As a Mum to 5 and 8 year olds, I learned a few things along the way. I’m no expert on parenting, far from it, as you’ll know from previous blog posts I have more than my fair share of stresses, worries, doubts and parenting mistakes, but despite this, there are a couple of things that I learned along the way that I feel can benefit any parent, but in particular new parents, or about-to-be parents.
Giving advice when unasked for is one of my absolute pet hates and this starts the minute the world learns you are pregnant. People have opinions on what you should wear (seriously!), what you do, what you eat, pretty much everything. My first piece of advice is follow official guidelines and take advice from friends and family you trust, and always ask for advice when needed, but those people who just throw unsolicited advice at you willy nilly? Ignore. As a new parent you are plagued with doubts often enough without people throwing more spanners in the works, and sad to say, some of those people will be people close to you.
My second piece of advice is something I’d been told first time round. Listen to your instincts and don’t sweat it. In the first year of Chloe’s life I worried about everything. Obviously on reflection, we now have reasons as to why some of the problems we had were such problems, but worrying about them and trying to fix them made very little difference.
Take weaning for example, from six months old to a year old, Chloe refused all solid food, she either refused everything or threw everything up as soon as it went in her mouth. I spent six months worrying myself to death, repeatedly visiting health visitors (who just kept insisting “you must make her eat”, with no advice on how to actually do that), but thing is, she wasn’t losing weight, she wasn’t suffering and not long after she hit one, she started eating solids. All that worry, all that stress for nothing. When she was good and ready she did it. As an 8 year old, she doesn’t eat everything but she eats well and she’ll try anything and everything at least once and she LOVES food.
Obviously, when your baby won’t eat, you must see a professional, you must make sure they are not losing weight, its important, but don’t worry yourself endlessly, like I did.
Another example would be potty training. We tried potty training Chloe at 2 in earnest. It took months but she was starting nursery at 2 and a half, and they needed her to be potty trained, so we had to try. I read books, I tried everything. There’s a big thing about potty training, in that if you start it, you need to see it through, putting a child back into nappies sends mixed messages, so once you move to underpants, you have to stick with it…it’s all well and good until your child is so petrified of going to the toilet they just won’t go. Resulting in days of constipation, pain and huge amounts of distress. Again I consulted professionals, “oh have you tried reward charts?”… eventually, after a course of laxatives and deciding I wasn’t going to put her through this any more, I put her back in nappies. We tried potty training again when she hit 3. She got it straight away, no upset, no stress, no pain, no medication. Again, huge amounts of stress and worry and upset, for nothing. When my child was ready, she did.
Honestly there were a lot of things like this, things where I worried myself to death because we weren’t doing what I thought we should be doing (or OTHER people thought we should be doing), but things that all came good in the end.
Let me be clear, when things don’t work out as they should with small kids, it always pays to seek some professional advice (not least to rule out medical issues), but in my opinion, unless your child is suffering, then there’s no point worrying, in most cases, our children will reach targets when they are ready, we are all different after all!
When dear Lola came along, I didn’t really worry about anything, I learned the hard way… there’s no point!