Southwold beach

It won’t be forever, my parenting crutch

Like most parents, I have an invisible crutch that I’d rather other parents didn’t see.

It’s something that I heavily rely on to get through the night. It’s also something that I’m not brave enough to give up – although I have attempted to on a number of occasions.

Southwold beach

For me, it’s the midnight milk.

At 2 (26m if you want to be precise), Georgia still wakes in the middle of the night. Every night. For a bottle of milk.

I wish she didn’t. I’m a sleep-aholic and not having a full night’s sleep is killing me. Before I was a parent people told me that I’d get used to the lack of sleep. In fact it gets worse the longer I’m deprived of it.

I long for those Sundays where you stay in bed. When you wake up by opening your eyes naturally and think “you know what, I’ve had a full night’s sleep but I’m going back to sleep BECAUSE I CAN”. Those days are long gone and I mourn their loss.

In the middle of the night – which means anything from 11.30-4am – we get Georgia a bottle when she wakes. It makes her sleepy enough to go back to the land of nod and takes about 15 minutes with minimal fuss.

It’s enough to disrupt our sleep and enough for us to know that we’d rather not be doing it.

The alternative?

Speaking from experience, she overreacts explosively to not being given milk, making her even more awake and in no sense ready to go to bed. She turns into the kid off of the exorcist, contorting her body, screaming like the Tasmanian devil and soaking my top through with her epic tears.

I’ve made my bed (although would like to sleep longer in it) with the midnight milk and just keep telling myself it won’t be forever.

As a parent, I do ANYTHING I can to make our lives easier, to make her happy – within reason. Call me chief corner-cutter if you may, but it works for us… kind of.

This is my crutch and yes it is a pain, but that’s just parenting isn’t it? Only miracle children grow up without making their parents have at least one crutch to hobble by on.

It might be giving your kid fish fingers for tea because it’s the one thing you know they’ll eat (there’s nothing wrong with that by the way, we flippin’ love fish fingers).

It might be giving your son a dummy when he’s upset because you know it will calm him down.

It might even be carrying around a manky blanky everywhere because you know they’ll have a meltdown without it.

Bottom line? It works… for now

What unites all these crutches is that we KNOW that they work.

We KNOW that yes, it’s not ideal. That people will judge our parenting decisions. But we also know that it won’t matter one tiny bit when they’re older. And? It makes them happy. No one has ever died from eating a non-organic fish finger.

I’m yet to meet a teenager who carries around a manky blanky, nor meet an adult that has a quick suck on a dummy when they’re feeling stressed. I am REALLY sorry for putting that mental image in your head. Especially if you’re picturing your boss.

Whatever it is, we do anything to help them. Sometimes we may not be happy with ourselves for ‘letting in’, but actually? We’re just doing what we can.

Is that all that bad?

I have to pick my battles carefully, else I’ll spend all day (and all night) saying no, being a party pooper and generally being an angry person.

One day, I – like many other parents – will be ready to cast aside the crutch. Either by facing the issue and resolving it, or by our kids just growing out of it. The time will one day be right.

But for now? Pass me a bottle (and perhaps pass me the vino too).

Comments 20

  1. Sometimes you just have to do it. I guess it’s only if it really starts to affect you and you are struggling with it that something needs to change. My eldest used to suck his thumb, we worried that it would be forever, it wasn’t and now at 5 he doesn’t anymore. These things are often short lived, they just feel like an eternity when we are in it. xx #fortheloveofBLOG

  2. I’m also of the belief that kids grow out of it and you have to pick your battles. Everyone needs sleep and sometimes you need a crutch to make that happen! #fortheloveofBLOG

  3. If she’s 15 and waking you up for milk then stop her, tell her to get her own!! But for now I’m right there with you picking battles that are worth the fight, this does not sound like one of them #fortheloveofBLOG

