When I was in school, I was constantly working. Working on schoolwork, working on my a cappella group, working on some artistic endeavor on the side, working on a relationship. When I graduated I was working on getting fit and going to the gym, working on getting a job, working at that job once I got it, working on our fixer-upper house.
When Owen was born I remember “working on” things with him to. Working on stretching feedings to be further apart, working on getting more hours of sleep, working on eating more ounces, working on pumping, working on tummy time. My brain was constantly working, working, working on figuring out our next step or what we “should” be doing.
I love to work. It’s at the very core of my personality — always striving to be better. And while I get great satisfaction out of growing and changing through the work I’m doing, it also has the potential to leave me feeling dissatisfied or frustrated some of the time, when the work isn’t living up to my high expectations.
Recently I realized one of the biggest ways I have grown as a parent (and as a person) in the last few years. Less “working on” things. More appreciating where we are this very second.
With Emmett, I haven’t really “worked on” anything. He just… is. If he’s hungry, he’s hungry. There is no “well, he shouldn’t eat for another hour…”. If he’s sleepy, he’s sleepy, even if he just woke up 30 minutes ago. This clearly isn’t rocket science, but this mental shift is the impetus behind my new laid-back parenting style and it has had a huge impact on my general stress level. Don’t get me wrong, I still have the can’t-stop-won’t-stop-working-on-something side of my personality, I’ve just channeled it into projects like cleaning my office and creating Halloween costumes and making dinners from scratch. Things that, if they happen to get left off of the To Do list for the day, really have no impact on our lives. So I’m still “working on” things, but I’m not sweating if it doesn’t work out.
Despite this lovely zen-ness and acceptance, I think I may have found the first thing I need to “work on” with Emmett. Since he was born I’ve pretty much fed him every 2 hours during the day. In the beginning this was to pack on the pounds… but now I think it’s just habit. It just kind of works — he sleeps for 45 minutes, when he wakes I change his diaper and feed him, then he plays for 45 minutes. Lather, rinse, repeat. Eat, play, sleep. He’s super regular and yawns right at the right times and eats well at the right times. But as I think about sending him to daycare in a few weeks, I’m realizing that he’s probably (definitely) old enough to go longer in between feedings. And probably having a hungrier/fuller tummy will in turn help him consolidate daytime sleep to get some longer naps, which is obviously the direction we should be heading in, as restful, deep sleep is incredibly important for babies. However, I seem to have completely forgotten how this transition went with Owen. And, given his feeding issues at the time, it likely happened differently than it will with Emmett.
When did your children begin to stretch to 3 or 4 hours between feedings? How does that work with their sleep time? Did you try to help this transition along by holding them off from eating if needed, or does it naturally happen even if you’re feeding on demand/more often?