Picking my battles

Pat… pat… pat… f#$%&g pat… pat… pat… f#$%&g pat…

11-11_DigitalClockThe red digits on the clock have just changed for the 84th time. That’s one hour and twenty four minutes that I have sat beside the cradle patting my 7 week old daughter in an attempt to get her asleep. “Today is the day” I said, because yesterday wasn’t and the day before that sure as $%#@ wasn’t either. Yip, there was no way my daughter wasn’t going to go to sleep in her cradle tonight. No way that I was going to have her fall asleep in my arms on the couch, no way that I was going to cuddle her to sleep again.

Pat… pat… pat… f#$%&g pat… pat… pat… f#$%&g pat…

After a first child that never slept, you would think I would know better by now. You would think I that I would realise that this is one battle that I might not win. You would think that I would have realised that it matters very little if I do win because in my small experience, babies will do what they want to do, when they want/are ready to do it.

I find myself doing this a lot lately. Drawing imaginary lines of principal that will not be crossed, until one of my offspring leaps across them with careless abandon.

The other day Miss nearly three was playing on the trampoline while I was making dinner. Having the gnat like attention span and a need for thrills that she does, she quickly got bored of the standard climb-up-the safety-net-and-leap-off tricks (I promise I never taught her that) and decided to turn her trampoline into a ball cage. She ran into the house and then a few minutes later ran past me, arms full of every ball she could carry.

I have no idea where it came from but suddenly I was channeling “boring safety Dad” who said to my daughter that there was no way she was taking the balls on the trampoline. You could “slip on them and break your neck and end up in a wheel chair and not fulfil your potential as a human being and..and…and” I heard my self saying. I took the balls off her, she cried, then as I turned my back she would try and take them out again.

This went on a few times with her cries getting louder and my frustration growing. Just as I was about to channel “angry, do as I say Dad” I got called into the bathroom to assist in removing a wriggly 7 week old from the bath. When I came out there she was, Miss nearly three laughing and giggling and she bounced on the trampoline, balls flying everywhere… alive. Not crippled, not in a wheel chair and judging by the way she got straight back up after landing on a large foot ball, reasonably safe.

I know rules are important, as is preventing injury. I also know that kids need to have boundaries and learn that they can’t do everything that they want. What I am also realising though is that it becomes really easy when you’re busy doing “life” to just say no out of habit or to dig your heels in without stepping back and asking yourself “what’s the outcome I actually want out of this”.

In the case of the trampoline, what I wanted was for my daughter to be safe. If I had stopped for a second and thought it through I could have easily let her do what she wanted with a few modifications (like removing the rocks that made it on to the trampoline as well).

As for the patting? Well my youngest is now put to sleep in her parents arms. It’s bad. It’s not helping her learn to self settle but right now the outcome I need is for Mum, Dad and newborn to get some sleep.

So – how about you? Do you find yourself parenting on autopilot? Are you a no Mum or Dad and want to be a yes?

Joining in with the inaugural Lounge Linkup that’s being held at musingsofthemisguided

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This entry was posted in Being a Dad, fatherhood, Tips for new Dads and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Picking my battles

  1. Mel says:

    Welcome to the Second baby!

  2. Oh yeah – I can so relate to that. I always have to ask myself: Is it a matter of principle or safety? No? Then don’t argue about it!

  3. Danya Banya says:

    I try my hardest to be a ‘yes’ mum. I have very few hard rules that have actual reprocussions if they are not adhered to. (I do use reasoning and encouragement to limited success with other stuff but I’ll confess my daughter regularly walks around Chatswood Chase with no shoes on. – oh the horror on the other people’s faces!).

    BTW – not loving your new “read more of this post” at the end of your emails. Sorry to say it, but I usually unsubscribe from bloggers who do that. I’m lazy, and an extra click is an extra click. Anyway, I haven’t unsubscribed from you yet, so we’ll see if I make an exception. 🙂


    • Kevin says:

      Hi Danya,

      No shoes at shops? Your not alone – good form.

      Thanks for the feedback on the read more thing. Would you typically read my stuff in the email that gets sent when I publish?

  4. robomum says:

    I posted about a similar issue this week. I like to let my kids be kids.
    Welcome to The Lounge Linky. I think it’s safe to say you’ll be one of the first men to visit The Lounge!

  5. Tegan says:

    I’m a bit of a control freak…so picking my battles is one of my biggest issues at the moment. My son is 3 so he’s at the point of testing boundaries, we make an interesting pair.
    Thanks for linking up with us at The Lounge.

  6. mumabulous says:

    You’ve got to get them to sleep any which way you can. No room for matters of principle there.

  7. Hey Man! A really excellent post and can relate big time. As the years have gone on and now with four boys I just found I’ve relaxed a bit more with rules around play and even with sleep routines. For Tania and I we’d never expect a seven week old baby to sleep through. I wouldn’t hang around the cot for an hour. I’d take the baby, put on one of the Geelong Cats DVDs and let the baby sleep on my chest while I relived some Grand Final glory. This is personal opinion – but I just think tiny babies need as much cuddling and holding as possible.

    We’ve co-slept with all four boys. They always start in their own cot and then come to our bed when they wake up for a breastfeed. By the time they’re around two we put them in their own mini bed and they’ll still get up some nights and come in for a cuddle. I sometimes end up in their beds if Tania and Maki are in our bed. It’s musical beds! I really don’t think it’s a big deal. And I found about a year into the second child (Lewis) that I handled the interrupted sleep with much more ease when I just let go of my expectation about what made a good night.

