'The 'boring' parent is the unsung hero': 5 things Bluey has taught me about parenting.

Whackadoo! It's been five years this month since Bluey came into our lives, making kids - and parents - chuckle with the antics of Bandit, Chilli, Bluey and Bingo Heeler as they go about their lives in Brisbane. 

The cartoon is the highest-rating program in the history of ABC Kids, and it's also an unexpected resource for parenting. Here's what I've learnt about raising kids from Bandit and Chilli...

The 'boring' parent is actually the unsung hero.

I don't know about your household, but in mine, I get a bit of stick for being the 'boring' parent who is all about the rules and routines, and tedious things like, you know, making sure everyone eats when they're supposed to and goes to the toilet before we go out to avoid emergency bathroom stops at inconvenient times. I have fun and play with my kids, but I run a tight ship when I need to because someone has to, right?

It's not uncommon for dads to get the credit for being the 'fun one', the one who's more chill and just lets the kids be kids.

But the boring parent, aka Chilli, gets the ultimate validation in The Pool. After telling her family to make sure they've packed the essentials for a day at Uncle Stripe's pool, Chilli is deemed a "fusspot" by Bandit, Bluey and Bingo. They just want to have fun, so why can't mum stop being a drag?

From what I've gathered about parenting, many mums like to be organised and prepared for all events, while many dads have a way of just figuring it out along the way, tackling any problem if and when it arises. Bandit falls in the latter category: when they get to the pool, he realises the kids have no shoes, he's forgotten Bingo's floaties, they have no sunscreen on and have to stay in the dwindling shade, Bluey hasn't brought the sinkies she needs to play the sinkies game, there's no food for morning tea. There are also no towels. 


The kids backtrack and realise Mum is actually the fun one because she plays with them and always brings the things they need, just in time for Chilli to wander in with all the missing and much-needed items. 

So that boring parent? They're the one automatically packing the sacred snacks and water bottles and spare nap toy and anything else that's needed to prevent tiny human meltdowns. You're welcome.

WATCH: Bluey Teaser. Parents and kids alike are loving ABC Kid's Bluey. This is why. Post continues after the video.

Self-care isn't selfish. 

There's always a million to-do lists running through a parent's head, and understandably, it can feel selfish and indulgent to list 'time for yourself' as a priority. But Chilli gave me permission to do just that in Sheep Dog, the episode where she says firmly, "I need 20 minutes when no one comes near me."

She's exhausted. She's burnt out. She's had constant noise in her head and been juggling the emotions of two very excitable kids along with her own mounting mental load, and she just needs 20 minutes to unpack all that and decompress before it builds up and swallows her. 


I've felt that, several times over the course of working and caring for my two little ones, but once upon a time (before I had kids!), I would have thought uttering Chilli's words made me a bad parent - not up for the job or simply not trying hard enough. Admitting defeat. 

Now, two small humans in, I can recognise that self care isn't selfish - it's imperative to being a better parent.

Keep calm and carry on when bedtime goes haywire.

Season 3's Unicourse captures perfectly the universal frustration and despair of a parent whose child will just not go to sleepThat window of adult time once the kids are down is precious, and Chilli is devastated when she thinks Bluey is asleep, only to have her daughter reemerge at the top of the stairs, wide awake and full of questions. 

Chilli is clearly annoyed, but she has two choices: remain calm and patient, and try to coax Bluey into bed with a soothing book, or give in to her frustration and dwell on her child not listening to what she says. And what good would that do? I know from experience that getting annoyed only makes the situation even more stressful to deal with, and it achieves exactly nothing. But boy, it takes a lot to practice patience during this mundane nightly routine!

I tend to get fixated on the time, and when my kids aren't 'winding down' at the exact moment I think they should be to make the bedtime routine go smoothly, I can feel my uptightness and anxiety creeping in. My husband, on the other hand, is more of a Bandit type, and thinks rough-and-tumble playtime is the perfect thing to get the kids ready for a relaxing sleep. Chilli has to contend with Bandit's irritating Unicourse hand puppet, which is distracting Bluey and waking her up even more by getting her excited. 


Chilli perseveres, and by the end of the story, Bluey is yawning. Her method of getting Bluey to ignore the shenanigans of her dad and puppet and focus on the book worked, but there's also something to be said for taking a page out of Bandit's playful book and just being silly for a bit. After all, it's not the end of the world if the kids go to bed 30 minutes later than usual, is it?

LISTEN: In this episode of The Glorious Mess, Leigh and Tegan help and provide tips and tricks for making parenting (somewhat) easier. Post continues after the podcast.

Stop comparing yourself - and your kids - to others.

We all know that we shouldn't compare ourselves to others, and we've all heard the saying, "Comparison is the thief of joy". But when you're new to the parenting thing and aren't 100 per cent confident or sure about anything, it's easy to look to more experienced parents for guidance. When did your child first crawl? Say their first word? When should they start solids? When did they start sleeping through the night? (hahaha).

In season 2's Baby Race, Chilli is trying to teach Bluey a lesson about 'running your own race', and recounts the story of how Bluey first started walking. Bluey had excelled in rolling over at an early age, but was a little slower than her fellow mums group babies to crawl and walk. Naturally, Chilli thought there was something wrong with her mothering, and kept taking Bluey for check-ups to make sure she wasn't falling behind for her age group. 

I had similar concerns for my son, Miles. He did all the things he was 'supposed' to do by the usual age, but he wouldn't crawl, and his cruising along on furniture took a long time to progress to walking on his own. I took him to the doctor several times, worried about why he wasn't crawling, comparing him to my daughter Tyler who was off and walking weeks shy of her 1st birthday. 


I took my son to a baby physio. I spoke to more and more parents who told me stories of how their baby skipped crawling altogether, which gave me some comfort. Miles finally started walking at 15 months, and since then, he hasn't stopped walking, running, climbing and jumping. 

Looking back, I could have saved myself unnecessary concern and worry if I'd just listened to Chili's words: everyone runs their own race.

We don't have to cover our kids in cotton wool. 

Remember the old pass the parcel, when the music stopped randomly on a child and only the last person got the big prize? Well, that's not how it's played nowaways, and in Pass the Parcel, Lucky's dad Pat is appalled to see the new way of playing, where every layer has a present so no kid feels left out.

As parents, we're constantly worrying about our children's feelings. We don't want them to feel upset or left out, and we'll do whatever we can to avoid them feeling that way. But maybe there's something to be said for letting them experience a bit of disappointment, in letting them understand that not everyone gets everything in this life? 

When it comes to his kid's party, Pat wants to play the game "the proper way". The kids are resistant at first: no one likes the idea of going home without a prize. But eventually they see that this way can be fun, and they learn the importance of sharing with others - and that not everything has to be a competition in life.

Image: BBC Culture.

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