FamilyLife

Parenting: One Less Thing to Worry About

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Have you read this from Huffington Post (‘7 things good mothers do that I’m not going to do any more’)? It made me chuckle. And it made me realise that I’ve already let go of certain things – for which read: not having to eat everything on your plate. My new mantra is: it’s fine, you don’t have to eat it, but there’s nothing else. Nor will I sail into battle over things my daughter will not eat (carrots, primarily). I’ll put them in sauces (she’ll eat them) and keep putting them on her plate (ever-hopeful that she might crack), but I refuse to entertain the vegetable equivalent of a raindance. I simply do not have the time or energy. And I probably should give myself a break if the house isn’t perfectly clean and tidy at the end of every day (but my eyes! My eyes! It offends my eyes!) But one of the points had not occurred to me and was totally liberating…

It’s fine, writes the author, not to be “eternally patient”… The thing is – it’s not good for children to have infinitely patient, saintly mothers, because the world is not infinitely patient and saintly…It’s good for kids to recognize the incipient stages of someone losing their shit. This will serve them well in the world.”

Thank heavens for that.

I am SO far from eternally patient. I adore my children and I love hanging out with them, for the most part, but there are occasions when they drive me to distraction. Usually, when the little one is teething and the bigger one is tired, at which point she can crack at any moment, and takes to issuing commands in an imperious Dowager Duchess of Grantham manner (because saying please and thank you is suddenly just too exhausting).

I have, however, read two things recently which have helped. The first is Noël Janis-Norton’s Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting – which I first saw on Little Spree’s Instagram feed and has since cropped up in conversation with several friends. The second is this genius tip: in short, when you’re tempted to shout, stop what you’re doing and get closer. (This is similar to one of Noel’s fundamental tenets about asking your child to do someone only once (and by some miracle they’ll do it). If you are prone to shouting up the stairs or from another room because you’re busy doing something else and I’ve got a lot to get through, okay? (Guilty as charged.), then try this… Take a deep breath, go over to your child, get down to their level and talk. Don’t alter the meaning of what you say (no, it is still not okay to attempt to ride your brother like a pony ‘to see if it’s possible’/to run around shrieking like a crazed loon because I had to take a phone call*), but the way you say it. Simple, yes, but surprisingly effective.

Obviously, the rest of you are doing this already and I am late to the party, so please do share any other clever parenting tips which have changed your life….

*What is it about small children and the telephone? They can be playing perfectly happily by themselves – and then the phone rings (or you opt to answer a call) and suddenly all they want is you, and the world will probably end if they don’t get your attention right now this minute. I’ve had to stand in the garden in the pouring rain to take a important call.

Image: me, her and a seven and half month bump. Taken on holiday last year in Cornwall (yes, they were filing Poldark at the time, right outside our house. Had I realised Aidan Turner might be hanging around, I would have done a lot more peeking over the hedge.

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