Tag Archives: Parenting

The new you: seven things that become the norm after kids

Norm after kidsAs I was devouring my sandwich at 12.01pm, it struck me that my standard lunchtime is now at least an hour earlier than it used to be. I didn’t even have my children with me at the time so had no excuse. They’ve just left an indelible imprint on my routine in so many ways. And it’s not only premature lunches, the new me is all about:

  1. The supermarket sweep – I’m not blessed with time (who is?) but even when it’s just me and my Morrison’s shopping basket, I still seem to find myself rushing around the aisles, grabbing packets like a big timer’s about to go off. I’m just not able to browse anymore.
  2. Same with clothes shopping. Once a procrastinator, now I enter, scan the shop floor and leave in 60 seconds flat. What happened to the days of leisurely trying on armfuls of clothes?
  3. The yawn and stretch at 9pm – you could set my FitBit by it. Somehow the bedtime of my childhood (remember the bongs of the 9 o’clock news?) has come back to haunt me and I definitely see 9pm as some kind of watershed. It’s a firm reminder that sleep is near.
  4. The tissue stuffing – I can’t leave the house without tucking a couple of tissues into my pockets, my handbag or my coat. Even if I’m going to a business meeting.
  5. Taking my own water everywhere – it’s not as if it’s not readily available, but I can’t cross the threshold here without clutching a Highland Spring bottle hastily refilled from the tap. It’s obviously much more eco-friendly to re-use and not buy a new one but I also think the kids’ obsession with their colourful water bottles has rubbed off on me.
  6. The National Trust car sticker – once the preserve of those at least a few decades older, suddenly it’s an indispensable accessory and I’m not alone. People my age seem to out number pensioners by 20 to 1 at any given property, come rain or shine.
  7. And how much more preferable is a day in a country park ticking off 50 things before you’re 11 3/4 than a simple night out? When did a drink down the pub start to feel like a military operation rather than an enjoyable way to pass the time?

It goes without saying that I wouldn’t change a thing (apart from maybe embracing the odd night out a bit more readily).

My 2017 alternative parenting achievements

2017 alternative parentingIt’s Christmas Eve-Eve and in between picking up toys, pine needles and toys covered in pine needles I’ve been trying to think about what 2017’s brought. Not just the big milestones like toddler potty training (tick) or first school project completed and in on time (tick) but the smaller parenting wins, which are just as satisfying. Here are my picks of 2017:

  • We got through an entire year with a tub of Play Doh remaining unopened and so unmixed. Even better, it’s the white one.
  • We can get through two hair washes weekly without any tears (most of the time).
  • Both children can now get around on four wheels, one with a little bit of help from me but the end of the pushchair’s in sight.
  • D is still a napper and there’s no sign of that wonderous hour or so being dropped.
  • And he still loves his cot.
  • My colour coordinated shelves are still in order.
  • I’ve learnt how to cut curly hair courtesy of D.
  • And I’ve stopped saving the curls, finally.
  • I’ve managed to convince everyone that a trip to Ikea is actually something to relish.
  • And we built our first snowman together. Complete with crab apple eyes.

Here’s to an even better, and more fruitful, 2018.

Guest post: The collapse of parenting

Collapse of parentingOne week away from the big move I’m afraid I’m pretty far from being the best parent at the moment (iPads, Ben & Holly and chocolate bribes have all featured quite a bit over the last few weeks as we pick our way through boxes). However, my Dad shared his thoughts on a parenting book he read which struck a chord with him and I thought it would make a good post. I like the sound of the book, so I’ll definitely seek it out (once we’ve unpacked).

I always like having my opinions confirmed by someone else, particularly if they are an expert on the subject. That’s just happened to me and so I thought I’d let you know that someone out there appears to agree with me on the vexed subject of child-rearing. He’s Dr Leonard Sax the author of a book ‘The Collapse of Parenting‘ in which, in my simple terms, he suggests that the pendulum has swung too far in one direction as parents seek to give their children a more relaxed upbringing than their own.

We’ve talked before about how bringing children up has become increasingly difficult, indeed your mother and I marvel at the skills of many modern parents. The pressure on parents to get things right in an increasingly complex world has increased massively. The world is faster-paced and with the rise of social media allows less time for direct social interaction. Peer pressure has always been a problem but is now one that is in danger of spiralling out of control as naming and shaming and peer rejection are no longer circumscribed by time and place.

