Follow your own parenting path
Parents really don’t have it easy today, no matter what our grandparents might occasionally like to tell us! Yes, many of us have cars to get around quicker, equipment to help entertain our baby and convenient accessories to make things like mealtimes and bathtime run a little smoother.
But we also have a lot of pressure and expectations placed upon us, so much of the time. And this can leave us feeling wrung out, overly busy and doubting ourselves when we should be cutting ourselves some slack after experiencing the life-changing shock of parenting.
Along with the helpful element of modern conveniences, we can actually end up feeling busier and overloaded. From the huge range of things to buy, classes to sign up and places to go, it can sometimes feel like there’s no time to just stop, catch our breath and simply be -- in between caring for all of our baby’s needs as well.
Parenting can feel like an all too delicately balanced tightrope that we’re not just walking on, but juggling on as well.
And while we have more technology, such as our smartphone for passing the time during feeds, this can become one more pressure. We find ourselves glimpsing into everyone else’s lives, getting an overload of information and advice, and not feeling able to switch off and relax. While the internet is amazing for many things (such as our site!) it can also be overwhelming, particularly when it comes to social media.
Compare the baby
Prior to Facebook, and even before that -- when instant messages weren’t around and there weren’t a gazillion baby groups to attend -- parents had less access to what others were doing. Although it’s nice to feel connected to others, the downside is we can end up comparing our parenting or even our own baby! And when we’re tired and not feeling our best, it can be easy to decide we come up short when we make these comparisons.
If baby Lola’s mum declares on Facebook that she’s sleeping through by 8 weeks old, it’s not going to make you feel brilliant that your own lovely baby is still up multiple times a night despite being nearly 1. Similarly, because you love your little critter so much, you might worry if you see the babies of all your mum friends are already walking, or saying their first word, while yours is happy to chew his socks and be carried everywhere. (By the way, this is totally normal too, he’ll do things in his own time.)
It can be more subtle than this, as well. If we’re having a rubbish day we can compare the inside of our lives to the outside of someone else’s. So while the happy, sunny picture at the park doesn’t represent someone’s whole reality or even whole day, it’s what we see. And if we see that when sat in milk-stained clothes with greasy hair and our baby is having an ‘I hate everything’ day, it can feel like others have got this thing much more sussed.
They haven’t, though.
Everyone has tough times with their baby, everyone has days where things feel a bit rubbish. Even the most chilled out babies have their moments, and the photo you see of the mum looking glowing and relaxed is lovely, but things aren’t always perfect for her, either.
Just like parents, every baby is different, so comparing ourselves or them to others makes no sense. We are all on our own journey, and parenting is not a competition.
Of all the baby advice that is out there, whether on websites, social media or from random people in the supermarket who have no idea about you or your baby, perhaps what you need to remember is this:
You will carve your own path as a parent, and your baby will carve his in life. Everyone is just doing their best, and what you see online is never, ever the whole picture -- just a filtered moment.
Enjoy your baby, remember the tough parts don’t last. Don’t follow what’s on Facebook, follow your own path.
...You’ll both be happier for it.
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