How an attachment parent with a breastfeeding almost 4 year old transitions gently into preschool (or “Kindy” as we call it here in Australia)…
My almost four year old, little Mini The Milk is “still” breastfeeding. Only just barely left our bed to sleep through in his own bed, in his own room. He slept in our bed until he was 3 and continues to come into our bed some nights when he needs some extra cuddles.
“Still” waking early for his “sun up” boobie. The first day he started at school, he woke like every morning. Looking for me. He found me at the computer, in the middle of a breastfeeding consultation with someone across the world. He didn’t bat an eyelid, just hopped up and breastfed as if we were still in bed.
Just 2 hours later he was at preschool for his first day without me. I was ready to cry. Ready to stay if needed and just hang out until he was ready for me to go. He didn’t need me there though. He gave me a thumbs up as I said goodbye and didn’t even look back at me as he continued to eat his snack.
He loved it there. He didn’t want to go home. Every time I peeked into his classroom or went in to say hi he was happy as could be. This child who has been attached at the hip and boob only away from me for long periods a handful of times in his whole life…completely at ease and happy. The child who “still” breastfeeds to sleep. Yes, he is breastfeeding. And he is also independent. The two are not mutually exclusive.
We are obsessed with independence in our culture.
We worry about our child being independent. We have others constantly question our “attached” child and if they will ever part from us. We have people criticize our babies for breastfeeding so often or continue to such an “old” age. Everyone called my boys, “mama’s boys” with a hint of criticism like it was a bad thing. We hear jokes that our child will still be breastfeeding while heading off to school! Well here we are…and yes, he is.
I received an email from a breastfeeding/attachment parenting mother today who was told by her daycare to, “Hold your baby less” When she was home with him because he cried a lot at daycare. My heart ached for her and I was sick when I read it. How could you ask someone to hold their child less? Yes, I understand that the daycare staff are very busy during the day and look after many children, but some children NEED to be held very frequently and are looking for some extra love and attention. These children do not need less cuddles, they need more. Children who are breastfed 24/7 are held 24/7 too. Often times these babies will need some extra love and attention as they have been mothered through breastfeeding.
Mothering through breastfeeding facilitates the growth of a baby, into a toddler, into a small child heading off to preschool. It creates a bond, a relationship that is unlike any other because all of their needs are met at the breast. Our child is comforted at the breast, they are calmed at the breast…they are nourished at the breast. We mother through breastfeeding to form these strong attachments so they can form a strong sense of self and confidence. They have been loved so they can now go out and love others. They have had their needs met so they can now go out and offer their help to others in need. Independence flourishes once their needs have been met.
How to do this preschool (Kindy) transition as easily as possible for mother and child…