys.
Never let your kids sleep in your bed
Yeah, that plans works great until you switch them to big-kid beds and they can walk straight out of them and into yours. Cue pretend nightmares and monsters under the bed.
Look, letting kids into your bed is fine, if you ask me. If it’s not a problem for you, then it’s not a problem! And if it is, bribe them (yes, that’s also fine). I have sleep charts where they get a sticker for staying in bed all night and a reward after 10 stickers. It works 50 percent of nights and I’m happy with that.
Your child should be toilet trained by two
Nope! Every child is different. Some catch on early while others take much longer to be physically and emotionally ready. We spent a full year toilet training my first daughter because, well, she wasn’t ready when we decided she should be. It’s a battle I wish I’d avoided.
With the twins, we waited until they showed an interest in the potty around two and a half. Even then, it took them until well into the threes to poop on the potty or toilet. They held onto those diaper poos for ages! But they’re pooping like regular humans now, so no harm done in letting them come around in their own time.
You should sign your kids up to classes early if you want them to succeed
A two-year-old doesn’t need to go to music, gymnastics, swimming and soccer. Some kids might thrive on that type of schedule, but many will end up feeling overwhelmed. And most importantly, YOU will feel overwhelmed. I know I did.
For about 18 months, we gave up ALL classes. No pressure, no schedules, no crying! Just a whole lot of unstructured play time (which experts say is so important during early childhood). It was amazing. Now that the girls are seven, four and four, we have started gymnastics classes again and everyone loves it. Even me.
Sugar is evil
I was the anti-sugar, organic-everything mom at first. But now my kids eat super-healthy 80 percent of the time and “sometimes foods” the other 20 percent. I came to realize that being too rigid would be more harmful to them than sugar. I still cringe when we have blowout days filled with pizza and ice cream, but I look at the smiles on their faces and remind myself that they’re kids.
They’re kids who are happy and healthy and who have a mom who’s doing her darn best. And that’s my advice to you: parent from the heart, do your best and know that you are enough. You are more than enough.