How to Trust your Parenting Instincts and Follow your Heart
If you are a mom, I’m sure you have found yourself running to the computer on more than one occasion for parenting advice. I’m almost positive that you have questioned your decision-making skills at least once throughout your journey. I’m willing to bet that you have turned to good ol’ Google several times to see if you are making the right choices. I’ll even wager that you have written on several forums to see if other moms have experienced similar situations. Am I right? Well…I’m also here to tell you that you are not alone. I am constantly questioning my parenting instincts. Here are some examples of questions I’ve personally researched over the past few months:
What should I do when my child refuses to eat solid foods?
How do I night wean my one year old?
How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?
The internet is a wonderful thing. No matter what question you type in, there is another parent out there that can answer it.
I will caution you that it might not be the answer you were hoping for. There is always the potential for a nasty, judgmental and degrading response (because, hey, that mother of the year knows her stuff). The suggestions might be some sort of method your heart is totally against or it could be something you have to pay for. However, if we are looking at the bright side, maybe it’s exactly what you wanted to stumble across. We can only hope for the last outcome.
As a new mom, I have fallen into the same trap time and time again! Let’s be honest. I write informational posts to support my family. Obviously, I love the internet. However, I’m also becoming more and more aware of the power of my instincts. This was NOT easy and not something I came to on my own. I decided to set the laptop aside after a lot of coaxing from my mother. I forced myself to trust my gut, and it has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. It has allowed me to reflect on parenting as a whole, and more importantly, it has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and stop second guessing myself. It’s a hard thing to do. Especially in the age of constant information exchange.
In forcing myself to trust my instincts I have learned to practice these really important I AM affirmations:
I am a leader. I have the POWER to make decisions for my family
I am the keeper of my household and I am the best person for the job
I am a strong, resilient parent. I will push through whatever hurdles are thrown at me
I am an intelligent woman. I know my heart will lead me in the right direction
I am a good mom and my way of parenting is not wrong if it works for my family
If your little one doesn’t sleep through the night, if your infant refuses to take a bottle, or if your kid will not potty train, you are not alone. You haven’t failed at parenting. The internet might be able to help you (if you are lucky), but ultimately, you have to help yourself.
The best gift I ever gave myself was to put my phone aside and work through the problems on my own. I STOPPED READING AND RESEARCHING and it was liberating and fulfilling and healthier on all accounts.
Let me give you a little glimpse into my current situation.
I’m working on night weaning my exclusively breastfed 14-month old. I have researched the topic of sleep training, night weaning and weaning in general and I have read the following advice:
Don’t let your kid cry it out. It’s horrible and cruel
You have to let your kid cry it out. It’s not fair to let them depend on you
Don’t rock your kid to sleep. They will become too attached
If you don’t rock your kid you will regret it years down the road
Don’t breastfeed your kid to sleep. They will never wean.
Breastfeeding to sleep is totally natural and should be encouraged
Do not co-sleep. You will kill your child and ruin your marriage
Co-sleeping is a MUST. Otherwise, you will miss out on that special time with your child.
Establish a strict bedtime routine
Kids with a strict bedtime routine don’t know how to be flexible
Wean your kid before 18 months. Breastfeeding longer is weird and bizarre.
Do not wean your child until they tell you too. You will traumatize them
I guarantee you have experienced this before. WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?! I read about 30 articles, 10 forums, and 15 Facebook posts and still came out without a definitive answer.
That’s when I put the phone down and came up with my own plan of action. And guess what? It’s an incredibly slow process, but it’s a process that is working for us!
As I said before, the internet is a beautiful thing. It’s no mystery that it takes a village to raise a child. I’m very grateful that our village is only seconds away if we need it. However, it’s okay to tune out the village every now and then. There is no such thing as a perfect mother or a perfect solution. As parents, we certainly shouldn’t stand in judgment of one another no matter which methods we choose. We are all just trying to do our very best. And sometimes, we don’t need anyone to tell us what our “best” should be. We have the tools, the resources, and the brain power to figure it out on our own.
So today, I give you permission to turn off the voices in your head and the voices on the computer. Simply trust your gut.
You have the power to be an exceptional parent to your children and you are the best person for the job.
In the eyes of your child, you are perfect. Have faith in that. Have faith in your abilities, and make decisions that feel good for your family. Your kids (and your stress level) will thank you.
Do you feel that you rely too much on the internet for advice? Do you find a lot of conflicting answers? How do you weed through the information and make decisions that are right for your family?
If you enjoyed reading this, check out this post about how I made the decision to put perfection aside.
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