Advice to parents: 10 things I no longer stress about

xmas2012-16Yes 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?

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This Post Has 37 Comments

  1. Lisa

    Well said Martine! My number one would have to be take no notice of those who stress your baby ‘definitely’ needs to have physio if they don’t crawl the ‘normal’ way AND that your child won’t be a good reader as crawling has some crazy connection to reading in later years! My 13 year old crawled perfectly at 8 months, walked and climbed everything by 10 months and is now highly co-ordinated in most sports but still needs that little bit of support in reading. His 10 year old brother was a bum shuffler who stuck both his legs out front on the floor and did not walk til 16 months. He is also a highly co-ordinated sporty kid who loves books and is in the top reading class! He never did physio! Enjoy those baby years, they’re individuals in every way!

    1. Martine

      Well you certainly put that theory/notion/wives tail to bed Lisa! I think it is pretty sad too that those early years with first children are often marred by the anxiety of hoping your kids are measuring up!

  2. Megan Blandford

    I think we’re quite similar in our parenting approach, Martine!

    1. Martine

      Well we gotta be doing something right! x

  3. Lisa

    Great tips Martine! I have become more relaxed the more kids I have had too. I think you learn to pick your battles..x

    1. Martine

      Absolutely, learning to pick your battles becomes a necessity!

  4. Kirsten

    Wish i had read a blog such as this 13+ years ago! … had my chance again I would stress less about the comments from both sets of Grandparents and a sister in law or two. Our first child was the first grandchild for all and boy oh boy did they all have loads of opinions and boy oh boy not on any same page or chapter!!! At times I struggled with the juggle of them all. Keep on writing Martine I am sure you’re wisdom is a comfort and support to so many. K

    1. Martine

      Thanks Kirsten! Yes, extended family can be troublesome. I have been so lucky with my in laws. Despite having 8 children of her own my MIL never once assumed she knew more than me. (of course she would have she just never let me think that!)

  5. Me

    Well said !!!! I think I nodded to each and every one of those !
    Have the best day !

    1. Martine

      Thanks Me, great to know there are others like me!

  6. Aroha @ Colours of Sunset

    That is all really great advice. I would also add hold them as much as possible, cuddle them, let them sleep with you once in a while (if you’re comfortable and safe about it) because they grow up all too quickly and no one ever said “I wish I cuddled my babies less.” x Aroha (#teamIBOT)

    1. Martine

      Oh so very true! I certainly cuddle my little ones all the time as I know how quickly it goes before cuddles with mum are a bit harder to achieve!

  7. Eleise

    I have learnt not to listen to what others deem is right and do what I feel is right for my family! I too don’t stress about washing hands unless they are dirty or after going to the toilet.

    1. Martine

      I think that is the key point Eleise. There are so many different easy to raise a family, you need only do what works for you.

  8. Mamagoingsolo

    All great lessons to learn – I also didn’t sterilise anything and have no issues with a bit of dirt on hands – it never killed me as a kid!

    1. Martine

      Thanks and yes I remember playing at friends farms and in dirt for hours and my mum was never a big one for washing hands either!

  9. Jode

    Excellent, excellent list… agree completely with them all … as a Mum of 4 you just have to pick your battles … and the teenage ones are much harder and more complex. I wish I cared less about the amount of technology they all have access to these days, and how it becomes impossible to ‘control’ it as much as I’d like.

  10. You are the first person i have seen who admits to not pushing hand washing – i definitely feel i am the only one – my kids are in and out, playing, doing art, touching god knows what wherever they are all day and i cannot monitor them there so why at home am i expected to nag about clean hands… i think they will live!

    if i could go back i would stress less about stopping the bottle at 1yr old or so. i was pregnant with my 2nd and my oldest had one bottle of milk at bedtime still at 18 mo and i started pushing her to switch it to the cup (which she drank water from already) – not only did she not switch but she never drank milk again as a beverage. it would not have been a big deal to wait until later

    1. Martine

      My nearly 2 year old still likes to have a bottle. It is his comfort thing. I didnt force the last couple of kids to stop and they eventually realised they didnt need it. And come to think of it my eldest never drinks milk now and he is probably the one I made stop before he wanted to. I realise they have reasons for saying all this stuff, but at the end of the day, as you say, it is so not a big deal.

  11. EssentiallyJess

    God love you Martine! So sensible and you make the rest of us feel so normal!

    1. Martine

      Oh Jess…thankyou gorgeous girl x

  12. What a fantastic post.
    Reading real posts like this warm me to my very soul.
    When we as mothers are honest and open and real with each other we are giving each other the greatest support possible.
    You are so wonderful sharing this! It reads like a big warm hug.
    Thank you for keeping it real.
    And PS I am SO so with number 6 at the moment!!!

    1. Martine

      Oh thankyou Bek, that comment has made my day x

  13. Lisa B

    OHMYGOD Number 6. Where on earth do those socks go????????????

    1. Martine

      The socks are obviously a parenting phenomenon!

  14. Lydia C. Lee

    Seriously, the socks. I don’t even bother they aren’t a pair anymore – as long as they’re the same-ish colour and size, they go together. How is there not a noticeable pile of lost socks somewhere in the house?

  15. Jody at Six Little Hearts

    I applaud you – fellow Mom of many! I too didn’t bother with half of it for my 6! Jeeps – if we were to try to be supermoms we’d never get out the door!
    I hated sterilising and like you, just abandoned it. As my health nurse once said, it’s mainly for the formula companies to cover themselves. Maybe 1% of 1000 people have a filthy home that poses a risk, the rest of us are fine!
    Once you relax the rules on the motherhood thing, it all becomes do-able and enjoyable doesn’t it! ;D

  16. I just had my first baby 2 weeks ago and Im definitely paranoid about everything! The midwives have successfully scared the shit out of me about most things. I can understand your sock pain, but mine is with the clip singlets. Ive lost one, ruined one by soaking it with something red by accident and ALL the others she has had poo explosions on. Its only been two weeks and I already need to go buy more.

  17. Great tips Martine!
    I will definitely be referring to this to reassure me when I become a mum one day but the socks will always be a problem 🙂
    Visiting from FYBF and Sweet Little Pretties

  18. Mumabytes

    Hi Martine! Great post and one that will make many mothers breathe a big fat sigh of relief over. For me, the point you made about comparisons really resonates. I returned to Australia with my little girl who was two and hadn’t done groups or any of that before. When I did get involved I HATED the constant comparisons and petty competitiveness about milestones etc. I ended up just not going and not listening and doing it all my own way which made all of us much happier. I love your blog and admire your strength, Martine. From Katie at Mumabytes (A new blogger and previously Katie Ridge – I went to Tintern with you!)

  19. Sally@Toddlers on Tour

    All great tips, I only have one son aged 5, but believe I would be much calmer if we were blessed with more children than I was with the first.

    The only I have added to your list is wash hands when cooking for others. Apparently some take offence to food being prepared by unclean hands.

  20. Melanie @ A Welcoming Hearth

    Great post! With my first I stressed about everything and almost made myself sick. I have got more and more relaxed each bub that has come along, Just quietly I think that a house that is too clean and kids that are forced to wash hands after every encounter are more susceptible to asthma, allergies, sicknesses and other things. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks! 🙂

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