We all parent differently and that’s okay. I like to think that although we work differently our methods all have the same aim and that’s to raise our children to the best of our abilities ensuring that their lives are rich and
Us parents like to beat ourselves a lot and focus on our failures rather than successes but I think thats true for humans as a whole.
With parenting comes the guilt though. The thought that your mistakes could mess up your this fragile little being whose far more robust than we allow ourselves to believe they are.
I’m writing this today because I’ve had a ponder-some day. A week of terrible terrible sleep, I’m shattered and spotty and have battled mastitis for the 6th time!
Jacky goes to bed between 7-8 and sleeps for 3-4 hours before beginning his hourly (sometimes half hourly) wakings. At 12ish every night this week it has taken near 2 hours to get him back to sleep again and he still wakes frequently til 6.30/7am rise. It’s weeks like this he and I are not at our best.
Back to school for the oldest two. School terms are usually filled with losing battles at bedtimes and reluctant early mornings. Back to school usually means tired grumpy children who are so ravenous after a long day they want to eat far more food than I can afford to cater for. This brings me stress.
A week that should have been hellish but it actually wasn’t. That doesn’t mean that none of the above happened. It did. It really did. But I managed. In fact, I did more than manage. I owned it!
Maybe it’s because this Saturday I’m having my first night out in 3 years! With old girlfriends and new I shall be letting my hair down for an evening. I get to be more than Mum for a few hours. I cannot wait to get my glad rags on. I don’t know what they’ll be yet. Here I shall digress a little:
This week is the week following our oldest sons 11th birthday and as expected we are poor! I took my outfit that I bought for my night out back to the shop so to fund my night out as pennies are tight. I put a status on Facebook about it having a moan as you do. I’m then messaged by a lovely girl that I went to school with. We weren’t friends at school, we knew each other, just didn’t move in the same circles. We never really spoke but we are friends on Facebook nonetheless, we share comment interests and like and comment on each others posts. She had seen my status and commented that she had some cool dresses that she no longer wanted and was happy to post them to me. She did not want a penny for them and refused my offers to pay for the postage at the very least. I was taken aback by her kindness. Her act is inspiring and uplifted my spirits on this difficult week.
Amongst over offers of wardrobe raids and lending my Mum sent me a text offering to buy my outfit back because in her “you deserve it.” I did turn down her offer but we renegotiated with it being an early gift for my birthday next week.
Back to today:
The reason that my nightmarish week has been a kickass week for parenting is because I breathed, I took my time, I listened, I compromised, I negotiated, I stopped trying to take control all of the time.
My parenting wins that I’m proud of this week:
* listen to the children- recognising that the bedtime I set for my older two (9 o’clock) wasn’t working for them. We came to an agreement that 10 o’clock may work better and it has. I go in at 11 to check them before I go to bed and they’re sound asleep.
* compromise, compromise, compromise- my favourite one this week, removing devices from the bedroom. It works for one child but not the other. One child loves to switch off completely. No distractions. No noise, no lights. Perfect for her.
The other child likes to listen to music on YouTube. The problem being that he will be up all night watching videos. I suggested a screen less MP3 player (as per advice from sleep consultant). He was not happy with this at all. I was sure that’s because he couldn’t watch videos. So, we decided to download songs onto the device so that YouTube doesn’t have to be accessed. He switches onto this at 10 with his headphones in and off he goes to sleep. He’s been given trust it’s working.
* lead by example. If I take my phone to bed I can’t preach to my children that devices at bedtime aren’t okay. If I can stomp and stop about when I’m grumpy so should they. If I can decide that I don’t fancy a meal and want to eat something else then why can’t my children? That goes for deciding whether they’ve had enough to eat or when they want to eat. Food is nothing but fuel to the body and I’ve come to the realisation that we focus far too much on it. There’s so much stress surrounding dinner time and it’s so unnecessary.
* don’t expect too much. Expecting children to partake in adult activities (the weekly food shop for example) is setting yourself up for failure. Give your children activities/let them help/do it while they’re at school or better yet shop online! Seeing children crying in the trolley or getting their bums smacked for running about makes me serious sad and I think about it for weeks after. This applies to lots of situations.
* paying attention. I’ve recognised that due to poor sleep Jacky is most grumpy in the morning. He’s clingy and whiney and I cannot do anything for myself, not even go to the toilet or eat sometimes. We have conquered that this week and set the day up beautifully. I like to get up in the morning and clean the house but he doesn’t allow that. He hangs off my waistband. I tried to let him help but he makes more mess and I find it stressful. Daily morning tantrums are guaranteed and it’s demotivating. So every morning this week, before I do my chores, we have done his favourite activity, baking. We’ve made cakes, biscuits, naan bread. This activity first thing sets the day up nicely and the rest of the day is more manageable. So this week the house has been a mess but we’ve had no morning tantrums at all.
* I’ve observed more. I’ve sat back a bit. I’ve them figure it out. I’ve asked them if they need me. I’ve not worried about silly things.
* communicate. Talk on a level where you are all equal. All of your feelings matter. Ask questions. Give answers. Accept answers. Discuss. I’ve lived by that this week.
My biggest take away from this week is that times change. Traditional parenting isn’t the only option. Routine, time keeping, set meals/mealtimes, set bedtimes, punishments, forced consequences, shouting, smacking, reward charts etc may appear to work for some but they don’t work for us. In fact sticking to the rules stresses me out.
I’ve come to the conclusion;
Traditional Parenting doesn’t work for everyone.
Gentle Parenting works for everyone.
It’s equal, it’s respectful, it’s instinctual, its less stressful, its nurturing, it’s mindful, it’s enriching.
It’s mind opening and I urge anyone to check it out!