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???