CHILDBIRTH ISN'T THE MIRACLE - SURVIVING PARENTHOOD IS

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Whatever Works Parenting

Recently the cover of Time Magazine featured a mother breastfeeding her almost-four-year-old son. The headline screamed “Are You Mom Enough?” and was the introduction to an article about Attachment Parenting. Yeah okay, the cover was controversial, but what annoys me most are all these new parenting methods which put extra pressure on mothers who don’t have a damn clue what they're doing (that’ll be ME). Do I go for Assertive-Democratic Parenting, Helicopter Parenting, Permissive Parenting or Authoritarian Parenting? It’s hard enough just keeping my kids alive, never mind sticking to a certain parenting style. But I’m not one to judge. If breastfeeding a three year old works for that mum then that’s fine by me.

So I’ve been thinking about what does work for me and I’ve come up with a new philosophy. It’s called Whatever Works Parenting and, believe me, it gets me through the day a damn sight easier than hovering around a child who is allowed to do what they want just because the technique dictates that. I binned those parenting manuals years ago; they bring nothing but pain.

After I had my third child, my Aunt said to me “Don’t feel bad if they watch TV for hours, because if it gets you through the day then so be it” and, boy, was that the best advice ever. When you’ve got a toddler to entertain, a crying baby and a moody tweenager, I tell ya, no parenting guru is knocking on the door willing to lend a hand. There is no such thing as a text book child no matter what the experts say and, believe me, I’ve tried following them and it’s pure torture.

Here is the outline for Whatever Works Parenting:

1. Your sleep is important.
When you’re a parent, tiredness becomes the new legless. Sleep is a class A drug. Do whatever you have to do to get some and make sure you score well. It’s likely that you’ll wake up in a different bed to the one you went to sleep in or you’ll end up all in the same bed but so what. If it means you get that precious eight hours then so be it.

2. Go Ostrich.
Do like the Ostrich and bury your head in the sand, especially if your kids are running riot. If they’re not annoying anyone, there’s no bloodbath or eminent trips to A&E then let them get on with it.

3. Sod the potty training.
There is always the mother who declares her child is potty trained at 18 months. Before you ditch the nappies and spend your days clearing up ‘little accidents’, remember that nobody was still in nappies at 18 years because their mother didn’t do it early enough.

4. Don’t give constant attention.
Because your child will expect this forever. Your baby does not need to be sung to 24/7 and there’s nothing more annoying than a mother’s voice singing nursery rhymes.

5. Relax the rules.
Every child and every day is different. Just because the naughty step worked for one, it probably won’t work on another. Consistency isn’t always key because things (and children) change. Although saying that, empty threats such as Santa Claus on speed-dial always get results.

The key to Whatever Works Parenting not only is sod everyone else and do whatever works for you, but also SURVIVAL. Lying in bed with toddler then creeping out once he’s asleep, not sticking to a routine, giving biscuits for breakfast and ignoring the “shoulds” never harmed anyone. None of these new-fangled techniques used to exist and, well, we've all turned out okay ish errrr haven't we???

47 comments:

  1. ahhhhhhhhh...hank god I'm doing most of this. xxx

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  2. i love it and its so true, my toddler falls asleep next to me in my bed then i put him in his as soon as he is asleep

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  3. AMEN!!
    says the woman who is attempting potty training at 21 months because I'm going to Italy for 2 weeks in a month and the thought of those sodding swimming nappies fills me with dread! I hate the freaking things!...so I'd rather traumatise my daughter with a potty, but don't tell anyone. Shhhh

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  4. I hear you. What works for you is the most important thing. No such thing as an easy ride as a parent. It's a tough job and trying to be something you're not is one sure fire way to a breakdown/alcohol problem.
    A corker of a post. :-)

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  5. Yes to that!

    And am glad to say that it works here too, like the time eldest (then a month old) fell asleep at wedding party after being passed round (at one time I may have lost her and didn't panic) and then slept under a speaker!
    I have a dear old friend who is pandering to her kids every needs and is known to whisper if youngest is in bed .. when she is downstairs. God help me one of these days I will scream at her!!

