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Why I Ditched the Parenting Books

This post is sponsored by Disney’s Find Your Voice contest. Visit the official contest site to see how you can use your voice to win a trip to LA for a VIP experience and other great prizes!

534974_10102929380330183_2066374570_nWhen I found out that I was pregnant with Harlan, one of the first things I did was rush to the book store to purchase every single parenting book I could get my hands on. We weren’t expecting to get pregnant, so the idea of being a parent kind of snuck up on me… and it snuck up on me fast.

For the next nine months, I ditched my issues of InStyle magazine for any text related to parenting and pregnancy. I wanted everything to be perfect for my little girl when she entered this world, so I sought out as much advice as I could get. Even if that advice came from a stranger in a parenting book.

Those first few weeks after we brought Harlan home from the hospital were brutal. Everyone tells you it’s tough, but no one told me it was this tough. Harlan had horrible reflux and colic, which made it nearly impossible for her to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time, even in the middle of the night. My husband and I would take turns rocking her up and down our hallway in the early hours of the morning trying desperately not to go crazy from the lack of sleep.

Rather than listening to my instinct and letting her sleep in the swing where she was upright and comfortable, I followed the advice from those lovely sleep books that told me to only let her sleep in her crib, otherwise she would get used to sleeping in everything else and Harlan’s sleep would forever be tarnished.

We went the next nine months with a baby who slept in her own bed, but got up every two hours. It was the hardest nine months that I have ever gone through. I was a working mom running on little to no rest, with a baby that refused to sleep and a husband that was working in a completely different state.

I was miserable. I tried to do it all, just as all of those parenting books told me to do, but I just wasn’t happy. And more importantly, my baby wasn’t happy either. I wanted our life to be perfect and it was far from it.

Two years later, I found out that I was pregnant with Avery. Being pregnant with a toddler running around is completely different than being pregnant with your first. You really don’t have time to focus on yourself; you have to put most of your attention on your little one. I did not read any parenting books during my pregnancy with Avery. Not because I didn’t intend to, but because I simply didn’t have the time.

When she was born, I immediately felt a sense of calmness wash over me. Everything was going to be okay, no matter what I decided to do. After we took her home, I wanted to start to picking up those parenting books so that I could remember how to do the newborn stage all over again. After a couple of days of putting it off, things around the house were going well. Avery was sleeping, Harlan was adjusting to being a big sister, and life was good as a family of four. All without reading one piece of parenting literature. It was then that I realized that I don’t need those books to tell me how to parent — I need me to tell me how to parent.

For the next four months, Avery slept in her swing every single night. It was the only way that she would sleep through the night. Now, nearly a year and a half later, she sleeps better than anyone in our family and loves sleeping in her own bed. I don’t think any parenting book would have told you that.

My motherly instincts are nearly always right and I know how to be the best mother to my kids, because they are mine. I had finally found the voice within myself and it felt so good to let it out.

In honor finding my voice, Harlan and I have decided to sing you a song as a part of  Disney’s “Find Your Voice” singing contest.

[videopost src='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuUouSXXFok']

 

For more details about the contest and to find out how you can share your voice for a chance to win, visit the contest’s official site.

More from Lauren on Baby’s First Year:

Read more from Lauren at her personal blog, A Mommy in the City, where she chronicles her life living in New York City with a suburban mentality. For more updates, follow Lauren on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram! Check out more of Lauren’s Babble posts at Babble Baby.

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