  4. Dummies and dirty old comfort blankies! My almost 3 year old has yet to give up her dummy and blankies. She doesn’t have them all the time – mostly at night time and if she gets upset during the day. Do I like her having them? Not really. But do they offer comfort to my daughter when she needs it? Yes. So I guess I don’t have too much of a problem with them. I know she will grow out of them eventually but for now, if it comes down to her having a dummy for 20 minutes or having a full on meltdown, I will pick the dummy every time. We have to do what we can to make our lives a little easier because parenting is hard enough as it is. #fortheloveofBLOG

  5. Oh my gosh yes, totally pick your battles and something like this is not worth getting upset about. Just because of how things turned out, my daughter was only breastfed at night and then started sporadically sleeping through before I swapped her to bottles. Once she showed she didn’t have to have the milk, when she woke in the night I just gave her water. But she woke on average every other night until close to 2 years old for a drink. It’s really disruptive on your sleep after so long, so I definitely don’t blame you for just giving her a bottle and then getting back to your bed.

    I’ve sat here reflecting back on what crutches I have because we also managed, by some miracle, to get rid of the dummy last year. But instead she now has to sleep with an army of her cuddly toys including the mandatory Lamby and Teddy. The former took over from the dummy and gets mangled to bits – so much so that there are 4 who sub in and out regularly (unknown to her) so the rest can get a bath in. She will also scream blue murder if she doesn’t have a snack when she wants one so I am guilty as charged at just relenting and giving her another breadstick, raisins or whatever she wants really. Unless it’s cake. Somehow I’ve managed to stay strong on that one.

    Parenting is tough. Awesome but tough! She’ll give up the bottle at some point and until then there is certainly no judgement coming from over this way. Good luck with getting a full night of zzzz’s! #fortheloveofBLOG

  6. THIS. thank you for saying it. My nan goes on and on about my youngest having a dummy, same as she did about my eldest. When eldest was 2 1/2 the dummy went for good, with no fuss and no tears. This is because we used a natural progression of events, combined with his growing understanding of consequences etc to naturally remove it. It worked for him, it will work for our youngest too, i’m certain of it. She just doesn’t get it though *sigh* xx #fortheloveofblog

  7. The truth is, they get older. This weekend hubby and I are going to sleep in on Saturday. Our 11-year-old sleeps in now, too. He can also grab breakfast if he needs to. I’ve even taught him how to work the Keurig machine. That way, if he wants to wake me up? Hey, at least it’s with coffee!!! Good luck and hugs, Mama!

  8. All these crutches do eventually pass. They really do. My eldest had a dummy until she was almost 4! And when the time came for the Easter Bunny to give it to his baby bunny, she was ready to let it go. And so were we. That said, I might do a little private judging if your 18 year old goes off to university with a dummy … just a little.

  9. I totally agree that it’s about picking your battles… I spoke to a parent once who booked a week off work with the sole purpose of using that week to tackle a sleep issue. Until then, she didn’t have the time or energy to deal with it, and she was happy to do what her child needed (I can’t remember what it was specifically). It’s a tough one to call sometimes, but I firmly believe that you just gotta do what you gotta do to get by!! #fortheloveofBLOG

  10. We just have to do what we need to do don’t we! We give in to a dummy. It definitely won’t last forever and I will certainly raise a glass to the days where I wake up naturally after a good nights sleep 😉 x

  11. It will pass, and I wouldn’t let it worry you too much. If it’s working now and she goes back to sleep straight after, then keeping doing that. I think that the only way to break it will be just to stop giving it to her, you might have a battle on your hands at first, that could be painful, but I think she will get used to not having it. I would say pick your battles, we deal with enough of them during the day as it is. Thanks for being a fab co-host at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  12. Ben has a woolly christmas blanket that he just wont let go of.. bit hard especially when its this hot and he’s sweating buckets!!!! I know he’ll move on in time but for now especially with the weather – its just like really???!!!! #fortheloveofBLOG

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