Parenting used to be a job for the village with the parents taking the lead and the village being there to support and guide the new parents.
New mothers were expected to care for the new-born baby while others helped around the home. Meals were made, shopping was done, cleaning just happened, and people were always there to take the baby so mum could have a rest, recover and get strong. All the while, without it being said, parents were learning from the others around them.
This learning was not explicit
This learning process was not explicit. It was done through an older, more experienced parent holding the baby with ease, and playing with them. The father seeing how they were doing it and copying it. He then found that the baby was calmer in his alms and enjoyed the games and so he continued.
The new mother who was struggling to know how to communicate with her baby watched as someone from the community gently narrated their day, explaining to the baby everything they were doing. The new mother then found herself doing the same and the baby responded.
All that has changed!
But all that has changed. In the main, people are now may have someone come and help for a few days, they may hire in help, but very often we are alone for the majority of our parenting with our hopes, dreams and google.
I remember so well 5 days after my daughter was born, I was finally home after a difficult labour and my mother had come to help me. We decided to bath the new baby. (Back then you bathed your baby from birth). I had already bathed her before but because I was so worried about dropping her or drowning her, I had only lain her into the water and waggled her around a bit.
On this day, my mother took control, she calmly prepared the bathroom while the baby was still in her bed. She then took the baby into the bathroom and laid her fully clothed onto her towel which was all prepared on the floor, as she removed the baby’s clothes, then lovingly wrapped her in her towel to keep her warm. She chatted gently as she worked, maintained eye contact and smiles. I had already learned the importance of preparation from this little interaction. My mother checked the bathwater again and lowered the baby in gently, little bit by little bit the baby cooed. They played in the water for a little while, and then, with confidence my mother turned the baby over, so her back was exposed for the first time. And there it was… my baby had a big strawberry naevus (a large raised mark on the skin that is red that often disappears spontaneously by the age of 5) on her back and I had had NO idea. My mother was the first to find it. I felt so guilty that I didn’t have a clue. I was this baby’s mother and I had no idea that she had this mark on her back.
Learning to parent is so important. It's a job we are going to be doing for the rest of our lives so, we might as well take the time to get it right at the outset! Now all of us with our rational hats on can see there was totally no need for any form of guilt from this little episode, but to this day (and my daughter is now 17!) I still can remember the feeling of that morning. I was horrified that I was not the first person to have found this mark, that I didn’t know my daughter inside out and back to front. But it was day 5 after the baby had been born and I probably had never even seen her back before!
I learned loads by watching that day
When we look at the bathing episode, I can promise you, my mother will not remember it at all, but for me, it was a massive moment. I learned so much from watching my mother, who had the experience of raising 2 children. She had held countless babies in her time. She had experience. She may not do everything that I wanted to do, but even when she did things I didn’t like or agree with, I learned from it.
Learning to parent is so important. After all, it is a job we are going to be doing for the rest of our lives so we might as well take the time to get it right at the outset!
I am not talking here about the latest fad of parenting, but rather a deep-seated understanding of what is needed to be a confident parent whatever way you decide to parent, whatever rules, ideas, and thoughts you bring to it all. Having confidence in the basis of what you are doing, understanding why you are doing what you are doing and how to make tricky situations easier are things that are worth learning early on.
Imagine if you were taught to parent in the same way as we are taught to give birth
Imagine, when you checked-in with the midwife at your first check-in parenting was discussed and you were helped to learn the skills you would need for the next few years as you start out on your parenting journey with your baby. If the midwife and every other professional you come across from check-in onwards talked about the activities you were doing with your baby each day. Imagine if you were shown what your baby was learning from the activities you were doing with them. Just think how much more confident you would be feeling when you played with your baby.
The Oliiki app helps you understand the learning your baby is getting from the simple activities that the app suggests for you each day. As your baby grows, so you will grow. Your confidence in your parenting will grow and you will be growing your baby a strong brain. Amazingly, you can do all this through the power of play! Download the Oliiki app and play and learn with your bump, baby or toddler today. They will thank you for it.