Amongst all the advice given to me when I was pregnant, the best was this – listen to your intuition, you know what’s best for your baby. I was quite looking forward to experiencing this thing called “Mother’s Intuition”. To be able to instinctively know what to do would be very handy, especially when it came to caring for a tiny human being who couldn’t speak. I imagined being blissfully in-tune with my baby, able to know and meet its every need. We would be happy and content together.
Then I had Jake – and the picture was very different. I was tired, overwhelmed and confused from the beginning. Jake seemed to cry constantly as a newborn. I found the sound of his cry distressing – he was depending on me to meet his needs but I didn’t know what, of all the possible things, he needed. When I breastfed, it didn’t look at all like the peaceful scenes of bonding on the pamphlets the hospital gave me – I was awkward & stressed, unsure if my technique was right or Jake was getting enough milk. Every tiny baby care task seemed enormous because I’d never had to change a nappy, get a burp out or strap a baby safely into its carseat before. And how could I help him get to sleep?! Nothing seemed to come naturally to me.
Where was this mother’s intuition when I needed it?
I concluded that mother’s intuition must be a myth. Or maybe I just wasn’t a “natural” mother.
So I approached caring for my baby in the same way I did everything else – with lots of mental work. I followed my midwife’s advice to write down the details of Jake’s feeds, sleeps and nappies to try and find a pattern (there wasn’t one). I read copious books on baby care, trying to follow them to the letter. I’m good at following a plan…but my baby wasn’t. I watched a dvd on “tired signs” to learn how to tell which stage of tiredness/alertness Jake was in so I could put him to bed at exactly the right moment that he would drift straight off to sleep. But the signals were so subtle I couldn’t even spot some of them on the close-up dvd footage, let alone in my own baby.
Looking back, I can see now that it wasn’t a case of mother’s intuition not being real. It was just that Id’ never learned to value my intuition, let alone how to use it. Like most people, I was taught to approach tasks with determination and plenty of brain work – planning, organising, analysing… That’s how I had done everything in my life. My thinking skills had earned me a degree and helped me to plan for and assess my students in my work as a teacher. They were valuable but…
our souls speak in feelings. The few times I had experienced intuition before motherhood was when a deep, still knowing had unexpectedly come over me about big, difficult decisions I had to make, such as to leave teaching. Our souls also speak with physical feelings, such as goosebumps and gut feelings.
As I’ve become more familiar with the ways of the soul and, when I’m living in that intuitive, feeling space, I get spontaneous, seemingly-from-no-where ideas quite regularly. They help me in many ways, giving me little nudges in the right direction, including in my parenting. My intuition will tell me the question my son needs me to ask him or tell me to give him a hug for no apparent reason. There is no doubt that my intuition is a valuable parenting tool.
So, I know now that intuition is real – and powerful. I do, though, question whether it’s “Mother’s intuition”. I believe this intuition is available to Dads, children and everyone else also. A mother may use it to help her in her parenting role but it’s there to help anyone in any situation.
So, how to use their intuition is one of the life skills we need to encourage and teach our children. In some ways, it’s smarter than our brains. Up close to our circumstances, our brains see the confusion of pixels that make up our lives. Our intuition sees the bigger picture, it has clarity. I want my boys to have a connection to their intuition that they can use just as effectively as their cognitive skills. Here are some simple ideas for nurturing intuition in our children (and ourselves).
3 WAYS TO NURTURE INTUITION IN CHILDREN
Value their intuition and ask them to use it. By default, we tend to ask our children what they think about something. But we can also ask them to feel a response. eg. “what feels right to you?”, “how does that feel?”
Get them involved in mindful and non-productive activities. Sensory activities, like playdough and painting are good examples. These activities give our children a chance to stop thinking so much and be present so they can sense their intuition.
Encourage them to notice their body’s signals. If we share our own experiences of intuition eg. “That gave me shivers”, they will start noticing and sharing their own.
IN SUMMARY – BETTER THAN INSTRUCTION MANUALS
While we complain that babies don’t come with instructional manuals, The Universe has given us something even better – our intuition. It will answer any question we have – but we must be willing to ask and ready to listen. My essay 3 Questions Every Parent Needs to Ask Themselves shows how I am learning to communicate with my intuition to know how best to respond to my children in any given moment.
It takes discipline not to allow my thoughts to carry me away from my intuition. Typically, I get stuck in my head and can become too overwhelmed by my thoughts to hear my intuition. But, the more I still my mind and feel my way through life, the more relaxed and trusting I become, knowing I can depend on myself to be the mother my boys need.
Much love to you and your little souls,
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