Parenting – a team effort

27 02 2009

Lately I have been speaking to various people. Some ask me about possible childcare arrangements, others relate to me the problems that they are facing as a parent.

Ifeel that parenting is a team effort. The team can be the couple, the first-time mother with her mum, maid+mother, part-time cleaners + couple, childcare centres, grandparents, external support group, friends etc. There can be various combination, schedules, arrangements set up in different families just to provide the adequate care for a newborn.

I am lucky. I stay with my in-laws, and my hubby is very hands-on with the kids. Again, having twins also meant that we needed extra pairs of hands where possible, especially during the initial period when I was coping with healing from the delivery, getting the hang of breastfeeding, learning how to be a mummy.

Some other first time mummies may not have that luxury of having trusted caregivers or that they find that the “volunteer” caregivers have very different ideas of parenting and experience to take care of a newborn.

I remembered having arguments with MIL during the first few weeks when I first came back home with the twins. Difference in opinions regarding confinement practices, what the cries of the babies meant, ideas about breast milk, hormonal changes — all these contributed to the stress and tears in that initial period. And then, we learned. Both me and her, and everyone else. We give and take, we discover new ways of adapting to the babies, deciphering their cries, anticipating their needs. Our bodies adjusted to naps and frequent waking at night. We also implemented some routines, in hope that the babies learned the difference between day and night, therefore allowing us to sleep a little more every night. It was really tough in the beginning. The initial months were never easy, and it was hard to enjoy the babies when the daily aspects of taking care of them were tiring everyone out.

I was adamant about having my own personal space, and expressing breast milk became one of the best times for me to take a break from carrying/feeding/washing/changing the babies. I could read books, magazines, watch tv while I express. This was only possible only because I had help. And really, having those extra pairs of hands helped a lot. The milk supply was established, I was not so stressed out, I gave up insisting that things are done my way, or having the idea that it’s either my way or the high-way.

You may wonder where this entry is going. I just want to encourage all the first time mummies out there to hang in there during the initial periods, to know that there are help around, and sometimes when some arrangements are not working out, it may be better to solve the root problem and find solutions that do work for the benefit of making you, the mummy, happy and giving you the rest you need so that you can do all the mummy stuff.

Motherhood/parenting is an on-going learning process, our limits get stretched, our bodies changed, mentality changes. All for the little life(s) we brought into this world. We continue to grow as a person, a mummy, a wife, a co-worker, an employee. It’s never healthy to just define who we are by what we do as a mummy and forgetting our personal self.

To be a better mum, we need to be happy. We need breaks sometimes. All these can only be made possible when we have a good team. So treat the “team” well, treat yourselves well. Then one would find that the little ones become much better too.

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