How Resetting Expectations Can Totally Shift Your Parenting Mindset
When Scottie was about four weeks old, I posted an Instagram Story about how her naps had been extremely short and we were only getting 25-45 minutes at a time, max. It wasn’t a huge “problem” but when you have a two year old and you’re trying to stay organized, dedicate time to your toddler, and get anything done in a day – I found myself wishing for her to take longer naps. The schedule I follow for her based on her age also had me planning on 1-2 hour naps. On most days and for most naps, I was happy to have that extra time cuddling and rocking her when she’d wake up “early” – but I was still trying to figure out what I could do to get her to take those longer naps and fall back asleep after that “45 minute monster” (as they call it) would come. “She’s not yet able to connect her sleep cycles,” I typed. “Does anyone have any advice on how to help her do this?!” I asked.
I got lots of great responses with solid suggestions. “Try putting her down earlier or later, maybe she’s over or under tired…” “when she wakes up, try just putting her paci in, rub her belly, and leave her in the crib if possible to encourage her to try and fall back asleep…” “maybe you could try a new schedule?”…you get the picture. All of these recommendations were good advice that I truly appreciated and decided I would try.
But then, a couple hours later, I got a message from a friend of mine I’ve known since college. She has two young kids around the same age as my kids, but her baby is a little bit older than Scottie. She said something along the lines of “Those short naps can be so hard! I found myself in a similar situation, and after trying multiple tactics, I realized that it is 100% developmentally appropriate for them to be waking up after 45 minutes, not connecting those sleep cycles, and it’s totally normal. I know it’s hard but what helped me was just resetting my expectations and trying not to obsess over it.”
The light clicked on for me in that moment. Just because this was not how Shepard slept or napped didn’t mean that anything was “wrong” with the way Scottie was napping. Like my friend said, it was completely developmentally appropriate for this to happen, and I shouldn’t worry about it. She was getting enough sleep in a 24 hour period and sleeping pretty well at night – so why was I stressing about it?
Her advice has really shifted my entire perspective on parenting, and I have two big takeaways that I think are really interesting here.
1. – There’s a lot of solicited and unsolicited advice for moms out there. Surround yourself with community that helps you feel good and empowered as a mother. Don’t follow or befriend people who make you feel like you’re doing it wrong. I am the type of person where I need advice. I want to know what has worked for others and I need to know that what I’m experiencing isn’t just me. What I loved about my friend’s advice was that she came to me in an understanding manner, said she’s been there, and here’s what worked for her. I’ve been really lucky that the entire MFM community gives really great advice and everyone does it in a really productive and understanding way. I’m extremely proud of the fact that everyone on here is super supportive and always gives advice with the intent to help, without making anyone feel bad about themselves or their parenting choices. You don’t get that in a lot of places – so it’s really refreshing and I am very grateful.
2nd thing – Changing your expectations around anything regarding your kids / parenting can help SO much. It’s really easy to get on the hamster wheel when your kids are going through various phases – obsessively googling what to do, how to do it, stressing when it doesn’t work, etc. It’s so easy to click into Instagram and see other moms who are seemingly “doing it better” or have perfectly behaved children and organized households. It’s so easy for that to make us feel bad about ourselves and stress or feel inadequate about our parenting abilities. But that’s just their highlight reel. We all have challenges. And sometimes, they aren’t actually challenges – we just need a mindset shift. So my (unsolicited!) advice to you now, friend, is if you experience that – try shifting your perspective. It may not work in every situation but it doesn’t hurt to try. 🙂
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