Am I an Attachment Parent or a Martyr?

I’m pretty confident everyone with a child over 14 months knows, at least deep down, that their kid can be a bit of a shit sometimes. Don’t get me wrong Luisa is funny, she’s loving and smart and I wouldn’t trade her. But she can be a right brat when the notion takes her.

I know that she’s a small human who’s brain is expanding rapidly making thousands of new connections a day. I appreciate that the world is big and scary and changeable. I understand that she’s testing boundaries, looking for security and developing her own personality. But. She is killing me slowly.

I’ve never had any time for anyone who dares to utter the famous ‘rod/back’ analogy. So if you’re tempted to peddle that you’d best leave now.

 

 

So, back to the title, am I an attachment parent or a martyr? I’m not really sure and honestly not a massive fan of sorting people into neat little boxes based on their life choices. I get that people like to associate with those who share a viewpoint but I feel like these labels often divide and can be too rigid to accommodate our vibrant personalities. With that said I do identify with a lot of the attachment parenting philosophy.

 

Attachment Parenting is an approach to childrearing that promotes a secure attachment bond between parents and their children. A person with a secure attachment is generally able to respond to stress in healthy ways and establish more meaningful and close relationships more often.

 

Sounds great right? But what does it mean in practical terms? Babycentre have some ideas about how to practice AP in the early days;

 

  • Breastfeed your baby on demand. As well as nourishing her, you’ll be comforting her with your familiar smell and the warmth of your skin.
  • If you’re bottle-feeding, hold her close, look into her eyes, and watch for cues that she’s had enough milk.
  • You could try babywearing, by keeping your baby next to your body in a sling.
  • Sleep in the same room as your baby, for at least the first six months, so you can respond to her quickly at night.
  • Chat with and sing to your baby when she’s alert and content, following her cues so that she feels heard and listened to.
  • Treat your baby’s cries, and as she grows, her tantrums, as her way of communicating. She is asking for your help when she cries, and your guidance and reassurance when she has a tantrum.

 

Again, all sounds fab, simple, intuitive – right? But what does it look like for us now? Now that we have a toddler who still wants to sleep in our bed and breastfeeds round the clock it doesn’t feel as wholesome and sweet.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong I know that natural term weaning is around 4 and bed-sharing into early childhood is actually really common. BUT i’m exhausted, i’m spent, i’m done. I want my life back, I thought this was meant to make my child secure and independent. I’m still waiting for all the benefits to manifest and i’m starting to worry if I am (dare I say it?) cutting off my nose to spite my face.

So where do I go from here? Do I start introducing naughty corners, reward charts, send her to nursery and don’t look back, go out of the house to work knowing she’ll be crying for me, close the stair gate on her bedroom door at night? None of that appeals to me at all. But we can’t stay like this. No personal space, little time apart, exhausted working late into the night. I’m starting to wonder is all this attachment even doing her any good?

Who knows? Answers on a postcard please.

 

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. 15th September 2017 / 7:19 pm

    I’m sorry I really don’t know either! Lily doesn’t bed-share anymore as she doesn’t sleep, she just wants to play and now she’ll actually ask to go back into her own bed if I bring her in if she’s not sleeping which is actually heartbreaking! We don’t do naughty corners or anything like that either but I do close her bedroom stairgate, simply because she is on the middle floor and we’re on the top, she could quite easily go downstairs and start cooking breakfast by herself otherwise! I tried a reward chart once for a day or two but I didn’t like it, she’s generally quite good and it’s all a phase and testing the boundaries, it’s all normal but so exhausting and draining I know. All I can do is send you lots of hugs and tell you that you’re doing the right thing and it will get better. I do think that leaving her with Matt, despite her protests, might do them both some good though and you too though but that’s just my opinion lovely! xx

  2. 17th September 2017 / 11:57 pm

    Damned if we do and damned if we don’t, be our own mind…and the rest of society. I took a very different approach with my daughter, I was so keen for her to ‘self soothe’ to a point and be independent. But now, I worry I was harsh, created a toddler that is too independent, isn’t the biggest fan of snuggling, won’t nap with me 🙁 was it me or is it her nature? I will never know, but my mind sure thinks it has the answer.
    I was still exhausted anyway! Parenting is a tough gig, whatever you do, it’s clear to see you are an amazing mother, loving and caring and that’s all that matters…as well as our sanity, but I think we lost that a long time ago 🙂 really enjoyed your post xx

  3. Rosie
    20th September 2017 / 1:49 pm

    What I know is None of us know very much.

  4. 20th September 2017 / 2:32 pm

    I’m no expert but I think this is a totally normal stage to go through and I also think that if neither of you seem to be thriving at the moment then it’s definitely time for some sort of change but that doesn’t mean that what you’ve done up till now was wrong. I have fallen foul quite a few times in my parenting life of carrying on doing things as I’ve always done them and not noticing that the situation has changed, the kids needs have changed and it’s not working anymore… then I find myself moaning about it for a while without realising that I can just change it up and find a better solution. For us, cosleeping worked for a while and then it didn’t, breastfeeding worked for just over a year, and then I lost my mind… I don’t think attachment parenting a toddler needs to look the same as attachment parenting a baby if you see what I mean but it is a hard transition to make. Personally I think the most important part of ap is looking at the child in front of you and trying to work out what they need from you right now. Then you have to work out how you can give it to them without burning yourself out. Loving boundaries. You need to put your boundaries in place to protect yourself but you do it in the most loving way you can, to protect her. I’m not sure I’m making sense but I just wanted to give you some encouragement because I feel like I’ve been there with questioning everything I’m doing and it’s really tough xx

  5. 14th October 2017 / 10:44 am

    Hi.
    I’m the mum that goes against everything you have said. I have 3 children, my last child was bottle fed, some times in her rocking chair, non of my children co-slept, 2 of them went to nursery early and I went to work, they all learnt how to feed themselves at a young age and now my youngest is two she is in her own room with the gate locked at night. Even though I didn’t do all the AP stuff I still have an amazing bond with all three of my children.
    What works for some may not work for others and you know something has to change and I would say don’t try to do it all in one go. Pick your main issue and try something new, when you have that down to a tee try something else. Good luck I hope you find relief soon. X x

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