Friday, June 3, 2011

The Reluctant Rocker.

Can I be honest?

For the first six months of 2011, my favorite part of the day was the roughly two hours that my daughter spent napping. It was a bit of solace. No screaming. No tantrums. I wasn't yelling, "Lizzy, do NOT lick the cat!" or saying, "It HURTS when you bite me!" I could read. Work out. Feel a bit like something other than a mom.

I feel kind of vulnerable typing that because I know that there are probably many moms who would LOVE to stay at home with their kiddos, and they very well might be giving me a very serious side eye right now at how ungrateful I seem to be doing just that. Please don't misunderstand--I love Lizzy to pieces. I am blessed to be able to stay at home with her. But, that doesn't mean that it's always easy or fun. The last six months have been a blur of tantrums, clinginess (but not in a nice snuggly way--in a 'I want you to hold me, but walk around the room all day and never sit down while I wriggle down and then want to be picked back up' way), and Justin working all kinds of wacky hours that meant I was on my own with Lizzy most days and nights.

While Justin was on the never-ending work trip, I started to notice that if I laid Lizzy down for a nap while she was awake, she never actually went to sleep. Sometimes, she'd play quietly in her crib, sometimes I'd be going in to rub her belly to try and help her calm down and go to sleep every ten to fifteen minutes for the entire two hour duration that she was supposed to be napping. In either case, she didn't sleep...which meant that by about 2:30pm she was even more of a cranky, tantrumy mess.

Few (if any) of the moms that I know practice the full-bore Babywise approach to cry it out, but most subscribe to a more moderate approach including more soothing, but still laying the baby down for naps and bedtime while awake. Justin and I both saw wisdom in the idea of  a gentler approach to kids soothing themselves to sleep (once they have demonstrated that they HAVE the ability to self-soothe), and so we basically followed that approach as well, and it worked wonderfully for us until Lizzy was about 14 months old.

And then, one day in an Act of Desperation, I rocked Lizzy to sleep for her nap. I sat down in the rocker with a book, she snuggled up to me, and actually went to sleep...which in turn made the rest of the day much more bearable than the non-napping tantrum messes. It was easier on both of us and saved our sanity, so I continued to do it while Justin was out of town.

For awhile, I felt guilty about it. I was NOT following the rules. I was NOT letting her soothe herself to sleep. I was NOT teaching her good habits. But I also felt conflicted, because that time spent with her in the rocker, snuggling and humming while I read a book had become one of my favorite parts of the day.

I sing her songs, while she looks up at me with such love...much in a way that I heard other moms talk about that quiet one-on-one time while breastfeeding. I never once experienced it then, but I'm experiencing it now, rocking Lizzy to sleep for her naps. And that time? It's the ONLY time during the day that I get snuggles from my sweet on-the-go baby girl. For us, it's so much better doing it this way, and like many a kind friend has pointed out, they don't know anyone who needed to be rocked to sleep in college.

I've become a reluctant rocker. Though, I don't even think reluctant is the right word...because there's no reluctance left. I love it.

This approach? Certainly won't work for everyone. But aren't you glad that each one of us parents are the experts on our own kiddos? That for the most part, we know what they need--when to go by the book and when to buck the rules?!


  1. I think you nailed it in the last paragraph - only you are an expert on your child, no other person knows her like you & Justin. I don't think anyone can argue with that!

  2. Dude, I am a fan of DO WHAT WORKS. And since you are a SAHM and you have the ability to rock her to sleep, BY ALL MEANS, do it. Emeline doesn't (at this age) prefer to be rocked to sleep. But if one day she does? WHAT-EVER. I'll do it. I used to feel bad when she was little and I let her sleep in her swing out of desperation. ANd then I wised up. BECAUSE WHO CARES!? She is my baby. She needed sleep. I did what worked for her. And as far as I can tell, she still likes her crib just fine and I didn't mess her up any.

    You are doing great, and I say, ENJOY the rocking. She'll be too big one of those days to even fit in your arms. Soak it up momma.

