Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world. It is probably the toughest job you will ever do. However, no matter what we do, there are still lots of parents who feel like they are not doing a great job. In this age of social media, a lot of mums compare themselves to an unrealistic ideal of what they see on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
Sometimes you need to take stock and give yourself a pat on the back. You are doing an amazing job. You are keeping a whole other human (or many other humans) alive! In order to make things simple, here are my top 11 parenting principles. These are the things that I think you should know – and if you have to ignore everything else!
- You know your baby best. Trust your own instinct, it’s there; you just need to find a way to find it! All parents (particularly mothers) have an instinct about their child. Go with that – don’t let it get lost in all the noise out there.
- Parenting is easier and more fulfilling when you have the facts about your baby. It’s important to understand what babies need, how they work in terms of sleep, activity and food. To do this find a book, a friend, a relative whose parenting you like and go with that. Ignore everything else.
- Don’t overthink it. Don’t flood yourself with information. Don’t second guess yourself. It’s not that hard when you know the facts and you can go with your gut.
- Watch your baby. Get to know your baby well. Take time to enjoy those moments watching them sleep, eat and develop but also learn from them. Take note of their little noises and all their individual characteristics. These things can help because we all have different temperaments and so do babies, learn what they like and dislike and use that.
- You’re okay, and your baby is okay. If you’re really worried, go to the doctor and get the thing worrying you checked out. If the doctor says your baby is well, try not to worry. Babies are much tougher than we think.
- Choose one method/technique/belief and stick with it for at least two weeks. Babies take time to learn, just like we do. If you have tried something once and it didn’t work, you need to let your baby get used to it. Changing things all the time will only confuse them and can lead to disrupted sleeping and feeding.
- You can’t be the parent you want to be if you are not healthy and happy yourself. Your needs are important for your baby and for you. You didn’t stop being a person when you became a parent.
- Babies need to separate from you at some point. This is not a bad thing. It is part of normal development. Every day of their lives, they will become more independent so try to enjoy it, it’s part of the ride.
- Almost every worrying baby habit will eventually stop even if you do nothing (there aren’t many 12 year olds still using a dummy). You can take active steps to change things but even if you do nothing, it will get better with time. Give yourself (and your baby) a break.
- Don’t let anyone tell you to do something that just doesn’t feel right for your baby. There are millions of baby experts out there! But stick to your guns and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. You know your baby better than anyone else.
- Your child needs you to parent them. You are the adult. Respect yourself and believe in your abilities to parent. Children love boundaries and routines – there is research to prove it. So don’t be afraid to have them, it will make everyone’s life happier.