Jumping into the world of parenting can feel incredibly overwhelming. Each day is filled with numerous decisions — breastfeed or bottle feed? Rock/nurse to sleep or cry-it-out? Use a pacifier? Work or stay home? …and this is just the beginning of the list. Even thinking about these decisions can increase anxiety. We can spend hours reading opinions online, only to be more confused than when we started. Here are a few practical tips to help you keep perspective amidst the endless mommy wars:
- Talk to your partner and figure out what the priorities are for your family and baby. What is right for one family, may not be right, or even possible, for your family. A lot of mom-guilt can be relieved when the comparison is dropped, and you simply consider what is best for your family.
- Look at research. Blogs and websites can give a wonderful sense of community with other moms, but they are not always the most helpful when making parenting decisions. When it comes to doing research online, it is important to determine if the resource is credible. Not all things people state (or quote) are true and people often say “research supports” without actually linking to any specific study. No wonder we get confused! One tip would be to look for peer-reviewed research, meaning the study has been reviewed by multiple experts to confirm its quality.
- Write out a simple pros and cons list. After looking into a topic and understanding both sides, write out the positives and negatives of each. This can give you a great visual to help make a decision easier.
- Consider your personal values. It will be hard to stick to any decision if it is not in accordance with you and your family’s values.
- Evaluate what you are capable of physically and emotionally. If you’re so sleep deprived, you’re putting your toothbrush in the fridge, it may be time to start making some changes for your own health! Taking care of yourself emotionally, physically and mentally will have positive impacts on your child.
- Finally, be gracious with yourself! You will make mistakes in parenting. All you can do is make the best decision, based off of the information you have. Loving your baby is the most important and can cover the ups and downs of parenting decisions.
Written by Courtney Thompson, MA, LPC
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