My oldest son was only three months old at the time I experienced my first negative (at least that's how I perceived it) comment about a parenting choice I made from a family member. And it was Christmas.
I had just gone back to work following my maternity leave the week before. My husband was working Christmas Eve, and I was suffering from some pretty significant postpartum anxiety. Our baby wasn't sleeping through the night yet. I decided to brave the holiday and travel to my parents' house for the evening.
This would be my first solo parenting trip, and to say I was worried and nervous that all eyes would be on me and my newly acquired title of “mom” would be an understatement.
Everybody has that one family member…you know the one I'm talking about...
Your great aunt or Uncle Steve who you only see once or twice a year. Well, mine is one of my aunts. I love her dearly, but she likes to offer her opinion and share her own personal experience way more than I'd prefer. More often than not, I do appreciate her commentary and life experience, but being three months postpartum and already anxious, I was just over it before it began this particular year.
I had just learned about and was following the concept of wake windows with my baby. Our day was already thrown off due to the travel, and by the time we had gotten to my parents' house, I knew my son was likely going to be going to bed around 6:00 p.m. instead of the normal 7:00 p.m. And it was Christmas Eve.
So you better believe I heard all about it - “He's going to bed already?! But it's Christmas Eve!”
I defended myself, respectfully, of course, “I know, but he didn't sleep well in the car and he's tired now. If he doesn't go to bed sooner than later, I'll have to be up with him every few hours tonight.”
“Can't he stay up just one more hour? It's Christmas Eve! I let my babies stay up later their first Christmases.”
Cue the mom guilt.
Well, Aunt Karen, my child is different than yours. And I'm a different mom than you are.
So, while I felt guilty for taking him away from his family on his first Christmas, I took him back to the bedroom, nursed him in the peace and quiet, and laid my sweet baby boy down that Christmas Eve without having to worry that he was going to be up within a few hours because he was overtired. He had a great night, and woke once for a feeding, and then went right back to sleep!
We had a great Christmas that year, and I don't regret any one of my decisions either.
Mama, you were given your baby because YOU ARE THE BEST MAMA FOR THEM! Trust your gut and do what you need to do to take care of them without worrying what Aunt Karen or Uncle Steve is going to say. There are ways to hold your boundaries in a way that is respectful to everyone, and most importantly, your baby.
While I understand that this isn't everyone's belief - nor is it mine every year - but for my 3-month-old baby it was the right decision at the time.
I've been in the mom game and parenting world for a while now, and I've gotten better and better at dealing with unsolicited advice and unwelcome comments about my parenting.
My Favorite Responses to Unsolicited Comments or Advice About My Parenting
Here are a few examples for you:
A cousin or aunt makes a comment about bedsharing - “Why don’t you just sleep with them?! That worked for us.” Here’s what you say ➡️ ✨“Some people love that.”✨ That’s it. Moving on...
Your SIL makes this dumb comment - “I was watching Tik Tok and I heard that playing white noise causes speech delays.” Here’s what you say ➡️ ✨“Oh, I heard that.“✨ That’s it. Don’t elaborate. Just shut it down.
Let’s say you’re giving your baby a bottle - you’re mixing up some formula - and someone makes a comment like, “Oh, you’re not breastfeeding?!” Here’s what you say ➡️ ✨“It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”✨ That’s all! No need to expand on anything if you don’t want.
As a toddler parent, all eyes are on you and your parenting. Someone makes a comment about something your kid is doing…here’s what you can say ➡️ ✨”Man, it is a challenging time to be a parent.”✨ That is all. It is what it is. You have a toddler. Continue parenting your child because you know what is best for your child.
***takes another sip of wine***
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