Tuesday, 23 February 2016

It's Probably Just a Phase...the Best Crap Advice You'll Get

"If one more person tells me 'it's probably just a phase' I'm probably just going to smack them in the face." (Knackered Me, 2012).

It's true, in the earliest days of being a mum the classic 'it's just a phase' pearl of parenting wisdom used to get right on my (slightly engorged) tits. It was only ever offered as an attempt to make me feel better, of course, but on the days I was existing in a fraught Mumzilla state, the fact that something was a phase didn't offer much comfort. In fact, it was right at the top of the Things I'm Sick of Hearing list alongside, 'It's probably a growth spurt!' and, 'He's probably just teething!' (which 9 times out of 10 were accurate assessments, actually, but still...bastard teeth and bastard growth spurts - everything is a bastard when you have had zero sleep and a small person is stuck to your body with Clingy Glue).

Phases were no good to me! I wanted answers. I wanted somebody to fix the baby who was waking every hour, or the toddler who would only eat beige food. I wanted a solution to the bed-wetting and tantrum-throwing, not a shrug that it 'wouldn't be forever'.

And yet, like almost everything in this here parenthood adventure so far, I am starting to realise that there are a couple of pretty solid reasons why 'it's probably just a phase' is offered as the default answer to everything (and why I have recently found myself offering the same statement to friends when discussing their parenting grumbles).

At times, dropping the phase-bomb is quite possibly the only comfort we can offer someone who has declared that things have become a little bit shit. If you have a baby with reflux so severe the vomit-spray hits a stranger in Starbucks (true story), or a toddler who will not sleep in beyond 4am (a friend of mine is living this exact excitement at the moment), there is not always an obvious practical solution. When staring into the bloodshot eyes of an exhausted mum who has already begged her GP/Health Visitor/Postman for advice, the promise of the current situation being temporary is sometimes the only half-helpful thing left to say (aside from, 'I'm coming round with cake.') 

We all know the drill here. The chances are, she has already desperately scrolled through every online parenting forum looking for answers and come away feeling more confused than when she started - not least because a fight about baby-led weaning broke out somewhere in the comments and she couldn't code-break the apparent foreign language (DD1, DS2, TTC, WAATFAA??*).

So out it comes, the thing that always sounds slightly feeble and unconvincing but at least offers a glimmer a hope: "I bet it's just a phase..."

And do you know what?
It probably is.

That doesn't make it any easier when you are living it, of course. ["Phase my arse! He's been like this for months!" was another midnight rant of mine, in the thick of bi-hourly feeds.] And though it's possible that the 'phase' could go on for ever, more often than not it doesn't. More often than not the issue or difficulty you are so desperately trying to shake off transitions into a new issue or difficulty without you even realising it.

So I'm sorry to all the people I quietly sneered at after they tried to tell me about the temporary nature of teething/reflux/general toddler arsiness. It never feels very 'phasey' at the time, but eventually your child will have a full set of teeth and, with any luck, will have stopped performing the Stiff-as-a-Floorboard trick when you try to get them into the pram. Tomorrow just might mark the start of a new challenge.

It really isn't forever.
It probably is just a phase.
Bastard phases.

The Unmumsy Mum
*('Dear Daughter 1,' 'Dear Son 2,' 'Trying to Conceive,' 'What Are All The Fucking Acronyms About?' Might have made the last one up).











 
 
 
 

44 comments:

  1. My son is 10 weeks old and already hear "it's just a phase" "it's probably a growth spurt" and "he might just be teething" so many times I want to rip my own hair out!

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  2. I love this blog! currently reading your book just now, but I can honestly say I am SICK of hearing 'its just a phase' the phase is never ending lol!

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  3. Spot on! Both about those pesky phases AND those infuriating acronyms - seriously why? Isn't hindsight a wonderful/ incredibly annoying and slightly patronising thing. Love your work. X

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  4. I know exactly how irritating this is, and yet... I am sure I am completely guilty of doing it myself. Because it's probably true. Doesn't make it easier at 4am when you've been up since midnight, funnily enough. Next time I'm going to catch myself and just offer them cake instead of advice. Or wine.

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  5. Oh and 'DS1' is the same number of letters to type as 'Son'. Who's time is it really saving?

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  6. I always thought the acronyms were a way of keeping outsiders out of their little community, based on the tone when a newcomer asked for them to be explained anyway!
    I've heard "It's just a phase" so often, but also as a reminder that the times they're being perfect is just a phase too, and to appreciate it whilst it lasts...especially as it's likely measurable in minutes.

