Yes I know parents, particularly new ones, get a little bit of information overload when it comes to all things childrearing. They have an abundance of advice, stories, anecdotes and do’s and don’ts given out freely and haphazardly by all manner of friend , foe, health nurse, doctor, neighbour and online parenting website.
But as a mother of 5 boys I have cut myself some slack when it comes to parenting. I learnt things from the first 3 that so far has made parenting the next 2 easier. Some things worked, some things didn’t and some things I am paying for now. But if I were to be asked for some parenting advice by a new mother, here are some of the things I would tell them to stress less about. The things that I had reservations about at the time, but at the end of the day amounted to a whole lotta worry about a whole lot of not much!
1. Putting the baby/toddler to bed with a bottle as soon as they could hold it.I may have lied to my health nurse about it but hey, the older kids have good teeth, no fillings and I never had to complain about not getting a baby to sleep or sleeping through the night
2. Sterilising. Whose idea was that anyway? I think I did it for one kid for 1 month and never sterilised another piece of anything ever since. A quick rinse with some warm, sometimes soapy, water did the trick
3. My kids occasionally hit, pushed and even bit someone as a toddler. We dealt with it, we moved on and they now generally limit such behaviour to their siblings.
4. They told me they hated me. But they always came/come crawling back……for food, cuddles,tv, ipods
5. I can say “no” to them and feel horrible and mean and they still will come crawling back….. for food, cuddes, tv, iPods
6. I can buy a gazillion pairs of socks, but I shan’t ever expect to find 5 pairs on a daily basis. I have resigned myself to adding socks to the shopping list just about every trip.
7. I let them watch some PG and M movies underage. I actually watched Flashdance the other day and realised I must have seen it at the movies at age 11. It shocked me how mature I must have been back then!
8. Washing hands. I guess this goes hand in hand with the sterilising thing but I was never one to ask my kids to wash their hands every time they came in from playing outside or sat down to a meal. I pretty much limit that to post toileting only.
9. Push them into learning to read or write before they got to school. Now of course I am all up for the benefits of early childhood education and stimulating these developing brains. But I learnt pretty quickly you can encourage but not enforce that type of learning. So we stuck to games instead and the teachers at school took on that task with diligence and much more success
10.Comparisons. From the moment your mums group meet there are talks about head control, rolling, crawling, kicking, playing a piano concerto, making the “A” team or getting the lead in the school play. I love watching my kids succeed, participate in pursuits they are passionate about and reach individual goals. But that is what I love about it. It is the individual achievements and what that means to them. I actually had a parent come to me recently and exclaim that I must be thrilled my son finally beat hers! By the time I recovered from the shock it was too late to point out that information such as that has zero priority in my already full of important stuff mind.
So there you have it! All the parenting advice you’ll ever need for you to take on with fervour or dismiss as careless practise going against all science and and expert opinion.
I think that is the key to parenting. Work out the values that are important to you and your family and concentrate on those things. And the other stuff, the little things that we somehow turn into big things….let em go and enjoy the ride.
What things would you stress less about if you had your chance again? What would you like to care less about now?