  3. Don't be hard on yourself. If your family is happy and it works than that's it.

  4. See, this is why I hate baby books - because they make us doubt what we know is right for our kids. They aren't just pne size fits all creatures, they are PEOPLE. You wouldn't tell all adults they need to have the same sleep routine, so why should we as parent be guilted into thinking there is only one way for all kids? I have done the "bad" sleep things with both of my kids - heck Michael exclusively coslept until he was 2! And y'know what? Homeboy sleeps like a flipping teenager in his own bed now, no major intervention needed.

    Also, that want to be held while they wiggle until you put them down and then cry to be picked back up? Story of my life right now with Griffin. That pretty well sums up why toddlers are not my fave!

  5. I agree with the first commenter. Momma knows best. When we had our roughest months last summer, I had ppl tell me to do this and that and I did what worked FOR US and while hes not the best sleepr (thank you teeth!) he does sleep. I miss rocking brady and like you said, we didn't get much of that feeding at times bc he fought it SO much.

    Heck, i work full time and some days I lok forward to naps more than anything. I mean i just posted two pics on facebook of my childs artwork ON MY WALL and his jumping on the coffee table. :)

  6. I'll tell ya, I LOVE rocking my DS. When he was a little baby we'd rock him to sleep. Eventually he transitioned to rocking for a bit and WANTING to be laid down awake, so we did that. But at 15-months-old we still rock him before naps and bedtime. We only do it for a few minutes, but I LOOOVE that time spent with my son. Obviously it's not quite the same as what you're doing (which I think is totally fine - do what works! Everyone will learn how to sleep on their own eventually.), but I know that some people don't think babies should be rocked period after a certain point. They think that they should be put directly into their crib awake so they can put themselves to sleep. I say whatever works, but what can possibly be wrong with snuggling with your child?

  7. Rock away, momma! You know that little girl best, and there is something to be said for the fact that it makes both of your days better :-)

  8. You are so right here. When Adam was little, I felt that I had to do everything by the book. But after awhile, I wised up and said who cares where he sleeps as long as he sleeps and gets what he needs. Now, I do what I want and what works for him. I'm glad this time is much easier on the both of you. :-) enjoy Mama!

  9. I'm with Andrea - I hate the doubt that baby books instill in us.

    I rock Isaac to sleep for every single nap and every single night time. And you know what? I love it. That time is so precious to me and nothing beats his sleepy sweaty head on my shoulder. Never will I look back on this time with regret, thinking, "Man, I sure wish I hadn't rocked Isaac as long as I did." Our babies grow up so fast and I'll always be happy for the times I had the privilege of rocking him.

  10. Oh, and can I add...I love staying home with Isaac, am so happy for blessing of watching him grow, but DUDE. I love naptime. :)

  11. I'm with you...mama knows best. I know I should let Eli go to sleep on his own [and you know what, he can] but I still hold him in the rocker. It's our time and I cherish it. Like Kristal said, I don't think I'll ever regret it.

  12. I'm not sure if I have ever commented. I am a new mother (4 week old). Here's my 2 cents. It's true and funny that nobody in college needs to be rocked to sleep (that I know of). They won't be little for long so cherish it while you can. A lady told me the other day (who teaches parenting classes) that you can't love or hold a baby enough.

    And thank you for your honesty. It's one of the reasons I stuck around.

  13. I'm so glad you're experiencing bonding time with your daughter. Because you know what? You can't take time back! And you never know when she'll want to stop snuggling with you. Cameron was such a snuggler until Kylie was born, and he still is to some extend but we just don't have the time we did before her. When I put her down for a nap he always asks me to have a "snuggle party" where he will grab his pillows and blankets and we'll lay on the floor together. It's awesome. =)

  14. Sounds like you found something that works for you. That's the bottom line to me. Regardless of what "experts" say, you may be the only expert for your little gal.

    And, as an aside, I was rocked to sleep as a child. My mom said the time was precious and even though it wasn't always convenient, she's glad she did it. And, I turned out okay (debatably).

  15. I can't tell you how much I love this!

    You are 100% correct in doing what works for your family... hands down, no question about it!

