The Right Way

The other day it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t given my 12 week old (I actually think he’s about 14 or even 15 weeks old now but I’m too tired to actually figure it out) any tummy time. Oh tummy time – you annoying must-do torture for babies. Has there ever been a baby that enjoyed tummy time?

Eddie hated tummy time. He would scream and scream and arch his head back and act like I was slowly destroying his will to live while he actually destroyed my will to live. I kept doing it because I was told to. And I do what I’m told when I don’t know what I’m actually meant to be doing. And when it comes to parenting – I never know what I’m doing.

Each day I would dutifully put Eddie on his tummy for five minutes at a time at intervals of about three hours. I was very neurotic the first time around. I basically believed if I didn’t give him tummy time he would never walk. I imagined having to carry him to dates and then awkwardly turn my head while he pashed randoms (Kiwi speak for passionate kissed random people…ahem). He would need intense therapy and I would have to carry him to therapy and future therapy is very expensive in my head. He’d never drive because he wouldn’t be able to lift his neck. When it would be time to stick me in a nursing home he’d choose the worst one and say “this is because you never gave me tummy time enough as a baby”. I would lay in my bed and he would lay on the floor in the corner unable to move just hissing at me like an angry immobile lizardperson.

With baby number two I have much less time to allow my brain to wander and imagine fresh horrors that will ruin my children’s lives as they grow. When I realised I’d not done any tummy time I just thought “Oh well, I have had him in the carrier a lot so he’ll be holding his neck up for that”.

Then, later on that evening – instead of writing which I should have been doing – I began Google image searching men with no shirts on wearing kilts. Or was it jason mamoa holding kitten. Actually I think it was the rock wearing apron nothing else. Anyway, my mind began to wander and it wandered somewhere I didn’t want it to wander to. What if my little one didn’t crawl because I’d been so slack with tummy time? And what if one day he said to me ‘Eddie can walk because you parented properly the first time and with me you were too busy Googling guys with big muscles for weirdly specific fantasies when you should have been giving me tummy time’.

What would I say to my baby? And just as I was about to really get down to feeling guilty a wonderful thing happened:

I got an email that basically said my lazy parenting was actually The Right Way to parent.

Fuck yes.

I love it when that happens. The email outlined how tummy time is actually The Wrong Way to get your child moving. Instead you should just lay them on their backs and leave them to it. Now, I’d regularly been doing this. Baby gets cuddles, boob, then he is put on a quilt on the floor where I spend a bit of time regaling him with fantastic tales from my youth and then I give him some rings and leave him to his own devices to consider what a cool mum he has while I clean and deal with the toddler. Turns out – I’m an awesome parent because this email said that’s totally what I should be doing.

So here’s my advice when it comes to feeling shit about your parenting. Look for any advice that goes with what you’re already doing. Then you won’t feel shit. Because everyone has an idea of what The Right Way is and so chances are, some expert thinks what you’re doing is Right. Just find them and you’re sorted.

Then you can get back to Googling men who look like human transformers but are definitely really gentle lovers who never leave the empty toilet roll on top of the bin because omg who does that just open the Goddamn bin.

Rock lobster

Rock lobster


9 Comments on “The Right Way

  1. I laughed OUT LOUD. Literally. Several times. Thanks for this!

    Parenting advice. Ugh. Yours is great!

  2. I’m looking for some parenting advice that says it’s not shit to read parenting blogs instead of playing with your baby. If you find some, let me know!

  3. I think maternal guilt develops alongside the placenta. It is as if we find little things to hang up our neuroses on and obsess about. For instance, my youngest son has a speech deficit. I blame myself for this even though I have worked with him intensely on his speech and got him into speech therapy at the earliest opportunity. I find lots of reasons why his speech issues are my fault. But, as my husband points out, I do not conversely take any credit for the fact that his three older brothers were all very advanced speakers and nor do I take credit for the fact that my youngest has an advanced vocabulary even though his pronunciation is poor.

    So I think you are doing it right. We all need to quit getting hung up on all this expert opinion on this, that and the other when it comes to parenting and trust our instinct more. Maternal instinct, after all, is almost as powerful as maternal guilt.

  4. So that bit about Dwayne never leaving the toilet roll on the lid of the bin – is that on his Wikipedia page?

    Totally agree with what you said. The experts are always changing their minds and really you’re probably the biggest expert on your own kid.


    My baby hated tummy time as well. This strikes a chord with me, because after a while of trying it and feeling guilty because I didn’t keep it up, and mums on forums were saying they’d been told by their paeds / community nurses that babies must have about 3 x 20 mins per day of it (or some ridiculous amount, anyway), but stressing because their babies hated it too … I finally thought, “This can’t be right. I’m sure in the old days, no-one did tummy time, but somehow you don’t see a whole lot of floppy-necked adults walking round.” And I started thinking that anything that made a baby cry in distress COULD NOT BE A GOOD THING.

    So I did much the same research you did (I mean on tummy time, not on the guys in aprons, and by-the-way why is Jay Laga’aia not mentioned), and discovered my instincts not to do TT were The Right Way as well.

    I also followed your advice (though channelling it about 11 months ago, I guess) of researching anything that went with my beliefs rather than the mainstream way. As a result, I did many things that went with my gut instinct but against modern parenting, such as feeding to sleep. And yes I goddamn rocked my baby in my arms. Until we were all ready to stop doing it. I also used cloth nappies despite that everyone said, “They’re too big and she won’t learn to roll or crawl.” Well blimey, once upon a time EVERYONE had cloth nappies, and we’re all walking around.

    And guess what … I have a strong, healthy, well-adjusted, well-sleeping, confident baby now, who held her head up early, crawls like the devil, is well on track to walking, and is bloody unstoppable.

    • Love your comment. You’re so right! And don’t worry Jay is heavily represented in my search history! ?

  6. OMG– you’re killing me with the last sentence. I don’t even think I remembered tummy time when I had my second. It’s all a blur of sleeplessness and barely surviving! But I definitely remembered it with my first, and still didn’t even do it. For the record, they’re both fine. They both walk. And talk. Thank god I won’t be having to carry them on any first dates.