SO MUCH INFORMATION!!!
Whether you are a parent or not, you’ve probably heard the old adage Kids don’t come with a manual. While this is very true, there are still hundreds of books, apps and websites out there just waiting to tell you how to parent, cure your child’s illness and read every baby cue ever studied. (Mind you, I write this with acute awareness that you are reading it via my website or Twitter.) It can all be a little overwhelming.
So, what is a mom to do? Your baby can’t talk (or your older child won’t) and you are left feeling exasperated, exhausted and frustrated. Essentially you are judging your own inability to figure it out as a reflection of your value as a mother. After spending time guessing and running through the usual (diaper, hungry, tired, hot, cold…), who has time to read or research?! And if you do read, does it help? Or just make you feel more confused and worse?
Some simple tips:
- Read only if you have the time and believe it will be helpful. Don’t read books simply because someone gave it to you as a gift or because your best friend swears by it. Look for books that are well organized and have a Table of Contents and Index. Look up just what you are having an issue with and read only about that topic at the time. If you find a book that seems to speak to you (through it’s organization, advice and clarity) then use that as a go to resource. And please remember (this is very important) there are many baby books but not all books are about YOUR baby.
- Your pediatrician and other doctors/nurses are your best resource(s) for any illness related questions. Many first time moms worry they will be considered “high maintenance” or “over-reactive” if they call their pediatrician’s office. In fact, many pediatricians prefer you call them rather than blindly try to figure out what is going on with your child. And, many pediatrician offices have a nurse who spends much of her day answering questions for parents so you are not interrupting the doctor’s day. And this means you don’t have to actually take your child to the office every time something seems off. I know it seems easy to pull up WebMD or another “medical” website/app but in the end, it’s best for your child’s doctor to be managing their health from the beginning of any new illness.
- Everything I said above about books is also applicable to websites and apps. The amount of information available in our digital driven society can be quite overwhelming. If you are inclined to research or use site/apps as resources, please check that they are evidence/fact based and utilize more than one for a variety of information, advice and directions.
- Parental Advice: This can be most overwhelming. Often it is unsolicited, and given in person or via a text/email conversation. It is difficult to say “I’m going to think about it (or research) it more before trying what you suggest.” What you can say, however, is “oh, I hadn’t considered that, let me talk to (partner) about that idea.” Or, simply “Hhhmmm, I hadn’t thought of that, thanks for sharing how you handle…” These responses give you the ability to keep things very open ended and not commit to use their parenting style or approach.
- Something that I often encourage parents (particularly new parents) to do is to make a list of their “trusted resources”. Identify 3-4 other moms (or dads if they are the primary caretakers) who you trust in general. Try to pick a variety of people…maybe one family member (a sister or cousin with kids), pick someone who has a child your child’s age, and pick someone who has children older than your child, if you have a friend/family member who is a nurse you could include this person in your list as well. Anytime you have a question, big or small, draft an email (or text/DM) and send it to each of the 3-4 people separately (just copy and paste the same message). Wait for replies. This will either give you several ideas/options to try or will give you a general consensus for how to handle the situation. Either way, you get concise, focused information, addressing exactly what your question is and you can thank them all in writing and then weigh the options in the privacy of your own home.
Now go look through all the baby books you have and throw half of them out! 🙂