Times when my mum instincts really paid off
At times my mum instincts make me look like a highly skilled Jedi master. I’ve been known to chop an onion, close the fridge door with my foot while catching a flying Hot Wheels car mid-air before it lands in the bolognese. I’ve spotted choking hazards with the eyes at the back of my head, caught falling plates mid-air, and swept up a child just before they were about to bite an innocent babyfriend. Bystanders ask “how did you know?” Oh, I’m a mum. I’m on this.
I’ve received tons of advice about how to raise my children, but here's what most resonated with me: to trust my own instincts.
When I had my first child, a terrifying instinct did kick in. Must. Protect. Baby! I was completely overwhelmed by that responsibility but I did try to listen to her. And walking the corridors with her crying in my arms I did start to hear her. Right there, in between her little cries, I was sure I heard the words “you don’t know what you’re doing”.
And she was right, I didn’t really know - but I was determined to learn. Part of that has been learning to listen when my instincts are trying to tell me something. I learnt by trial and error, by disregarding my intuition at times and charging on. That’s when we fine-tune our parental instincts, by ignoring them and regretting it. A few hours later when we have a grumpy overtired baby (and a grumpy overtired parent) we think “oh, so that little voice that tried to tell me something earlier, that was my instincts. I should have listened.”
I can think of LOTS of times like that - including one with a broken glass, an angry waitress and a quick exit out of a fancy café (but that’s another story). However, on the occasions when I have listened to my mum instincts, it’s definitely paid off.
When you suddenly realise that the extended period of silence probably isn’t a happy child quietly playing, it’s a child up to mischief – in my case, a toddler with a permanent marker and the wall!
When my two-year-old, still learning to brake on the scooter, might not actually go straight and might instead career down the steep driveway on to a busy road and that I should hurry up and RUN! (I’m so grateful I listened then, I still have panicky flashbacks).
And when the hot forehead and unsettled child means it’s time for a late-night trip to A&E.
Occasionally when I’m overwhelmed by all this responsibility - and my parenting skills are rapidly going down hill – mum instincts tell me the best thing for my kids is for their mum to reach out and ask for help. They tell me when I need a sleep in, a big cry or just someone else to cook dinner tonight. That’s always a reminder to slow down. If we’re moving too fast it’s hard to listen to our intuition because all we can hear is noise.
So thank you mum instincts. While you sometimes make me look like a party pooper or an over-protective parent, you also remind me how well I know my children and help me to keep them safe.
Kiri Lightfoot is a published children’s author and mostly unemployed actor. She is a mum to three children (twelve, eight and three) and if she gets a minute to herself she loves bike rides, bush walks and researching how to get her kids to eat more vegetables.