As a Mum of two I often find myself striving for parenting perfection, but what is this notion of the perfect parent that we all seem to be striving to? Who’s perfection am I striving to reach? Mine? My children’s? My family’s? My friend’s?... Societies?
In our fast-paced Western society we seem to have such high expectations of perfection and put so much pressure on ourselves to be, or at least seem to be, smiley and shiny all the time - to have it all 'sorted' from the word go… However, in reality this is not realistic and can cause undue feelings of isolation, self-doubt and guilt.
It's just a phase....
One of my most used phrases since having my two is, 'it's just a phase'... From my experience, I believe in taking one day at a time, with each day bringing something new and something different for us to love, learn, contend with or rejoice… or as I often find, experience all four in a single moment – emotional overload! Ultimately, parenting is a journey, a personal journey that should be centred individually around us and our children as they grow.
There seems to be so much advice and guidance (and opinion) given to us from professionals, family, friends and the media on how we should or should not be caring for and responding to our babies, so much so that we can feel almost detached from our own instinctive abilities and therefore lose trust in ourselves and in our babies - especially when the advice we're given is so often contradictory making caring for our babies even more confusing! Not to mention the added pressure all of this puts on us and our babies to conform and perform so that we can ultimately reach this notion of parenting perfection.
Lets get back to basics
For this reason, I'm a great believer in getting back to basics in parenting and following our natural instincts; trusting ourselves; trusting our babies and trusting thousands of years of evolution - us humans are pretty fine-tuned (to put it mildly) to care for our babies and our babies are just as fine-tuned to ensure they receive the care they need from us to promote their survival and positive development as they grow. Whenever I have gone against my natural instincts with my two, I'm always reminded not to – even now at three and five!
"You are the best expert on your baby.
Your baby is your best teacher.
Trust in yourself. Trust in your baby"
A key message during my Sunflower Baby Massage classes is that we are the best experts on our babies and our babies are our best teachers. One of my favourite elements of being an IAIM Baby Massage instructor is facilitating a quiet space away from the throes of 21st Century living for parents to get back to basics and spend quality-time simply focusing on and communicating with their babies through positive nurturing touch.... and what a privilege it is to witness the endless loving gazes, the gentle interactions and instinctive attunement parents naturally have with their babies, no matter what the circumstance or how much sleep they have (or haven't) had the night before – so often I leave my classes feeling in awe and totally inspired by my Sunflower families.
All in it together
A main aim during my classes is that parents feel comfortable in sharing the highs, lows and pressures of parenting in a safe, supportive and non-judgemental space. At the end of the day, we are all in it together regardless of our background, our parenting choices, whether we have one baby or more these times, as well as being full of love and joy, are also full of transitions, learning and quite often a side order of guilt too! It's not all smiles all the time - plus, let’s face it sleep deprivation at any stage is actual torture!
A final message...
Overall, I think an important message to share is that we are not alone and although it may seem like others have it all sorted and all is social media shiny on the outside... no one truly has it all sorted, all the time – we are all on our own journeys. So with this in mind, I’ll close this blog post with a little quotation of wisdom that I recently came across...
“We have to stop comparing our insides to other people's outsides.”
Sunflower Baby Massage
Certified Infant Massage Instructor
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INFANT MASSAGE