As a mother, you’re the emotional thermostat of your home. When you are content, a peaceful energy flows out to your family, wrapping them up in your nurturing, encouraging, unconditional love. It all starts with self care and learning to trust your instincts.
As a new or expecting parent, what’s more overwhelming – all the baby stuff or all the baby advice?
The swing, pack & play, and vibrating chair that plays music fill your living room. You weave through the house tripping over toys designed to make your newborn smarter.
Or maybe you actually returned a bassinet because the baby wouldn’t sleep in it… thinking it was the product’s fault that your baby wanted to be with you instead of a ruffly box.
It probably didn’t take long to figure out the baby marketing industry has fed us a line of bull… convincing us (and we as nervous moms and dads-to-be, or sleep deprived new parents are so desperate to believe) that if we have enough stuff, we’ll be equipped to handle the challenge of a new baby.
Or that having these “things” will make us a good parent.
And if it’s not the companies that want to sell us something, it may be well-meaning family members and friends. As new parents, we were often told, “Put that baby on a feeding schedule.” Or we’re asked, “Is he sleeping through the night?” and my favorite, “What does the doctor say about that?”
Generally the people giving you advice mean well. But they can actually sabotage your confidence as a new parent. By no means should you isolate yourself… that’s a whole other recipe for disaster, but you’ll want to be extremely selective about who you allow into your circle.
Build your tribe
Finding a support network with like-minded new parents can make a real and lasting difference in your ability to parent successfully. If you can’t find an existing group through word or mouth or online, here’s how you can build your own tribe.
When my second son was born, I was exceptionally blessed to have a network of Green Mommy friends who supported me during the early months of breastfeeding and attachment parenting.
It still wasn’t easy.
After one of those first rough nights home with a newborn, my husband and I told my lactation consultant we were really hoping this baby would learn to sleep on his own and become independent faster than his older brother had. I can still see her face – head tilted to the side and mouth open as she considered her words carefully before responding to these two sleep-deprived people. Then she said, “But your oldest is such a gracious and content child. It’s no accident how he became that way.”
Hearing that from someone with an extensive background in birth, nursing, and child development – while we really wanted a magic solution – was actually an affirmation.
She told us we were instinctively raising our oldest with Attachment Parenting principles. We didn’t know it had a name. She explained how he didn’t have to waste his energy crying and worrying whether his needs would be met. He was able to go about the process of adapting and growing. She also gave us the science and studies to back it up.
No one in my family or previous circle of friends talked about this when I’d had my first baby.
No one but my copy of The Baby Book by Dr. Sears. Otherwise, I was surrounded by the mainstream views that the baby should be put on a feeding schedule, trained to sleep in his crib alone all night, and a bunch of other rules that my baby wasn’t born knowing.
That’s why your support group is critical. With our second son, I was surrounded by nursing mothers, baby wearing, and attachment or Continuum Concept parenting. And these days, you can even build your support network online. I’ve seen so many helpful, insightful posts on social media about attachment parenting, breastfeeding, non-commercialism, safe toys, organic foods, etc.
Learn to trust your instincts
New mothers now can be plugged in at all hours of the day or night… but access to ALL of that advice can sometimes lead to increased anxiety.
“The problem is that in our busy lives today, we don’t really make time to get to know the mother within,” says Yaffa Maritz, founder of The Community of Mindful Parenting. “The mother within is a wise woman. We all carry with us generations and generations of instinctive mothering.”
That’s a powerful thought, isn’t it?
You carry generations of instinctive mothering within you. All you have to do is get quiet and tap into it.
It can take time to tune back into the inner voice we’ve drowned out over the years, but you’ll get there with practice. Sometimes it helps to read a parenting book or ask for advice from someone you respect and then contemplate:
“Does this feel true to me?”
Look into your child’s eyes or watch her play and FEEL in your body if that advice applies to her. When you’re connected, you’ll know. And over time, you’ll not only crave your own inner knowing, you’ll rely on what your gut tells you.
Make time for self-care
It starts by loving yourself and carving out little moments where you are fully present. You don’t have to drive across town for a meditation class or yogi to teach you how to listen to yourself. Just notice what’s around you as you take the baby for a walk in the carrier or stroller. Allow yourself to consciously enjoy that first sip of tea or coffee in the morning. Nurse your baby and just watch her – without interruption of TV or social media.
Take just ten minutes a few times a week to journal about your inner beliefs and your expectations as a parent. What decisions did you make this week that felt good? What were the ones that didn’t seem to work out, or you felt you should have handled differently? What can you do to pamper yourself and make sure you’re getting enough rest?
As a mother, you’re the emotional thermostat of your home. When you are content, a peaceful energy flows out to each member of your family, wrapping them up in your nurturing, encouraging, unconditional love.
And it all starts with loving yourself, taking the time to tune into your instincts, and parenting from your heart.
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