At a family supper out the other night, there was a fleeting moment when all 3 of our kids were actually sitting and eating and not shouting or arguing with each other. The table next door had a toddler who was kicking off and a baby that wouldn’t go to sleep. They had so much paraphilia and it bought that stage all back and made me relieved we were ‘through’ that stage of life.
Fast forward to the next night and our kids were doing exactly opposite to what they were doing the night before – shouting, getting down and not eating anything.
The table next to us had older kids and they looked pretty sorted. I was heading down the ‘I can’t wait till they get to that age’ route until the mother whispered to me ‘with each stage there are different problems (in her instance back chat, friend problems, school pressure etc) so enjoy each stage, as it goes so quickly.’
She is so right! It made me think about all the other snippets of wisdom I have heard either from advice or through osmosis and thought I would share them with you. Take what you want, leave what you disagree with but I hope something will stick.
Don’t wish away the years. When they get to this age/out of this stage it will be easier. Each stage brings its own joy and struggle. Try to be content in each period of life.
Don’t judge what’s going on the inside by the outside. That first night when my kids were ‘good’ is not the norm at a family dinner, you just saw a snippet. You have no idea what it is really like, so don’t judge or presume.
Be a united front with your partner as much as humanly possible, even if you don’t agree with them at the time. Kids will play up if they get a sniff that one of their parents might even slightly on their side.
If kids are happy don’t move them. It’s all very well needing to be somewhere at a certain time but we all know as soon as there is a time pressure – kids kick off as they sense the stress.
Surround yourself with flexible people who don’t take offence. Now when someone cancels, I really don’t mind as I so understand everyone is busy and under pressure. However, I try now to live by…
Let your yes be yes and your no be no. I have learnt to wait a bit before replying to events and invitations so I can get an overview on my diary so I don’t over book ourselves.
Keep it simple. Don’t rush around pillar to post (note to self) only accept one invitation a weekend (in my view) especially as they get older and you have clubs and homework and the odd kids party, you need some simple family time not another event to head to!
Plan your day/routine and don’t be swayed or pressured by anyone else. Everyone wants to be part of where the fun is, but if you have planned on tea at a certain time, stick to it and join later.
Be consistent. Kids do love predictability and knowing what’s coming next. If you like a bit of adventure and want them to come, explain what you are doing before you do it.
Communicate. If we are going out for supper or to a friend’s house or a church service, we explain what we expect of them – polite, quiet etc and find that if you speak to them before, they usually get it and step up to the plate.
Respect different parenting styles. There is not one single family with exactly the same parenting mindset as you. There will be a few who are similar but ultimately just do what works for you and stick to it.
Learn the art of distraction as soon as you have a baby! I wish I knew this a few years ago. Distraction is the BEST way to curb a tantrum/tears/wobbly before it begins (applies to adults too!)
- At the airport – shall we watch the planes take off.
- In the park – shall we find a dog to plat with?
- At a restaurant – which famous person would you like to see walk through the door?
- And so on.
Don’t compare. Children develop at different rates and in different ways. Whilst little Timmy might be out of nappies at 2, he still hasn’t said his first work or Tilly can write her name in cursive at 4 but still has a bottle at night. Don’t worry, they all catch up on the main things and your child WILL be exceptional at something so don’t worry (even if you still haven’t discovered it yet)
Avoid mood hovers. Competitive parents can really be a pain, so just smile when they are showing off and trust your instinct that you are making the right decisions for your family.
Get some sleep. It’s one thing your kids being tired but if you are too, it’s game over. If they wake you in the night, go to bed earlier so you have had some good hours already.
Tag team. When my first was a baby, in our excitement we did everything together but now we have three it is much better to be properly ‘off duty’ for an hour then to resent having so much to do and not being able to do
Divide and conquer. No people won’t think you are having marital problems if they don’t see you together all the time. It is much easier splitting off with one or two children for a short time at the weekend
Plan some one on one time. My kids are so happy on their own with one parent (two parents together is the dream but not ever possible!) they have undivided attention which is ultimately what they want to feel loved and valued.
Do you have any top tips? It would be great to hear! x