Want to nail parenting? Just follow a few basic rules. That should be easy, right?
I love rules.
I cross at the lights. I secure my phone in my bag when I get into the car so I am not ever tempted even a bit. And my kids always, always do all their homework.
Rules and me work well together.
So when I began this parenting gig I just assumed I would follow the rules. That would make it easy right?
The thing is, I tried. I really did, right from the start. But what I have learnt over the course of eight years and three kids is that parenting rules are made to be broken.
Parenting rules are there to give you the illusion of structure and harmony before you decide to procreate. They lure you in.. this is gonna be a cinch.. then once you are in deep. Wham. Chaos descends.
The problem is that once broken a cloud of unliftable guilt descends regarding that rule you have crossed. A fog of fear and horror that you have done the unthinkable.
Caused “considerable long term damage.”
And yet despite the damage caused, I continue to break them, daily.
1. Don’t bribe your kids.
They tell you that if you bribe your kids, they will end up expecting a reward for everything. Carrying their own school bag will cost you a dollar. Putting on their shoes will be three jelly snakes and a bag of pretzels.
By the time they are 16 you will paying out more than you earn just to get them to school on time.
Now I know bribing my kids isn’t the greatest parenting tool in the box, but here’s the thing: With three small kids sometime you struggle just to get downstairs in the morning. I can hardly envisage the next day let alone the day they turn 16.
At the moment I am all about short-term success. If a couple of gold coins and a bag of Tiny Teddies does the trick then I am happy to be the FIFA of parenting.
2. Stick to a routine.
I tried, but it went wrong. No one actually told my kids there was routine involved with being a three-month old.
Surely as your child is born someone should pass on this important fact so that the routine you plan out can be adhered to by all and those crazy newborns don’t keep waking up wanting to be fed.
3. Let them fail.
I’m a big supporter of this, the idea being that by always rescuing your kids you never teach them resilience.
But am I alone in thinking it’s great in practice, not so great in reality.
It’s just so hard.
It’s so hard to watch your children fail. So much easier to just give them a little helping hand, to point out the mistake in their maths homework, to nudge them in the right direction with friendships, to race back into the playground and give them the water bottle they forgot.
4. Don’t let them sleep in your bed.
Said every single parent before they had kids.
Before they realised how much you just didn’t give a damn who was in your bed after a year of broken, sleepless, tortourous nights.
Your mother-in-law, her cat and six of the neighbourhood children could be slumbering away with you for all you’d notice.
As long as you got some sleep.
5. Ignore a tantrum. Never give in to it.
Oh please find me one parent of a two-year old that has stuck to that rule.
6. Be consistent.
I am totally consistent in my inconstancies.
I always want to be consistent, and then I change my mind. Kids are adaptable aren’t they?
7. Limit screen time.
Unless you need to pee, or talk on the phone, or cook diner, or get some work done at home. But apart from that yeah, limit away.
8. Don’t yell.
Yelling is very, very detrimental to children. Unless you want to ever leave the house, then it becomes essential.
Sometimes you just need to MAKE YOURSELF HEARD.
9. Don’t give in to their nagging.
Muuuuuum can I have a/ I want a/ give me a/ I promise I will/ I won’t ask again/ muuuuuuummmmmm please please please.
It’s like music to your ears isn’t it. To think if you DON’T give in you can have that chorus on repeat 12 hours a day.
10. Let them take risks.
Kids need to take risks they need the freedom to learn independence and problem solving and to have childhoods just like the ones we had.
Buuuuttt who is going to leap first? I will let my child play in the park alone, but hows about you go first and let yours.
Let’s see how that goes? Ok.
What parenting rules have you broken?