I found parenting to be a mixture of equal measures of pleasure and pain. I have given birth to four girls, and one died at two days old. My three surviving children are at an age when they understand me very well when I refer to parenting as being a mixture of pleasure and pain.

I share the death of my young baby girl to demonstrate that it is possible to recover from a tragedy in your life.

Take time to enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of your young child or children. 

Time passes so quickly, it is important that you don’t waste any of it.

PARENTING observations: Every child is different

There is no ‘one rule fits all’. After raising three daughters, I can attest to this.

Surprisingly, what may have worked ‘like magic’ for the child before does not necessarily work for the next one.

There is no specific guide book available to you for your child that will exactly suit that individual child.

Your parenting skills will not be the same as anyone else’s 

You will find your blood begin to curdle whenever anyone starts a sentence with ‘in my day we used to do ‘X’ or ‘I would never let my kid do that’

You cannot please everyone at any given time, trust me on this, it is important that you don’t waste time trying to do so

That includes your children, friends and family members and your parents and in-laws.

You are rare indeed if you can please both your Mother and mother-in-law at the same time when it comes to raising your child.

Learn to listen politely to the advice given to you.
Nod and smile, then do whatever works for YOU.

The reality is that it will be you and your partner, if you have one, who will be holding the baby at midnight, so it makes sense to do what works for you.

Parenting, like life itself has rules and boundaries that are forever changing. In the same way the circumstances around you also change

Real life has changing rules, hidden rules, and sometimes those rules do not seem to be fair.

Real life often does not present you with clear guidelines and goals to follow.

Parenting works well if you set small achievable goals.  Personal guidelines and boundaries will assist you in doing so.

A degree of flexibility is important if you are to remain sane

Children flourish if their lives have structure and routine.

Of course, they will forever push the boundaries, because that is how they learn and stop parents becoming bored.

If you are not used to structure and routine in your own life use lists to get this happening for you. Life is easier if you have a measure of control over what is happening.

Give your child or children a safe place to make mistakes. Let them learn that it is OK to fail sometimes.

Learning how to correct or recover from mistakes shows your child that the world does not end when things go wrong – this is something they can take with them into adulthood.

Let them fail at things they try. Real life is full of failed moments, praise them for trying and help them problem solve another way.

It is never too early to teach your child how to solve problems.

Do not give your child everything he or she wants, that is not how real life works. Instead, show them ways they can ‘earn’ or work towards things they would like. 

Using rewards lists will give you an opportunity to show your child that there is a lot more to life than merely being given something. See my free Rewards List guide.

Avoid giving your child high sugar drinks as rewards as they are detrimental to their health and welfare as well as your own.

After the sugar high always comes the sugar low, usually around the time of day you need to be preparing dinner and getting through the bath time and the ‘have you finished your homework?’ routine.

Using lists with your children teaches them: 

  • To put some thought into what they want and how to get it
  • How to be organised
  • How to ask for help 
  • How to make a plan of actions required to achieve things they want to 

Lists to help create more pleasure than pain when raising children:

Rewards Lists are a great tool to use with children because they teach your child:

  • Getting what you want in life sometimes takes a little effort
  • It can be exciting planning, working towards and achieving things you want – just like real life / as an adult

Having an agreed list of tasks for your child will give them a good understanding of responsibilities and consequences. This is a good life skill to learn at any age. So ‘if I complete my tasks I get rewarded and if I fail to complete the agreed tasks the consequences are that I get no reward. I will probably be penalised in a pre-agreed way’.

Creating a rewards list is relatively simple:

Decide on a few tasks that your child can undertake such as:

  • Taking the household waste and placing it into the rubbish bin each day
  • Putting the rubbish bins onto the roadside and bringing them back in on collection day
  • Feeding a pet
  • Ensuring the animal or animals have fresh water daily
  • Clearing up animal waste from your yard
  • Setting / clearing the table for meals
  • Loading or unloading the dishwasher or washing and putting away the dishes 
  • Preparing lunches for younger siblings
  • Folding and putting away laundry
  • If old enough, doing washing and hanging it out on the line
  • Helping prepare food for the evening meal or on weekends

Be a parent first, friend second

Children are apprentice adults and you have a small window of time in which to provide them with good values and life skills that will enable them to live happy fulfilled lives.
Apprentice adults require guidance and assistance from their parents and older family members to help them understand how life works well.

It is natural to feel overwhelmed by things occasionally.

Take care of yourself first
Those safety warnings on aeroplanes where the air hostess says:
“Parents should fit their oxygen masks first, before helping anyone else”
make perfect sense.
If you are not functioning well, how are you going to care for your child?

Sleep:
A healthy rested person will cope better with parenting and life in general.
Use my Insomniacs A-Z Technique to help you get a good night’s rest, every night, every time.

Encourage your children to have good sleeping patterns. A child who is getting enough sleep will wake up refreshed and able to cope well with each new day.

See
Developing good sleeping habits in kids for more information.

Share the parenting load:
There are many fun ways that you can share the parenting load and manage to get a well deserved break from your children.

  • Arranging play dates for your children
  • Carpool with friends for school drop off and pick up
  • Arrange sleepovers so that you get a night free occasionally
  • When friends sleep over you don’t usually need to do much entertaining for your child
  • Sleepovers at grandparents can be fun too

Don’t try and do it all by yourself. There is help ‘out there’ if you need it:

The Bub Hub is an excellent site with links to parent support groups, helplines and all things to do with raising children.

Mental Health Resources in Australia is a great site to find digital mental health support services available in Australia

Speak to your doctor if you are struggling to cope.