Parenting advice. There's a lot of it out there—speakers and authors telling you what to do, other moms offering up often unsolicited advice, message boards where everyone is free to weigh in, and even your own mother, or mother-in-law, or step-mother, or grandmother, with well-meaning advice . . . that you can't always take.
As my second daughter turns 18 months, there is something I'm coming to realize about parenting—it's a lot like creativity. Thanks to a session we Yummy Mummy bloggers had recently with the talented and oh so brilliant Leslie Ehm, I've been thinking a lot about this.
What do parenting and creativity have in common?
For starters, they're both something we all possess—the ability to be creative and the ability to be a parent.
You know those times when you're feeling so creative that you can't stop the ideas from flowing? Whether you're writing a blog post, creating a painting, or solving a problem . . . you're just nailing it! If you know what I mean, you probably also know the feeling of being completely creatively blocked. When no matter what you do, you can't generate a single creative thought that you'd deem worthy.
The same is true for parenting.
As a mom, you've probably experienced it. There are times when you're on your game, when you’re making decisions left, right, and centre, handling things your kids throw at you, riding the wave of their emotions without getting knocked down. Those moments occur when you're in, what Leslie refers to as, "the flow."
Essentially, your inner critic, or ego (you know the one that serves up all the self-doubt and criticism) is keeping its pesky mouth shut, and you have a clear line to your "gut" or instinct. That's where all the best stuff resides. When you're parenting in the flow, you don't need Google to tell you what to do. You know how you feel, and you know that you can trust yourself to make the best decisions for your kids.
When you're in the flow, the only place you need to turn for parenting advice is inward.
But how do you get there?
Begin by having a little faith. You know what you're doing. Your mommy instincts kicked in the moment your baby was placed in your arms for the first time—all you need to do is listen to it. Tune in to yourself and tune out all the background noise.
Stop the self-doubt! Remember that not everyone will do things like you do. When you do make a decision, don't feel you need to justify it to other moms on Facebook or in your book club. Just because someone doesn't agree with your decision, doesn't make it wrong. If the decisions you're making are right for you and your kids, then they're right.
Next, give yourself a break.If you're going to parent in the flow, you can't be exhausted, stressed-out, or on your last legs. You need a little rest, some self-care, and some time to breathe without your kids around. The best decisions are made from a place of feeling good about yourself.
That said, not every parenting decision will come instantly. If you don't know what to do right away, don't assume you need to turn to sources outside yourself. Try instead checking in. Free flow journaling can work well. For me, taking a bath or shower and "turning off" my brain often result in the best ideas. Solve parenting challenges in the same way you'd deal with writer's block. If your thing is running, or walking, or hitting the gym—do that. If it's cooking, or meditating, or gardening—do that. Give yourself some space to get into your "zone" and watch how easily the solutions will come to you.
I'm not saying it doesn't take a village to raise a child—because it totally does. I'm just saying, you can handle a lot more than you give yourself credit for (and so can I!).
Strangers, friends, in-laws: No matter who is offering it, these are the perfect 15 responses to use when you are given unsolicited advice.
Want to be a rock star mom? Well all you need to do is this and you're in the club.