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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Family Room

Hanging out with mom and dadThe issue of the family bed has been discussed in one of my email groups lately because a couple of our members are expecting for the first time. Congratulations, Mec and Tin! It is exciting times for all of us, including us old time mommies as we get to relive past experiences in babydom. In Pinoy Moms Network, Connie also talked about their family bed and how her girls always slept with them (she has a follow up post regarding this issue too).

When I had my first baby, I read all (well maybe not all, but some) the requisite book on pregnancy, birthing, and parenting. At first, I tried to go 'by the book' especially when it came to feeding and caring for my newborn daughter. I breastfed regularly by the clock and pumped milk when I'm away at work while leaving a strict schedule for her feeding times at home. Her bottoms were swaddled in only the finest cloth diapers to be had. I tucked her into her crib everynight and settled into mine for my ME time, as recommended.

That didn't last long...

What I found out was that my heart broke everytime she cried because she wanted to eat but it wasn't time yet. I cried along with her when wanted to stay with mom and dad longer but it was time for bed. I tried to follow the suggestions given for training them to learn to sleep on their own: Lay them in the crib, pat their back and say goodnight, walk out of the room. If the baby cries, wait 5 minutes, go in, pat on back, whisper comforting words, then go back out of the room. Repeat for as long as it takes for the baby to sleep.

Have you ever heard a newborn baby cry? It's the most helpless sound in the world, and I just couldn't stand listening to it without my heart crying along. So I said to heck with the rules, I'll do this my way. Picked up my baby and rocked her to my breast until she fell asleep. When she was hungry, she can have all the milk mommy can produce. When she wanted to sleep, it was in mom and dad's bed.

Little did I know, this was how it has always been done according to my lola (grandmother). Most Filipino moms I know also do it this way. This way is feeding on demand when the baby is hungry, carrying the baby when it wants to or need to, and sleeping with the baby until she is ready for her own bed. This is, in general how our girls were raised.

They say that children who are coddled too much end up being needy and dependent adults. I think the opposite. I think children who are comforted and loved grow up to be secure and independent adults, Because they know they always have the safety net of their family, they take bigger strides and take more chances. I coddle my children, sure, but I also teach them about failure and disappointments. They know they can't always have everything the way they want it when they want it. I believe we also have to find moderation.

My girls are now 14, 13, and 9. They are all sleeping in their own beds, but this was their choosing. They slept in our bed until they were ready and moved to their beds on their own. That doesn't mean that mom and dad's room is now our own again though. They still come and take naps on our bed, when they are not feeling well and need hugs, they still come to our bed. When they can't sleep, they come to our bed. And since hubby created a sitting area in our room, it has now also become the family room. They come in and watch TV in our room (even though they have one in their room), they come and have their late night snacks in our room, or just come and hang out with mom and dad.

So what if sometimes we don't have as much 'alone' time as we'd like. There is no such thing as ME time. What we have is a lot of US time, and from talking to even older mommies like my mom and lola, the US time is priceless...and fleeting. So we enjoy every moment with our girls because these times will be gone before we know it and we want to be ready for the next phase.


jadepark said...

spectacular post--i think so much of parenting cannot be documented in a guidebook, and i laud you for following your gut.

MrsPartyGirl said...

"They say that children who are coddled too much end up being needy and dependent adults."

i think the person who wrote this wasn't coddled as a child and is sourgraping :D

this is such a loving post, and i couldn't agree with you more. :)

Omom said...

Good one! In our house, we just do the night-time musical beds. My girls always start sleeping in their own beds but by the time the sun rises in the morning, they could either be in our bed (on weekends)or me in theirs. Hubby complains when they come into ours (he has to wake at the crack of dawn)so I carry them back into their bedroom and stay in bed with them. I have to admit that I love sleeping with my girls. I love to watch them sleep, they look like angels...then they wake. LOL!!!

But seriously, time flies and even more evident when you have kids.

vernaloo said...

