Accepting the child you have

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I’m sure I’m not alone in having had expectations of what I would get up to with my baby while I was on maternity leave – not only would I find the time to get outside in the garden while my baby happily bounced away in their vibrating bouncer, we would do all manner of activities. Baby sensory classes, baby yoga, baby massage, messy play sessions, baby swimming – we were going to do it all!

One of the activities I was most excited about was baby swimming. I’d loved to swim as a child, and as my husband isn’t a hugely confident swimmer, we felt it would be great to introduce Max to the water early on. I was entranced by the wonderful underwater photos of swimming babies and eagerly waited on the phone on hold on registration day to book our place.

But the reality was that Max didn’t take to the water like I’d hoped. The only session I’d been able to book him on was not at an ideal time for him as he’d normally be napping (not something that was an issue when I booked but his routine changed in between). And more than that, the huge emphasis that our class had on underwater swimming did not sit well with Max. He would come up spluttering every time, and it was clear that he wasn’t a fan of this part of the lesson at all. And if I’m honest, I’m not sure me or his Dad were great fans either!

But we persisted with the lessons for two terms, because we’d paid and they’re expensive, and, after much struggling, we did manage to get our lovely underwater photo.

Max has always been a sensitive baby, but it wasn’t until I read Tracy Hogg’s The Baby Whisperer that I felt I understood him more. He falls very neatly into Tracy’s ‘touchy baby’ category – being easily upset by changes in environment, different people, and changes to routine. The book really resonated with me (of course there were some parts that I disagreed with, but that’s a separate post) – her descriptions of ‘touchy baby’ behaviour really chimed with my experience of Max.

Max is a child of extremes – he’s either very happy and a real pleasure to be around, or he’s whiny, clingy and crying. And more often than not, it’s in unfamiliar situations that he tends towards the fussier end of the scale.

Once I accepted Max for who he was, I found that things became a lot easier. If we were going to be put in a new environment, then I would be more prepared for him to be a bit fussy and clingy at first and not resent it when this happened. It was clear that swimming was not working for Max – the lessons were held in a hotel pool, with a section roped off for the hotel guests, so they were noisy, and the water was often not as warm as it could have been, so it was clear that, despite his wetsuit, Max’s lips would be trembling from the cold. We stopped the swimming lessons, with the view that we might start up again when Max was a bit older, and decided that we would just take him ourselves in the meantime.

I tried to choose activities which were more closely aligned with what Max enjoys. As well as not being a swimming fan, he was also not a fan of any kind of messy play, which ruled out lots of other activities too. But he loves music, so we do a weekly music class, run by Monkey Music, and it’s been lovely to watch him come out of himself in those classes over the year and a half we’ve now been going. It’s taken a long time, but it’s clear now that he really enjoys it – he’s really excited when I say that’s where we’re going, he’s really engaged with all of the songs, and is fully involved in playing the various musical instruments.

And as time has gone on, we’ve returned to swimming – not with lessons, but by taking Max to our local pool and just bobbing around. He now loves the water and is becoming more confident with each visit. And no thrusting under the water from us!

 

Mummuddlingthrough

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
29 Comments
  • Island Living 365
    May 5, 2016

    Max sounds like Youngest. She is very similar can be the happiest or the most miserable clingy child. No inbetween it seems! Max sounds adorable though 🙂 #coolmumclub

  • Squirmy Popple
    May 5, 2016

    I can really relate to this. My daughter was (and still can be) really fussy – I would go to mum groups and notice how calm other babies seemed in comparison, and it felt awful. What changed things for me was coming across the term ‘high-needs baby’ – some babies just need…more. They don’t like to sit still, they need help to fall asleep and they can be very demanding, but it’s just their personality. Once I accepted my daughter for who she was and stopped trying to force her to do things she hated (like sitting quietly in a cafe), I think we were both a lot happier. #coolmumclub

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 5, 2016

      I think it was reading about ‘high needs babies’ that clicked with me too, as well as the ‘touchy baby’. He was definitely a high needs baby, (I very clearly remember sitting in mum and baby groups with Max screaming while the others all just burbled or slept!) and although he’s got easier as a toddler, he’s still a lot more fussy than others I think it’s fair to say. I too quickly abandoned those quiet coffees fairly early on! Thanks for commenting – it’s good to know you’re not alone!

  • Cheryl / Tea or Wine
    May 5, 2016

    Ahh bless him! I agree, you’ve got to go with your child and what they want to do. Glad to hear Max is now enjoying the water on his own terms!! #CoolMumClub x

  • Squished blueberries
    May 5, 2016

    I love this! It’s so true you have all these preconceptions about what your baby will be like, I think it’s worse with your second because you assume they’ll be exactly like your first. I like the baby whisperer too, it made a lot of sense to me, although I’ve always been rubbish at getting my babies into any kind of routine when I tried to put it in practice haha. So we don’t do the routine side but the picking up on your baby’s cues I love.

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 5, 2016

      I’m glad to hear The Baby Whisperer helped you too! To be honest, Max is far more routine led than I’d really like – he had no concept of the need for daytime sleep so I had to work so hard on establishing a routine I think he’s ended up quite stuck to it! I was hoping it would be better with a second as well, as my expectations would be more realistic, haha! I’m sure a second would have a whole new bag of tricks to throw at me, you know, just to mix it up!

  • mummuddlingthrough
    May 5, 2016

    This is very true – have never thought of it like this before! Our two girls have such different and distinctive personaities…one loves art, one loves music..it’s definitely been a case of finding out which activities best suit them.
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 7, 2016

      Thanks for heading over and commenting. There are so many activities out there to choose from, it does make it easier to find the right one!