    BNM

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  6. Such a good post! I'm a definite advocate of Whatever Works Parenting :-)

    One friend I know has learnt now she has had her 2nd that she did pander far too much to her son, now she is more relaxed with her daughter she is reaping the benefits.

    But it is so true it is what works for YOU. No one can be judgemental about how we each chose to bring up our children, also if you open up to different styles of parenting you may find something that works for you too.

    A good friend told me early on, the thing that kids need is a happy parent, I am not saying to the extreme of neglecting your children, but it is important not to neglect YOU either.

    I wish I had found this blogging/tweeting world when my kiddies were babies, it is such a good forum for help and support and reminding that you are not alone in the crazy world of parenting!

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  7. Well said, as always Claire!! I think your points are important!!

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  8. Love it!!! If all else fails, you can sell 'em to the gypsies!!!!!

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  9. Yes, oh so, yes! That's exactly it.

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  10. I think I love you! Ha ha. I just make it all up as I go along, and spend most of my days being told I am doing it all wrong by other parents! I have a happy, healthy two year old, and if she wants to watch toy story on repeat rather than learn algebra, then so be it!! Xxxx

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  11. And this is why my kids are growing up the top of their class & your's won't be :-)

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    1. Thanks for your concern and your judgement. My children are above average in most things btw. Check back with me when you've got teenagers ;-)

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    3. Also, it's YOURS. No apostrophe. ;-)

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    4. And "what" is why? Did you write the original piece Anon? (Always anonymous aren't they?) Given that you couldn't have known how far up the class list Claire's kids are, you are most obviously a troll! Congrats!

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    5. Ha ha ha. Hope to god their teachers are a little better at grammar than YOURS were then. Such irony.

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    6. I'm sorry but I couldn't care less where my kids are academically! If they are happy, healthy and well mannered, offering humility and sensitivity to others then I will be the proudest parent inthe world!

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    7. Anoop Singh-Best29 July 2012 at 13:57

      Excellent advice as always. Mine are 9 & 10 now and I did pretty much what you're suggesting and needless to say I have one child 2-3 years ahead of the class and one above average.
      Parent take heed and do EVERYTHING this woman says! :-)

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    8. Wow, there's always one person hovering around, waiting to be a complete and utter bitch, isn't there? Loving the passive-aggressive smiley face at the end too, maybe more attention to grammar than emoticons would do you good!

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  12. Sound advice here. I also swear by a Cocktail At Naptime.

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  13. Fuck the parenting books. This is all you need to know, right here. Nice one MoM.

    BTW, who is this anonymous commenter who has already decided that their kids will be at the top of the class? Anonymous dear, lend me your crystal ball, will you?

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  14. I love this!! They should make a family sized bed which is about double a king sized one so that everyone can get a good night!

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  15. Perfect, where do I sign up? xx

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  16. This is a great posting I have read. I like your article. Thank you

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  17. With you totally on this one! I text book raised GG and it was always hellish, I never felt good enough, and ended up on drugs! (Prescription, of course). When Bug came along I just took care of basic needs for all 3 of us, and let the rest slide most of the time. Way happier house after that!

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  18. I like the Bruno Bettelheim story the best. He's the guy who spent his whole career writing mumbothering books about child-rearing. Lots of rules and shoulds and theories. His last book, written in his wisdom, is a bit of a turnaround. He realised that the only thing that gives kids any chance of making it in our scarily imperfect world is their imperfect parents. He is now best known as the architect of 'good enough' parenting. Sorry for lecture. But I feel so strongly about this. There's an entire culture out there dedicated to telling us we're doing it all wrong - and what do we do? If we're not completely overwhelmed and exhausted, we're furious and conniving at it (see anonymous). Cathy x

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  19. Love it. Amazing advise. Xxxx ignore arrogant comments you rock. Xxxx

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  20. You are my kind of Mum - another great post

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  21. My Mum describes her parenting style as 'benign neglect'. of her 5 kids one is still in college, one at Uni, one solicitor, one doctor and one with a first class Masters degree. Far more importantly, all are happy & well balanced.