Hi JMom :)

Oh yeah. Some mothers depend so much in these books when motherhood is inherent. True this books are helpful and give great tips but mothers should know better.

I grew up not having my own room or my own bed. I'm not perfect but I believe I grew up okay :) Love is still the best guide to motherhood.

Joan said...

When my son was a newborn and I was on maternity leave, he was on a schedule .... his! He wanted to nurse almost every 2 hours like clockwork. I don't see how experts can speak of putting young babies on a strict schedule. There are some religious group that really adhere to the idea, too. It seemed when I thought I could predict our kids' feeding schedule they would go through a growth spurt and it would all change.

Mec said...

true... soon enough, they'd be busy with boys and school and spending summer vacations with friends away from you...

maybe then you'd have your ME time :) and by then, you wouldn't have regretted delaying your gratification...

after all, is it not the best privilege there is... to actually enjoy, not just witness, your own child's becoming? :)

JMom said...

Hi jadepark, thank you. I'm learning more and more to trust my gut. I don't know why I second guess myself sometimes.

Hehe! mrspartygirl, siguro nga sourgraping sila. wawa naman. :) and thank you!

hey sis! yeah, I remember the musical beds routine well. We did that too until we finally put the beds together. You remember when we did that? :) And yes, they do look very angelic in sleep. Enjoy while their breaths still smell sweet :-P lol!

Hey vern, me too! Grew up without my own room, I mean. And when I had my kids I thought they would want having their own rooms too. But I was wrong, they just love sleeping with mom and dad the best. My girls are growing older and I know they will soon start separating from us, and that makes me sad. I hope they will always stay close anyway.

hi Joan, you're right. Babies come with their own schedules built in. It just takes us grown up a while to figure it out sometimes, but when we do, boy does life ever get easier! and we are much happier for it to boot.

Francesca said...

sa europe, baby pa lang, stay na sa next room and meron lng microphone na kung iiyak, takbo na lang si mommy to fed her/him.
Sa pinas, katabi hanggat hindi pa nag eskwela.

Close family ties mga pinoy, sa iba naman they do what they like, kasi nga privacy daw yun???!

ann said...

I used to read books also about new moms and so on but did not follow any...hehehe. I breastfed my baby until she's full and satisfied.

JMom said...

ganyan din dito, francesca. Para daw matuto silang maging independent at para may privacy ang mga magulang. Pero mas masarap ang Pinoy way para sa bata at sa magulang :)

ann, baka matigas lang talaga ulo natin? hehe!

Ferdz said...

"They say that children who are coddled too much end up being needy and dependent adults. " - Hey they're still babies, they can't tend themselves yet. SO if they cry it means they need something. That's what mothers are there for, to make newborns accustomed to the real world

watson said...

JMom, the best advice is right here... no need to buy expensive books for that!

Toni said...

When I have kids, I won't hold back on the cuddles and kisses!

This is a great entry, JMom. Made me wonder about the family bed. I don't think I ever experienced that. I was aching to have my own bed, even if it was within the master's room! I guess I didn't enjoy having my sister's elbow in my face while sleeping. *L*

kat said...

i also read the requisite books, etc., but for guidance only though. books can only teach you so much and there's nothing like the "trial-and-error" method! hahah.. but nowadays, they do teach you to feed on demand (and not to force a schedule) --a schedule develops naturally once the bebe gets older (it did for mine). and i'm with you: hearing newborns cry is just so darn heartbreaking!

JMom said...

I agree, ferdz. How can we truly prepare them for the real world if we don't nurture them first.

You're right watson. Sometimes our insticts are worth a thousand times more than what we spend on books.

Hi Toni, you are going to make a wonderful mom! I think we always want the thing that we didn't have. I never had my own bedroom growing up, and I always envied other little girls who had their very own room. I guess it also depends on our level of maturity. I'm a late bloomer....very late :)

Hi kat, I think even the experts, if they will admit it, will admit to the the 'trial and error method'. It's always been the way it was done and I guess we'll still be doing it generations from now.