The Myth Of ‘How To Parent’ Guides

Spoiler Alert- Parenting instruction manuals do not work.

Photo by murat esibatir from Pexels

I never read instruction manuals. I skim through the pages enough to get me started. Then fumble through bits and bobs and YouTube videos and pictures on the pages to get me where I need to go.

Yet secretly, I always wanted to be a ‘manual reading’ adult someday’

So when I found out I was pregnant, it seemed like a sign from up above. It was time.

Unfortunately, the parenting manuals were a mess. Or I kept finding the wrong ones. There is no other way to explain the difference between reality and the imaginary parenting life in the manuals.

Manual #1 — A Spectacular Birth Plan Is A Must

Planning for Birth totally made sense to me. How are you going to give birth if you don’t have a plan? I am a planner. And I don’t want to walk into a hospital and expect them to know what I want. I would never walk into a restaurant without looking at the menu online first.

So I did my research and came up with the BEST plan. A midwife, a doula, no epidural, and absolutely no C-section. I also peppered in some walks around the hospital and calming music to get me in the mood.

In reality,

I should have just copied this off the internet.

Source — Pinterest

Manual #2 — Sleep Train Or Else

The amount of baby sleep literature I consumed should qualify me for a Ph.D. I got the message loud and clear.

ALL babies are manipulative with advanced knowledge of how to fall and stay asleep in their crib. Do not fall for ‘crying’ and pick them up. EVER.

I definitely did not want to have my kid sleep in my bed till they go to college. And it seemed easy enough. 2 weeks of hardcore boot camp style sleep training and you are all set for life.

In reality,

I sucked so bad at baby sleep training that I had to quit. Instead, I sleep trained myself to doze off in whatever room and sleeping arrangement I can get some sleep in.

Manual #3 — Rules For Life After Baby

I couldn’t wait to get on the Parenting Hustle culture train. I bookmarked several chapters on how to be a super mom. I always wanted to be ‘super’ at something so this was my chance.

There were many how-to guides available.

  • How to raise a multi-talented baby from scratch (aka all the classes your baby needs to attend from six months old)?
  • How to be a skinny mom (Translation —Be like Heidi Klum and lose baby weight in six weeks)?
  • How to be a domestic goddess while also being a full-time working mom?

In reality,

Being a sane mom is more important than being a super mom.


  • I started taking naps. On weekends. For a solid 2 hours.
  • Sat on my couch with a baby in one hand and phone on the other and Facebook/IG stalked random people.
  • I stopped working out to back to my pre-kid body and started doing yoga and meditation to keep my sanity

In conclusion

Image —

The closest thing to Parenting is Bear Gryll’s Man Vs. Wild. It is trial and error. It is every bit of the adventure you signed up for. There are some really fun “once in a lifetime, wouldn’t trade it for anything” parts. And some other parts of it are literally you just hanging in there to survive long enough to make it to civilization.

And there are no instruction manuals. I fumble through bits and bobs and YouTube videos and pictures on the pages all the way through.

Check out more of my moments of reflection here.

Seeker of Joy and Purpose. Accidental Medium Writer.

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