*** This was written in 2014, but I thought it was a good reminder again for myself this year.
In just a few hours, we will wake to a new day, and into a new year. While this year has been a fruitful year, I know 2014 will only bring greater experiences into my life. Life has been kind to me, even as a new parent, I managed to pull through the ups and downs of parenting without causing too much damage. Lol.
So to end this year, I’d like to give myself a pat on the back and at the same time, jot down 10 important points that were reminiscent of my parenting experience in 2013, and hope that it will serve to guide to me be a better parent in 2014.
1. The best guide to parenting is your maternal instincts. Skip the best selling books on parenting and pregnancy and whatsoever. Parenting should come from the heart, not mind. If your heart tells you to co-sleep with your child, do it; if your heart tells you to carry your child, do it. No one (including the nanny, grandparents, Great Aunt Beatrix, parenting experts, even your paediatrician) knows your child better than you.
2. It’s all worth it. Having a baby means less (or non-existence) late nights out, sleeping in, movie dates, unhealthy fast food, me time, etc. But it’s okay, because a) none of those things do any good to your health anyway; b) the amount of joy (and occasionally headaches) that you get in return for having your little bundle of joy makes it all worth it. Having a baby completes your life, learn to enjoy it.
3. Happy parents = happy baby = happy family. Noticed how I placed “Happy parents”first? That’s because your baby needs to feel that you’re okay to feel okay. If on the occasion it makes your life easier letting your child watch that thirty minutes of TV, so you could finish off your dinner preparation before hubby gets back, do it. If you had a really sleepless night yesterday and don’t have the energy to cook your child a wholesome meal, consider a simple sandwich, or noodle with soup, or fried rice. It’s okay to go with the flow once in a while. And if you’re happy, chances are your child will be happy too, and when your child is happy, it makes parenting so much easier and enjoyable.
4. What feels natural is best. Yes, at 25 months, my not-so-little bundle of joy is still nursing, but only to sleep; she still co-sleeps with me; she loves cuddling up to her daddy at bed time. In this modern age and day, parents are encouraged to force independence onto their children at an early age. Well, as much as I tried following it out of peer pressure, I decided I feel better going with the flow of what feels natural to me and my child. I no longer feel ashamed to admit that my child still nurses occasionally everyday; I’m happy that she loves sleeping in between daddy and mommy; and daddy can’t seem to sleep peacefully without having her near him. These things feel natural to me, to her, to us. And I can’t think of a better way to live life than to live a life that feels natural to me.
5. Fever and infections are part and parcel of growing up. They are there to help build a strong immune system. Ever since Little Miss was six months old, I’ve learnt to trust her little body to fight off infections with minimal medical interventions. She’s never had anything major that her own body couldn’t fight off, with a little help of homeopathic and natural remedies. Out of her two years of existence, I could count with one hand the amount of times she’s had to take Paracetamol for fevers more than 39 degrees Celsius. Her immune system is stronger than many children I know, and I know it’s because her body has been allowed to develop as it should have.
6. Opinions can differ, but they stem from the same ground – everything we do, we do it for the love of our children. Some believe in spanking, others believe in a more gentle approach; some believe in eating organic everyday, others don’t have the luxury of affording better quality food; some believe in pharmaceuticals, others believe in nature and homeopathy. It’s never easy trying to make the best choice for your loved ones, but as long as it’s acted in accordance to your conscience and informed judgement, there is no absolute right or wrong in your decisions.
7. Respect others. Everyone else is fighting a harder battle than you. Just because you don’t see it on the surface doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Everyone has a history that justifies their actions, and until you understand their stories, don’t go pointing fingers and judging them for their actions. The same goes for parenting styles. Your friend choosing to undergo a C-section instead of a natural birth doesn’t make her less of a woman, it makes her a strong woman who is capable of making her own choices. A relative choosing to bottle feed her baby with formula milk doesn’t make her any less motherly, maybe she has a medical condition that prevents her from being able to provide breastmilk. Respect others for their decisions, their lives their choice.
8. Love your partner. He’s the reason why you’re still sane in amidst of all your parenting ups and downs; he’s the reason why your feet are firmly on the ground with your decisions; he’s the reason you have that beautiful little miracle in your arms. Vice versa. She’s the reason you have a family; she’s the reason why you strive to be better in every way; she’s the reason you have a HOME.
9. Love yourself. Do things that make you happy and relaxed. Because ultimately a happy you equals happy spouse equal happy parents equals happy child.
10. Last but not least, praise your child everyday and listen with an open heart. Tell her how brilliant, beautiful and precious she is. Love her for who she is. She could be naturally reserved, active, dreamy, grumpy, but it’s part of who she is. Nurture according to nature instead of against it. Work with your child’s natural behaviour. Listen to her. Listen to what she’s really trying to tell you, so she knows that her voice DOES matter.
I have a lot to improve on as a mother, but I know I am a lot better than last year. Hopefully, I will be even better next year.
Happy New Year everyone! May the next year bring you more wealth, better health, and an abundance of happiness!