I've stopped reading parenting books. I quit parenting books about halfway into the first year of raising our daughter. It was too much. It was too exhausting to keep up, too overwhelming to stay informed, and each day that I fell further behind in keeping up I felt like a failure. And so, I gathered all* our parenting books and Marie Kondo'd their bums far away from my minimalist-inspired home.
I've decided to rely on instincts. I do this to protect myself from the anxiety that takes over while living in a world filled with too many choices, too much advice, and too many smartphone social media pop-ups.
Not a day goes by that I am not exposed to some article--whether through a direct email from the notorious baby-centered sites or something shared on Facebook--that warns, threatens and adds doubt to all parents alike.
We are living in a world of fear, and I don't have time for fear. I'm busy trying to juggle parenting, marriage and my career--let alone trying to find time to even write this article.
For the record, my child and I are sitting in a bakery while I down a cappuccino and keep her preoccupied with a pen and my To-Do list. Let's talk about the overwhelming stress that comes from a perfectly beautiful To-Do list covered in toddler scribbles. This is a stress I will choose to ignore today.
But, the stress from parenting books I cannot ignore. While pregnant I did a great job of reading the traditional "What to Expect Books." Much of the advice is useful, especially today where the rules for when to eat peanut butter and when to avoid it seem to continually change. Also not cool.
After our child was born, I graduated to the "First Year" books and others on surviving a newborn, ensuring they survive, and how to find time to sleep.
Now that we have a three-year old, we are deep into the world of raising a daughter with an extremely strong-will. I WILL be seeking books on strong-willed children. Naturally, The Beau recently ordered one, which happens to be the EXACT same strong-willed parenting book my parents purchased while raising me. That should give you a good idea of what we're dealing with--God help us. :)
These days, I rely on instincts. In fact, The Beau is the parent reading the parenting books. I had us covered through pregnancy. Now he's taking a turn and I do not object. Unless he wants me to join in on the reading.
Sure, issues will arise here and there. Often I Google the issue only to find what I already know. I'm part of a network of local Facebook moms and I often reach out to them for advise. And then The Beau and I both have wonderful mothers who we also reach out to on occasion when we're stuck and clueless.
But, these days I rely on instincts and it's been more powerful and uplifting then I could ever imagine. It's as if a parenting-weight has been lifted. Which is great since the weight has been replaced by the stress of raising a strong-willed daughter with a determination like no other.
*Of course, we still refer to parenting books on an as needed basis. I mean, I'm not completely crazy and stubborn. For those of you with a newborn, I cannot endorse The Natural Baby Sleep Solution enough. Should we have another child someday, this is one book I will be re-reading.