Your child is entering a new stage and you need to make a parenting decision about how to handle some new behaviours…So you hop onto one of the Facebook Mummy groups you’re in and ask a simple question to help you decide.
The answer should be unanimous, right? The research should be clear?
Ha! If only…
Actually, you find out that there are 40 different ways to handle your child’s new behaviours and 8 of them will cause permanent psychological trauma to your child if not applied to. the. letter.
Now you have five articles and ten counter-articles to read before you can make your decision, and all that’s at stake is your child’s lifelong mental health…
So how do we break the cycle of information overwhelm and regain confidence in our decision-making as mothers?
Prioritise important decisions
Some decisions are inconsequential and don’t require large amounts of research and consideration. Other decisions will have a big impact, whether immediate or over a long span of time.
Of course, everyone who has a strong opinion on a particular parenting topic will be convinced that THEIR hobby horse is super important and has very serious implications but you need to decide for yourself which decisions warrant lots of research and which don’t.
An important factor here is your mental clarity and space at any given time. When you have a new baby, you won’t have much energy left over for poring over research papers and agonising over decisions. Or maybe the school year has just started and you don’t have the mental capacity to rethink healthy lunch box options.
If your friend posts an article on Facebook about a common household product that’s just been linked to cancer but you’re feeling overwhelmed with simply keeping your kids alive today, it’s okay to just shelve that article for now. It’s okay to say, “I don’t have the mental space to look into that right now.”
You don’t need to be on top of everything!
Weigh the risks (risk assessment)
We often have this idea that as mothers that it’s our job to keep our children safe and healthy at all costs. So we try to categorise everything as “safe” or “dangerous”; “healthy” or “unhealthy”.
In reality, most things in this life come with varying degrees of risk.
It’s up to us to weigh those risks. Decide with your husband what level of risk you’re comfortable with for your kids. For example, our daughter fractured her arm falling from a tree once but we still allow the kids to climb trees because we’ve decided that this is an acceptable level of risk when compared with all the benefits they get from climbing trees.
Being aware of the risks and taking ownership of your decisions will help you to combat false guilt in the event your child actually does hurt themselves.
Surround yourself with wise mums
Get some mum friends who are a few steps ahead of you, in terms of their children’s ages, and whose parenting you admire.
Having a few key women who know you and your kids well gives you somewhere to turn for advice when it seems like everyone does something different. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to do exactly what they suggest, but having women you trust who are living their lives in front of you is so valuable.
Not to mention all you will learn from them just by observation!
Study your child
Lastly, it’s important to know your unique child. Knowing their temperament, their strengths and their struggles will help you to sift through so much information because you will quickly learn to chuck out the advice that is irrelevant to them.
It can be hard to grow in confidence as a mum because just when we think we’ve got the hang of this parenting thing, our children go and change again!
But if you prioritise which decisions are important and which risks are worth taking, you will grow more and more confident and steady in your decision-making, even as your kids keep changing. Know that you will never have everyone’s approval on your decisions, and that’s okay.
Coordinator, Tuggeranong MOPS