The other day a woman called me a “crunchy granola mom”. It was in a derogatory way, but I have to admit that I liked it. Since becoming a mom I’ve learned that in every situation there’s never a right or wrong way to do something, there’s just the right way for you. Your Great Aunt Bertha can tell you all the ways she did things as a parent and not one of them will work for you or your baby. Maybe your best friend has 11 kids and she’s perfected her parenting, and she likes to give you advice. I can promise you that just because she has 11 kids doesn’t mean her parenting style is right for you. That’s the beauty in parenting… Diversity. No two people will do everything the same way, and you may think the other person is doing it “wrong”. It just simply isn’t true. I even parent differently than my husband and I’ve had to learn that it’s okay, as long as our core values are the same. We will always react differently in situations and we will find something that works for us.
Before I was a mom I had figured out all the ways I was going to parent. I was going to have a baby that slept through the night in her crib by 6 weeks and never needed to be rocked to sleep or nursed to sleep. She would eat whatever I made her and not have any allergies. She would be perfectly behaved and never hit or scream, and do exactly as we taught her. Cue the laughter, I know. I was naive. And I had even been around babies my entire life! Then I had my own… And I’m happy to say that I can now laugh at my old self and my old dumb thoughts. Maybe it was more wishful thinking? Whatever it was I learned to adjust.
I was obviously thrown for a loop when my daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was over a year, but the point is that we made it work. We adjusted to her and her needs and learned how to parent specifically to her. We did what we needed to to survive and my entire perspective changed! I learned that some babies need constant movement in order to sleep. Because our home was small it meant that I had to wear Ellie instead of let her sleep in a swing (now I still wear her and she’s almost 20lbs!). I also learned that when baby doesn’t sleep, no one sleeps. As much as I didn’t want to bed share before having a baby we started to take her into our bed. We were so much more rested and I had so much more patience! My anxiety went down, and I was overall happier. We got a lot of negative comments but I learned to not let them bother me. As I said before, it was right for us; it won’t be right for everyone. When we learned she was allergic to dairy it meant we had to cut dairy out of everything. When she was sick and I found there really wasn’t that much to give a sick baby I started researching essential oils and what I could use to make her feel better. When she had eczema from birth I started researching what I could do to help her skin and I found that there was a lot in my home that was harming not only her skin, but mine and Colin’s skin too. We’ve cut out chemicals almost 100% in our house and it helped immensely. We had to adjust to her and a lot of it meant becoming “crunchy”.
We focused more on her needs and letting her show us what she needed, instead of relying on books and what they said would work in our situation. I read so many books and articles on sleep it would blow your mind, yet not one thing worked. What worked for us was following her cues and letting her show us when she was ready for change. Suddenly at 12.5 months she stopped sleeping well in our bed, so we got a toddler bed! She is now sleeping 12+ hours. She learned on her own that she didn’t need mom and dad to come help her find her soother or get comfortable, it wasn’t something that we had to “teach” her. While this wouldn’t work for everyone it worked amazingly for us, and I feel confident in our decision, just as any parent should in any of theirs.
I never thought I would consider myself a “crunchy granola mom”. I thought that the moms who used essential oils for everything and co-slept past a year were “weird”. Little did I know, I would become one of them! I’m not quite a hippy, but I wouldn’t be too upset if someone called me one 😉