Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Reading to Learn

It is no secret I like to be in control ("My Crazy").  It is also no secret that I'm a passionate person- I feel intensely. Thankfully, I also have an incredibly practical brain.  Although that brain doesn't always move as quickly as my emotions do, it will catch up and kick in eventually.  I know I cannot control everything even if my instincts want to.  I also know I don't want to control everything even if my instincts want me to.

There have been many times in my life where I have felt especially out of control: my brother's drug addiction, infertility struggles, miscarriage, being entrusted with educating 11 and 12 year old humans, and most recently, SO MUCH of all things parenting.  While raising tiny humans, there are many things that happen, on the daily, that feel out of a parent's control.  You can provide the safest home environment where things are baby proofed, eyes are always watching, dangerous things are out of the way.  Do accidents happen? UM YES.  You can try to be consistent with a schedule, have bedtime routines down to a science.  Do sleep regressions and sleepless nights still occur?  I'm yawning while saying yes.  You can limit or completely stay away from screen time and TV time, but darn it do my kids still know who Marshall and Rubble are, what YouTube is, and how to send a Snapchat.  Ah!

It's overwhelming what I CAN'T control sometimes (okay in fully honesty, it's overwhelming all the time- I've got "My Crazy" after all).  But I've realized that one of my best tools for success is READING to LEARN.

When I feel especially out of control, clueless, confused, conflicted (woah- those all start with c!) instead of shutting down, giving up, or having a breakdown I...

-Shut down by locking myself in my room to read every article and put on hold every book about the topic I am struggling with.

-Have given up thinking I can do it all and do it on my own-  I let experts and research support me in making decisions or plans on stuff I know NOTHING about.

-Okay, I still have the occasional breakdown, but I wipe my eyes, get out the book I've purchased or borrowed, a notebook, and writing utensil and get to learning.

Lately, I've become a huge book pusher on people and am constantly observed talking someone's ear off about my last "game changer" of a book.  I'm sure it gets annoying at times (thank you, people I love, for dealing with me), but I also find myself in situations more confident, well-versed, and knowledgeable.

I cannot pinpoint for sure when this shift began to take place- I didn't used to be such a reader of informational text, but what I've realized through self-reflection is how important it has become to me to know stuff- like really know stuff: the different approaches, the recent research, the various 'plans of action.'  Reading all I can on a topic is something I CAN control even if the actual situation or milestone isn't.  Knowledge is power for sure.

I'll be so honest that I do not fully trust my gut.  I have tendencies and deep seeded philosophies on teaching and parenting, for example, but before I fully commit to my gut and make a decision or try something new, I need to be able to justify, to myself truly, of WHY I do what I do.  I need to validate my gut with research, data, statistics, recent studies, and align myself with others who articulate my beliefs through books much better and more beautifully than I ever could probably.  

Reading to learn has taught me SOOO much about this most important job of parenting- potty training, sleep training, breast feeding, child development, sibling rivalry, executive functioning, brain development, validating and labeling feelings, love languages, cooperation, problem solving... I could never capture it here- never.

I am absolutely beyond a doubt certain I am a better mother because of the reading I've done.  

Does that mean reading like crazy before you start potty training or learning all you can at preventing sibling rivalry before it even creeps up or having a plan A, B, C, D, for sleep training when your kids are still infants is the RIGHT way to do things?!  No way. Heavens no.  Absolutely not.

It's MY right way to do things... for now... and that's what truly matters.

More blogs on some of my favorite 'game changer' books to come soon ;) 

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