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  7. Loving the blog. Am safely out the other side of this bit of parenting but the memories run deep!!. As well as 'it's just a phase' I remember people saying 'it will pass' and it really does but I still recall being a first time mum holding a screaming 2 weeks old who apparently had colic and staring horrified at the infacol bottle reading that 'colic usually stops at 6 weeks' and wailing 'but i'll be dead by then...."

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  8. Exactly! My little boy is almost 4 years old and for the past 2 weeks he's slept in his own bed, all night long from 8pm to 7am! He's never ever done this before and you know what, it feels bloody amazing!

    That phase might last a few months or a few years but it will happen eventually and when it does you'll value it even more xx

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  9. Yeah, I gave up on parenting websites a long time ago. It use to annoy me how many acronyms the army use to use, but parenting websites are on a whole other level. I'm sure some people just make some of them up for the fun of it.

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  10. Yes! It's the SAME number of letters! You don't know what a relief it is to read that from someone else.

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  11. ust like I kept telling myself 'He won't still be breastfeeding at 19' as a daily mantra. I think the whole 'phase' thing is as much about needing to convince yourself and cement to yourself that things won't and can't always be this shit, as much as they're about handing an oar to a friend. It feels a bit belittling but, along with vodka and adoption, it's one of a limited lifeline!

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  12. Yes! You don't know what a relief it is to read someone else saying that - it's not clever, it's the same number of f***ing letters!

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  13. Yes! It's the SAME number of letters! You don't know what a relief it is to read that from someone else.

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  14. ust like I kept telling myself 'He won't still be breastfeeding at 19' as a daily mantra. I think the whole 'phase' thing is as much about needing to convince yourself and cement to yourself that things won't and can't always be this shit, as much as they're about handing an oar to a friend. It feels a bit belittling but, along with vodka and adoption, it's one of a limited lifeline!

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  15. This is very true. The amount of times my son had a 'growth spurt' he should be 3 times the size he is now. It also took me a long time to work out the acronyms.
    Looking forward to heating you tomorrow with my son and his beige food x

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  16. It's just a phase lol. You still have the teens to look forward to :) xx

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  17. Spot on. So true and as much as we hate to hear it, whatever the kids are going through it IS just a phase. It's an accumulation of phases. *sigh* thanks for sharing

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  18. Ugh! "Just a phase" is probably one of the worst things to hear- not least because it usually follows a long string of advice that you've already tried! Particularly true of sleeping habits!

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  19. I prefer to think 'this too shall pass' when things seem particularly crap, but some of the more irritating things (like arguing over who's driving the imaginary car when out and about - "I'm driving that black car." "No, I'M driving that black car!" "I saw it first!") seem to be taking a really long time to pass...

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  20. It's maybe better you tell your friend that it's just a phase than the reality that it might actually not be and that they might just be early rises for the majority of their pre-teen life.

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  21. I've had a lot of 'It's probably just a phase', but you know the one that really grips my shit?

    'You've got all this to come!'

    If Matt at work tells me I've got all this to come (always preceded by an awful story of how terrible is 3 year old is behaving) one more time I'm going to rip my own face off.

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  22. The 'phase' thing can be comforting in that if you know you can't fix it you can put up with it and it's ok. All the forums tell you everything can be fixed and that can make one very anxious/not good enough. I decide most things are phases, absolving myself of responsibility to fix anything and try to enjoy the long days, short years ☕️☕️🙏🍀

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  23. My point being it is easier to wake at 4 thinking its a phase than waking at 4 thinking there is something different, forum recommended you should be doing. It is always awful to wake at 4

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  24. As ever: nail, head. I think "it's just a phase" is one of those neutral 'filler' answers peopel trot out when they can't think of anything better to say or don't want to offend by offering advice or personal experiences that might not be well received by said stressed-out mum (or dad). It's a bit like "hasn't she grown?" (well, she's hardly likely to have shrunk, is she?) or "the weather is bound to improve" (well, duh, of course it will eventually). I'm now mentally reviewing how often I've said "it's just a phase" myself ...

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  25. true for babies, but I'm starting to think that once you hit the toddler years, nothing is a phase. It's all actually another slightly shitty thing kids do that's you'll eventually just get used to! Either that or they just last a crap load longer...

