Are you into attachment parenting? Did you ‘do’ controlled crying, or baby-led weaning, baby sign, or extended breast-feeding? Have you strong opinions on co-sleeping, chocolate cake, toothpaste or forward-facing buggies? Did you get that child on a routine? And if not, why not?
Once upon a time, people had babies, often more than they have nowadays. One of those unfortunate babies was you. Frankly, it’s a miracle that you’re even alive, let alone able to read these words without moving your lips, seeing as how it’s unlikely you had a car seat, let alone black-on-white picture books to stimulate your brain early on. I’m surprised you’re able to walk in a straight line, given that you didn’t have a pair of new shoes until you were 10. Are you very damaged internally from having eaten a lot of Findus Crispy Pancakes back in the dark ages before goji berry toddler shakes and organic biodynamic quinoa hit the nation’s lunchboxes?
It’s hard not to have opinions, or just wearily indifferent views, on modern parenting mores and methods. Everyone’s heard about Gina Ford and the naughty step. Most people who’ve procreated have a stack of books – The Easy Baby! Your Sleeping Baby! – beside the bed. And most parents have probably had a bash at one particular approach or other. Some even stick it out, turning into grim militants in the process. (I was once asked to leave my own house to enable a visiting child to take his midday two hour nap in the total silence to which he had become accustomed.)
A wise friend, with three small kids and a heartening lack of regard for books, routines and infallible methods offered a couple of useful thoughts on it all. One, no matter what it is, it’s just a phase. Two, whatever gets you through is fine. It’s worked for me. 5 hour flight? Spare the whole of economy class, dear two year old – have a new toy every hour, and a bag of Skittles on the go. Teethbrushing a battle zone unless combined with Happy and You Know it? Hopefully, that won’t be the case by the time they’re seven. Whatever it takes. It’s only a phase. Make them your mantras and you’ll all be grand.
Problem is, this laissez-faire ‘whatevs’ approach is apparently an official method already. Slow Parenting (aka, ‘Have at it, kids!’) is the hottest thing since the sippy cup. So next time you break all your own rules and let them eat jelly for breakfast, you can rest assured that you’re not alone. Anyone for a Skittle?