Adjusting to weaning

I’m gradually weaning A-. She hates it when I limit her nursing time by counting out loud, singing a song, or setting a timer. She responds well if we make a game out of how quickly she can nurse. That’s been helping us move away from long nurses, although she still asks to nurse throughout the day. She can fall asleep without nursing if I read to her, rock her, or snuggle her. It’s currently a bit more conflict-ridden than simply nursing her to sleep, but it’s necessary, and I’m sure things will get better as she gets used to the new routine.

Between weaning and setting firmer boundaries around my bedtime, I’m definitely not A-‘s favourite person at the moment. Whenever W- is around, she switches over to him, often saying, “Private Daddy time! Mama, please go somewhere else.” This is wonderful. She’s practising independence and individuation by rejecting me, and she gets to build memories with W- too.

It has also been a good opportunity to test my equanimity in the face of toddler disapproval. In the chapter on discipline in Between Parent and Child, (Ginott, Ginott, and Goddard; 2nd ed. 2003) there’s a note: “Most parents love their children, but it is important that they not have an urgent need to be loved by then every minute of the day.” I am okay with A- being upset with the limits I set, and I am okay with being with A- throughout those strong feelings. I trust that we’ll come out the other end with less adoration and more security.

When W- is away, A- is fine with hanging out with me. A- still likes me enough to insist, “No babysitter. Only Mama. Mama, play with me.” I’m focusing on playing with her more and letting her have more control over the day to balance the things I need to insist on at night.

Since our routines are shifting, it’s a good time to think about how we want to adjust. If A- wants to spend most of the weekends and weekday evenings with W-, I can do more housework and cooking. It’s harder for me to get her to playfully join in brushing teeth or doing other bedtime routine things, so W- will need to take care of those things too.

The important thing for me is to not turn it into a battle of wills. Even if she’s upset with me, I’m on her side. I set limits, but I’m also here to help her adapt, and I’m learning things too. I want to get better at telling the difference between the times she’ll settle down after a little boundary -testing and the times she needs more kindness and flexibility.

The tough times are usually when we’re both sleepy. She wants to nurse to sleep, and she gets upset if I limit her or reject her a lot. If I’m too sleepy, I can’t read or rock her to sleep. For naps, she can fall asleep easily if she’s in a carrier or stroller, although that runs the risk of my not being able to nap too. For night-time sleep, I may just have to read sitting up, or I can have a quick nap after taking care of household chores. In any case, I probably need to prioritize sleep over discretionary time things until this settles down.

A- and W- continue to be awesome. We’ll figure this out together!