Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Keeping an open mind (aka 'Whatever Works')

As a naive parent-in-waiting I was confidently clear on where my boundaries would lie as a parent. Determined not to form bad habits, but also keen not to be hard on Lady P too quickly, there were some things I thought I'd never do.

Funny how it goes, isn't it?

I was determined never allow her to sleep with us, for fear of creating an annoying toddler who insists on joining us in bed. Well, it's a long way from that but I must admit one of my favourite ways to wake up is to smuggle Lady P into bed with us and steal an extra half hour's kip while she wriggles and naps next to me.

I was confident I wouldn't want to deposit her in a mechanised swing, at least not until she was much older. Why would I want to put my darling cherub into a large piece of plastic, when I could rock her myself?!

Because sometimes you just want a bit of hands-free, coffee-and-Twitter time. Or, less indulgently, time to pee and empty the dishwasher. That's why.

I was certain that controlled crying, or any kind of encouragement of self-soothing, would be cruel and ineffective before at least 3 or even 6 months old. But the other day, we did it by accident. When TLOML stepped out of a crying Lady P's nursery for ten seconds she silenced her whimper and fell asleep. Now that may be just coincidence, but we'll try it again next time she refuses to sleep, just in case it turns out she can - controversially - self soothe.

I was very clear that we wouldn't let Jack, our obese cat, have access to our room while she's sleeping in there. But he's a pest for scratching at the door, and he'll yowl if we leave him in the kitchen. On the basis he hasn't killed her yet, we let him sleep on our bed. He avoids the Moses basket as if it were a yapping terrier anyway, but I still find it difficult to relax when he's in the room - until sheer sleep deprivation pulls me under and makes 'keeping an eye on him' a physical impossibility.

Lady P is now almost able to sleep through the night. On a couple of occasions now she's woken only once between 7pm and 7am  for a quick feed. I had always thought we'd keep her in our room until she outgrew the Moses basket and maybe even longer. But I'm keeping an open mind about that too. I think when I no longer need to get up to feed her, I might be quite happy to tuck her up in her own room at night and enjoy an adults-only bedroom where Jack can roam without me keeping a paranoid half-asleep half-open eye on him.

We shall see. I feel like the only prediction I can make with certainty is that anything could happen. Isn't parenthood marvellous? Every day is a new lesson in humility.

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