I first wrote this post (minus my usual sarcastic bite because they pay me to be nice) for Childside. Go check them out, they are a pretty useful resource for what’s happening in your city.
What every parent needs to hear
- You don’t have to be the perfect parent, as long as you strive to parent YOUR child as perfectly as you know how. It isn’t a competition or a race, it’s the delicate process of growing a human. Your garden. Your flower. How you make it bloom and grow is up to you.
- Parenting is often trial and error. Children do not come with an instruction manual, you learn on the job. And sometimes it’s a pretty yuk job. Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes, apologise and move on. You’d be surprised at how forgiving (and forgetful) your children are. Like puppies.
- Ask for help. I guarantee that there are plenty of parents who have experience in whatever situation you find yourself in. While every child is beautifully unique, the challenges they face can often be universal. I’ve learned the most from my fellow mommies (and Dr Google obviously).
- Don’t be afraid to let your hair down. Being a parent is actually a license to be a kid for the second time. Laugh often, play silly games, get dirty and exercise your imagination. Weirdly enough, it’s in these moments that your children’s respect for you grows.
- You are not a genie; you cannot be in two places at one time. Parenting more than one child can be a juggling act. Manage the diary as best you can and if it means that you can’t attend one sports day or one recital, that is OK. Your child may be upset but no permanent damage has been caused from missing one of 100 school activities.
- Don’t bear grudges. I know it’s difficult to move on from the Persian rug your toddler scribbled all over, or your favourite sweater your baby vomited on, or the hurt your teenage daughter caused when she called you fat in a fit of rage. But the truth is, they often don’t mean it. Move on. Then go outside and scream as loud as you can to get rid of the urge to put that kid back into your womb.
- There’s never a right time. For anything. Waiting until the baby is weaned before going on holiday. Waiting for a special occasion to let your toddler wear that gorgeous dress which Aunt Mildred sent from London. Waiting for the kids to be older before leaving them with a sitter so you can enjoy a date night with your partner. Often the most time is wasted on waiting. Spontaneity is the spice of life.
- In total contradiction to point number 7. Spontaneity is good only in small doses. Children and parents thrive within a routine. Make your lives easier by developing a routine that works, and stick to it. The easiest way to get your children to comply is by sticking to the rules, all the time. Don’t make the rookie error of changing the game, they WILL make you pay for it later.
- Don’t forget your manners. The easiest way to teach children is to lead by example. Be the person you want your kids to be. It is true that children learn more from what they see, than from what they are actually taught. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cringed when I hear my kids unknowingly impersonating the ugly me. Watch yourself.
- Above all things, affirm your children on the daily. We show our children that we care every day just by keeping them alive (duh) and mostly it’s a thankless job. But be sure to tell your children every day just how much you love them; how proud you are of them. Love them when they are being extremely difficult, like throwing a tantrum in aisle #3. Love them through the difficult stages of their lives. It is said that love conquers all things, let your children understand that through your love for them.