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What do you do when you have a parenting challenge you’re trying to solve?
Perhaps, something like this…
First, you Google it. You read a few articles, before something else demands your attention. You check your parenting books and search online for any other relevant books on the topic. Then, you text your friend, who has a child of similar age, and ask her what she thinks. You ask your mum and post your question in a Facebook group for mums. Then, you decide to check Google again – this time getting through all the search results on the first page before changing your search criteria and reading some more. You watch a You Tube video addressing the problem. You find a few “experts” online and search their sites for more information. Next, you ask a few of your mothers group friends and a friend with much older children, whose opinion you respect. You sit down with your husband to talk about it and then call your sister (who doesn’t have children). You consider calling the Paediatrician or Child Health Nurse. Lastly, you read a few of the discussion threads in mum forums you are part of. Now you are really, really confused and still don’t have the answer.
Ok, this may be an exaggeration (or is it?), but we all do at least some of these things when we face a challenge in parenting. These things are not wrong in and of themselves. Sometimes, they can be really helpful! However, in combination, they have the potential to cause great stress and confusion, because there is just so much (often contradictory) information out there and it’s hard to evaluate the quality and accuracy. Plus, every child and situation is different. It’s no wonder we get overwhelmed!
Wait, something’s missing
I want to bring your attention to what’s missing in all this activity.
When you face a parenting challenge, do you check in with your intuition?
My son was walking, running and climbing for quite a while before he started to speak. He could say some words, but he wasn’t stringing sentences together like some of the other children his age. He communicated his needs well in other ways and I was good at anticipating his needs, so we managed fine.
My son had also had recurrent ear issues and we knew that if he couldn’t hear well, it could contribute to issues with his speech. But I wasn’t worried. I really felt that when he was ready, he would speak. However, people started to question whether we should get him checked. My father (who is a medical professional, but lives in another state), was particularly concerned. He raised it countless times and even checked my son’s ears himself every time we saw him (I am very grateful that he cares so much). If there’s one person who can get in my head, it’s my dad. And so, eventually, I ended up researching speech delays, scheduling hearing tests and visiting doctors.
In the end, my son suddenly started speaking. His vocabulary expanded rapidly and now, I’m lucky to get a word in edgewise most days. There really wasn’t anything wrong with my little chatterbox and my intuition knew it.
Knowing without conscious thought
Your intuition is a great asset in life, and in motherhood. If you listen to your intuition, it will help you navigate motherhood. It will help you gain clarity in challenges, make decisions faster and know how to respond to situations. Research studies have shown that using your intuition for decision making, rather than just your intellect, leads to better outcomes. Your intuition will help you identify what’s right for you and your children. By using your intuition more regularly, you’ll experience greater self-confidence while feeling happier and calmer.
Victor Shamas, a University Professor, who has conducted many studies on this topic, defines intuition as “knowing something without knowing how you know”. It’s an instinctive knowing rather than intellectual reasoning.
We all possess intuition, but just because we have it, doesn’t mean we believe in it, trust it, develop it, listen to it, or act on it.
When it comes to parenting, many of us doubt, ignore or dismiss what our intuition is telling us. We worry about what others think we “should” be doing or who they think we “should” be, rather than listening to what our intuition is saying is right for us. With so many experts telling us what to do and so many resources to refer to, we don’t have confidence in our own innate knowing. Many of us have also been taught to value rational thinking over intuition.
But consider this…
No one has spent as much time with your child as you. No one invests as much of themselves in your child as you. No one shares the connection with your child that you do (studies have even shown that an unborn baby’s DNA passes through to it’s mother’s organs, including her brain, and can remain long after giving birth).
Since the day your child was born, your brain has been storing information about them. You are also constantly and unconsciously reading your child’s verbal and non-verbal cues, to help you understand how they might be feeling or what they might be thinking.
All this helps you to just “know what to do”, without conscious thought.
In her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, Brene Brown says that:
“Intuition is not a single way of knowing – it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty, and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith, and reason”.
You hold a lot of knowledge and insight from many different sources. And using your intuition means that you trust that all this knowledge and insight will come together to reveal the right decisions and actions.
Using your intuition doesn’t mean that you know everything and that you should never accept expert advice. We’ve all felt at a complete loss and totally out of our depth at some point in motherhood (this is part of the uncertainty that Brene refers to). Remember, you can still do your research and get professional opinions. Just don’t forget to check in with your intuition. Your intuition is your most honest and accurate friend who will tell you what feels right or wrong.
The feeling might be a physical one; a flutter in your stomach, tightening of the chest, quickened heart rate or sweaty palms. It might also be an emotion; nervousness, calm, inspiration or peace. Some people hear their intuition like a voice in their head. With practice and awareness, you will learn to recognise your intuition.
How to hear your intuition
If you’re struggling to tune into your intuition, think about the things that might be getting in the way.
When you’re stressed and rushing, with constant noise and activity around you, it’s much harder to hear what your intuition is telling you. Perfectionism and the need to control things also make it hard to hear and follow your intuition.
So, to give your intuition a chance to be heard:
– Accept uncertainty and the fact that you can’t control everything
– Reduce the stress in your life and look after yourself – sleep, rest, nourish your body
– Take a break from the situation you are trying to solve
– Find a place to be still and quiet (even for a few minutes). Let your mind relax and wander
– Put your phone down, because devices keep your mind constantly occupied
– Pose the question you want answered, for example “How can I help my child get to sleep at night?”
– Be present and notice how your body feels and what your mind turns to
– Use a journal to record all your thoughts about the situation and reflect on what you have written.
Your intuition knows the answer but you need quiet and calm to hear it. The good news is that the more you listen to and use your intuition, the more accurate and accessible it will become. And the more you will feel like you can trust it.
So as you can see, lovely mum, your intuition can be your invaluable friend and guide in motherhood.
How often do you tune into your intuition currently? Would you like to tune into it more? If so, let’s start making a change right now.
What can you do, from today, to help you listen to your intuition more often?