Tag Archives: Parents

The school run: 5 things I love and 6 things I really don’t

School RunSix months of school, six months of the school run. It’s definitely a different beast to the nursery or preschool runs – they might have been initiations but I couldn’t say they fully prepared me for the real thing.

I drop Scrip off every day and pick her up three times a week, so I’m a pretty permanent fixture at the school gates. Here’s what I do and don’t like about 8.40am and 3.30pm, every week day:

I love:

  1. Her enthusiasm as we approach the school (I’m guessing it won’t always be like this)
  2. Seeing new friends I might not have seen for a while – it’s nice to have a quick chat and catch up
  3. Getting out in the fresh air. We walk it a few times a week and it’s lovely (if it’s dry)
  4. Spending some nice, quality time with her each morning
  5. Dropping off a happy girl and going on to do my own things – either work or a day with D

I don’t love:

  1. Not just pulling on the first thing I find in the morning. These are smart parents – I feel like I need to be too
  2. The crush – I always seem to find the busiest time possible, cue lots of bumping into people and dragging D out of the way if he’s with me
  3. The uncertain greetings – seeing those people you kind of know, kind of don’t
  4. Pulling Baby D out of Scrip’s classroom EVERY TIME he comes with me
  5. Passing the sporty parents and feeling distinctly unsporty
  6. The traffic! Arrive a few minutes after the gates have opened and it’s never-seen before chaos

I’m guessing I’ll have to get used to this. It’s going to be like this for the next decade at least 😉

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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.

(Un)hired help

If having a baby brings you closer to your partner (which I’d say it has done overall, but maybe not during the third wake up call of the night, with Calpol all over your carpet and a screaming baby in your arms), it also brings you closer to his family.

Scrip and NanaI know this is a difficult terrain to navigate, but although I’ve always got on with my in-laws, I’ve also always had a very clear line dividing my family and my husband’s. Which I’m sure is normal. I’m a version of myself with them – I wouldn’t be as honest or free with my opinions as I would be with close friends and the family that’s surrounded me my whole life. They’re quite different and I’m aware of the differences.

But having a baby has changed that. It’s made me relax a bit and appreciate them more. I’ve needed them more than I have before – they’re closer in distance than my own parents, and being retired, they were able to dedicate quite of bit of time to helping us in the early weeks, and looking after Scrip for us nowadays.

They really were particularly helpful when we were acclimatising to being new parents. For the first time I couldn’t move the pile of washing or polish the bathroom taps before they arrived – I didn’t have the energy or the focus during the hazy early days. And I couldn’t even refuse when they offered to cook or tidy the kitchen – in fact, I was grateful.

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