This weekend, my boy let someone else babysit him and put him to bed, with no fuss, and no tears. Most people would read that and think “wow, what is so exciting about that, do these people not have a life?” But if you read on, you will find out why that is a big thing for our family.
I have learned as a parent, that what works for us, and our family, isn’t always what works for other families, and the same applies in reverse. Just because my friend does things a certain way, with her children, and it works for her, doesn’t mean it will work or be helpful for me and mine. That doesn’t make either of us bad parents, it just means we are both doing what works for us.
Having a child who has struggled with issues that most other children don’t, in the form of a Sensory Processing Disorder, has made me change my perspective on parenting even more. When you have a child that needs a little bit of extra input, and understanding, in order for him to manage, you often face judgement and questions or “helpful” input, on how you should parent him.
We have chosen to mostly filter this out, and do our own thing, in order to make life for him, and our family work. We know him best, and we know that certain things or situations will be a struggle for him and us, so we do things a bit differently. It has meant changes and adjustments but that is part of being a parent, so we are used to it.
I know my boy, and I know that in his own time, he deals with life and gets to where he needs to be. He toilet trained himself, with minimal input from me, when he was ready. He weaned himself from breastfeeding, with minimal fuss, when he was ready. He is now sleeping on his own, in his own bed, because he was ready. He gave up his dummy, his beloved comfort, when he was ready. Sometimes he needs a little input and help from us, but most of the time, I have learned that he will do things in his own time and then it’s the right time. That is hard to explain to other people outside our circle who might think that we are “spoiling him”, or “pandering to him”, because we don’t push certain things before he is ready, but WE know it’s ok.
This weekend, for the first time, we left him with someone else, other than us, or his beloved Grandad, to be babysat and put to bed. In the summer, when we were on holiday, the lovely lady who owns the gite we stay in, babysat for us, and managed him beautifully, and we knew he was in good hands, but other than that, because he has struggled with bedtimes, going to sleep, and being left, we have not pushed it. We have gone out, we have managed to have a life, but we have worked around his needs.
This weekend, however, we wanted to attend a wedding, and whilst the children were able to come and watch the ceremony, we decided that we wanted to enjoy the evening “child free” so we organised a babysitter to be with them, and put them to bed. Someone we know well, who we have confidence in, to care for the children, and we knew that both would be happy with. We told her that if M didn’t want to go to bed, it wasn’t a problem and we would not stay late, and come home and put him to bed. She was happy with that, but said she would try bedtime and see how it went. I spent the first part of the evening watching my phone anxiously, and wondering if things at home were ok (ridiculous, I know)
When she sent me a text to tell me both children were in bed, with no fuss, and were asleep, I was delighted, and breathed a huge sigh of relief, and was able to enjoy the rest of the evening. This is not something we could have done a year ago. Our boy is now happy and confident enough to be left with someone other than us, that he trusts. It’s a huge thing. He was ready, and it worked. Trusting my gut, and going with what is best for my boy, and us, might not be what other people see is the best thing, but for us, it works. I am proud of myself for sticking to what I know, proud of my boy for handling things so well, and delighted that we now have a little more grace in our life. Something so small that other parents might take for granted, finally works for us.
Oh and the babysitter made friends with Layla, too, so clearly she’s a miracle worker in many forms! 😉