Well, less that mother’s don’t have it, I should’ve called it Some Fathers Do Have It but it didn’t have the same ring to it! I guess the titles a bit misleading as what I mean is fathers can have it too – instinct that is!
Its always ‘trust a mother’s instinct’ but father’s can have instinct too and it is often right!
Sometimes it can be easy to bow down to outside pressures, to listen to what other people are saying you should do, because everyone has an opinion – hell, I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it myself to an extent. “Shouldn’t she be in her own room now?”, “Have you tried putting her in her cot for naps?”, “can’t she self settle yet” (with a surprised look like surely that’s back to the basics!), “are you not weaning her yet? Look she’s desperate for food, poor thing is starving.” “She should be going 4 hours between feeds now, is she still on 3”, “my children were all sleeping though the night by now”. Gah! All this pressure can make you doubt your own instincts.
For some, this is all you have to go by, in which case shut out all the other noise and do what your heart tells you (and I salute you for doing such a hard job alone). But for us lucky ones that are raising children as a partnership, why not rely on the father’s instinct too.
At around 8 weeks, I was feeling pressure to put Millie in her own room at night by family but also my own poor memory. Remembering back to when I had Callum, my timeline is all a bit skewwhiff. I often think we introduced things and changed things a lot earlier with Calllum than we actually did. Its only when I read back my blog that I realise that I am often quite a lot out with timing. One of these occasions was with when we put Callum in to his own room. Not only did I have the timing wrong, when I had tried it with Callum it was quite difficult because he wasn’t ready yet.
I had forgotten all this and was suggesting to Stuart that we put Millie into her own room. Stuart pointed out that she was still quite unsettled in the evenings and could often take a couple of hours to settle in her Moses basket. If I were to put her to sleep in her bedroom, I’d be spending the majority of the evening stuck in her room or up and down every five minutes to settle her. He said the timing didn’t feel right and that we should wait.
I listened to him and agreed to wait a few weeks with the aim to get her into her own room by 12 weeks.
At around 11 weeks, Millie was settling much better in the evenings and so one weekend I suggested it might be a good time to try and Stuart agreed. She settled in her cot fine. We had a couple of nights of multiple wake-ups but on the third night she only woke the once at 4.30am and then the next at 5am. The time was right, the earlier time that I wanted to try would’ve been too soon & probably would’ve been stressful. Stuart’s instincts were right!
The other issue is us mums can often build a rod for our own backs. It can be tempting to take control of everything, enforcing our own techniques onto our partner and then we find ourselves in a situation where only we can put our child down for their naps, only we can settle them when they wake up. Then we wonder why we are doing all the work – we have effectively pushed our other half away. It may not have been intentional but has happened nonetheless. I’ve witnessed it in several of my friends. How are they going to help us if we don’t let them try. I don’t know about you but as special as it feels to have such a strong bond with your Little One that s/he responds best to you, I’d prefer to be able to share that special bond and be granted a break every once in a while.
A child-minder once told me, children soon recognise different sleep routines in different scenarios and can respond equally as well to 2 different routines. For example, at the child-minder’s or a nursery versus at home or when the parents have separated.
With both Callum and Millie I have tried to let Stuart find his own techniques for getting Millie to sleep. It has been difficult at times, not to intervene or take over, but how is Stuart, or indeed Millie, going to learn if you never give them the opportunity. You never know, there technique might actually be better than yours – this did happen with Callum! Stuart’s technique was better than mine so I adopted his method.
Obviously, I am with Millie more often than Stuart so am more likely to pick up her cues quicker so I may sometimes suggest something like, with me she likes to snuggle her muslin on her right side or point out to him a sleep signal I’ve recognised, and there is nothing wrong to suggesting a routine that you both stick to. Agree it between you rather than enforcing your idea. Then step back and let them try their way.
Its good to remember you are a team and a man’s pride can be easily dented if you tell them they are doing it wrong the whole time – I know mine would be so who can blame them.