As we get older peer pressure becomes less and less of an issue. Or does it? Many parents today are always looking at the parent next to them to find out what's "normal." They worry if their kids are meeting the right milestones, getting enough sleep and even taking the right classes. Welcome to the world of Parent Pressure?
In this day and age we of have so much information at our fingertips we often start our parenting lives with the highest of expectations. We flock to social media to get ideas for our baby shower; infant products and tips on how to avoid those dreaded stretch marks. But while we are online we might visit the boards on Pinterest showing off parents perfectly decorated nursery's and piles of stockpiled breast milk and cloth diapers. We begin to thinking that that is normal and those are just your typical run of the mill parents. We start putting pressure on ourselves to get it all "right" before we even get to know what "it" is. When a new parent doesn't get to meet those expectations they might consider themselves a failure. Developing unrealistic expectations of what life should be like is a dangerous game to play. One of the reasons I built Twiniversity was so parents can get a real behind-the-scenes feel of what life will be like with twins and we try to always give our readers a dose of reality. Sure we cover some of the glitz and glamor too but we try to balance it all.
Twiniversity tips for avoiding Parent Pressure
Set short-term goals for yourself. Whatever you decide to do (breastfeeding, cloth diapering, making your own baby food, etc.) set your expectations low. Start off week by week and grow from there. Example: If you are considering breastfeeding, don't worry about how long your coworker managed to exclusively breastfeed, just worry about yourself. Yes, ask her for tips and tricks, but don't worry about much else. Not everyone can breastfeed a week let alone a year or two. You need to weigh a lot of options to figure out what's going to work best for you and your family and setting short-term goals might be the way you'll feel like you're having the most success.
Don't try to keep up with the Jones's. Sure, your neighbor's baby might have slept through the night out of the womb while you're still struggling after nine months, but not everyone is so lucky. Or maybe your neighbors have the most extravagant of baby gear and all you can afford is second-hand goodies. You can't concern yourself with any of that, you just have to look out for you and your people and also stay confident that you are doing your best.
Stop the screen time! If reading blogs about a family of eight who homeschools their children, runs their own charity all while making daily meals for the homeless makes you nuts because you can't even manage to brush your teeth before 4pm, STOP READING IT! Maybe your quest for more information is taking time away from you figuring out things for yourself. The answers aren't always out there, sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and play a little trial and error to find how to best manage your day.
Be your best you and hold your head high. Always remember that NO ONE is perfect. All you can do is be your best. Stay confident that your best is your best and accept that.
Don't get me wrong, I too fell victim of Parent Pressure and thanks to that in addition to Post-Partum Depression, let's just say that the first year of my twins life was fun. I was constantly criticizing myself for the errors I was making and how I was a total failure as a parent. From breastfeeding to my marriage, I felt like I was failing. After a while of feeling bluer than blue, I sought out friends and talked it through. Even my friends who I thought had it all figured out were a hot mess underneath they just faked it better than I did. If you should start to feel like your drowning in parent pressure seek out an ear. Either in person or online, but don't carry the weight all by yourself. There's no need for that.
There are parenting support groups around the country. If you have trouble finding one, your best tip will be to ask your pediatrician or contact your local baby store, they will probably have just what you're looking for.
Good luck and don't let Parent Pressure keep you down.