Pinky McKay…a best selling author of 4 titles published by Penguin Random House, including Parenting By Heart, a mother of five and a grandmother of four, an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), breastfeeding advocate, creator of boobie bikkies, Mum of five Pinky McKay specializes in gentle parenting styles that honour mothers’ natural instincts. Pinky’s ‘get real’, no-nonsense, approach, along with a blend of humour, sharp wit and wisdom, make her a popular source for major network TV and various publications, internationally. www.pinkymckay.com.
I came across Pinky’s work as a tired, stressed, and overwhelmed first time mum. At the time, I was drawn into the exhausting social expectation that babies should follow a schedule, babies should all put themselves to sleep in their cots, and they should stay asleep…. all night. For me, a mama of a new baby who breastfed to sleep, loved a cuddle, loved to co sleep and was up through the night, sometimes a lot…this view, which seemed to hold with it some kind of parenting badge, and was often spoken about as THE milestone for babies to meet…. was ANXIETY PROVOKING and stirred feelings and thoughts of failure and self doubt.
Being the type of person I am…when something doesn’t sit right, especially when it comes to my babies, I struggle to just ‘sit with’ my own intuition. I search for evidence that I’m doing either the right or wrong thing. Something I am constantly work on. So…I began googling for research and authors sharing their insights on babies and sleep. This is how I came across Pinky. When I found Pinky’s work, it was (pardon the metaphor) MUSIC TO MY EARS!!!!
I find Pinky’s work gives me confidence as a mum. Her insights align closely with my values as a mama, and this feels good. I also Pinky’s advice is non prescriptive and supportive. And from a professional standpoint, two crucial aspects in the recipe of mama well being.
So, as you can imagine, when the opportunity came up to interview Pinky for Wonderful Mama, I jumped at it. We laughed, we shared, and we connected. As a professional with a large following, I of course felt humbled when Pinky chose us to share her insights and experience with.
RB – Using five words, describe yourself as a mama?
PM – just before you rang I was on the phone to my daughter and asked her to share her thoughts on this one. She said that I am a “creative” “Playful” “Loving” “Encouraging” and “Optimistic” Mother. Something she said, which was so lovely to hear, is “You enjoyed us when we were little” which is so true. I am someone who is not bothered by mess or chaos, so when my children were little, we used to all sorts of creative things, like paint on the walls of the bathroom, and change the light bulbs so that the room would be all sorts of colours.
RB – What is your parenting philosophy? Does this differ between personal and professional life?
PM – I don’t feel as though my personal parenting philosophy differs from my professional one. I begun my professional journey as a nurse, and then following the growth of my own family, was inspired to do, what I now do. Motherhood has been an experience that has humbled me. My philosophy for my work and my personal life is to Trust Yourself, Trust Your intuition, Trust your connection with your child and Trust your child – each child is so very individual and will take a different development path and will pave out their own journey. Children cannot be molded, and are not badges of competency. Mistakes made are opportunities to learn, behaviour expressed is communication about what is going on in their world. As a parent, it takes courage to step back and to be gentle and responsive to our children. When I was a parent to my children, as babies, natural intuition was just that…natural. Now these ways of parenting seem to carry a label ‘baby wearing’ ‘co sleeping’ and are constantly being critiqued and evaluated. The Internet has also changed the way we view parenting. We now have access to so much information that this sometimes competes with what we, as the mother, feel is right.
RB – What hopes to you have for you readers?
PM – My biggest hope for all mothers, is to see them carry a smile on their face, expressing the enjoyment they are experiencing when being with their babies. Not all the time but most of the time. My wish for women is for them too not feel the pressure to be perfect in their role as mother. And for them to feel free in expressing that being a mum is hard, and help is needed. And when women seek help, for this not to have the underlying message ‘there is something wrong with you’.
RB – Most commonly asked question, and answer?
PM – The most common question asked by parents is ‘why wont my baby self settle?’ Closely followed by, ‘am I creating bad sleep habits for my baby?’ My answer for this is, newborns physiologically cannot self-settle. And babies who do learn to self-settle still often wake through the night to have a need met. I would then reassure parents by advising them that cuddling and helping a baby to feel secure as they fall asleep is an investment in their future. My motto for changing any part of a baby’s routine is ‘gently with love’.
RB – Biggest thing parents struggle with?
PM – In my experience, parents struggle most with the pressure to ‘do things right’ all of the time. There are so many critics and warnings about how to parent, and these are so widely accessible via the Internet and social media. All of this information targeted towards parents is often rigid in nature rather than presented as options. As well as this, the advice given is often closely linked with a warning ‘do this or suffer in silence’. My advice about this is for parents to not rush. There is no urgent need to change a baby’s routine. Allowing your baby to be rocked or cuddled to sleep will do no harm. And when in doubt about advice that has been given, ask yourself these three questions; is it safe? Is it respectful to you and your baby? And does it feel right?
RB – Something you wish all parents knew when they bring their first born into the world?
PM – As parents bringing a new baby into the world, I wish they would be told, to just surrender and slow down. You cannot control a baby, and you can’t control life with a baby. Bringing a baby into the world is a journey for everyone, a unique journey. Breathe it all in. You don’t need permission to cuddle your baby. And you cannot spoil a baby with too much love. And with each difficulty, because there will be many, tell yourself, ‘this too shall pass’.
RB – What does a typical day look like now?
PM – I try to keep my days flexible and usually bunch certain things together, like errands, writing, meetings etc. On a typical day, I begin by writing in my pajamas. I tend to focus better because nothing can draw me away whilst I’m in my pj’s. I then move between house errands. The afternoon may be spent doing house calls and consultations with mums as well as meetings and marketing for boobie bikkies at the office. The evening is usually spent engaging in social media and connecting with my husband.
RB – Words to live by?
PM – Honesty, Family and Fun
Coffee or tea? Tea
Night owl or early riser? Night Owl
Dine in or Dine out? Dine in
TV or podcast? Podcast
Heels or flats? Flats