Browsing Tag

Parenting

Cosleeping

Why I will continue to cosleep

22 May, 2013

I hadn’t been online all day, so it was snuggled in bed with my 4 week old baby nestled in the crook of my arm where I read the headlines on my phone “Sudden infant death greater when parents share beds with babies” – and this one from the Guardian, that balanced, unsensationalist, altogether superior news outlet (spoken like a true biased liberal, HA.)

I read the report with what must have been an expression on my face much like the one that appears when people tell me they don’t have Twitter accounts – somewhere between incredulity and fear.

Could it be true? Despite years of rubbish data and myth peddling around cosleeping, have they finally proven something that means I must stop this beautiful parenting practice?

I love cosleeping with my little ones. My two and a half year old, Ramona, is still in the bed with us mostly and I am once again delighting in the joys of sharing sleep with my tiny (okay, actually comically MASSIVE) newborn, Juno.

Cosleeping is a continuation of our daytime parenting philosophy; until they are several months old they will be rarely out of our arms – let alone sight. And, as psychologists and neuroscientists have suggested could happen, this initial closeness has developed a fierce independence and daring confidence in my toddler.  Rather than night time and those frequent night feeds being dreaded I look forward to it, knowing that I am likely to get a steady ten hours where I am barely disturbed because even at 4 weeks old Juno can latch on without either of us stirring much. (I’m not the only one who loves this element- even SCIENCE loves the way cosleeping aids breastfeeding; a wonderful relationship has been established by researchers between the two, and it has been shown that breastfeeding lowers the chances of SIDS.)

Once or twice in the last few weeks I have risen to the surface to discover Juno’s breathing doing something a little bit peculiar, just for a few moments, and have been able to listen in to it settling back down again- almost as if there is a subconscious thread that connects her rhythms to mine. When she snuffles about I can restore her peace with a gentle hand on her belly or a badger mamma-like nuzzle into her cheek with my nose. (I can see myself like a badger; lopingly calm until crossed and wearing edgy monochrome.)

As my older daughter has grown cosleeping has continued to hold benefits – allowing a sleepful connection and passing of love between us even when I was often doing long days at work without her close by. I’m sure it has made the transition of a New Kid On the Block much smoother for her too. (It also provides a few jolly chuckles, like the time Ramona played hide and seek with her legs in her sleep.)
Why I will continue cosleeping

I love cosleeping; it has helped my parenting in both a touchy-feely emotional way and a very practical way too. Yet as I read the news last night I wondered if I would have to let it go for the safety of my babies. Should I turn against this deep instinct of mine – an instinct that parents have felt for thousands of years?

Fortunately, as the words from the newspapers flew like darts into my brain other facts, reports and stats swam amongst them- from books and blogs and articles I have enjoyed over the last few years. How can one new bit of research make all of that redundant? This niggle caused me to delve a bit deeper (erm, search Twitter) and I found that – OF COURSE- it doesn’t. In actual fact, the “new” bit of research isn’t new at all, but a regurgiation of old data – data that was initially flawed and now even more so as it has been shoe horned in to a prove an unprovable hypothesis.

As the British Medical Journal hit publish on this cosleeping research by a fellow called Carpenter a host of other scientists, professors and sleep experts from across the globe rushed to hit publish on their own analysis- analysis that deeply calls into question both the methodology and the conclusions of the Carpenter study.

*Serious face* I do have a BA and an Msc in Social Policy, so can get my head around statistics and research methodology and the making of health policy but I’m not going to do my own analysis because, hello; YAWN!! *serious face vanishes* Just kidding, it is because it is all there, already ready to read.

Please see below for the 5 MUST-READS in response to the Carpenter study and the propaganda (YES, propoganda why, why, WHY is there this crazy bias against cosleeping?) that has been produced in the last 24 hours.

But one thing I must add that I don’t think can be said enough. There is a GARGANTUAN difference between intentional and accidental cosleeping and this hasn’t been differentiated between at all in any of the studies used. 50% of parents cosleep at some points but the majority of these doing it in an impromptu manner, as mother and baby fall asleep together during a night nurse. This MUST NOT COUNT as cosleeping in these studies!