  • Tammymum
    May 6, 2016

    That’s a really interesting post, I’d never heard of that book but certainly sounds like it’s worth a read. Im Glad you’ve found an activity he enjoys, I took my little one swimming and she liked it, didn’t love it. It didn’t hate it but she too was always freezing after with blue lips and I ugly it can’t be worth it, for the time being anyway. Definitely to be resumed at s later date though xx #coolmumclub

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 7, 2016

      Totally agree – I think it’s a lot of hassle if it’s clear that they’re not actually enjoying it! We’ll definitely start up lessons again in future, but for now we’re happy just to bob around. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Louise George
    May 7, 2016

    I’ve never read that book but it sounds really interesting and really helpful with trying to identify the things that your baby likes and dislikes. Parenting never quite meets up to those expectations we have of it before our little ones arrive, does it? Glad that Max is enjoying swimming now and that he enjoys doing Monkey Music too 🙂

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 8, 2016

      Thanks Louise! I guess it’s inevitable that we have all these ideas of what we’ll be like as a parent, but it’s easy to forget that that is likely to all be turned on it’s head when you throw in another little personality into the mix! We love our Monkey Music classes – Max loves to bang a drum!

  • Kayleigh Woodland
    May 8, 2016

    I had that baby book with Evangeline when she was young but I didn’t read it and I wish I had. I love the message here though and just accepting what type of baby and child they are and bringing them out more with activities that resonate with them a lot more.It’s great he now enjoys the water a lot more! #kcacols

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 8, 2016

      Thanks Kayleigh – I’m so glad he’s enjoying the swimming more now, I really want him to be comfortable in the water, I think it’s so important.

  • Michelle Gant
    May 8, 2016

    What an interesting post. I haven’t come across this book but will look it up. We took out little girl swimming and she was completely apathetic – I have no idea if she liked it or not, it’s so difficult when they can’t tell you. Glad she’s enjoying it now #KCACOLS

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 8, 2016

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Michelle. I guess apathetic is better than hating it! But when the lessons cost so much, it would be nice to have a bit more of a positive reception, wouldn’t it!

  • Laura @ Mama, Eden and Me
    May 8, 2016

    Love this! Haven’t read the book but I’ll have a gander. I think so much emphasis is based on moulding children nowadays that sometimes we forget that they are little people too. #KCACOLS

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 8, 2016

      Thanks Laura. I do really try to give Max the space to be himself, while supporting him (I don’t always succeed!). But understanding his personality a bit more has made me more sensitive and accommodating I think. And a bit less easily frustrated!

  • Min
    May 8, 2016

    I find it fascinating watching Piglet’s personality develop and the things he’s interested in. We have been going swimming since he was 10 weeks old, and I have definitely noticed “phases.” He’s gone from being chilled and non-plussed, to happy, to miserable and now back to happy again. I can’t wait to see what activities he chooses when he’s old enough to express a preference! #KCACOLS

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 10, 2016

      I’m glad he seems to be enjoying the swimming again! I do think phases seem to be common with swimming – we just never seemed to have a phase initially where it was popular!

  • Rachel Bustin
    May 10, 2016

    I have never hard of that book. but one i think i will find out. xx
    #KCACOLS

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 10, 2016

      Thanks Rachel – I do recommend it in general, it’s a little bit American self-help ish (despite being written by an English lady), so depends if that puts you off! There is a toddler version too which I’ve found quite helpful lately!

  • Emma Reed
    May 10, 2016

    I am exactly the same with my son. We had issues with him trying to escape from a playgroup once he started to walk! I made the decision that he was not happy being there and chose to buy season tickets for country parks and get him outdoors doing what he loves. He just is not into classes and I am not gonna make him do something he doesn’t want to do and waste my money. More people should look at their children like this. I see so many Mums dragging their lil ones off to every class going because they think it stimulates them and will progress them, when in fact it can exhaust them and upset them. We are all different people and have different interests- this starts very young and is clear to see.

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      May 10, 2016

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting Emma. It sounds like your son is having a ball and you’re doing completely the right thing for him! I do think classes aren’t for every child – the structured setup I think asks a lot of little children – and I know I spent a long time wondering if there was something ‘wrong’ with Max because he didn’t have any interest or patience for them. Certainly he hated anything sensory or messy, which is what most people seem to do with their little ones. In general he much prefers to be outdoors exploring, or puzzling with things (he’s a bit of a professor!), so that’s what we spend most of our time doing!

  • justsayingmum
    May 12, 2016

    what an interesting post. and an interesting book – I’ve never heard of it but I fully embrace the idea! Every child is so different and it’s almost about empathising with your child also – we are so convinced that our offspring will be just like us but more often than not this is not the case – empathy is tricky though when dealing with toddlers but so important to understand where they are coming from and how they feel about a situation #KCACOLS

  • Suburban Mum
    May 12, 2016

    We used the Baby Whisperer with when my eldest was born but we were lucky he was pretty chilled out. It wasn’t until I had my second that I quickly realised how different two babies can be!

    I’m glad you’ve found something he enjoys though.

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on sunday x

  • Madeline Littlejohns
    May 13, 2016

    I really liked the baby whisperer book when my son was a baby, I found it nice and reassuring! I like books that explain this idea that all babies are different and so there’s not one technique or approach that will work for every single baby, it really is all about learning who your child is and what they need. x #KCACOLS

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