Parenting Survival Skills - Top Ten Tips
If you have ever wondered what one piece of information other parents wish they had known sooner, apart from ‘All of it’, this page will provide the answers.
Here, based on what parents have told us, are Ten Top Tips that will help you to maintain your sanity and calm in the face of potential or actual child-induced chaos.
1. Everything is a phase, and it will pass.
Yes, at the time each problem or phase feels like it is lasting forever.
But you will look back and wonder why you worried so much about it, usually about three months later when you have moved onto the next phase/problem. Being a parent is challenging but also very rewarding - just try to keep calm and go with the flow.
2. Your way is the right way.
Other people will always, for some reason, feel free to comment on your parenting and share their opinions.
On the grounds that all feedback is useful, this is good. You can never have too many friends to give you their views.
The important thing to remember is that, eventually, you have to do what feels right for you.
You are the one who knows your child best.
This means that you can, and should, ignore everyone else if you want to do so. Thank them for their feedback if you like, but don’t feel bad because of it.
See our page on Giving and Receiving Feedback for more.
3. It doesn’t matter what the books or anyone else says, if a baby is hungry, he or she is hungry.
It doesn’t even matter if he or she only finished feeding five minutes ago. Some days are like that and you just have to go with it.
You may have to grit your teeth as yet another older relative tells you that ‘in their day’ babies were fed every four hours, and no sooner.
You will also learn that everyone is an expert and will feel able to give you the benefit of their expertise. This applies even, or possibly especially, to older people who have never had children.
4. Sometimes ‘good enough’ is all you can offer—and that’s fine.
There are days when you will struggle to have the energy to respond to your children.
Whether you have been awake half the night with an ill child, or working very hard, or are not feeling well, or just having an ‘off day’, some days you just don’t have the energy or patience to be ‘super-mum’ or ‘super-dad’. On those days, switch on the television, and feed them fish fingers, beans and chips, or any other easy meal of choice. They will be fine, and tomorrow is another day.
The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job.
Annabel Crabb, The Wife Drought
5. A problem shared is a problem halved (or at least, improved).
A good social group can be a lifeline as a parent, whether your friends are nearby, or on Mumsnet or other social media.
This is especially important if you are at home on your own with young children and do not have family support to hand.
Everyone has bad days, and everyone needs support sometimes, so don’t be afraid to share how bad your day has been.
Not only will it make everyone else feel better, but it may encourage others to speak out about their struggle with parenting too, and that in turn will help you.
6. Personal privacy is a thing of the past.
It is not so much that while you have small children, you will never be able to go to the toilet on your own, although this is true.
It is more that you will have conversations with other adults about things that you would, before children, never have dreamed of mentioning in company.
7. You don’t see sixteen year olds wearing nappies, or having their food cut up for them.
It may seem as though your child is taking longer than any of their peers to potty train/eat solid food/learn to read, but children do things in their own time.
He or she will almost certainly catch up eventually.
If you are worried that there may be a more serious underlying problem, though, talk to your doctor or another health care professional about it.
8. Every child is different, so don’t compare.
You will know this yourself already if you have more than one child, but the temptation to compare is almost overwhelming: with your own children, with your friends’ children, with others at school. Don’t.
Every child is an individual, and has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Concentrate on developing a happy, rounded little person, and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing at that age.
9. There is a reason behind all behavioural issues, though it may take you a while to identify it.
The issue may also not be at all to do with the child concerned, even though it may seem that way at first.
Children often act as ‘emotional barometers’ for their family, acting out tensions. Sometimes a behavioural issue is intractable because, consciously or subconsciously, it is easier for everyone if it remains unaddressed.
Sometimes you may need to look hard at yourself and your family as a whole, and confront some difficult issues for all of you, if you are to resolve one child’s behaviour.
10. You are the best parent for your child, because you are their parent.
You will never know any other love like the love you feel for your children.
It is such a strong feeling that it can be almost overwhelming. Hold the thought that, whatever else happens, you are the best possible parent for your children.
Have we missed something that you think should be on this list?
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