By Ellie Riple
There are so many different styles of parenting out there and it can be a bit of a mine field when trying to find which style suits you. There are books, blogs, Facebook pages, vlogs and an abundance of well meaning family and friends offering their (often unwanted) opinions on how you SHOULD be parenting. Over the last 10 years or so we have invented EVEN MORE categories by labelling ourselves as “Crunchy, Silky or Scrunchy” parents.
So what exactly do these terms mean and how do they effect us? I’ll start by explaining each category.
If you’re a “Crunchy” parent you like things the natural way. You’ll be exclusively breastfeeding, making all your baby food from scratch/doing BLW, using cloth nappies, baby wearing, co sleeping and you follow a gentle approach to parenting etc etc.
The “modern” parent. Ease and convenience is key here. You’ll use disposable nappies, use premade baby food and a stroller is a must! You’ll follow all the latest, but often well established, baby trends to help get your little one into a good routine for the day and night.
A little bit of both! You might use cloth nappies but spoon feed. Baby wear but sleep train at night. You’re trying to be more natural but the practicality of it doesn’t work for you and/or your little one.
So where do you fit in? Personally I’m classed as a “Scrunchy” Mum. In an ideal world I would be this amazing, super, hippie-style, plastic free mum with flowers flowing in my hair, my baby in a perfectly positioned wrap on my back, whilst making beetroot brownies in my outdoor kitchen. In reality I’m drowning in a never ending pile of washing and cloth nappies, whilst trying to shove a family sized ready meal in the oven without my toddler drinking from the (plastic) dog bowl in the process.
When I first got pregnant, and especially in the month before Calliope was born, I was doing so much research, reading every book I could, trying to prepare myself so I could be a “Crunchy” Mum. I was going to have a completely natural birth, only baby wear, cloth nappies from birth and make all her food for when she started weaning from scratch. I put SO much pressure on myself because I had heard about these labels and assumed I HAD to fit in, to be like all the other parents in the circles around me. Silky mums were bad, made fun of and often harshly criticised in the online communities that I was a part of, and I’ll admit that I looked on disapprovingly when I saw newborns being bottle fed or left to cry in their pushchairs whilst their lone parent had a coffee.
Then Calliope was born. 4 weeks later my husband had to go abroad for work, leaving me alone with a newborn in the run up to Christmas, trying to be this super Mum on 2 hours sleep a day, with no real life friends anywhere nearby but 100’s of faceless strangers offering criticism and telling me what I should be doing from their keyboards. What an eye opener that was! And the guilt I felt about the judgements and assumptions I had made about other parents who I had labelled as “Silky” was overwhelming. I had judged these poor people who were trying their absolute hardest when I should have been giving them a round of applause for just making it out of the house because that’s hard on a good day! All because I had set these constraints on myself and others about what category they should fit into. What category was “right”.
The reality is there is no right or wrong group! As parents we’re ALL trying our best to do what’s right for OUR children on our own INDIVIDUAL journeys! No one else will have the same journey as you will, not even your partner who is raising the same child/children. But what we can (and should!) do is be there cheering at the sidelines, supporting you to your own personal milestones, waving flags, beating drums and singing songs to get you through the day.
The world needs fewer labels, categories and ways to divide ourselves from others.
So join me and cast aside these Scrunchy, Crunchy, Silky, Gentle, Attachment, Authoritarian, Snap, Crackle and Pop labels and do what works for you! Walk away from all that negativity! Be proud of how hard you are trying, how far you’ve come and how much further you will go, and remember that no matter how bad today was, you never have to do today again.