As the name implies bad habits are . . . well, bad. You're supposed to try to get rid of them and replace them with positive, happy things. I chewed my nails all through college in order to survive test taking. The habit has now been replaced by nail polish in a billion colors that make my stubby fingernails look so nice I don't dare take a bite (not to mention the fact I'm no longer taking tests.) But, lets face it. Finger nail biting may have been integral to my college success. Without the stress relief of chewing my nails to the quick, I probably would have failed every test.
Gasp! Did she really just say that there's a place for bad habits? You'd better believe it. While pregnant with my first, I read every book I could find on parenting. And you know what all those books talked about? Not getting your baby hooked on bad habits. Sounds logical.
Each book on sleep habits told me to look for sleepy cues and the minute I saw them I was to soothe her, put her down, and let her learn to fall asleep on her own. I could live with that. Unfortunately, the model of baby I purchased didn't come with that feature. And like all things needing to be returned, I couldn't find the receipt, so I was stuck. The only course of action my sleep-deprived, labor hazed mind could think of was to rock her to sleep. Doesn't sound too harmful does it? Aren't babies meant to be rocked? They fit so perfectly in your arms. And so I rocked her to sleep over and over again.
And she slept. And yes it turned into a bad habit. My sweet baby couldn't put herself to sleep. In fact, she required quite the gymnastic routine in order to fall asleep. There was marching, and shushing, and jiggling, and repeating. I can't say that I really enjoyed it. But what was I to do? I, after all, was the one who created the bad habit. It was only fair that I bear the brunt of the burden. Now I'm guessing you think you know the moral of the story, right?
Don't give your kids bad habits!
Alas you'd be wrong. The moral is that there actually just might be a time and place for bad habits as long as you can face the consequences. I really can't think of what else I could have done--babies need sleep! And so do tired, new moms. Trust me, I've thought this over a lot. A LOT. Did I mention eight months ago I just had my second baby. And, you guessed it, this one didn't come with the sleep feature either. You'd think I'd have learned to stop throwing out the receipts.
So what I decided twice as a mom with a new baby, was that rocking to sleep was a bad habit, but one that I could live with. And eventually when it became unbearable, I could find a solution at that time. That time being a place in the future where I was actually getting sleep and had found my way out of the postpartum hormone cloud. At that time I would be rested, some what adjusted to motherhood, and my babies would be older and more able to learn to sleep on their own.
In the end, my daughter sleeps just as well as any other sensitive, hyper, delightfully hilarious toddler, and I hardly remember those long sleepless nights of rocking her to sleep. You forget. Trust me. My son is proof of that. He and I are still working on getting out of our bad habit of rocking to sleep, but we've got time, and there's no rush. This time I'm painfully trying to enjoy my nights of rocking him to sleep.
But, I will tell you this. This time I'm recording myself on video so that I don't forget. Because, believe me, I need a bit of a break!
So, there you have it. My first introduction to Freestyle Motherhood was choosing to let my kids develop bad habits regardless of what the experts say. Granted there are bad habits that really are bad. I don't let my kids run with knives, smoke cigarettes, or watch U of U football (Go BYU!), but there are some "bad" habits I'm fully embracing. At least for now. Because eventually my children will have no bad habits. They'll be perfect. Right?