When you have a baby everyone starts asking you about your "parenting philosophy." Well, maybe not everyone, but you start reading all the books and asking yourself, "what kind of parent am I?" Am I an attachment parent? A helicopter parent? An authoritative parent? You look at this tiny baby in your arms who doesn't sleep, spits up all the time, and has a constant stuffy nose and you sigh, "I guess in due time I'll figure out what my parenting style is..." I've noticed everything in the parenting world gets a label. Baby-Led-Weaning (otherwise known as, give the baby food to experiment and play with in order for them to learn what they like and don't like), Co-Sleeping (otherwise known as, sometimes, maybe all the time, the kid sleeps in the bed with you), Baby-Wearing (otherwise known as, my kid likes to be worn on me, so I wear them in a baby carrier). Suddenly you become a parent and everything has to have a title. You can't just let the kid sleep in bed with you, you become a co-sleeper. You have to pick a sleep style, are you cry-it-out, no-cry-it-out, pick-up-put-down, or maybe a true Ferber-izer? All of the sudden people start asking you about your methods for doing things and you have to put a label on all of the silly, mundane, tiresome parental activities you've been doing since the first moment you met your child.

Watching The Oscars, loving the "Happy" song!
Last night, after putting Weston to bed around 7, which is early for him (he was super tired), I sat down to finally, finally have a moment and watch The Oscars. Well, little boy wasn't having it. He got up about three times between 7:00 and 8:30. He's teething, and just started eating a million new solid foods, as well as enduring a wonder week month year, so I gave him a little leeway, and after the 100th time (it felt like) of going upstairs to soothe him, and missing Ellen's intro to the show, I decided enough was enough. He wasn't going to have it tonight. Sleep was evading him, and I was losing my mind. Yes, I've been trying to get him on a bedtime routine, and we did complete his nightly bath, pajamas, play, singing routine...but I also wanted to uh, watch the one show I look forward to watching yearly (and tweet about it in current time!), so I took him into bed with us, and you know what? He was insanely happy to watch with us, cuddled in bed. He finally took a bottle, cuddled up with Eric and passed out. We snuck him back to his room, and he woke up a few times more that night, but at least we had our moment, I watched my show, and he got the cuddling he obviously needed.

As I fell asleep, watching him on the monitor, I thought about these labels, I thought about what type of parent I want to be, and I realized...life is way too short to pass up on moments where my son needs me. He is only a baby once, someday he won't cuddle up in bed with us...I thought about it more, did I feel guilty for going against my routine I was trying so hard to establish and taking him in with us? Do I feel guilty when I take him into bed with us at 5:00am after a fitful night's sleep? My answer was no. I don't feel bad. Parenting is hard, being a new parent is even harder! Something we don't say enough to new parents is "do what you need to do to get by!" I realized what kind of a parent I am. I'm a GUTT parent. A "Get Us To Tomorrow" parent (also known as, Get Us Through Today!). Sometimes the days are really long, it's no wonder this time is known as the Longest Shortest Time. Sometimes the nights are even longer (for us, it's the nights which are worse!). Sometimes you just need to do whatever you need to do, not only to keep your kid healthy and strong, but to keep YOU healthy, strong, and sane. I would have been really mad to miss out on The Oscars, and felt bad for my son who couldn't sleep--so I combined activities, and it turned out, it's what we both needed. He needed some extra love, and I needed to zone out and watch an awards show.

So often we push what we need aside as new parents (or any parents). We forget that we existed before the baby, we forget that we need time too. I'm not saying that we throw all the rules and routines out the window, on the contrary, we establish, to the best of our ability, a routine and rules which work for our family. These routines may change daily, as you figure them out, too! Then, on the nights, or days, which need some special attention, you can de-rail and do what you need to do to keep everyone sane. This doesn't mean all your hard work is thrown away, and the kid won't ever follow the routine again, it means you're flexible and do what you need to do to see the sun come up the next day. My grandmother once said to me, "you must clean your room in order to create art." I attempt to keep life calm and the same, so that when nights like those come up, I don't feel that sense of guilt throwing things out of whack.

My GUTT parenting method also refers to the fact that I parent from my, uh, gut, most of the time. If something doesn't feel right to you as a parent, don't do it. If everyone is telling you one thing, and you feel like it won't work for you kid, don't do it. Only you know your kid, not your friends, or even your doctor. Every child is different, therefore, every parenting style has to be different! How you parent your child isn't going to be the same way your friend, sister, aunt parents their child. Sure, suggestions and advice are wonderful, but don't feel horribly bad and guilty if what worked for someone else doesn't work for you. My motto has become a solid, "So what?" So what if he wakes up all night? Yes, Eric and I are dead tired...is he going to do this for the rest of his life? No...eventually he'll become a teen, and then a man, and I'm sure he won't need us to rock him to bed then. So what if I chose my own methods for "sleep training" (a term I despise, as does Dr. Sears! He's not a puppy, he's a baby. I prefer Dr. Sears' term, "nighttime parenting," as in you don't stop being a parent at night, so stop thinking we can train away all the "baby sleep problems.") and create a method which works for my family? So what if we take him into bed with us some nights? I'm doing what works to keep my baby happy (and he is a truly happy, silly little boy!), and to keep Eric and I sane, functioning human beings. I go with my gut, and I've never felt guilt about that.

So, here's my label: my parenting method is one which inherently forces you to think about the future, and keeps you having hope that what you're doing is okay, and that the days will pass, he will grow, and all will be okay in the long run. He's going to grow up, he's going to grow out of things, and yes, current times, whatever they may be, may be stressful, but I'm doing everything I can to Get Us To Tomorrow, or on the rare occasion, Get Us Through Today, and be the best parent I can be.


4 Comments

  1. Olivia, this is one of the best blog posts I have seen in a LONG time. You have summed up so many things that I've been trying to put together for awhile now.

    I find myself wanting to be a GUTT mom all the time, but then when I deviate from my "routine" I feel so guilty and I worry so much. For example, if Piper is having a bad night I will want to pull her in my bed just so we can get a few blessed hours of sleep, but then I worry that if I put her in my bed once all of a sudden I am now a co-sleeping parent that is going to have my kid in bed until she goes off to college. Why is it that deviating from our "routine" once makes moms go all nutso and worry like that? When I shut off the inner dialogue and the inner critic and just follow my instincts as a mom everything is calm and things are ok (and we are ALL happier). I need to do that more and your blog post has helped me more than you will know.

    Thank you for sharing this, you have freed me.

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    1. Wow, thank you, Heather!! I feel like instead of joining in the mommy wars, I decided we needed to help each other out...love your posts too!

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