There really is such a thing as too much information. These days, the easy accessibility to almost anything we want to know – through the internet and social media – means as parents, we can quickly become overwhelmed. Because of this, many of us have lost touch with something that is literally ingrained in our DNA: we’ve forgotten how to trust our instincts.
Sound too esoteric? Think about it: we’re animals, and like the army of ants who know to head for higher ground when a flood is coming, we can learn to hone our decision-making by becoming more receptive to our surroundings. Whether it’s to do with discipline, nutrition, sleep routines, schooling, or your child’s friendship circles, trusting your parenting instincts can be invaluable as we go through this journey with our children.
Parenting blogger Maz Halliday agrees: “As a mom, I have experienced so many moments of not trusting my instincts because someone more qualified told me that I was wrong, or just being paranoid. I regret every single one of those times. In the end, a mother knows best. Always trust your gut”.
Maz is certainly not the first parent to make these mistakes – we’ve all done it, in different ways. It could be reading about the latest parenting trend and then taking that piece of information home and trying to make it work, even though we know deep down it isn’t for us.
“I read so many parenting books telling me that my newborn should sleep in my room with me when we got home from hospital, as this would help me to be more alert to her needs,” says parenting and lifestyle blogger Belinda Mountain. “But all it did was exhaust me, as I listened to every squawk. So, after the first night I moved her into her own room, switched on the baby monitor and we both slept so much better. Other mothers thought I was a bit cruel, but I stuck to my decision and she has been an excellent sleeper ever since (as have I!).”
Tami Magnin is a travel blogger and mom of an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old, and she says she also had to learn to trust her instincts. This has been particularly relevant over the past few years when she and her husband made the decision to home school their children. “My son was bullied at school and while my daughter is a social butterfly who loved school, even she found herself to be on the receiving end of hurtful comments and exclusion,” says Tami.
However, following her parenting instincts proved highly fruitful for Tami: “My son has gone from being a don’t-come-near-me-with-a-book, to a sneaky reader, who would happily read under the covers well into the night (this is a child who was diagnosed with ADD and was prescribed Ritalin). My daughter has gone from being a petty princess to a compassionate, wise nurturer.” Tami says they are far from perfect, but she has seen the positive impact their lifestyle change has had, and this is a testimony to how beneficial refusing to follow the status quo, and following your instincts, can be.
So next time you need to make a small or big parenting decision, what should you do? Switch off your devices, focus on your child and yourself, and follow that internal voice that always knows what’s ultimately best for you and your family.