As you know from first hand I can claim no special child-rearing abilities. I believe that a parent’s prime responsibility is to the next generation; that’s not to say I don’t want to be treated kindly by you as I age! A parent’s first duty must be to those who follow by giving them the skills and confidence they need to take their place in this increasingly complex world and ‘to teach them the rules of the culture they live in’.

Dr Sax suggests that this is best done by adults giving children a well-defined framework and set of rules: and by treating them as children rather than equals and mini-adults or even ‘friends’. I know from experience that this requires determination and no doubt risks unpopularity.

How is this relevant to the very young and what does it mean in practical terms? Setting a consistent set of rules and expectations from the start establishes the framework for the future. Children grow knowing their parents’ expectations. This may make their acceptance of rules at a later stage easier but it won’t make the parent’s decisions popular!

What are these unpopular decisions? Well basically they centre around parents determining what is appropriate for their children not just when they are very young but crucially as they grow older. This will often no doubt be against the wishes of the child.

One of the most important tasks in the early years is developing a child’s self control and conscientiousness. It may be easier to let children be waited on and not require that they take on tasks, but making sure at from an early age that they have responsibilities and that they discharge them to the best of their abilities provides a valuable grounding.

Inculcating self-esteem is important but it needs to be balanced by a sense of humility and a willingness to listen to others. It is crucial in my opinion for children to realise that they can fail at some things and to accept this whilst being willing to ‘give it another go’. Telling children constantly how clever they are or how beautiful is no doubt done from the best intentions but can build unrealistic expectations and lead to heartache later.

Children need to be guided by their parents; good parents really do know best, for example about bedtimes and limiting the use of TV and social media, and are right in requiring respect from their children both for themselves and others.

I know that you do try already to do all of the above. As the children get older it will be more tempting to treat them as your “friends” as they increase the pressure with the mantra ‘but everyone else….’ and you will question whether by acting as a ‘parent’ you are helping or hindering their development, Dr Sax (and I) would say ‘stick with it’, they will be much better friends when they’re really grown up.

Life with a newborn – #winning or #failing? 

 Ten days in and having sent my mum my standard morning sleep progress report text – a positive one – she replied ‘#winning’. Which made me smile. I’d had a few hours’ sleep strung together not once but twice. Result. 

It made me think. These last few days of starting to get grips with a newborn again as well as becoming a mother of two have had their ups and downs. Those winning moments are brilliant – you feel you can achieve anything. But as with anything, they’re balanced out by the little challenges (or fails) along the way. 

And that pretty much sums up the first week and a half (in between all the lovely moments and staring in amazement at our gorgeous little boy):

#win – putting him down and him settling straight away in the Sleepyhead
#fail – next wake up was a five hour feeding session. Who knew they were even possible? From one side to the other on and on (ouch) and grizzling in between

#win – soundly sleeping all the way around our first shopping trip
#fail – then taking 45 minutes to latch on…

#win – first time in proper clothes (including Little Brother top, obviously)
#fail – changing after 5 mins due to suspect yellow stains appearing

#win – figuring out the Ergo Baby carrier and having a nice stroll 
#fail – struggling with playground/swing pushing logistics with carrier on (frustrated Scrip)

#win – calmness in first bath – we use a Tummy Tub – and a helpful Scrip to sponge him
#fail – D inconsolable after leaving the water

#win – Scrip being curious and loving with him (mostly)
#fail – her enthusiasm bubbling over as noisy toys piled on top of him, waking him up (instant wailing)

I expect the pattern will continue like this for a little while, but the wins of being a family of four definitely outweigh any of the bumps in the road so far. 

Six reasons my phone is my best parenting buddy

Phone apps for parentingThis isn’t about using your phone as a substitute babysitter (although it can come in handy – especially when you need to entertain your toddler for what could be a while in a quiet waiting room). This is because I realised the other day how much my phone had become not just my lifeline to the outside world but also my parenting hotline.

Here are my favourite ‘parenting’ apps that I come back to again and again.

Lifecake – this is where I share all of the best bits of life with Scrip (photos and video) with close friends and family. I reviewed Lifecake when it first came out and have recommended it Continue reading