People who choose to cosleep take into account their bedding, their night wear, baby’s night wear, room temperature, presence of pillows, the presence – and state- of other people in the bed and baby’s position. All of these things can produce extra risk for baby’s in the parent’s bed so if people have planned and prepared for cosleeping these factors are more often than not taken into account and eliminated. Very much unlike accidental cosleepers.

Not only does this hugely skew nearly every study done, but it also poses a problem for generating policy on cosleeping. Calling for a ban on cosleeping stops any dialogue about all those factors above and makes unintentional cosleeping much more likely to happen.

Cosleepers with intention: YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR.

Read on for full assurance…

Psychology Today, SIDS Risks and Realities – a comprehensive rebuttal of the Carpenter study by other academics
“…it is not possible to determine that one variable, such as bedsharing itself is inherently responsible for risk remaining in this study.”

Peter Blair’s Peer Review Before items get any steam behind them they must be peer reviewed – this study was reviewed and found to be good by a few academics (all of which have published anti-bedsharing stuff before) apart from one, Peter Blair, a leading SIDS epidemiologist who writes this scathing and damming review – it is a download but an absolute must!
“The primary focus of this paper, stated in the article summary, is to answer the question “Is there a risk of SIDS due to bed sharing when baby is breast fed, the parents do not smoke and the mother does not use alcohol or illegal drugs?” This question cannot be addressed when only two of the five studies collected data on maternal alcohol consumption, none of them collected data on the use of illegal drugs prior to bed sharing and the question is confined to one cosleeping parent when there are often two.”

Another damming critique, this time from ISIS (Infant Sleep Information Source) – it is a download
“… it is important to be aware that the data upon which these analyses are based are now 15-26 years old (although referred to as ‘recent’), and have been compiled ad hocfrom a heterogeneous collection of studies performed in different countries at different time points, using different methods and definitions for data collection (i.e. it is based upon data that are neither comprehensive nor systematic). It can therefore provide only weak evidence for informing public health policy, and parental infant care behaviour in 2013”

The war on bedsharing- academic and parenting author, Uncommon John
“Discombobulated, perhaps, by recent evidence that has clarified that the risks of bedsharing are limited , and that breastfeeding protects against SIDS (a finding which some SIDS researchers have never wanted to accept) several authors teamed up to to rehash and respin some of their old data, much of which uses poor, outdated definitions of things like co-sleeping and breastfeeding.

Unicef Statement – calling into question the methodology used
“The impression from the press release is that infants in the general population are at a 5-fold risk of SIDS when the parents bed-share and don’t smoke, which is untrue. The risk is considerably smaller than 2.7 and might not even be significant. Considering these findings, it is surprising that the authors have focused on the risk among non-smoking, non-drinking bed-sharing mothers, when there are groups at far higher risk.”

Bedsharing and SIDS- Why we have it all wrong by Sarah Ockwell Smith – a helpful list of the variables not included in the study and a great comparison to driving cars!
“…the Carpenter research has many flaws, aside from the damaging call to action they propose they have just missed far too many variables for the research to be considered of any use to society.”

Bedsharing by Analytical Armidillo – not only does it discuss the dangers of a blanket ban but discusses all the research proving safe cosleeping is actually HEALTHIER for babies!
“So here we have internationally recognised doctors … stating actually co-sleeping may be protective against SIDS.”

NCT statement
“NCT does not support a universal instruction not to bed share as it could lead to an increased likelihood that a parent or carer inadvertently falls asleep while holding the baby, in a chair or on a sofa, which is much less safe for the infant.”

If only our media were better at finding this stuff and giving us balanced reporting (GOSH,  I’m just a blogger tapping away on a laptop with a newborn strapped to my front and a toddler trying to put her Thomas the Tank Engine down my pants and I can manage it! Pull your finger out, Guardian et al.)

HAPPY COSLEEPING EVERYONE!

PS Have you found any cosleeping must-reads? Do share!

PPS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Activism

Activist Parenthood- discovering hope and practicing peace

5 February, 2013

I took Ramona on her first protest march when she was a couple of months old. It was a rally calling for alternatives to the proposed government cuts.

