It's so much easier to set your boundaries before you need them.. but no one was there to tell me that.
When your sole job as a parent is to meet the needs of your little one, and your child is an infant and can't communicate what they need or want it can become one of the hardest of guessing games. I remember Vienna being a little over a month old and one night, no matter what Jon and I did to console her she wouldn't stop crying. After what seemed like ten hours (and was probably more like two) she finally calmed down and we were able to get her and ourselves to bed.
At the time I was devastated. A complete mess. I couldn't understand why I, her mother, wasn't able to meet her needs. There must be some incompetency with my ability to be a mother because my child had been crying for two+ hours and wouldn't stop. I felt that devastation for days. Until I had a conversation with a friend. After our chat I was able to find comfort in the fact that I had done everything I could to make sure my child's needs were taken care of.
As adults have bad days or allow ourselves to be in a bad mood, and that's a choice we make (and a whole different post). Infants can go through that exact same thing. So from that day forward I set a boundary for myself. I made a list of what I think would be my child's basic & comfort needs. If Vienna were to get fussy I would go down my list and try to meet each need. But now, here's where it gets radical. IF I made it through my list and she was still fussy, I had done what I could as her mother to meet her needs, and I wasn't going to let that fact that Vienna was going through something affect me. Line. Drawn.
Now please don't get me wrong. I still felt bad for her and obviously wish that there was something I could do to help her. I would jump to meet that need if given the chance. BUT I was not going to put myself into a near mental break down because of it. I was not devastated. I was not a complete mess. I was not an incompetent mother. Boom. Boundary.
We are bombarded every day with outside words & thoughts telling us that we're not good enough. Becoming a parent just adds to that ten fold. If we're going to make it through this crazy decision we've made to be a parent, we have got to start taking care of ourselves, and I believe a huge part of that is having the ability to set boundaries.
I wanted to share my list of what I think are an infant’s basic & comfort needs. This obviously isn't the end all / be all of needs. I like to keep things broad and simple at the same time. But I would encourage any new parent to make their own list and draw their own line. There's no magic number of needs, write down two or write down twenty. As long as you've set your boundary you’re in control and you’re not allowing the possibility of those negative thoughts to take control of you.
Infant's Basic Needs & Comfort Needs
- Diaper Chang
- Too Hot or Cold
- Under Stimulated (They could need a change of scenery, my daughter always loved going outside when she got fussy because there was so much to look at)
- Over Stimulated (If there is too much going on they could just be overwhelmed and need less people, noise or light)