I've been a parent for 2 and a half years and I'm so clearly not an expert.
But I’ve learnt a whole lot and despite thinking many times that I had it all down pat, I’m still being taught by this little human everyday.
I’m not that big into research but I read books that felt in tune with what I believed already.
When we had Bo, I wanted to parent intuitively as much as possible.
I figured that when I do things from love, I should receive love back. I listened to advice from well meaning friends and family but only took in what really resonated with me. I stored many books in the back of my cupboard when the description didn’t sound like how I would want to raise my child. I believed that my husband and I knew best what was best for my daughter.
Everyone has a different view on parenting. Some people are sure that structure and routine will raise a secure and well mannered child. Others wish to let their children run free, fall over, break things and learn from their own mistakes. Then there are the extremes of both of these parents, but most commonly, parents who swing between both.
Have you been there? You’re all about the naughty corner and set meal times until you have a good day and suddenly you’re letting them paint on their arms and snack whenever they want. The rules are constantly changing. Sometimes you’re strict, other times you just don’t have the energy. You’ll lecture your friends about how Steve Jobs never let his kids have iPads but then you’re passing yours over when no one is around so you can get some washing done.
One thing I know for sure is that Bo thrives on consistency and I think most kids would. I don’t feed her sugar or processed food, but when we’re with friends on the weekend or my mum is in town, she’s given things that I would never usually allow her to eat. Then when it’s just her and I again and she’s screaming for ice cream at the shops and I’m straight refusing to get her one. Her little mind is thinking “why on earth was I allowed this yesterday but now there are rules around it?”.
Same goes with technology. A few months ago, Bo developed the habit of watching videos of herself on my iPhone. I thought it was the cutest thing ever. But one morning she got my phone off the charger from the kitchen and woke me up asking for videos. These things are addictive. If you don’t believe that then please explain why we can stand at a crossing waiting for the little green man without glancing down at our screens. The problem was, I had gotten into the habit of giving her my phone to watch these videos to distract her when I was grocery shopping or having lunch with a friend. How could I possibly tell her that she was only allowed it when it was convenient to me?
So a few things have happened over the past few months. No more little treats because it’s the weekend or her cousins are having them. We see my mum almost every day when she’s here and I know every single grandparent out there will say “what happens with Nanny, stays with Nanny” and that’s totally fine when I’m not around. Because it’s only going to confuse Bo that I allow her naughty treats when mum is here but refuse them when she’s not. If mum sneaks her some teddy biscuits (she assures me that they’re organic!) when I’m not with them, that’s totally fine. Bo will know that I’m consistent with my rules and when she’s lucky enough to have a day with Nanny, she’s getting spoilt.
We stopped taking the iPad in the car just incase we wanted to have adult time at lunch. Because she would see it and beg for it. Then it stopped being a last resort and became something to give her once she had finished eating. I’m glad we got this sooner rather than later because since we put it away she hasn’t asked for it. Out of sight, out of mind. We usually go out for meals with friends with kids or our cousins who have beautiful children who entertain and amuse Bo for as long as we need. If it’s just the three of us, I’ve now learnt to always have puzzles and colouring in books stashed in the car and it works a treat.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no drill sergeant yelling “NO SUGAR!” but I simply don’t keep crap in the house and I don’t spend my money on it when we’re out. You’re not the boss of your child. If you want to boss someone around then go get a managerial position in the field of your choice. You’re simply here to guide your child and children and support them in becoming the best version of them as they can be.
I’ve also had to take my ego out of how I want my child to act. I’ve learnt this not through any books or advice, but through experience. We all have an idea of how we would like our children to behave in public, even in private, but it’s not up to us to dictate our child's personality. I’ve found that if Bo is doing something that is bothering or upsetting other people, I’ll pull her up on it. But if she’s just being a child, not bothering people and not hurting anyone, I’ve learnt to let her be. While I would prefer if she didn’t hit another child when they take her toys I’m not going to yell and scream at her for a fleeting moment of frustration. I will take her aside and reminder that being hit hurts and it’s not a way to be a good friend.
Lastly, I’ve been reminded recently of how much our children mirror us. Monkey see, monkey do. This was blatantly obvious when I snapped at her for banging on my keyboard and she turned around and told me to ‘chill out dude’ which is what my husband and I jokingly say to each other more regularly than I would have thought. Be the person you want your child to be. Kind, polite, gracious, joyful, giving, caring and compassionate. That’s what I want for my girl.
I’ll email you when I’ve figure out how to be the perfect parent. Check your inbox on the 1st of never for that one.
If you want to dive deeper into your parenting style and learn why SELF LOVE + CARE is vital for you to be the best mother possible, you can download my free ebook 30 DAYS OF SELF CARE here. If you want to take your health to the next level and stop waiting to feel amazing and vibrant, check out my coaching packages here.