My five favourite parenting books
I am an avid reader of all things birth and parenting. I literally gravitate towards these shiny books covered in children and bumps. While my friends are reading cool fashion biographies and literary fiction, I can always be found losing myself in the world of parenthood. There are many, many books out there. For every single thing to do with birth and parenthood, you can pretty much find a book on it. This in itself can be a bit daunting. So I thought it might be a nice idea to share some of my favourite books. This series is specifically about parenting and books that helped me find my way in the overwhelming yet beautiful world of motherhood. I hope they will bring you some solace too.
For THOSE NEWBORN DAYS
My beautiful Mama friend Annie, who I hugely admire as a mother of five gorgeous girls, gave me this book when I was pregnant with my son, The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. With him being my first child I hadn't given much thought to when baby was here, I was so focused on the birth! This book changed everything for me. It was in line with what I already thought but it solidified it for me further. It made me understand a baby's needs, in particular their emotional needs, and how it was absolutely ok to respond to my baby as and when I needed to and hold them as often as I would like! It's a wordy read so I struggled a bit with my tired baby brain, but if you are thinking about the attachment parenting style of child rearing or even if you're not, I would highly recommend this book.
For THE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
The Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith does exactly what it says on the tin. The most important thing about this book is it makes your babe's sleepless nights feel completely normal! Because they are normal. Children are biologically designed to wake up, often, for a long time. This fact alone I found very comforting. It's so easy to think you're doing something wrong or there is something wrong with them. However, this aside, knowing this isn't always enough to relieve the exhaustion. Another beautiful Mama friend said to me recently, 'this too shall pass isn't quite cutting it' and this book offers strategies, actual practical ways to help. Bedtime routines seem to be a big part of this and sleep associations such as falling asleep at the breast. All of it is tackled with love and very, very slowly. This is not a quick fix approach, but a loving, gentle solution.
For THE TODDLER YEARS
When I was pregnant and wondering what my child would be like, I kind of based it on the films I'd seen with all these cute, well behaved kids, listening respectfully to their parents, eating wholesome food etc etc so when my son didn't behave like this, I was caught a little off guard. When we were at playdates I could see how he interacted differently to other kids. He was so sensitive to his environment, he would tire more quickly, lose it more often, the wilfulness was epic as were the demands. He didn't sleep well so neither did I. He was a fussy eater and needed lots of entertaining. He was also more empathetic, more loving and more energetic than most kids too. This book, Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka helped me realise he was NORMAL. He was simply MORE. More in every sense, all the great traits and all the more challenging ones too and this book helped me find my balance and gave me some great strategies to cope. I still dip into it now and again for a refresher.
For THE TIMES YOU QUESTION YOURSELF
Do Not Disturb, The Benefits of Relaxed Parenting by Deborah Jackson is a beautiful book. For me, it was the realisation that we don't have to do anything for our kids to thrive. Kids are amazing and given the space to explore, test their limits, experiment and take their own mini adventures, they teach themselves a lot. I particularly loved the story about a little girl learning to swim. No help needed. Just fun times in the water and she worked it out, by herself, in her own good time. I tried this with my son after being so inspired by this story and it worked. He loves the water and is a fab swimmer. The message I took away was we don't have to work at being parents, we are parents.
For CONNECTING WITH YOUR CHILDREN
Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen has to be one of my all time favourite books. I think because the ethos is in line with what I believe is the core of parenting, love and connection and fun! This book looks at how children are feeling and why they respond a certain way. It talks about towers of powerless and towers of isolation and how it is our job to bring them out of these towers into the river of well being. It is our job, as parents, to help them reconnect. They're only little, they need help to manage their feelings. He suggests play is the best way. I really put this book to the test when my son was about three years old and it worked. It showed me his inner world by letting him play games and being in charge. It gave him control and an outlet to experiment with thoughts and ideas that he needed to clarify and work through. It's a loving, helpful book and if you can get on the floor and play with your child, you are working magic for their soul.
I would love to hear about your favourite books.