Okay, listen up. This is genius.
When it comes to parenting – if it works, keep doing it. I’m sorry. When I said, “genius,” I meant “obvious.”
But even though it’s obvious, many of us get sucked into this idea of how we should be parenting (based on books, well meaning advice, our own history, “The Brady Bunch,” laundry detergent commercials, that sort of thing), instead of just going with whatever is actually working.
I’m going to give you an example. My sister recently visited us with her two kids. I gave her 8-month-old Cash’s room for her children and put a pack ‘n play into my closet for Cash. All of a sudden, my baby who only took 20 minute naps during the day was sleeping like a dream for more than an hour or more at nap time.
He was groovin’ with this pack ‘n play! In the closet! I guess it’s super dark in there and maybe the pack ‘n play feels a bit more cozy that his big crib. (And please don’t panic – I leave the door partially open for ventilation.)
My sister has long gone back to Memphis and Cash is back in his crib at night but naps are all in the closet. And it’s working. And I’m not changing it.
Sure, the pack ‘n play is blocking my shoes and I can’t always reach my clothes but who needs clothes when you have a well rested baby. Not me. I can just pull something out of the laundry bin.
At the same time, if something is not working, change it. I always used to make my daughter do her homework as soon as she got home for school. But it took her forever. She couldn’t focus. She took a million breaks and got distracted by anything that had pink sequins or was clearly in need of pink sequins.
So we tried a new approach. Now she gets a half hour to play, then homework and when she’s done, she gets a chocolate milk if she wants. And she has literally cut her homework time in half.
She is happier. I’m happier. We just had to figure out what works for her. And it may only work for a short time but dammit, it’s working right now and it’s glorious.
A member of my family has been in AA for a long time so my life has been sprinkled with AA sayings and prayers. One is…. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
For my entire childhood, that phrase stared at me from my window ledge and I never even knew it was priming me for parenthood. I’m pretty sure I’ve never come close to anything resembling “serenity” but I’m on board with the courage to change things.
Now sometimes you don’t know how to change something or nothing seems to work and that’s where the books, advice, “Brady Bunch” episodes and TV commercials come in. You keep working on it. You keep talking to people. You dig until you discover the answer.
Or maybe time just goes by and things alter and what seemed like a major problem has suddenly become less grand. Or even disappeared all together.
So that’s my advice. Change what you need to and leave the rest alone. Things have a funny way of working themselves out.