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  26. I am reading the Unmumsy Mum book during night feeds (which are 'just a bit shit'!) and she is making me laugh out loud, which at 4am is impressive!

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  27. This is so true!! I laughed out loud about the stiff-as-a-floorboard comment, living the toddler dream with my 2 year old right now - ha. Brilliant writing - thank you! xx

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  28. I'm still in the its just a phase , 6 years on!!! Topped off today with complete meltdowns at every tiny thing ��

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  29. Oh those acronyms are just stupid. I used to read conversations on forums when I was pregnant with my third and I remember crying because I thought I should be able to understand them - especially as I was on my 3rd. Why do they talk this way???

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  30. Love this. My son is currently in a 6 month (so far) phase. We are at the doctors on Thursday, and a friend today told me "it will pass". When he wasn't grasping toilet training I was told "He'll get it. How many children do you see at school in nappies". Newsflash, he didn't get it, and now we are under the continence team. No, he doesn't go to school in nappies, but he does have daily accidents. I wish these bloody phases would just DO ONE!!!!

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    1. Snap 😞 Finding it very hard to accept this phase hasn't passed yet

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  31. My daughter is 3 and a half and I have had not had a good nights sleep since I was 16 weeks pregnant. I have tried everything legal know to man to get her to sleep. I've also considered the illegal. But eventually I just excepted, it's not a phase but a way of life. I now feel ten times better about looking like an extra from the walking dead.

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  32. I have been told so many times "it's just a phase" but with our son I knew it was more than that. I even had nursery workers telling me I was probably over thinking it but a few years down the line I can finally put my finger on reasons for my sons behaviour.
    He is an amazing lad don't get me wrong but socially he can be challenging. I always thought it was something I was doing wrong when actually I've come to learn its just part of how he is (he has mild Asperger's).
    My daughter now has 'phases' and I'm watching her like a hawk hoping that maybe I am over thinking it this time around.

    I wish for some of the time I have been told that it's all just a phase that it actually was.

    Oh well

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  33. Ruth's kids aren't going through a phase!!!

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  34. I can't tell you how many times I heard this phrase when my daughter went through the 4-month sleep regression for 4 BASTARD MONTHS. It WAS just a phase, but I didn't want to hear it after several months of hourly wake-ups.

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  35. I was always told by the midwives "it's a growth spurt" with my firstborn during those early days of non-stop feeding. I still assume it's a growth spurt whenever he's foul/miserable/won't stop eating (more or less constantly. He's 12 now.)

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  36. I was fed up with being told it's a phase, it's only reflux (even by a couple of GPS) when my son was a baby. It turned out it was gastro oesophageal reflux, cue no sleep, lots of screaming, 6 visits to the GP before referral and numerous hospital visits. It was a phase but a painfully long one....

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  37. Seems to stop when they reach two though then the sympathetic 'it's just a phase stops' and then the judgement rolls in that your child is a little shit that should be eating/behaving/sleeping perfectly while offering undying gratitude for every sip of water, tissue and mouthful.

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  38. As a mum of 3 I love this blog and the comments. I am now a HV and wish i'd known as a new mum what I know now. My own mum used to say to me "it gets better" she repeated this through various stages and phases. Eventually when I asked when it got better she said "actually it doesn't get better it gets different". She's right. They are now 27, 17 and 15 and continue to challenge me. I suspect they always will and I love them more than life itself anyway ��

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  39. Fabulous! Love this, so true and so glad it's not just me!!

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  40. Im halfway through your amazing book. And i never heard of you before i stumbled across your book! Why didnt i find your blog while stuggling with my tiny colic ridden baby feeling like ive been run over by a bus. Totally adicted to blog and book! Savouring the book as its too good to finish too quick

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  41. Love your book fab!! My darling son is just going through a phase of not sleeping unfortunately it's lasted nearly 11 years!! 😂 I secretly took his light bulb out last night and all I could hear was the switch being flicked frantically at 200 am! I lay giggling to myself in bed 🙊

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  42. Our son has been in the beige food phase for 4yrs now!
    Ok I exaggerate, it's beige and heinz orange!

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  43. How about the wonderful pearls of wisdom such as "it gets better" (no it really doesn't) and constantly being presented with some timescales when things are suppose to improve ("my son grew out of colic at 4.5 months" yada yada.) Today I said to myself - well if he is whinging and moaning like this at 18 I'm putting his bags out of the door! And then the crushing realisation that I couldn't even do that ��

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