I remember someone saying to me that once you have a child, you have something to worry about for the rest of your life. And I guess it’s true. But some things you just shouldn’t stress about as a parent.
Especially in the early years, parenting is a damn stressful time. I’m pretty sure I spent hundreds of hours scouring online forums and medical pages seeking answers, only to be left feeling more confused.
The internet is a tricky place you see. I’m sure, if you knew what half the “experts” knew in real life, you would avoid their advice like the plague, and yet, because it’s written on a webpage or a fancy blog; somehow they must know better about your child than you do.
Here are five things that you don’t need to stress about as a parent (and two things you do):
1. Drinking from a sippy cup.
When I had my first son, I remember reading endless pages of debates on which was the best cup for his age and why. Why couldn’t my son drink from a straw cup? Should I get a soft spout or a non-spill? Will a certain cup impact his teeth coming through and his ability to talk properly?
Seriously. This is not something that requires you losing sleep over (let’s face it, take what you can get). I am yet to meet an adult who has not learned how to drink from a cup.
2. Fussy eating.
Probably one of the more frustrating stages for us parents to endure is the fussy eating stage.
I know, I feel your pain. You spend hours researching the best homemade snacks, dinners and lunchbox treats, spend way too much time and money sourcing nutritious organic ingredients that you’ve never even heard of.
You devote an entire afternoon to cooking one handed with a baby attached to your hip, trying your best to keep them clear of the sharp and hot things, and finally you present to your beloved angel the most amazing restaurant quality banquet imaginable. And all they want is a bloody cheese sandwich.
Kids love a reaction. I’ve found the less of a deal you make of dinner time, the less of a battle you will have. Offer what you will, and don’t make anything else. Kids will eat if they are hungry. (And purchase a good grater. It’s a lot easier hiding veggies in pasta sauce/muffins/baked goods).
I’m sure if you searched the online forums for the most frequently asked questions, 99% of them would relate to sleeping. Should you pat, feed, rock, shusshhhhh or sing your baby to sleep?
Are you creating bad habits? Should you leave them to self-settle from an early age and get used to nodding off by themselves? With the dog? (Probably not). How many sleeps per day should they have? For how long? When do you drop the day sleeps? You get my point.
The thing is, as a parent with young children, your life will revolve around sleep. Not so much yours (ha!) but theirs. The simplest answer… just do what works for you. Choose the best option for your family. If there was a manual for these small people, it would have popped out with the kid.
4. Toilet Training.
Ah toilet training. Such a messy time it is. I decided to go with the three day approach to toilet training. (It didn’t take three days) and my son and I both got fed up and frustrated with my constant prompting to go to the toilet. Stress levels were high and we were getting nowhere, so feeling like a failure and breaking all the so called rules in the book, out came the nappies.
Low and behold a few weeks later, my little man started asking to use the loo and we went from there. It was one of the most stressful times of my life, and it didn’t need to be. He wasn’t ready. All kids get there in their own time. Once again, how many adults do you know that can’t use the bathroom? If potty training is going down the toilet (see what I did there?) maybe give it a break and revisit when the time is right.
Guidelines for milestones are just that – GUIDELINES. Of course, always seek professional advice if you’re concerned, but don’t fret if little Suzy isn’t interested in having deep-and-meaningfuls at all hours. Each child does things in their own time.
My son didn’t talk for a long time. In fact, so long that I got concerned and took him to the paediatrician. He said to me, “He is taking it all in. He is just fine. Once he starts talking he won’t stop.” He was right. Now he won’t shut up.
However there are some things that, as a parent, you should worry about.
The first of which I feel so passionately about that I feel I should have flashing Vegas style lights around it.
We all want to give our children the best start in life and therefore vaccinating your children against deadly diseases is a no brainer.
It’s a responsibility not only to your child, but to the wider community. (As a side note, I’ve always wondered what those in communities with a high prevalence of preventable diseases would think of people in Australia who do not acces free vaccinations, when I’m sure they would sell their right arm for the chance to safeguard their kids. I guess seeing the effects of these diseases will do that to you).
There is a reason why diseases like polio are virtually wiped out in Australia, it’s called herd immunity (or community immunity) and not vaccinating children is putting young lives at risk. It’s compromising what we have worked so hard to achieve – a community that’s virtually free of preventable diseases.
Now, I’m not talking about children who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. These kids are the reason why herd immunity is so crucial – without it many young babies and those with compromised immune systems have no layer of protection from these serious diseases.
So yes, you do need to worry about vaccinating your child. You need to worry about doing it in the right order, and at the right time not only for your child, but for those vulnerable kids in the community who don’t have a choice.
Luckily for us, there is a fabulous free app created by NSW Health called ‘Save the Date’ to remind us when it’s time to make those appointments. And trust me, the day itself is harder on the parents than the kids. A quick kiss on the cheek was all my kids needed to forget about the tiny pin prick and get on with it.
The second thing that I think you should worry about is showing your children that you love them. As long as a child is loved, and knows it, everything else will fall into place.
What do you worry about most as a parent that you know you really shouldn’t?
Save the Date to Vaccinate is an initiative from NSW Health to remind parents of the importance of on-time vaccinations for children from birth to 4 years of age.
On-time vaccinations help protect children from serious diseases at the most vulnerable time of life.
You can download the free ‘Save the Date’ phone app for personalised schedules, and handy reminders. Visit www.immunisation.health.nsw.gov.au.