Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why we've stuck with attachment parenting

I just love Facebook. Seriously..I love it...I get exposed to so many blogs and ideas and links...and since I have carefully selected my "likes" to correspond with my interests, a lot of interesting articles show up.

This morning, an article entitled: Why we ditched attachment parenting showed up in my newsfeed.  So, I said to myself, Hmmm, that looks interesting, I think I can waste a few moments of my life reading that.  So, I did..because I love reading blogs and wasting time.

While the author was careful to state that different parenting styles work for different parents, she also seemed to say that co-sleeping turned her son (and lots of other children she knew) into a clingy, sleep-deprived mess, while her sleep-trained daughter was happy and content and slept well and everything was all rainbows and butterflies.   And, while I have no doubt that is true for her, I don't by any means think  it is a universal experience.

I think the real issue here is that new parents can get so caught up in parenting "styles" or labels, that they lose sight of the real focus and don't just do what works.   While we follow many of the "tenets" of attachment parenting,  I don't  consider us hard-core followers of any parenting style.

Love my Kozy!  I think it is my favorite baby carrier!

I'm all about baby-wearing..I have a too big, nice little collection of slings...everything from ring-slings to mei tais, to pouches (never could get into wraps though), but Elsa still spends plenty of time in a stroller, or the exersaucer or bouncy chair  or just on the floor.  Floor time is becoming limited though because Miss Grabby Hands has this amazing ability to reach and grab things that I could have sworn were out of reach when I put her down.   She doesn't crawl yet..she just sort of wiggles and stretches and somehow manages to grab things and the next thing I know, I'm all, Aaack, the baby is chewing on the computer cord,  and then I have to take it away from her, and well..she's not too fond of that.  I need to get the kids to keep the floor better picked up with their toys, because most of the time, it's one big, baby booby trap.

The baby in this picture is Heidi.  And, I have no idea why there is no sheet on that mattress??  This picture was taken in RI, while we were on vacation one summer, visiting my family.
And, yes, we do co-sleep and yes, she does *have* to nurse to fall asleep, and yes *all* my kids did that as babies and none of the older ones do that now.  They all fall asleep on their own, just fine, in their own room, and you can't even tell that when they were babies they had to nurse to sleep.  It's true..they do all eventually wean and potty-train and move into their own bed...and it even happened before kindergarten!

Yes, my not-quite 6-month old still nurses during the night...but. really..it's super easy when she's in bed with me.  I just latch her on real quick and go right back to sleep.  Hardly any sleep disturbance at all.  And, lately she's been giving us a good chunk of time when she first falls asleep for the night, where she sleeps alone in bed..which is wonderful.  And, all my kids did that as babies..they'd fall asleep around 8:00 or so and give us about 2 hours where they slept alone, before waking up around 10:00 ish..which is when I go to bed anyway.

Now, you may remember that last Friday, I posted about how I was sleep-deprived and tired, due to Elsa.  But, that wasn't totally true (ok..I admit it..I sorta lied... I better go to Confession now).  The reason I was sleep-deprived wasn't so much that Elsa was keeping me up, but that *I* had stayed up too late a few nights that week (and especially the night before), and it had caught up with me.  Yes, Elsa does wake up to nurse, but the real reason I was so tired was that I hadn't gone to bed early enough the night before or a few previous nights that week as well. Ever since I was a kid, I have had an inability to "sleep-in".  I'm totally wired to be a morning person, so when the sun starts peeking through the shades, I wake up..and can no longer sleep. Which means, that I can't make up lost sleep from the night before, by sleeping later.

Which brings me to my next point..the reason I was so sleep-deprived last week.  It's because the night before I had gone to a fun Mom's Night Out with friends...with baby in tow.  And, it was totally fine.  I held her some, a friend held her some (and showed her off to the snowbirds at the next table) and eventually she nursed and nodded off and I just held her in my arms while chatting with my friends, relaxing, and having a great time NOT being at home, while my wonderful husband dealt with the older kids and put them to bed and all that.  You see, having a baby that always nurses to sleep does mean that *I* always have to nurse her to sleep,  but it also means that she is totally and completely flexible and portable.  She will fall asleep anywhere..we don't have to worry about cranky baby while out, or having to take her home so she can nap.  Saturday night, we were also out with her past her bedtime...(at a wonderful friend's house for a lovely First Saturday Rosary and social time) and she was passed around and held by lots of friends, and then when she got tired, I just nursed her and she fell asleep and was still passed around while asleep. Lately, it's worked out that Sunday Mass happens to fall during the time she would nap, so I just nurse her in the pew, she falls asleep and we just hold her for the duration of Mass, and all is well.

You see, I value social time, and outings and getting out of the house and being with friends.  It would drive me CRAZY, to have to schedule my life or our outings around a baby's nap or bedtime.  Seriously crazy.  With 3 older homeschooling kids, I need to be able to take them to activities or coops or field trips without worrying about a baby's nap.

The one time she slept in a crib..I think it lasted about 10 minutes.
I totally realize that a different parenting style works better for other parents..and for some families, the baby always sleeps in crib, lifestyle works for them.  However, that type of life would not work for me.  I would much rather baby was dependent on *me* for nursing and sleeping and just drag them along wherever I go, than have to schedule around feedings or naps or get babysitters (because heaven knows, babysitters are NOT in our budget).  This is what works for us.  And, that totally dependent stage does not last forever.  My baby will be 6 months old next week...and honestly it feels like she was just born yesterday.  I know, that before I even know it, she'll be even more independent.

I don't follow attachment parenting because I think it is "better"..but because for the most part, it is what works for our family.  And, I think really..that is what parenting is all about.  It is about finding what works for each family and baby.  So, for some families, co-sleeping may be an absolute disaster and lead to sleep-deprived parents and babies, while for others, it may be blissful and lead to happy parents and babies.  It's all about finding what works, and then letting go of labels and styles and preconceived notions.

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  1. Just found your blog through Conversion Diary, and I could've written this post myself!! My kids are now 17, turning 15, and 10. Great job, Mom, keep doing what you're doing!!

  2. Ok now I've read more of your posts and really can't believe how much we have in common! I too am an anxiety girl able to leap to the worst possible conclusions in a single bound, I make cakes that taste good and don't always look so good, I get all my news from Facebook, and so many other things. Plus we are a Catholic homeschooling family that lives in Florida!

  3. This is fantastic! And it's amazing how much parenting styles can change even from one baby to another. My first only nursed to sleep a handful of times, mainly wanted to be rocked, and eventually needed to cry it out when she wouldn't even let us soothe her to sleep anymore. BUT my second born almost always nurses to sleep, almost never naps in her crib, and already sleeps through the night sometimes. The second born is also very snuggly and wants to be cuddled all the time and just requires a very different parenting style than her sister! Siblings and their differences are so remarkable!


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