*If you’re not a parent or aren’t currently interested in talking about children, tune out now. Or maybe you’d rather go here or here or here instead.
** I say all of this with no judgement, knowing that everyone has their own parenting style. When I say “how can they do that?” I mean that in the sense of “how does that not drive them mad?” Just clarifying. 🙂
Of all my friends I am the only one who has children. Strange, because I’m not young (anymore). At 28 I thought more of my friends would have kids by now. But nooo, they’re to busy doing other things. Like building a career. Making a home. Having a life. You know, all those crap things no one wants to do.
I’ve recently become close with a friend of a friend who has a daughter, so it’s good to have finally found someone to bitch compare notes with. But I also realised I have a whole resource of lovely mums (and dads) out there of various ages and stages of life and I thought who better to ask!! Let’s open up a discussion on parenting, what you guys do, what you don’t, how far you let them push you. Even things like bed times, disciplining and what you feed them. I’d love to hear other people’s practices!
I have two boys, a 4yo (Small Man) and a 17mo (Wee Man). Small Man is kind and caring and compassionate, even if he has trouble listening sometimes. Wee Man is cheeky as hell. If I tell him to stop doing something he’ll give me this incredibly defiant look that says “what are you going to do if I don’t?” My first impression of this cheeky, defiant and stubborn personality was demonstrated at just 4 weeks of age on an incredibly hot night. I was going to the beach with my girlfriend and Wee Man. Wee Man was in one of those baby seats that faces backwards for the first few months, then forwards when he’s older, so he was a tad small for it, and often ended up slumped forward in the chair (sounds bad but really wasn’t). My friend tried to straighten him up, to which he replied with a grunt, slumping forward again. My friend tried again, and was promptly greeted with a louder, more defiant grunt (the kind of grunt that goes with the words “dooOOoon’t”), and then he proceeded to slump forward again. Clearly all done on purpose.
Night time is hubby and I’s time to relax, so I try to get them to bed as early as possible; 7-730 for Wee Man, and 7-8 for Small Man. But I’m constantly surprised at the number of people I know with kids (my neighbours, the people over the road) whose kids, ranging in age from 3 to 10, are still up at 9, 10 or even 11pm. NOT because I’m judging, but because my GOD. Don’t you parents crave peace and quiet??? I would go absolutely BONKERS if I didn’t have a couple hours at night to wind down, child-free, before bed. Am I mad? My neighbour says her kids don’t go to bed before 9pm, but I’m wondering, “ummmm, can’t you MAKE them? Aren’t you the parent??” How old are your kids and what time do you make them go to bed? If you don’t have kids, what time WOULD you be putting them to bed? What is a reasonable time for a 4yo to stay up? I remember being in primary school and having to go to bed by 7pm. I remember very clearly thinking how crap it was that I had to go to bed while it was still daylight in summer!
Does anyone else get the guilts when they can’t be bothered making a nutritional meal and end up giving their kids 2 minute noodles for dinner? Sure, I throw in a grated carrot to ease the guilts, but for some reason it really bugs me when I do that. I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with the food I feed them. I practically survived on 2 min noodles when I was a kid and I was perfectly healthy. What about you guys? What’s your “lazy night” food to feed the kids? What’s your opinion on junk food and maccas? What about soft drink? How old should they be before they’re allowed to drink it? I try really hard to limit my boys sugar and processed food intake. However, some dear family members decided that I couldn’t avoid soft drinks forever and so made the decision of when Small Man would have his first soft drink for me. I was NOT HAPPY. But am I being too…strict? I KNOW I can’t avoid it forever, I’m not naive. It’s just, why not avoid it for as long as I can? I know that once they start school a lot of it will be out of my hands, but in the meantime am I really being unreasonable to not let them?
This school one is REALLY doing my head in. Did anyone have criterion that schools had to meet before you enrolled them? How did you choose the school your kids would go to? I firmly believe that kids need to go to schools that suit their needs, skills, strengths and likes. This is from personal experience, as I was sent to a private school that focussed on academic achievement: hence I did not do well there.
This is a question I really want to hear other parents’ feedback on. How far will you let your kids push you before you snap? Do you snap at all, or are you a patient Mary Poppins? See, I have a bit of a short fuse when it comes to children. Never been a fan of them. My own are ok, but others…yeah I’m not real big on children. And one of my pet loathes is having to repeat myself because someone isn’t listening. Whether friends, hubby or children, it just does my head in. So there’s a little problem I have with having to say something more than twice. Twice I can deal with. Just. After taking a big breath. But any more than that and I start getting a little miffed (read: extremely pissed). Then I snap. It’s the not listening that bothers me the most. So my question about that is how do you cope? How many times do you have to ask for something to be done before you start boiling over?
Ahh, the juicy question. How do you discipline your kids, if at all? I have tried many different forms of discipline and bribery. Smacking simply doesn’t work in this family, unless it’s over something incredibly dangerous or incredibly naughty. Most of the disciplining issues in this house revolve around not listening, so I don’t think it’s fair to smack a child for not listening, considering children are like that naturally. And also the fact that I would just constantly be smacking. So I’ve had to come up with other forms of discipline. There was the rule that if I had to ask something more than twice then I would take a favourite toy away. But as Small Man has soooo many, it never made a dent in the toy collection. I then tried sad face/happy face chart where I would draw a sad face for every naughty deed, and a happy face for every good. If there were more happy faces at the end of the day then Small Man would get to have dessert. If there were more sad faces then I would take a toy. Again, not very affective. Now, the bribery has turned to money. If Small Man does what I ask him straight away, or close to, then he gets 5c (he is already very savvy about what money is and what it does, and understands, if not entirely, the value of having money). If he does something extra good, like eat all his dinner without mucking around or complaining then he gets 20c. So this is more about rewarding good behaviour rather than punishing bad, and I have to admit it is working the best so far. Although, the fact that I’m bribing him still niggles me. So tell me: how do you discipline you kids? Do you believe in smacking? Or are you a pacifist? Do you bribe? How do you get your kids to do things?
So there you have it. These are my major parenting issues. These are the ones that make me wish more of my friends had kids. WIth no one to ask for advice, bounce ideas off and get objective suggestions from it makes it very hard to know if I’m a complete parenting spazz or if I’m actually quite tame. Not that I care what people think, really. But it’s good to know where I’m located on the crazy scale.