As soon as I became a mother, I became a statistician, okay not really, but the amount of numerical data you must keep track of is incredible. I was expected to track everything my child did during the day. My life instantly revolved around a schedule which meant my child’s life also revolved around a schedule and let me tell you, the schedule spoke to my type A spirit. I was not sure about my mothering skills but, I was 100% sure that my scheduling skills were on point. And I’m confident that’s where we start raising frustrated children.
I jumped right in, oh did I thrive on a schedule. A cumulative hour of tummy time a day, Check. Breast Feeding every two hours, Check. Nap after every feeding, check. Start bedtime routine at 6pm, check. It seemed so simple on paper but in reality; it was complicated, frustrating, and quite honestly the worst month of my life. My child screamed during tummy time, she wanted to eat more frequently than every two hours, she refused to nap on schedule… in fact she barely napped at all and trying to structure her bedtime schedule was a joke. Turns out that although I thrived on a schedule my child did not.
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We were both miserable but, the realization that I was the one making my child miserable and unnecessarily frustrated hit me like a ton of bricks. The schedule was not working, I started to dread following it and watching my child’s small hands balled into little fists as she cried tears of complete frustration. She hated tummy time, she hated her crib, she hated her feeding schedule, and I was beginning to think she hated me.
After weeks of unsuccessfully following strict sleep schedules, feeding schedules, pumping schedules, and having an anxiety attack every time my child did not hit one of her developmental milestones, I decided to stop. I stopped the strict schedules, I deleted all the apps on my phone that tracked developmental milestones, I stopped measuring my child’s progress by looking at a calendar. Sure, I could have stuck it out for a few more weeks and maybe my child would have eventually adjusted. Heck, maybe I would have eventually adjusted; but it just wasn’t worth the frustration I was clearly causing myself and more importantly my baby.
I traded the strict schedule for a less restrictive routine that worked best for my child, and eventually I didn’t feel the need to track my child’s progress by looking at a calendar because I was more focused on tracking my child’s happiness by looking at her face.
Expectation breeds frustration and when I threw out all the things I “expected” of myself and my child, my life became manageable and much less frustrating for everyone involved! At the end of the day, all that matters to me is that my child is happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. If that means that my baby doesn’t have an hour of tummy time a day, eats whenever she’s hungry, and doesn’t always go to bed at the same time every night…. I can live with that.
What I won’t live with is a frustrated baby and that is what matters most to me.