I have been giving parents advice for 2 decades. There, I said it, I dated myself, but it is true. With two degrees in education, I shared information long before I had children. I studied the latest research and used my own life experiences (as a nanny, a teacher in a daycare center, a home visitor, a special needs teacher, and a pediatrician’s assistant of sorts.) I based my teachings on what I consider practical, real life experiences, no Apps.
I pride myself on the fact that I give advice that is real, things I do with my own children. I have been in the emergency room with my child who has asthma. I breastfed my children. I used many different sleep training methods and wondered for 2 years if my second child would ever sleep through the night! But I never used Apps. Maybe it is because I am a list maker. Maybe it’s because I am just getting old (but I seriously doubt that is it.) Who knows.
So when I meet new parents who document pee and poop on the latest and greatest baby App, I can’t help but smile. Is it our own insecurities that make us dependent on these technological advances? Do these Apps help us become more knowledgeable or more unsure? This is when it becomes so important to expand your parenting village and learn about real life experiences. Because the App can’t relate to you personally.
In a time of technology (in the interest of full disclosure, I am writing on my new ipad), real life trumps all. Living through the early days of a sleepless newborn who just can’t get the latch right was valuable. Crying as I returned to work and learned to trust extended family to care for my babies made me stronger. Toilet training a stubborn toddler made me vulnerable in ways I cannot describe. They made me a parent who makes mistakes and learned from them.
Instead of using an App as I stumbled through each experience, I used my village. The mothers I met along my own parenting journey were supportive. Coaches who taught me new ways to inspire my children and taught them the value of teamwork. A knowledgeable pediatrician, or in my case, many, helped my husband and I make tough medical decisions. My family who shower my children and me with love no matter what. A collection of people to give me more strength and information to be used with the technology.
If you are pregnant, think about who you might be able to lean on when you need advice. If you are a new parent find a way to get out of the house to meet people who are in a similar life circumstance. Despite the weather (here in New England it is going to get ugly soon) go out-go to a meet up, a playgroup, or a library event. Go talk to a live person instead of relying on an App. You will make friends who will make you laugh at the most difficult situations. You can learn tips that may sound crazy, but actually work. And you will grow, as a parent and as a person.
So use the Apps that help you, but remember to reach out and create your parenting village first.