I’m no parenting expert but after 7 years of being a mum, I’ve finally worked out a few things.
Here are some of them.
First though, above is a pre-Instagram photo of the little cherubs when they were a few hours old, 7 long years ago. Cute, huh?
Now onto the things they have taught me:
- Time out is not just for the kids. No one denies that children are very challenging at times. More than once I’ve caught myself shouting or negotiating like a bank robber with my belligerent small person, and suddenly I realised that I am the one who needs 5 minutes in time out, not the poor child who is in tears. Walking away from the situation is the best thing you can do.
- Some things just take time. Like toilet training. As much as you want your little person to be in control of their bladder, they will stubbornly refuse until they are ready. You just have to wait. And wait. I held off toilet training until our girls turned 3 after reading this memorable quote “If you start toilet training at 2, you’ll be finished by 3. If you start at 3, you’ll be finished by 3.” Turned out to be true.
- Carrots work better than sticks. Reward charts and other thinly veiled bribes help keep your child motivated and focused on the behaviour required to get to the reward (admittedly with repeated prompting). Punishment, shouting and timeout make everyone feel miserable, increase your wine bill and don’t even work very well. Go for happy, motivated kids (and calmer, less stressed parents) any day of the week!
- You can’t argue with the oven timer. Here’s a good tip. When one of my girls is glued to the iPad or TV or whatever, I give her a 5 minute warning, then I set the oven timer. When it starts beeping – time is up. She knows that arguing with an oven timer becomes quite pointless very quickly. This has also been handy when there is fighting over a toy – just 2 minutes each and when the timer goes, they must hand it over. The same applies when your little darling claims to require a day off school for a sore head – if the thermometer says you are OK, then – well, just take it up with the thermometer.
- Stop comparing yourself to Facebook. My Facebook feed is full of gorgeous, smart children of my Facebook friends who are achieving amazing things at very young ages. If I let myself dwell on this too long, it is pretty easy to think you are doing a crap job of parenting. But remember, there are 2 sides to every Facebook status update or photo of kids clutching medals. They probably don’t post about all the bad stuff that happens, right? Facebook is a great filter.
- Kids need to feel the love. I was recently reminded by a friend of mine that kids need to have love expressed to them physically. Just telling them you love them just isn’t enough – they need physical demonstration with a lot of hugs, cuddles, giggles and kisses. Before you know it they will be saying ‘yuck Mum, stop it’, so just enjoy it while you can.
- You grow with your kids. I panic at the thought of what I’ll do with two 12 year old girls – cellphones, cyber bullying, tweenage angst!! But 7 years ago I was panicking at the thought of two 12 month old girls. Turned out I didn’t need to know the answers in advance, as the kids grew up, we all learned how to do this stuff together.
- You can never take too many photos. Kids grow up so fast (now I am sounding like my great aunt!), but you really will treasure all those photos in the future, so keep snapping away. And back them up!
Here’s a recent pic of my two girls having a great time in the park on a wintery day.
It’s all worth it in the end.
What are your best parenting tips? I’d love to hear some more.