“Waaaaaahhhhh!” Coping with your crying baby in public.

If you are a mom or dad, you’ve probably been here, or someplace like it.  Baby has been calm and peaceful all day.  You have errands to run and things to do, so you decide to chance it and pop into the supermarket to get a few things.  As you wheel your cart with baby in tow, things seem to go smoothly and uneventful.  You begin to count yourself as very fortunate to have such a wonderful baby.  But alas!  You get to the check-out line.  There is a crowd of people.  Baby begins to fidget and gives a few whimpers.  You begin to shush baby, maybe rock baby quickly, dreading what you believe will come next.  Soon these whimpers turn into a few cries and then things escalate.  You feel yourself sweating.  You begin to panic. You feel every eye upon you and your crying baby.  You whip out the pacifier and try to jam it in there, hoping against hope that, yes, it will magically work.  You know deep down inside that it won’t.  You wonder, if you are nursing, if you should just whip out the boob right there and then, but you consider the logistics and the already growing attention on you and your baby.  You just want to get through line and out of the store and away from every recriminating look that you imagine that everyone is giving you.  Maybe you even feel that everyone is judging you to be a bad parent.  Eons later, when you finally reach the cashier and all the stuff you bought is loaded up in your cart,  you balance a crying baby and pay whatever it is the cashier said your total was, because how can you possibly even retain that information at this moment?  You rush out of the store, pop everything into your trunk, nevermind that you just crushed the bread and wonder whether it is worth rushing home with a crying baby or should you just take a break, hold the changling, (because, what else could have happened to that calm baby but to have been switched out with this inconsolable one by some malicious fairy somewhere in the pasta aisle?) and tend to his or her needs.  It is here you may discover, on the verge of tears, that you have not been breathing and you suck in a tremendous breath and let out a giant sigh. 

Yes, we’ve all been there.  The thought process may go something like this:  “My baby is annoying everyone.  Everyone is looking at me. They think I am a bad parent because my baby is crying and I can’t stop the baby from crying.  Am I a bad parent?  Who are these people to judge me?  How dare they?  Oh my god.  What is wrong with my baby?  AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! “

How do we stop this thought process?  First, realize, that babies will be tempermental and, no matter how well we think we’ve planned around naps and feedings–which really helps with keeping these stressful moments at bay–sometimes babies are just not happy about something and need something and have no other way to express that but to cry.  How you react in these moments can either increase the stress, diffuse the situation, or at the very least, mititgate or prevent you from feeling more stressed.  Here are some things to remember.

  • The sound of your baby crying is more distressful to you then anyone else.  As most parents can tell you, your own child’s cries are way more stressful.  The sound of other babies crying is not your problem and does not cause the same anxiety.  Those who cannot deal with the sound of a baby crying for a little while in a store have their own issues to deal with!  Ignore them. 
  • Breathe!!!  Your own energy and body rhythm influences that of your baby.  Just as much as your baby’s cries make you anxious, your shallow breathing and increased heart rate of your nervous energy is sensed by your baby.  Breathe deep and full.  Let out a big breath and focus on your breathing.  This will help you to remain calm and get through the moment. 
  • Don’t Judge and Don’t Assume!  Don’t allow yourself to judge yourself or believe others are judging you.  You are are going through a tough moment.  We’ve all had these moments.  Most people, especially those who have been parents, have sympathy for you and are probably not thinking bad thoughts about you.  Don’t assume they are.  Assumptions will build resentment and animosity.  Try to stay positive. 

When we practice yoga, on the physical level, we bring ourselves through challenging postures and ask ourselves to breathe through these challenges and remain calm and focussed.  We can then take what we learn on our mats and bring it into our own lives and relationships. As parents, we are given ample opportunity to bring this lesson into our families.  The challenges that babies and children bring us are many, and hopefully, we can learn to breathe through these challenges and come out less stressed and happier for them.  

Namaste!

© mahamamas.com and Janet MacFarlane, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janet MacFarlane and Mahamamas.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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