My little girl has been in the world for five weeks now and I can already see that she has challenged my perspectives. I now very much ‘go with the flow’ in regards to getting through each day, however, two areas of my thinking that has stayed particularly strong is ‘routine’ and ‘consistency’, without these I think I would be slightly insane by now.
Just like running a classroom you need to set the expectations and then meet the little one, or child half way.
There are so many do’s and do nots in parenting (and teaching) – best thing to do is get to know your rules and how your child operates- again akin to teaching and leadership. I don’t listen to ‘advice’ unless I think it’s ‘good advice’ I’m quite stubborn like that. But it means that I stick to my guns and don’t try ‘too many things’ at once. This rarely works- in teaching and in parenting.
The midwives at the hospital offered to look after my little girl during the nights I was in hospital, so I could get some sleep. I refused because I wanted to get to know the moments she woke for feeding, her unique snuffling sounds and also I wanted to be there for her- so she knew she could rely on me.
My little girl has something called strider, which is a floppy larynx. Her larynx obstructs her airways for 30 seconds. It seems so much longer though. She handles this by flipping her head left and right until the larynx flips back into place. As a parent, you can imagine how terrifying this is to watch, especially the first couple of times.
Mother’s instincts are so so strong. The first night we took her home she woke up at 4am, gasping for breath, because the larynx had slipped over. I jumped out of bed as I heard her struggling and tapped her ‘quite firmly’ on the back until she could breathe again. This was the first time it had happened, so she didn’t know the strategy to deal with it – something she has since taught herself. I rang 999 and by the time the ambulance arrived she was breathing again- but I can safely say- I have never felt more terrified in my life. I also get flashbacks. She now sleeps on her side, as this helps her move the larynx. Welcome to parenthood with a traumatic bang, eh?!
I couldn’t sleep properly for what seemed like forever- as I would be checking her breathing and making sure she wasn’t struggling for air. Apparently this is quite common in newborns? Who knew?!
As I sit here now typing this short blog, I’m watching her closely.
Being a teacher before having a baby really has helped me with so many areas. Attention to detail- majority of teachers are perfectionists in one way or another and notice the small details- this helps when understanding the different ‘tones’ when your baby cries. Within a short time, you understand exactly what they need. You can teach babies to sign as well. My baby is responding to some signs already, because I constantly communicate and respond to her needs.
Knowing what works for your children in the classroom and knowing what works for your child… I will follow my own guidelines and will only ask for help, if I really need guidance. Mother/ Class teacher knows best – majority of the time.
Balance. I’m beginning to form this and as I have to watch her carefully throughout each day at night, I am gradually learning to take time out for me. Even if it’s quickly running upstairs to get changed into my pjs or taking a half hour bath, whilst husband watches her. It will be a long time before I can leave her with others – family/friends.
Routine and perseverance. We are forming a regular routine and it works. I know exactly when to feed her so I can get both herself and myself ready. I have also kept up to date with housework, events and general daily chores as I refuse to let these slip. Again, it’s like I would continue an intervention daily in the classroom, until children understood it.
Patience. I have had to have plenty of this. Especially rocking her to sleep at 2am in the morning, when she is wide awake. I normally sing to her as this soothes her, into a deep sleep. You figure out so many different strategies to help them sleep and stay calm. Again, similar to teaching – you always have a bank of ideas up your sleeve, just incase one doesn’t work.
Consistency. Routine is based on doing the same things often – this works in the classroom and works for a newborn. She is beginning to know what happens next and again this helps her relax and stay calm – no crying, just a chilled baby. Well, until she knows it’s bedtime!
Lastly, emotional intelligence. This comes in handy when dealing with over-keen relatives and a tired husband. Being able to read the situation and handle it effectively (even when exhausted). Setting boundaries – so that visitors don’t overstay, when you need to get the little one fed and to bed. Noticing the signs of burn out, knowing when to give someone a break. I studied emotional intelligence in quite a lot of depth when completing my NPQML. I honestly think, to be a good leader, you need to have a strong understanding of EI.
I love being a mother and I love that I can apply so many strategies from teaching, to help bring her up. I do miss the fast paced classroom environment and the sense of achievement that you have, when leading a class/ team. I have a very active mind, so to go from moving 100 miles an hour (school pace) to taking things slowly- has been a real challenge for me. For now though, I’m happy adapting to being a mother and I know it will make a better teacher and leader, when I return.