    Anyway, it’s all a learning experience and a new baby always changes the dynamics and like I always try to remind myself – trying to establish routine is okay but with kids there’s always a strong possibility that tomorrows going to be a little or a lot different to today. So sometimes it’s just better to go with the flow.

  8. Ness says:

    I agree with Reservoir Dad. Babies should be cuddled as much as possible, especially considering that when you look back in years to come, it will seem like they were only babies for about 5 minutes. And it’s musical beds all the way, here too. That reminds me of an episode of the show The Middle, when the mother Frankie played by Patricia Heaton says in the voice over (talking about musical beds) “If you’re a parent, and you’ve never done it – you’re lying.” Yep.

  9. There is definitely something to be said for picking your battles, something I am starting to learn. Some things are just not worth fighting about.

    Dave and I were talking about the sleeping newborns thing and remembering all the time we spent sitting beside Punky’s cot or bassinet trying to get her to sleep because we were too scared of creating bad habits by holding her or sitting in the rocker to get her to sleep. We’ve both decided that this time around, having realised how quickly they can change from day to day, that if we need to sit on the rocker with her to get her to sleep then so be it, that’s what we’ll do. And the other person will make sure they cover the sleeping newborn and parent with a blanket, lol!

  10. Oh the story of my life these days! I have days and days of angry cross mummy, and then wake up one morning and let some things slide and by Jove we end up having a wonderful day! It’s so bloody hard to get a balance!!!!!!!

  11. Always pick your battles and don’t be afraid to retreat from the automatic “no”. Will she really get hurt? Will it really make that much difference if you let your baby fall asleep in your bed? I wore my second baby a lot, because I knew that that was what my first baby missed out on. If that was the only way he would sleep occasionally, then I let it be. Because the odd time here and there made for a much happier baby and family.

  12. redlandcitygirl says:

    It’s a great principle for parenting – my kids are 19 next week and 16 and it’s still put to good use today!

  13. Rachel says:

    The single source of battles is the computer – it’s an all consuming issue in our house at the moment. The constant negotiation over how long they’re on it, what they do on it, who’s go it is. It is DRIVING. ME. INSANE.

    This is one battle I AM going to pick – it’s important because I don’t want them spending hours on end on it which is what they’d do if I let them. But I need a change of strategy. Some clear rules that everyone knows are not negotiable. I’ll let you know if I succeed…

  14. Kim says:

    I remember feeling bad when I was cuddling to sleep for too long instead of putting the bubs into their beds, but now, with hindsight, I just think, whatever. All that angst and for what? Get them to sleep however you can when they’re that little. I often say no.. Then ask myself how much I really care. I ended up letting them ride scooters in the house the other day, because I couldn’t think of a good reason why not. AND my mum would never have allowed that shit! Rebel child lives…

  15. Oh I love the line about the kids leaping across your lines of principal. The older mine get, the more likely they are to call me on any arbitrary decision making. It’s getting harder to just throw out a reflex ‘No’ without someone wanting a very precise justification of WHY I’m saying no. We had bikes on the trampoline recently though – I think my emphatic ‘no’ was justified. As for sleep – we work on an extremely random whatever-gets-you-through-the-night principal on that one!

  16. Sarah mac says:

    I’m a pretty laid back kind of mum and a firm believer is doing what works for you. I may have just been lucky but it’s pretty much worked with all 3 of my children.

  17. When children are on trampoline doing all manner of things I have learnt to not look at all. better for my health. Sleep is very much needed for parents and honestly however it works is cool as long as everyone is getting some – bub is still so little, hard not to want cuddles I’m sure.

  18. Kelly HTandT says:

    Dude! Balls on a trampoline is SO MUCH FUN! You know what’s more fun? A sprinkler on a trampoline. That shit is cray cray.
    I’m totally an auto-pilot ‘no’ mum, but then I ask myself, why am I saying no? And I often change my mind. They need to enjoy their childhood before they’re old and single with 3 kids and no boobs.

  19. Beth says:

    it would be cool though to always be the YES parent huh? Yeah I am not that one, I am the NOOO that’s not happening on my watch and Daddy get’s to be the just when Mums not here one. Works for us. With bubaliscious have you tried a moses basket between you two. We co-slept with No.1 and with No.2 we tried the moses basket and it worked a treat. Turns out she just wanted to be near peeps. Should of known then it was an attention seeking thing…sigh… girls gotta love them

  20. Marti says:

    At risk of sounding like a sheeple, or is that a sheeperson… or just a suck up! I agree with those above who say just go with it. My theme song is ‘Whatever gets you through the night’.

    We’ve tried the self settling (1st baby- total failure for many reasons, but I have known it to work well for others) but have been too tired with the rest to bother! We now go for co-sleeping, floor sleeping, rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, sitting up sleeping, on dad’s tummy sleeping… essentially whatever ensures maximum sleep for a maximum number of people!

    All the best, whatever you choose to do!

  21. Jenster says:

    I’m not a mum but I can relate!! Had quite a chuckle as I read this!

  22. Pingback: From Boyfriend to Baby Daddy… and a manly meal. | Keeping Up With The Holsbys

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