With information so readily available at the touch of a button, we can find out everything we need to know about any given subject in a matter of clicks. First-time parents especially tend to devour every parenting book, blog, website, and forum. We equip ourselves with all the information that we think we’ll need and then some. Every cry is analyzed, every poop is discussed, every feed is noted. But sometimes less is more. Sure, read the books, ask others for advice but it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with information.
Ask 100 people for advice and you’ll get at least 99 different answers. We all have different opinions, different ways of doing things, different priorities, experiences, methods, etc. 20 people might do it one way and think that’s the best way, 20 others will swear blindly that their way is better. Don’t stress so much about whether you’re doing it right, that you forget to enjoy it.
Parents are not superhuman. There's a limit to what we can do. Prioritize the most important aspects. Sacrifice a beautifully made bed in the mornings, for a few minutes of much needed extra rest. Don't panic if you haven't had the chance to fold the laundry because your child took longer to feed this morning or because the walk to school took forever because your child insisted on jumping all the way there! The laundry isn't going anywhere (unfortunately), but that previous time with your child or those extra few minutes to gather your thoughts are far more important.
Our children grow up so fast. Trust your instincts. Keeping them safe and loved and nurtured is the most important job we have as parents. As long as you're doing that, you're already an amazing parent!
I had a friend from my pre-natal classes that was very strict about throwing away formula milk after 45 minutes (think she had read somewhere about the bacteria that starts to develop after an hour). Her baby was a slow eater and didn't have a huge appetite. Feeding time became hugely stressful for the mom as she would be literally counting down the minutes until she had to stop feeding. She worried that her baby wouldn’t finish her bottle in time. I’m sure her baby picked up on all the fuss, and picked up on her mom’s anxiety, creating a Catch 22! Consequently, mom found feeding times super stressful and when your newborn is feeding 6 times a day, that’s a whole lot of stress! Instead of panicking about what could happen (i.e. baby not finishing her feed within her “45-minute time slot”), she would have been better off staying calm, enjoying the moment, and dealing with the issue if it arose. Fortunately, she was much more confident in her abilities and judgment by the time her second child was born and parented completely differently. Now, as it turns out, her firstborn was a very fussy eater until middle school – would only eat plain bland food, whereas her youngest loved everything that was put in front of her. Who knows if that had anything to do with their early childhood experiences with feeding?
The point is, with everything in life, we need to put things into perspective. We can't follow every bit of advice or rule to the T. Learning the right technique to swaddle your baby or buying the best mobile to promote a restful night might be “nice to have/do” but pale in significance to the rest.
Parenting a newborn or multiple young children can be challenging, unless you have some serious Mary Poppins' skills/magic. Take the stress off yourself by managing your expectations. Be flexible - you may have the best of intentions, and a list of set plans you intend to follow (whether it's a birth plan or a feeding routine etc) but things happen, and babies don't always adhere to our plans. Remember, that's OK. Chances are it's not a big deal. If they get to bed ten minutes later, if they feed 5 minutes earlier, it's ultimately not going to make a difference. Just learn to loosen up, go with the flow a little and just enjoy the moment - they grow up so, so fast!
Parenting is hard enough without running yourself ragged trying to be perfect. Accept that you won’t always get it all right and that you’ll make mistakes. But learn from them, and move on.
Love and nurture is really all a child needs at the beginning. So. let's try to worry a little less and be more present. If we stop sweating the small stuff, we can get to enjoy it so much more!