She was snuggled up in the sling, complete with a sign that said “These cuts suck!” (Get it? Hehe.) Despite being behind a huge brass band from one of the Unions who honkytonked the whole way round the route Ramona managed to sleep through the nearly the whole thing!

I really believe that marching, speaking out, writing letters and occupying can bring about change. In fact, I am fairly sure it is the only thing that ever has. The frustrating thing is that the change so rarely comes as an instant response, but often many years later, very slowly, as all these form of protest take on an accumulative effect. We are where we are now in this country – with equal opportunities for women, employee standards, child rights, only because there has always been a faction of society calling for a better, fairer world.

We held family fun days at Occupy with arts and crafts and  a bouncy castle

So, as an activist, it was inevitable I was going to be an activist mum…

I spent a good couple of months of my maternity leave at the Occupy protest at St Pauls cathedral. We cycled up almost every day and met a few other parents and tots there. We had a huge toy box and the kids would play and we would talk about the society we dreamed of, and felt was possible.

Ramona even learnt to walk in that beautiful space, lumbering towards the manky pigeons and attempting to ascend that huge staircase.

I am sure it was a place where all the kids learnt something. They learnt hope – that whole crowds believe in an alternative to injustice. They witnessed zeal – that some people are prepared to seem foolish in order to hound these ideals. They discovered diversity and democracy, as people clung to new systems of decision making. There was a joy there, a happiness that can only be found in collective vision chasing, and also a raw anger, a peaceful kind of hunger for something different.

The Kids corner at Occupy- Tots with a Cause teehee!

These are things that are so often present in activist spaces. I felt them intensely at Occupy but experience them also when sewing with the Craftivist Collective or campaigning with the IF movement against hunger. I choose to bring her along and have her involved in these things and I am sure this is all shaping Ramona’s view of the world, helping her sense of “Can Do” and hope.

Recently I have been captured by the idea of parenting as being a potential spot for social justice and world change in itself. That bringing children up gently and respectfully can have a HUMONGOUS impact on society and global systems. Robin Grille charts this in his fascinating book “Parenting for a Peaceful World” – revealing just how exactly the correlation between peaceful child nurturing and peaceful society is – and the reverse, that the bloodiest times in history sit perfectly next to our most violent parenting practices.

I’m convinced these days that every time I opt for love and freedom and respect with Ramona, I am also making a choice about the world I want to live in. I can nurture peace-lovers or war-mongers! Fortunately, I think we are moving towards a place where parents are increasingly allowing their children to bloom and grow in absolute love. Hooray!

Bringing up our kids can be so vital for the future of a fair and beautiful society. But it doesn’t need to be a burden, this idea.“Ah, maaan?! Now I need to try and not bring up a violent dictator as well as making sure she gets Five a Day?” I hope instead it can be liberating- the sense of immense value put on our day to day lives; we are doing a job equal to that of the Prime Minister. (It IS a shame that the only thanks we get are in the form of snotty-nosed snuggles and the only pay is in the form of raisins tucked in to our bras.)

I am heading off on to my second round of maternity leave in a few weeks, with a Spring baby due, and I’m looking forward to having time to devote to even more activisty things with the little ones, confident that they will be learning about justice and hope. But for each day I am not campaigning on something I will reassure myself that my peaceful parenting is equally as important. Now I just need to dot some placards and a honkytonk brass band around the house to keep me motivated… Parenthood and activism

Have you taken your kids on a protest? How do you feel about the potential of parenthood as activism?

PS I originally wrote this for Story of Mum, a creative online network who are focusing on activism this month- go check out their fabulousness.

PPS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Attachment parenting, Parenting

Best reads for gentle pregnancy and parenting – and a giveaway

20 January, 2013

I have a bump! 28 weeks pregnant  and I finally have a bump. It took a while to arrive and then, aided by several Christmas dinners and a few weeks of festive chocolates left in the house, it burst on to the scene, knocking into things, rendering my clothes unwearable and making the poking of my bellybutton (of which I, er,  have a slight phobia) irresistible to my daughter!

Suddenly I feel veeerrrrry pregnant. Every morning begins with the Beetles anthem for tired souls – “No, don’t wake me, please don’t shake me, leave me where I am! I’m only sleeeeeeping!” Even my knees creak as I walk around. I have had to change the start of my maternity leave from 2 weeks prior to my due date to 6 weeks prior because I am just so weary! GAH, being pregnant with Ramona wasn’t like this, I was a (probably slightly annoying) energetic bundle of glowing hormones.  It is partly having a rambunctious toddler, I guess, and also partly to it being cold, old January. I think everyone is a bit exhausted just now.

I am still nursing Ramona, and we have good days and bad days with that. I see so very many benefits for her still, so aim to keep going, and some days as I  snuggle on the sofa with her and we lock eyes as she nurses I love it as much as I did when she was a new born. And other days it is, as one mama put it, like getting a “30 minute long wet willy” – that classic, sloppy saliva finger wedged in your ear hole trick, eeep!

Of course, I love this baby growing inside me already, and I love parenting Ramona, and can’t wait to have both here on my lap. But sometimes I need a bit of a boost, reminders about why I am parenting peacefully, I need some comfort in shared experience.

I feel so fortunate to have a stack of books and online resources to help me get through some of these more sleepy, short-wick, big emotion days. It is always good to read of other people dealing with similar things, getting encouragement and ideas, and being part of communities that aim to parent in similar ways.

So. I thought I’d share my list of where I find this!

These are my favourite off line and online resources for parenting and pregnancy and birth.

I’d love to hear your own faves though- the books and blogs you rave about when you hear someone has a scrumptious new bun in the oven.Best parenting books and book giveaway

BOOKS

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. The BEST book. Oh my days. It covers SO much but in a really readable way. It is, without a doubt, the book I would recommend to every newly pregnant couple.

Hypno Birthing by Marie Mongan. I am a massive fan of hypnobirthing, primarily because of the complete faith it bestows upon women’s bodies. I am sure that reading this book in pregnancy created the gentle birth I had with Ramona.

The Science of Parenting. This was probably the first parenting book I read and I devoured it in one sitting. It covers babyhood to older childhood and brings, er, you may have guessed, a bit of science into it but in a super accessible way. It covers cosleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding and gentle parenting.

Playful Parenting. This is the manifesto for parents who want to have relationships with their children that bring joy and freedom, for those who want to move away from punitive, tension filled parenting. It is story after story of how play can restore our children and our relationships. Brilliant.

How to Talk so Kids Listen and Listen so Kids Talk. I read this book over Christmas and it has given me this pair of specs that I can’t take off! I feel like I see every adult-child interaction in a new way, a way that reveals where children are coming from. It has such incredible power to help parents understand, and respond to, their children.

ONLINE

The Green Parent. This is a WONDERFUL magazine, but also an online site with forums. These forums got me through my first few months of motherhood!  The community of people on there are so helpful and inspirational.

Kellymom. What breastfeeding question has Kellymom NOT answered? None. Nope, not one.

Mothering.com The articles on Mothering stretch my mind with potential, often full of creative and reflective stories on motherhood. There is a lovely community of mamas in the forums too.

Attachment Parenting UK Facebook group. I really like being part of this group! They post encouraging quotes and blogs and posts and generate alot of discussion.

The Natural Child Project. This site covers so much with the most simple, story based articles. From Elimination Communication to Unschooling it challenges main stream philosophies with really practical examples.

La Leche League. This is an incredible breastfeeding support network to tap into. Jampacked with resources, but also access to support lines and groups to help in the most hands on way.

The Mule, Baby Calm, Little Hearts, The Other Baby Book, Hobo Mama, Analytical Armadillo, Uncommon John and Aha Parenting are all blogs that I love -along with about a billion others-  and will often delve into their archives for inspiration and research on attachment, peaceful parenting. You have to follow these peeps too!

GIVEAWAY

A few weeks ago I was in an Oxfam Bookshop and found four of the above books in pristine condition, two each of Hypnobirthing and The Science of Parenting. I already have one set myself,  have given one to friends who are expecting so for the final duo I am giving them away on this ‘ere blog.

To win The Science of Parenting and Hypnobirthing (with CD)

Please leave a comment! That’s all folks!

However…

For an EXTRA entry you can follow this blog through email (see below to enter email address and hit subscribe button) or through Facebook (let me know in the comments)

And for a THIRD entry you can share this post either on Facebook or Twitter (again, let me know in the comments)

Winner will be chosen on Friday 1st February at 9pm. Winner will be drawn at random from all the entries. UK entrants only, unless you indicate that you’d be willing to help out with postage.

******WINNER ANNOUNCED******
Thank you SO much everyone, and especially for your beautiful and lovely comments. The winner was MrsXpat- congratulations! Thanks for entering everyone, and I’ll have another giveaway soon I’m sure!

Thank ye, my friends, and good luck!
PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Breastfeeding, Parenting

Dear new mummy

4 January, 2013

The baby is here! In your ams! Mewing, and pooing, and screeching, and sleeping!

You can’t stop staring at the little mite in disbelief. YOU MADE THIS! You MADE this.

You want to cry at the mystery of it all… and also the sense of doom that seems to creep in at the corners, just a little, every so often… you shed a few tears at that. You want to laugh in elation… but not too much, until you really get cracking with those pelvic floor excercises. Your heart bursts with wonder… and your mind creaks a little with fear – how can I do this? You love this baby more than anyone ever in the whole world has loved a single soul… and also not quite enough.

It is, er, an emotional business, this parenthood malarkey.

I want to tell you one thing. This one thing I’m going to tell you… it is to forget everything anyone’s ever told you. And then replace it with this:

Trust yourself and your baby.

Just have this one mantra, and repeat it to yourself everyday.

I trust myself and I trust my baby.

Carry it with you and wield it like a silent shield, if need be, in front of disapproving glances, or undermining words. When you read parenting articles announcing new research that simply doesn’t fit with the rhythm the two of you have found. When experts suggest they know the pair of you better than you know yourselves. They don’t. You are the expert, the absolute expert, when it comes to the paths you are carving out together.

Settle into these instincts, be guided by your intuition, listen to your baby.

Soon enough you will gather confidence like a warm coat around you, you will delight in the trust you have developed. You will see your baby as wise, you will let them be your teacher, your lives together will be rich and deep and joyful. They’ll be angst and emotion and teething and hormones but this trust will be the surest foundation for your every parenting action and decision.Trust yourself and trust your baby

It starts now, with breastfeeding. It takes too much teethgritting, too much patience, it is not how you imagined it to be at all! You were excited about nursing your little one, but this actually just hurts.

Just trust.

Another day, maybe one more day after that, and you will feel like all the secrets of the universe have been bestowed upon the two of you.For real. It will go from feeling as if your toe blisters are being burst with pliers to feeling like sitting on a whimsical cloud being sprinkled with magical love glitter. You’ll soon cherish these milky moments, you’ll rest in the easy, blissful breastfeeding relationship you have woven together. It is JUST around the corner.

Believe in the concrete power of your intuition and the unfathomable innate ability of children, even the very youngest ones.

Your mother instincts and your baby’s voice is the most harmonious duet. Let this song guide you.

Trust yourself and trust your baby.

Love Lucy

PS- You may know… this is a letter to my new mamma self, that one that emerged late in the evening in November 2010. It is also a reminder as I contemplate another wee one arriving in the Spring…

PPS- I am actually all for reading and talking and exploring new ideas for parenting 🙂 Books like How to Talk so Kids Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk inspire me no end. I just think it is vital first to have firm belief in your instincts and heart and what your child has to say!

If you were to write a letter to a new mum, or to your own fresh mother self, what would you say?

 

Activism, Craftiness

On world hunger, two year olds and rice crispie cakes…

19 November, 2012

As I stirred from a bizarre dream this morning, reluctant to wake, especially with all of us snuggled so cosily under the duvet, I groaned; “Monday already? Mummy has to go to work…” Ramona replied, “No, Mummy, no work.” I realised with a jolt that I was bringing up a work-shy communist.* Just kidding, but I did have an insta-worry that I am in danger of devaluing my work, seeing it as something I just do to bring home the (soy-based) bacon, and not because I am passionate about the role of campaigning in bringing about a fairer world.

