9 Reasons Changing Your Mind About 'Cry It Out' Doesn't Make You A Bad Mom
One of my biggest challenges, as a mother, is constantly convincing myself that I'm not a "bad" one. It's so easy to get caught up in self-doubt and fear and, when exhaustion is thrown into the mix, assume that I'm doing anything and everything wrong. When you love someone so much, it's difficult to live up to the very high standards you set for yourself. That standard was particularly high when it came to my son's sleep, and it took me a while to realize that changing my mind about "crying it out" didn't make me a bad mom.
I want to have all the answers and make all the right decisions and never have to "double back" because a choice I made was wrong. As a mom who is tasked with taking care of someone so precious and wonderful and important to not only me, but many other people, it can be hard to let myself make "mistakes," or even admit that what I thought would work for us, wasn't and won't work at all. That realization hit me smack in my sleep-free face after two nights of trying to "cry it out" with my son. We had co-slept in the hospital, as skin-t0-skin contact helped his tiny body regulate its temperature, and while co-sleeping was wonderful, my partner and I wanted our bed back (and were tired of getting kicked and hit by tiny little fists and feet). We did our research and found a particular "crying it out" method that we thought would work for us, and went to work. Yeah, 72 hours later we were shaking our heads, wondering what we were thinking and back to co-sleeping.
Different things work for different parents and kids, in every single aspect of parenthood. While I saw other parents getting fantastic sleep because "crying it out" worked for them, I realized that it just wasn't in the cards for my family. I don't consider my attempt at "crying it out" to be a failure, and I definitely don't consider myself a bad mom for changing my mind after a few days. Here are just a few reasons why:
You Won't Know What Works For You And Your Kid Until You Try It
Different sleep situations work for different parents and kids, and there's just no way of knowing what will work best until you try things for yourself. For us, co-sleeping was just a better way for us to go, and it didn't take more than a few nights of trying to "cry it out," for us to realize that. While many friends and family members suggested that we keep trying, and eventually "crying it out" would work (and even continue to tell us that it would have worked if we had just "stuck it out"), but no one knows what's best for our family, like us.
You're Going To Make Mistakes
I'm not even sure you could categorize trying a particular sleep method, then changing your mind, as a mistake. However, I can remember the second night my partner and I tried "crying it out." We were counting down the minutes until we were "allowed" to go back into the room again when I looked at my partner and said, "Nope. We made a mistake. I can't do this." If that was a "mistake," I can tell you that I have made plenty more since, and I consider myself a great mother to my kid. We're all going to mess up, and if making one decision and then changing your mind is the worst "mistake" you make as a parent, you're doing really freakin' well.
A Change In Plan Is Not A "Failure"
Whether or not you can or cannot do something doesn't constitute failure. You didn't "fail" if you were physically unable to breastfeed. You didn't "fail" if you made a change to your birth plan. You definitely didn't "fail" if you changed your mind about the "cute" outfit you wanted your kid to wear. Plans change, adjustments are made, that's just he way it goes and, honestly, it's a sign that you're growing and maturing and figuring out your role as a mother. No one is automatically an expert at parenthood. You're going to learn through trial and error.
Let's Face It, "Crying It Out" Is Hard
It. Is. So. Freakin. Hard. Like, I didn't realize that only three days of trying to "cry it out" was going to break me on such a fundamental level. I am not afraid to admit that I just couldn't do it, because I found it so hard to stick to a schedule and adhere to the rules of a particular method while my son was crying and while I was losing sleep. It wasn't for me. It wasn't for my partner. That's OK, because it really is difficult.
A Lot Of Moms Change Their Mind...
Moms change their mind every single day. Hell, people change their mind every single day. Don't hold yourself to some ridiculous and unrealistic standard, just because you're a parent and you're trying to create a stable environment for a child. I mean, yes, try and be as reliable as possible, but reliability doesn't automatically mean you stick to every single decision you make, even and after you realize that it wasn't the right decision for you or your kid or all of the above.
...And Just Because It Works For Someone's Kids Doesn't Mean It Will Work For Yours
What works for your best friend's kid probably won't work for your own. Every kid is different, so while there is no "wrong" method (as long as it's safe) there is no one "right" method, either. You can try what you feel comfortable trying, until you find something that works the best for your unique set of situations. Don't let what someone else thinks is right, because of their own lifestyle, dictate the decisions you make. No one knows what's best for your kid better than you.
You Shouldn't Need To Put Yourself Through Something You're Uncomfortable With, To Prove A Point
Admitting that you were "wrong" about something, can be tough. Admitting that you are learning as you go along can be somewhat scary and vulnerable. However, that's what you're doing when you're a mother. Like, always. Your days consist of making decisions that are sometimes correct and sometimes not, and learning how to parent to the best of your ability. Don't stick to some plan just because you made it, in an attempt to prove that you know all the things. No one knows all the things.
Motherhood Is All About Adjustment
I have learned the most about parenthood, when I've made a "mistake" or a decision that didn't pan out or a plan that wasn't feasible, and had to make an adjustment. When I decided to get an epidural after 10 hours of medication-free labor, I learned that suffering in the name of "womanhood" or "motherhood" or childbirth wasn't necessary. When I made the transition from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, after seventh months, I realized that my plan of making it to a full year breastfeeding just wasn't going to be possible. What we think motherhood will look like, and what it will actually look like, are two completely different things, and there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean that you've failed to hold yourself to some standard, it just means that you're finally realizing what it's really like to be a mom.
If You're Doing What You Think Is Best, You're A Good Mom
I mean, how could that be a bad thing? You've tried something, you've assessed the situation and you've adjusted accordingly, based on what you feel is best for you and your family. If that's not an amazing mother, I don't know what is.