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  22. So so true... This should be given to all expectant mums so they avoid some of the awful pressure these sodding books pile on. I flung Gina Ford across the too and have never ever regretted it. Well said Clare

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  23. Brilliant advice and I'm glad a lot of it is familiar.

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  24. So true! Sod the experts!! I had my son on cows milk at 8 months after having his much elder sisters on it at 6 months as that was the advice then. Got told by a senior consultant I was going against advice. Told her he was number 4 and I do things my way not their way. She soon buggered off.
    My eldest daughter (19) got told off by her friend doing a child care degree as I left potty training number 3 until she was 2.5 years. Then prompty told eldest that she was fed up of clearing up accidents they all had in her nursery group. One month after potty training number 3 she is now on the loo and totally dry through both day and night.
    Oh...(sorry for the rant) Disney Junior & Barney are constantly on in our house. Number 3 has lovely manners, sings lots of songs, is kind to her younger brother and helpful around the house..signing because Mickey Mousr taught her to be!!

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  25. Ah yes doctorrah, the Benign Neglect, school of parenting. A mantra I try and remember (however I do despair of having to flush away calling cards in toilets and shoving some bleach down. I swear it is in double figures this weekend).

    I think part of the point is, by the third you are capable of finding what works for you. And we are designed to be part of a tribe and spend our formative years being handed random kids to free someone up to go to the lou by themselves.

    Bog centre post...

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  26. With it being school holidays, and not everyday is possible to go out with 3 kids, one asd, this HAS MADE MY DAY :):) now off I go to switch tv on, open biscuit tin, deposit children in front of tv, and run a bath for myself.

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  27. Love this! And absolutely spot on. I wish I'd read this before becoming a mother!

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  28. Fab post. I relate to everything. Love it!

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  29. Brilliant post. I'm with you all the way. Maybe you should write a book to rival Gina Ford!

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  30. Sarah Martin AKA Bad working Mother ;-)2 August 2012 at 08:39

    This isn't about Claire being right (Even though I agree with every word) What it is about is as long as you try to do your best what is it with these wannabe hippy mothers feeling like its ok to put others down. I try so hard to be the perfect mother but it's pretty impossible being perfect! My children are fed, clean and happy. Surely that's all that matters? So there! ;-)

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  31. Dear Claire, I love you and wish to lick your face!
    But seriously where can I buy your book? You have one right? Why the hell not! Everyone would buy it! (just sayin)
    Anyways, do love reading your blogs and am trying very hard to soak everything up like a sponge for future use/reference

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  32. this is me to a tee hun! I never bought any parenting books and never read up on these techniques because I am a firm believer that these people who decide how you should parent your child are impossibly arrogant. Every child is so different how can you possibly decide in advance how you want to parent them? My two children are vastly different, with my daughter who is 8, bribery works best, but with my son who is 2 you have to threaten to turn the tv off to get his attention! Both kids hate vegetables with a passion, my daughter wasn't potty trained til she was 3. They were both on solids at 3 months, both slept on their tummies from a few weeks old but you know what they are great kids. Yeah they can be a right pain in the behind when you are trying to nap on the couch on a Sunday afternoon and said son divebombs you........but I wouldn't change anything about the way I brought them up so far. My daughter reads at the 10 year old level and she grew up watching Dora and countless other programmes that actually taught her something as well as kept her quiet. Do I wish I could spend more time with them? Yes. Do I wish I had the money to give them all the stuff I wish I could? you bet! But my kids are happy, fed, they go to bed at a reasonable hour and they are pretty well behaved in public.......at this stage in life thats all I am after!!!

    Keep up the great posts hun xxx

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  33. When the kids were young, I would put on a video, lay on the couch, have them sit surrounding me, thus if they moved I would notice (yes, I would sleep). It was the only way I survived some days and guess what - my kids turned out fine and aren't glued the the television!

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  35. So it's not just me!! Hoorah for you and saying it out loud!

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