I’ve been thinking lately about the time we had William looked after (I don’t think I like the word ‘babysat’!) by my sister when he was 4 months old. It was the first (and one of the only) time we have left him with someone else. But this one night, 18 months ago, we were going to the theatre to see Mary Poppins. I remember that for weeks before I was working myself up to leaving him. It was only a few hours, but it seemed like it would be a lifetime.
As any other first time parent, I had it all worked out! I would get William to sleep before we le. Well, that worked out in accordance with the plan. My sister came over at 6pm and William had just gone to sleep.
I told her that William would arouse for milk at around 9pm, so heat the bottle of expressed breastmilk at around 8:45pm, then just lie down next to him in bed and feed it to him (we cosleep). I then explained that if he wakes up fully, let him finish the bottle and then put him in the baby carrier as he will go straight back to sleep.
So, all instructions were given and we went to the theatre. I was quite nervous leaving given it was the first time we had gone out alone since William was born. But I was coping pretty well! But then it all changed at interval … I called my sister to see how everything was going. Well … she told me that William was awake and didn’t want to go back to sleep. She explained that she was feeding him the bottle but that it leaked all over him, so she had to change his clothes. en he did not want to sleep in the baby carrier, so he was up playing with his cousins. She said that he was happy and not upset at all. I got off the phone and started stressing.
This had never happened before; William was a baby that had never woken during the night to play – not even as a newborn. I worked myself up that much that I could not enjoy the rest of the show. I then called when the show had finished and he was still awake. That was over an hour later! What was going on? At the time, it seemed like the worst night of my parenting journey.
We raced back to the car to get home as quickly as we could. I had to get home quickly because I was worried about … well, that’s the thing, what was I worried about? William was happy and playing with his cousins ~ he was not upset, not anxious … that isn’t something to be worried about is it?
Looking back now, I realise that it was silly to be upset or worried that he was awake. What harm did it do? In fact, it was probably a good thing as he got to spend some time with his Aunt and cousins. I guess where I’m going with this is that as parents we tend to worry about things that really have no consequence. Some of us get so uptight about the most trivial of things ~ like our child’s sleep. Sometimes I think that we really need to take a step back and ask ourselves ~ at the end of the day, does x really matter? If I had asked myself that on that night I’m sure I would have been able to enjoy the second half of the show.
So, I have been working on how to deal with these types of thoughts so that I can enjoy life more fully (as ‘worrying’ is never restricted to parenting!). So far, I have found that the best technique for me is to step outside of the situation for a moment.
Imagine yourself as a silent observer ~ or even you looking back in a years time. Then
1. What is the worst thing that can happen?
2. How likely is it that the ‘worst’ will happen?
3. What is the best thing that could happen?
4. Is x going to affect my child for the rest of their life?
5. And my favourite: Will I laugh about this (or be so upset) in years to come? The answers to these questions have helped me to be able to ‘go with the ow’ and enjoy life with a lot more ease!
As Mark Twain famously said: “ I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.”
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Enjoy the gift of Nurture!