I tried to recover my position. “Well, it is sad that I have to leave you, but mummy gets to go to work in order to help people who are hungry…”  I realised I was addressing quite a big issue that I hadn’t really addressed with my just-two year old before.  And I was being quite colonial in my description.

Ramona was  chewing a chocolate rice crispie cake, getting it all in the bed (gah, don’t judge me, it was her birthday party yesterday and Tim gave her some leftovers for breakfast. Judge him.) I went on, “You see, some people don’t have rice crispie cakes. And mummy, er, tries to make sure everyone can have a rice crispie cake….”

Ramona is too young, but I do want this to be part of our life’s rhetoric. That life sometimes isn’t fair for everyone, but that we can all play a part in making it better.

We can do it through our jobs, by nurturing our children’s empathy and efficacy, we can do it through our hobbies and spare time.

Some of my favourite people, the Craftivist Collective, have launched #Imapiece – crafting jigsaw bits with messages on in collaboration with Save the Children-  to challenge the horrendous truth that every single hour children are dying from hunger. Their central message is that we are all a part of the big picture, we can all join a movement, to craft a more beautiful future together.

I stitched my first piece of jigsaw in a spare hour last weekend… I went for “Prepare a feast!” – I was feeling hopeful, visionary, and imagined a massive banquet table, bending under the weight of nutritious food, enough for every single belly to be full.

 

I would love Ramona to understand this. For my hope, rather than any festering cynicism, to seep into her life and the choices she makes and the very way she see the world. I would like to give her Spectacles of Hope  and Action .

This morning she responded to my sleepy, confused explanation with a slobbery, chocolaty kiss. It is clearly too early in her life for this to all make sense to her. And it was certainly too early in the morning for me give it a bash sensibly, without the rubbish use of rice crispie cake analogies!

I need to really work on this… any tips, anyone?

PS Why not use your own crafty skills to dabble in the #imapiece movement? Read all about it here. 

*This is a bit of an in joke with myself, because when I was a young youth worker and writing alot about Fair Trade in youth publications, I got my first bit of hate mail, an aggressive letter from an ancient capitalist, suggesting I was imploring today’s generation to be “work shy communists”.  Mwhaha. That letter only steeled me in this fight against greed 🙂

Attachment parenting, Cosleeping, Parenting

Eight approaches for happier sleep

5 November, 2012

Yesterday morning Ramona woke up at 4:30, full of beans. She planted some kisses on our faces, did a morning fart, followed by a belly full of giggles, and began climbing all over the bed. “Awake! Me! Pojo??” Pojo is her word for porridge, she was ready for breakfast and up for the day.

Grumpy is not the word. I was mad all day. Mentally flipping the bird at every stupid email I received, I stomped around the office, grizzled under my breath my whole cycle home. I was reminded what it is like to be deeply unhappy with a child’s sleep patterns.

I spent many of Ramona’s first months feeling this way. She’d take forever to go to sleep at the sensible time of 7 pm and then wake at the crack of dawn. I disliked spending an hour doing a night time routine and getting her to sleep, bobbing up and down the stairs to her throughout the evening, and then peering out of the bed covers at the clock and seeing 6 am shining back at me just a few hours after I rolled under them.

It was only when Ramona was a year old that I realised I wanted to take a more relaxed, less structured approach to her sleep, and since then we have all been much happier. Of course, we still have the odd terrible night, an evening with a wired tot who won’t sleep, or a crack of dawn morning. But on the whole my mind is free of sleep anguish, and that deserves a celebratory doughnut.

I’d say adopting eight different approaches helped me feel much happier about our sleep situation.

  • I got the “sensible bedtime” idea out of my head. The most sensible bedtime for a child is when they are tired. Sometimes, due to a late start or long nap this is ten pm. Mostly for us it is somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30. It took me a while to get this, even 8:30 pm seemed outrageous to me, so I’d try and try and try to get Ramona in bed at The World Will Approve O Clock. Once I let go of this, our evenings got a whole load more relaxed.
  • I decided that beds were overrated. For a year, Ramona took her naps on me in the sling or on the sofa, but always began her night time sleep in bed. Once I realised she was often much happier falling to sleep at night time on the sofa I began to see the benefits. We’ll cuddle up amongst the cushions, then after she has drifted off, while my husband and I read or chat, we can put a film on, or continue the get-together with our friends. Because she is right with us she’ll rarely stir much and then I just take her to bed when we go.
  • We abandoned the routine. Sometimes the bath, songs, story schedule worked. Mostly though, Ramona hated the idea of going upstairs and leaving behind her crate of toys, the lovely people in the lounge and a kitchen of food. She’d be upset about being carted off somewhere else, or we’d end up doing story after story until she was ready to snuggle down. Not making such a palava of bedtime made the transition to sleep so much more natural
  • I watch her cues and set the scene. Sometimes Ramona will ask for “bed”, sometimes she’ll just ask for “mummy milk” (as opposed to “Daddy milk” which is what she she calls dairy! Mahaha…) or sometimes she may yawn, get a bit angsty. At this stage I will put the lamp on, quieten down the house and settle on the sofa with her. This transition is much easier for her mind to cope with!

  • I accepted that kids all have different sleep needs, and they are fairly good at meeting that need if we allow them. Ramona can rarely sleep more than 11 hours at night. If she goes to bed at 7 then that is a 6 am wake up call. ER, NO THANKS! Getting up at 8am makes us all happier but that does mean I have to accept that traditional bedtimes don’t suit us! She still naps for an hour, an hour and a half. But if she has a few short naps then she might go for a number 14 hour night sleep!! I just trust her in all of this and shrug off the concept of a 12 hour night.
  • I accepted our new normal. Once I got used to the idea that Ramona would continue to stir at night, and would continue to need me, my mind calmed down and my new state of contentment really helped! Instead of waking up and thinking “She woke 4 times and she is nearly two!!!” And being appalled at my poor parenting, I now simply recognise that she just has superior survival skills….because obviously, we are built to stir all night so we can respond to danger and stoke the cave fire! Also, perversely, the few times she has slept all night I’ve had a rubbish sleep due to a lack of lovely nursing hormones. Wrong, that is, I tell you!
  • I rejected the “creating good sleep habits” rhetoric. Mainstream parenting advice claims routines, sleeping through, self-soothing and sleeping in a separate space sets our children up for a lifetime of excellent sleep. Erm. There is an MAJOR flaw in this in that we have been repeating this record for decades and we are some of the worst sleepers in the world!!! Nearly 40% of us suffer from insomnia. Mainstream advice is clearly doing something wrong.
  • I embraced a “live intuitively” philosophy. I try as much as possible to let Ramona be self-directed, to eat when hungry, cuddle when she needs it, jump on the bed if she fancies it, and sleep when she is tired. I hope all of this stuff will allow her own gut to be the loudest voice when it comes to making important decisions, that she will be less reliant on the sways of peers and external evaluation. Learning to respond to her body and its need will surely give her a confidence and a wholeness that will give her a much needed resilience. Knowing that I may be suffering a little less undisturbed sleep than others for the big picture, the future well being of my daughter, makes it a tiny, insignificant suffering!

These ways aren’t for everyone, I know.  If you are content with the fixed way you do thing, please, don’t change a dot!!! But maybe some of you are like us, and do want to take a more abandoned approach to sleep and parenting, and I hope our story will encourage you to do that. For me, stumbling across other families that did this gave me the freedom I needed to parent this way boldly, and not secretly! I liked these two pages, especially…

This collection of quotes from homeschool families who just roll with it, sleepwise. 

Letting kids find their own sleep patterns

Finding a bit of freedom around this whole sleep situation has been a part of my attachment parenting journey. For me attachment parenting is all about choosing connection, over control.  I am down with boundaries- i.e, I wouldn’t give Ramona sweets before bedish time, or have a massively exciting game of tickles just as she began to yawn, but integral to my parenting is a relinquishment of my need for high control. Allowing Ramona a certain amount of autonomy is important to me, and these approaches to sleep extend that philosophy to her bedtime.

So… *asks timidly, trying to be brave* … what do you reckon?!