If you're like every other parent on social media you probably scroll through at least a half dozen articles or videos about various aspects of parenting each time you connect to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Depending on the topic, or if you find the title catchy, you might click on two or three of these articles and read them...you might even mentally put what you believe is a useful piece of advice in the back of your mind to try the next time you find yourself in that particular parenting conundrum. Or, maybe you get a good laugh from a fellow parent who nails it with humor about whatever stage of development or misbehavior your child is currently showcasing.
The online world is saturated with parenting advice, opinions, strategies, behavior modification techniques, discipline methods....
And, I admit, I am a contributor. I share my parenting stories through this venue (or things I observe during my own parenting travels) in order to connect with parents and in some way let them know they are not alone in their parenting triumphs and struggles.
Because I believe parenting can feel isolating at times.
Listen, even if you've got a solid group of great-listening-well-meaning friends and/or family as support, raising kids is often a one-man (or woman) job. You can get all the tips and compassionate listening you want from fellow human beings, the Internet, articles shared through social media, even from your pediatrician...but, implementing the actual parenting comes down to you.
Which is why it's more important than ever to be able to (a) tune into, and (b) trust your gut instinct.
If I whittled down my parenting advice to one vital piece, it would be this...The answers to your parenting challenges can be found within you.
Two words come into play when practicing the art of hearing and using your intuition...
And since it's my privilege to help moms and dads do this through parent coaching, I thought I'd share with you a little about how to take good care of yourself in order to be able to drown out all the noise (and well-meaning advice) and connect with your own inner voice and wisdom.
It is one step, one decision, executed.
Spend five minutes when you wake up in the morning, and five minutes at the end of the day in total quiet. You deserve, and will benefit from ten minutes of stillness everyday.
Sit in a comfortable position, lay your hands (palms up) on your knees, thighs, or wherever they feel most natural, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of your breathing. If a thought comes into your mind, notice it and then visualize yourself doing something to release it (I personally visualize putting my right hand in the air and open it while pushing my hand away from my body), release the thought and return to listening to your breath as you inhale and exhale. Do this as many times as necessary. If it helps, set an alarm on your phone for 5 minutes giving yourself full permission to check out for this time period (after making sure your phone is in silent mode).
Once you have practiced sitting in stillness twice a day for five minutes (if you can work up to more minutes, go for it!), then add an intention to the beginning of your quiet time. For example: My intention is to gain clarity around my frustration and anxiety about my daughter's decision to return to a friendship I see as harmful to her. State it and then go straight into focusing on listening to your breath...refocus after releasing a thought that may pop into your mind...at the end of your quiet, self-care practice why you are unsettled about your daughter's situation should become much clearer to you.
Then you can decide how to proceed best with that information.
In Part 2 of this post topic, I will walk you through a recent parenting struggle I experienced before putting this technique to use.
Until then...5 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes in the evening.
You are deserving and in need of stillness and quiet in this often very noisy world.