Sleep when the baby sleeps
How many times did you hear that little gem of advice when you got home from the hospital? Mother in laws, sisters, aunts, district nurses. “make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps.” Okay, I’ll cook when the baby cooks shall I? Do laundry when the baby does laundry? Shower when the baby showers? Some things can only get done when the baby is asleep, so that advice just isn’t always practical.
As motherhood continues, you’ll get lots and lots of advice, well meaning, but generally unsolicited, and some of it is brilliant, it will change your life! But some of it, like the above example, doesn’t always work. The trick is to find a way to sift through the information and figure out what works for you. Remember this is your child and how you raise them is your decision. You don’t have to listen to others’ opinions or experiences. You get to decide what is best for you and your family.
When it comes to dealing with unasked for comments or information, there are a few things you can do. But first it can be helpful to remember that even though you haven’t asked for it, the advice is more than likely well meant. Quite often your first reaction can be defensive, especially if you feel like you are being judged, but it is rarely worth starting an argument over what the other person sees as a valuable insight. There are bigger battles in life.
It’s easy to listen to what the person has to say before deciding if you agree with it. If you think it’s useful, file it away, if not, simply disregard it. A non-committal response “I’ll give that some consideration.” “That is something to think about” can often be the easiest way out of the conversation and will cut it short when openly disagreeing could create an argument that drags on and on, wasting your valuable time.
Avoidance is a great tactic when it comes to unwanted advice. “You should just let your baby cry itself to sleep” is a perfect example of this. This piece of advice can be a divisive as Lyons versus Barry’s tea. Some people swear by it. Others hate the very idea of it. If your brother in law is an advocate of letting babies cry and you are not, don’t bring the subject of bedtime or sleeping up when he is around. You know he’s going to weigh in and insist he’s right, so avoid the topic completely. If he introduces it “how’s ‘insert sports team name here’ doing this season?” usually helps to change the subject quickly.
- Be confident
Confidence is key if it comes to the point of having to defend your choice of parenting style. “Are you still breastfeeding?” “Yes, and my daughter loves it and is thriving, we’re so happy we made the choice to keep going.” A bright, cheerful and very definite answer is hard to argue with and should stop the unwanted advice in its tracks.
- Call on the experts
“You know you should really cut up that banana?” “Oh, my doctor recommended baby led weaning as the safest and best way to start her on solids.” It’s hard to argue with the opinion of a qualified expert. So even if you haven’t consulted one, dropping a title will help to silence the advisor.
If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night, but you can’t bear to listen to another lecture on bedtime routines or nighttime feeds, just lie and pretend they’re sleeping like… well, a baby! If your child hates the bath, is having a hard time teething or refuses to let Daddy put him down for a nap, just don’t mention it. The easiest way to avoid unwanted advice is to act like you don’t need any. Why would you change anything? Your child is an absolute angel and your life is a breeze.
One day in the not too distant future, you’ll be in a shopping centre, on a bus or at the park and you’ll see a mom struggling with a colicky, fussy baby. You’ll look at her and think, ‘oh I remember when my baby was like that I used to….’ and you’ll find yourself opening your mouth to say “you know what helps…” you won’t be judging, you won’t be competing and you will mean it in the best way possible. But remember how you feel about unsolicited advice right now, and maybe just offer to buy her a coffee instead.