    I rocked Jaxon until he was 14 months old. Loved every second and my heart broke in two when he didn't want to be rocked anymore. Cohen is the same way, does not like to be rocked, so I nurse him but lay him down immediately after. It makes me a little sad that he doesn't want to rock, but I know each child is different.

    You are such a fantastic Mom. And heck yeah... nap time rules. :)

  16. I am thankful to be a SAHM.
    I too am thankful for naptime.

    Our daughter is 15 months old. She is taking a nap right now. For napping and sleeping we do cycles of 5 minutes of comfort, 5 minutes of independent time. For example, I’ll sing and gently bounce her around her room for five minutes then place her in the crib, while soft music is playing and she has her musical seahorse. If after 5 minutes in the crib she is crying, I go in, pick her up, and comfort her for 5 minutes. Place baby in crib and repeat cycles. If she isn’t crying after five minutes, I let her be. Sometimes she falls asleep when I am comforting her. Sometimes she falls asleep on her own. No book told us about this method. This is what we feel is right for our daughter—giving her both nurturance and time on her own.

    I am glad you are no longer feeling guilty about rocking your baby. Rock on!

  17. 1. I LOVE naptime and I dread the days we go without it! (Or when he falls asleep in the car and I waste naptime riding in the car! lol)

    2. I rock Jaxon to sleep EVERY time he goes to sleep (nap and bed time)... I do what works.

    You are such a good Mom, Mere! Lizzy is well loved, fed and has clothes on her back. That's what really matters! Loves!

  18. Please find me a mother who doesn't love naptime. I LOVE Ryann. But man, that little break during naptime gives me the ability to love her even more.

    If Ryann had let me rock her to sleep, I think I would have done it. We ended up having to use Ferber, because she wouldn't let me rock her to sleep, like ripped my hair out thrashed around, stuff like that. And even though I hated letting her cry, it was better than crying myself because she wouldn't let me hold her and both of us being miserable.

    I miss snuggles so much.

  19. Oh, girly, if it works for you, then do it. No matter what the experts and books say. It sounds like it's precious time for both of you, and to me, that's a win-win. I'd rather have that than a baby who could self-soothe any day!

  20. We don't rock to sleep anymore, but only because she won't let me. We do what eer we can here for great sleep. Great sleep means a happy baby. Rules are ridiculous anyway. I have broken so SO many with our little one that I swore I wouldn't break. Next time around - I will probably break more rules and break them sooner. Only we know what is best - books are only great when what your doing ISN'T working and we need help figuring it out. Ronk on Mer... rock on.

  21. I think I've told you this before, but I so appreciate how honest you are. Because what you are feeling is so real, and so many people try to spin it. I know that when I read your blog, I'm reading reality. And I love that.

    I think that you are doing exactly what's right for you and Lizzy and your relationship. What a beautiful time to spend together!

  22. I always rocked Brayden to sleep, and then when he got bigger, I rocked him for a shorter amount of time to keep the routine, then put him down awake. I still do it and he is almost 2! I think it's just important to do what works for you, and it definitely isn't hurting her! :)

  23. I have followed your blog off an on for awhile now. I found it through Julie from Back to the Basics blog, and I wanted to say I applaud you for your honesty. I understood your reluctance to say you like your quiet time when your little one is napping, and you were reluctant to say so because so many others would love to be a SAHM. Well coming from one who currently isn't, I want to thank you for still saying what your heart felt. My husband and I are working hard for me to be able to stay at home with our first baby. She is almost 2 1/2 months now. I went from full time to part time after she was born, and we are trying our hardest to afford me staying here full time. The past few weeks I have had moments of guilt questioning if I deserved staying at home with her if I enjoyed the little me time I got on my days off. I still get frustrated when she screams for hours and I have wondered to myself maybe I am not cut out to stay at home if this bothers me. Your post made me realize...screaming, tantrums, etc bother everyone. SAHM or not. It made me realize that even as a SAHM, its ok to get frustrated, its ok to take me fact I will be a better mother for it. Ok sorry for the rambling...just wanted to tell you it didn't offend me, and I am someone who wants to stay home :)


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