Parenting mantras. If you have kids and you don’t know what I’m talking about you, my friend, need to get yourself one.
Mantras are basically a saying that you repeat to yourself over and over again. They have a calming influence, a grounding impact. They can bring you down to earth when you’re stressed beyond belief, when you’re having one of those days which turns in to one of those weeks. Maybe you’re standing next to a screaming child at the top of an escalator, avoiding the judging stares of old women (why is it always old women? Don’t you remember?!) Perhaps you’re wondering when the devil took over your sweet child as they dish up some serious attitude that makes you want to send them back to where they came from (you can’t).
Need some Mantra-spiration? Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo on the This Glorious Mess podcast:
As a mother of three small children it’s safe to say I have my fair share of parenting mantras. Most of them contain four letter words and I choose to keep them to myself but the one which gets used time after time is “It’s just a phase, it’s all a phase”.
Throughout our parenting journey it’s easy to get caught up with worry. It’s just what we do. “My son’s not walking yet. He doesn’t sleep through the night. My baby sleeps in my bed. My child has meltdowns every time we leave the house.”
At the time, these challenges seem like they’re never going to end.
I remember sitting one night, crying in the shower. My first child was 14 months old at the time and he was yet to sleep through the night. I’d listen, silently hating on the women in my mother’s group who spoke about how they finally felt human again. Their babies had started the magical ‘sleep through’ and the fog was starting to clear.
Mamamia confessions: The moment I felt like a terrible mother. Post continues after video.
To me it seemed like we would never get there. How could we possibly go from waking every hour to sleeping a whole night through? Not knowing anything about this parenting gig I’d got us in a cycle of feeding back to sleep. That meant that every time he woke, he’d cry for me to come and nurse him.
I was exhausted, I was on the edge of a breakdown and I couldn’t see how this could possibly get any better.
That night I hid out in the shower for as long as I could, concealing my ugly crying and stream of snot under the shower until I finally felt like I could face going in yet another time to nurse him back to sleep.
When my second child was born I reminded myself of the sleepless nights. I needed to. “It’s all a phase, It’s all a phase”. And it was. Luckily for me his phase lasted a lot less than his brother’s and I wasn’t wandering around like a zombie for quite the same length of time but for that period, reminding myself that the sleepless nights would eventually end was what got me through.
Jacqui, mother of Jett, 5, Harley, 3 and Isla, 9 months.
It’s true that in the thick of it, it’s hard to see the forest from the trees, the light at the end of the tunnel. But to put it in perspective, I’m yet to meet a 25 year old who can’t sleep through the night or one who can’t drink from a cup. I’m not saying you should rock your child back to sleep for a quarter of a decade but I am saying that they all get there. The hard times will end.
I was the same with toilet training (my kids, not me). I was frustrated, they were frustrated.
There were accidents everywhere. I’d spend days talking about going to the toilet, reminding him to go. I’d wash accident after accident and I’d cuddle and reassure him when he forgot again.
All my friends kids were toilet trained, he had to get it soon, right? In fact, just the other day my child wet his pants in the middle of the apple store as I was mid contract renewal. That was fun.
As I stood there, him and I both soaked and smelling of wee, I went into my parenting mantra. “It’s all a phase, it’s all a phase”. And it is. He will learn to go to the bathroom, there will be no more accidents.
In a year's time I will look back on the worry, the stress, the pressure I feel now to make him understand when he needs to use the bathroom and giggle. Remember the time when he wet his pants in the apple store and all you could do was to soak it up with a nappy, apologise profusely and walk away, leaving a trail of little drips as a reminder of your visit?
Right now I sit here, writing this as my son has a stage five meltdown on the floor next to me. The reason is still not quite clear. It has something to do with me giving him a blue spoon instead of a purple spoon or because a cat walked past our window. I’m not quite sure. To him, it’s a big deal. There’s screaming, legs flying. He’s red in the face and as angry with me as a three year old can be. “It’s all a phase… It’s all a phase”
This Glorious Mess is the podcast from the frontline of family life. It doesn't have a mantra yet, but it's thinking about "If my earphones are in, I can't hear you. And if I can't hear you, it's not happening." Subscribe in itunes or listen below: