Three ways to tune into your parenting instincts

written by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz

I recently asked readers of my website Seek, Act, Love if they could go back to those first days of motherhood and tell themselves one thing – what would it be? And as you can imagine, the answers I received were so interesting and insightful.

Relax and enjoy yourself, this exhausted and terrified feeling doesn’t last forever!

Take it slowly and enjoy every minute…don’t rush back to life…people, places, chores…they’re not going anywhere.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, your doing the best you can.

Acknowledge the truth that your new child’s ONLY need is to be cared for and loved by you – it has no agenda, it doesn’t want fancy baby furniture or toys or clothes.

Time and time again, however, the words “trust your instincts” kept coming up. “Trust yourself.” “Listen to your instincts.” “Trust your motherly instincts.”

It was the one consistent in all the words of wisdom. All very well and good to say that now, often years after those first crazy days have faded into a blissful memory. But what about at the time you really need it?

When I think back to those early days and weeks of first-time motherhood, I didn’t think I had any instincts! I was so overwhelmed with a baby that wouldn’t feed or sleep, I felt like I was doing everything wrong. And when the various midwives and family members kept telling me to trust my instincts, I thought I was going to scream, “I don’t know what my instincts are!”

But, of course, I did.

I just couldn’t hear them.

I was scared that I was doing it all wrong. That it is was ME who was unable to settle my baby and comfort her. So instead of trusting myself and focusing on the love I had for my new daughter, I went from midwife to midwife asking – begging – for advice. And of course, in the end, it was my instincts and love that healed both my daughter and me. Once I learnt to listen to them.

So how do you tap into your natural instincts as a mother when you are terrified, tired and overwhelmed? How do you cut through all the advice and conflicting words of wisdom, and do what you know is right?

If I could go back to that scared new mum, what would I say?

Thankfully, since those days five years ago, I’ve done a lot of thinking, researching and practicing ways to tap into my own wisdom. No, I don’t always get it right, and sometimes I still find myself putting faith into someone else’s words more than my own, but I have come up with three ways of listening to my own instincts again.

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How do you tune into your instincts as a parent? What would you say to yourself, if you could go back to those first days of being a parent?


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Amy Taylor-Kabbaz

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz is a writer, broadcaster and mother to three young children. After more than a decade covering breaking news and current affairs for ABC radio around the country, her "traditional" career took an unexpected turn after the birth of her first daughter.