Her advice was when you bring your baby home from hospital, start than as you mean to go on – so have your big ideas of parenting style, habits, beliefs established and implement them from the beginning. Know the mum you want to be. So if you know you want to be a calm mum who doesn’t shout a lot, or a strict mum or whatever it is, be it from now. A lot of this can be driven by mother instinct but also by conscious decision making.
Once you have the big picture down pat, it is also important to start as you mean to go on with the little things. So start developing routines early if that is important to you. This is somewhat determined by your baby and their temperament but if you decided to feed your baby every 4 hours, then do it. If you want to do demand feeding, do it. This doesn’t mean to set unrealistic expectations that your baby will sleep all night or will feed when you want it, but you have the control over starting as it works for you and your family.
As my kids grow, almost every day something new happens and it forces me to think about starting as I mean to go on. A couple of weeks ago, my son started guitar. We found a place to put the guitar in the house that was easily accessible for him but at no risk of balls being thrown, toys driven into or tripping over. We put his lesson book in the same place each week so it is easy to find for practice and for the lesson. He practices in the mornings before school (he set that routine) and we are of the understanding that when he is playing, we listen or at least tolerate the noise!
Another example is establishing my daughter’s homework routine. My eldest is in Year 3 and has started serious homework this year. Early on this year, I struggled with her to get her to do her homework as soon as we got home. If she gets it done, there is time after dinner to relax, read and play. It took a good few weeks to establish the routines but we got there and it has paid off.
This won’t work if you set unrealistic goals, nor will it work if you think you need to get to a particular destination. If I expected that my son to start guitar and be a musician in a band in one year, that would be unrealistic. But, if I start out encouraging him to have a love of music and getting the routines right to encourage this – then I am starting in the right way. It would be unrealistic to expect my daughter to do her homework when we get home from swimming on a Tuesday night at 6pm, just in time for dinner – so she doesn’t do any homework that night. She does it the other 3 afternoons of the week.
Whether your kids are 1 or 11, it is a good way to look at establishing your big picture of parenting and the right habits and values that work for your family.
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To find out more about Anna Partridge, visit her website here.
Anna Partridge is a writer, parent coach, school teacher and mother of three young children aged 9, 7 and 5. She is also founder of bombardedmum.com and runs parenting workshops about ‘Raising Confident and Resilient Kids’. Through her work, she is building a community of like-minded mothers who share the inspiration and challenges of raising the next generation. If you are a mum and need to find your ‘big picture’ of parenting or turn a frantic family into a fun family, click here to work with Anna one on one.