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April 28, 2011

You Do What Ya Gotta Do

I think it's interesting the way mothers judge each other.  And in some cases...the judges have become very coy and sneaky about how they get their judgments across.

Take the dilemma of getting your child to sleep on his or her own for example.  After Sarah, we really never had a problem doing this.  But Sarah was our first and she was a terrible sleeper.  She only slept about 6 hours a night even at 9 months old!  And I knew she needed more than that, but the child would. not. go. to. bed!!!  

Finally, I decided she really needed to have a set bedtime of 8:00 p.m. 

Now, I have been the recipient of judgmental comments about my last statement.  I have had people tell me that I should have let my child "lead" her own schedule.  I also have had someone tell me that it was selfish of me to require a bedtime at 8:00 p.m. (really???  haven't kids been going to bed at 8:00 p.m. forever???)

Then, I could delve into HOW I got Sarah to go to bed at 8:00...and that leads to a whole new rainbow of judgments.  

We used a modified version of cry it out, I suppose.  But, I tell you, my child never cried more than a minute at first and more than 5 minutes at it's very worst, with our method.  We started by praying with her, reading to her and singing to her and hugging her and finally putting her in her crib and leaving the room and shutting the door.  Of course...she cried.  But only for a minute because we went back in there.  And we picked her up, loved on her, held her, said, "Sarah, it's night time...it's time to sleep," and laid her back into her crib, and left the room and shut the door.  This was our pattern for the first night until she fell asleep.  and it took about 45 minutes.  Over the course of a week or so, we lengthened the time between our visits into the room to soothe and love on Sarah and within a week and a half or so, she was sleeping at 8:00 p.m., getting herself to sleep and was quite content.

I have been told that our method is cruel.  That we destroyed bonds of trust with our daughter.  Stuff like that.  

Of course, Sarah is 9 now (almost 10!) and she seems to trust us very much.  She's a lively, independent, vibrant little girl.

Now, my third daughter, Helen, slept in the bed with me an awful lot as a baby.  The same people who judged my parenting with Sarah thought this was a great idea.  Sleep with your baby!  She can nurse and be close to her mama.  I made them happy now.   But I heard the criticism from others...they told me I'd smother her...I might kill her!  How irresponsible of me!  How does my husband allow that!?!?

Something I've learned in my 10 years of motherhood is that I just need to do whatever works for me and my family.  And no...it's not always the same thing that needs to be done with every child.  I've been fortunate that many of my parenting practices HAVE worked and been applicable for all of my children.  And sometimes one of my kids throws me a curve ball and I have to figure something new out.  

I'm not quite sure what it is about us moms that makes us think we have the best way for everyone and people who don't do it the way we do it are bad mothers.  And I also am not sure if this is universal or if it is just an American thing.  But either way, I know a few "new" moms read my blog and I just wanted to put something out there reassuring them and any future moms that you will find what works best for your family and for your children and you may find that you do things a little bit differently each time around the block.  

When it comes to things like getting your child to sleep or reading them stories or teaching them how to dress themselves or potty-training or any of a myriad of things...there are two things I can most likely guarantee you:
  • One - you will figure out what works.  
  • Two - you will be judged rightly or wrongly and that it doesn't matter what you do - SOMEONE will think you're an idiot.  
  • BONUS:  Ultimately you'll learn not to give a rat's behind what anyone says or thinks.


  1. I really appreciated your comments on my posts on breastfeeding, because I felt as though you and perhaps only one or two other bloggers were the only ones who truly did not judge me for deciding not to suffer (literally) through breastfeeding.

    I whole-heartedly agree with you. We had Maggie sleep in bed with us for a few weeks when she was a newborn and had such a startle reflex she couldn't sleep on her own. Now she sleeps in her crib about 5 or 6 nights a week, and sometimes in her carseat, which she loves. I'm glad she's sleeping in her own bed now, but I didn't mind having her in bed with us when she was newborn. We did what we needed to do. :)

    You are a great mama.

  2. Great post! Every new mom should read it. Comments really bothered me with the first two, but since then not so much. When somebody says something like "if you do such-and-such that way, your baby will probably die (or have a low IQ or get all their limbs chopped off...)" I usually just respond with "well, we'll see I guess." :)

  3. I LOVE this post! So so true. You do what you gotta do. Every parent and every child is different (heaven knows mine are!), what works for one doesn't always work for another.

  4. You're so right Michelle. I too am at the point where I really don't care what other people think anymore, because I know we do what's right for our kids and they are healthy and happy. :)

  5. Thank you so much for posting this! I really wanted to comment on Maggie's post to balance out a lot of the comments she received (was there some part of the Catholic wedding vows that I missed? Because mine didn't include anything about sleeping arrangements, as if it were somehow a sin against your marriage to sleep with your child if that is what works for a certain stage!) but there's the whole I'm-not-a-mother-so-nothing-I-say-counts thing.

    Anyway, your advice is perfect and I am so glad that you shared it!

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Michelle! It really is so encouraging. Especially for those of us who pretend we have it all figured out but are really freaking out for days that we're doing it wrong :)

  7. You are so right! When I was first a mom I worried about what everybody thought about everything. Now I figure it all just works out the way it's supposed to. Milestones and stuff like that are just not important. Each kid is different, but that is not a bad thing. And those people who judge don't really know your situation and it's none of their business anyway. It wasn't until a had a son who was autistic that I learned any of that. Just keep moving forward. Love your kids and stop stressing so much. It will all work out fine in the end.


Thank you for reading. I enjoy reading other perspectives, please feel free to share yours. :)