This article was originally published on Kidspot.com.au 13th July 2018
It feels like everyone has their own two cents to add, but this is what you actually need to know about parenting.
So, you’re a new mum?
You’re more tired than you’ve ever been before. You’re hormonal. You haven’t showered in what feels like weeks. Your once swollen belly has now deflated (a little bit), only to be replaced by a pair of swollen breasts.
Not to mention you now have a teeny-tiny, perfect, squishy little person in your care. Entrusted to you to raise, and mould into a functioning member of society. But you love them - so much. The love is unlike anything you’ve ever known, or even thought possible. It’s life-changing.
And then there’s the advice.Chances are that you noticed the onset of this almost as soon as you announced your pregnancy. The well-meaning family members, the complete strangers, and the incomprehensible amount of information on the world wide web. Undoubtedly, the majority of these pieces of information are delivered with good intentions. It’s just difficult to navigate your way through them. It’s almost impossible to know at the time, which pieces to keep just in case, and which ones to file away under the heading of ‘thanks but no thanks’.
As I sit here now, I can tell you that there’s been a grand total of 3 pieces of worthwhile advice, in my albeit short, but intense parenting life so far. Advice that I continue to utilise to this day, and long into the future I’m sure. I have no doubt the reason these pieces have resonated with me so greatly, on this wild and whacky parenting ride, is that they’re not the ‘how to’, quick fixes, or ‘back in my day’ types. They’re more like ways of thinking or mindset choices that I’ve grown into. They’re the types that teach me every single day, to just follow my own instincts.
Trust your gut.
Cliché I know. And oh-so-hard to follow at times too. But this my friends is arguably the most important one. You know your body, you know your baby (even if at times you seriously question this one, because you’re constantly being told that you don’t), and above all - you know your family dynamics, and what works in your household. The hardest part is the trust.
You NEED to look after yourself first sometimes.
This piece came from my dad, and he coined it the ‘Aeroplane Analogy’. This is possibly the greatest piece of advice for me as a mother of small children. This taught me that as the captain of my ship if I go down, the whole ship goes down. How can I really take proper care of my family when I’m flat, exhausted, and struggling to put one foot in front of the other?
It’s taught me that it’s far from selfish to take a little bit of time out that’s just for me. A shower alone, a night out, or handing over the reins to someone else for just a few minutes here and there - without feeling GUILTY! It’s about taking out whatever (albeit minuscule at times) time you can possibly take, just for yourself. Which is the most difficult thing for most of us, but so important!
If it’s not a problem for you, it’s not a problem.
This piece could arguably be considered a subpoint to the above ‘trust your gut’ idea, but to me, it’s become far more than that. This has been by far the greatest tool for me in deciphering all of those ‘you’ll create bad habits’ lines that inevitably come your way. Quite simply, what I consider a ‘bad habit’, betty across the road doesn’t, and vice versa. It’s no different when it comes to raising our little ones.
So, if you’re happy and content with breastfeeding your baby to sleep, and it’s not an issue for you - then keep on boobin’. If co-sleeping is your favourite way of getting a decent night’s rest - then hold that baby close to you, and sleep away! If you choose to formula feed or breastfeed until your child is 12, give birth via elective caesarean, or free birth in the middle of the forest, then my friend, you do what you need to do. If it’s right for you, then it’s right for you. No matter what anyone else says.
Sometimes I wish I could go back to my early parenting days, armed with the knowledge I have now. How different things might have been? But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? We learn as we go. Advice will continue to flow on through, as I’m sure it will for many years to come, and I’ll continue to pick the pieces I might need and discard the ones I don’t.
I guess I’ve learned to take the well-meant advice on the chin. Just give it a smile and a nod, or a quiet ‘thank you’, and then just move along on my own way.
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