Hi, I'm Katie a mum of 3 girls, aged 18, 17 and 12, and I want to share some parenting advice that I wish someone had given me.
There's no shortage of opinions on the internet about what you should do as a parent. But my goal isn't to convince you of anything or tell you what you should do for your kids - just give you some information that might help make things easier for you and your family.
What I want you to take away from this blog post is that there are plenty of ways to be a good parent. You don't have to do everything exactly the way your parents or other people want you to do it, and you don't have to judge yourself for not doing things the "right" (AKA traditional) way.
My 3 girls are all pretty different from each other, and yet they're also very similar. I'm not always a perfect parent - heck, I'm far from it most of the time! I mess up sometimes and work really hard at being there for them in lots of different ways.
I had my first daughter at the age of 18. The toughest thing I had to deal with was judgment. I was too young to have a baby of my own, you've thrown your life away, it's irresponsible, blah blah blah. Then when I was pregnant with my second daughter, and people found out, they said things like, "wow, you're brave!" (I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad, I just want to help you avoid getting caught up with all the negativity). What other people think of you is none of their business. Being a parent is hard enough without worrying about what other people think, do or say.
You're doing a fantastic job and have been since the day you gave birth to your child! Seriously - don't ever let anybody make you feel bad about being a new Mum. But what really helped me during those times was knowing that I wanted the best for my daughters. There was nothing else in life that mattered more than giving them a good start and doing everything I could to give them a good life.
Though it may be hard to believe, the process is a beautiful and incredible experience. It’s worth every ounce of energy you put into childbirth because, in the end, your child will make all that work exponentially worthwhile. Giving birth can feel like an uphill battle sometimes, but in reality, it's just one more thing we women do amazing on top of everything else life throws our way on a daily basis.
I hope you take some time to slow down and enjoy those early days and months with your baby while things are still a bit more predictable and calm in the chaos that parenting can be. They grow so quickly! It's also important to establish good habits for yourself now since you're going to need them for many years.
It's an unconditional relationship that will bring you enormous joy but also a lot of heartaches! Although my relationship with my mum was not great and still isn't, I think it has shaped me as a mum to my own girls and shaped the way that I approach parenting and my relationships with my daughters.
Having teenage daughters is HARD but amazing at the same time they do genuinely become your best friends. They'll tell you everything and yet they'll keep a lot of things to themselves. Of course, as parents, we want to protect our kids from making mistakes, but I believe that their mistakes teach them how to make better decisions in the future.
I always wanted my girls to feel like I could be trusted, someone they could share their problems with, turn to for advice, and most of all - I want them to know that I will always be there for them!
This is a hard one, but it's true. Sometimes it happens because of how our lives and paths are always changing, and sometimes your friends just move on with their lives. But, trust me, once your child starts school you will find your friends there, just you wait!
Don't feel like you have to do everything on your own. It's okay to ask for help.
If you're struggling with parenting - chances are there is someone who has been where you are and comes out the other side (you will too). There is always a way!
It's stressful being a parent. There are days when you'll feel like you just can't do it anymore and don't know how to make it stop. Parenting is hard work, a lot of the time, you feel like just throwing in the towel (I know I did many times!). What we do is not easy. But, if it were - everyone would be doing it!
Asking for help and talking to someone else who understands what you're going through or knows how to get through a tough spot will most likely help you figure things out faster. Also, talking it out and getting advice from someone who has been through the same thing can be very helpful.
I'm a big believer that you're not alone in this parenting adventure, so if you feel like there is no one around to talk to or help you with your problems - chances are there will be someone there for you. Net Mums forum is a great place to start for parenting advice and the meet a mum board is a great place to meet mums in your local area.
Did I mention that you're doing a fantastic job? I don't think people tell each other often enough that you're doing an excellent job.
Yes, the days will be hard work - but you'll get through it! Parenting isn't easy. Days will be long and frustrating. Nights will seem endless at times, and you'll have a hard time not getting caught up in the emotions of the day/night with your kids (it's tough, really, really tough).
What works for one child doesn't work for another - it's okay to make mistakes.
Have you read my blog post Parenting Advice for surviving parenthood without going crazy
Be consistent, firm and loving.
Like everything in life, parenting will feel like hard work at times, but you have to keep going. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
If something works for one child - chances are it will also work with another! But, of course, it helps if you're all on the same page.
Don't be afraid to try new things with your kids, and chances are, if you just keep trying, it'll work out!
The only thing you can truly control is how you react to situations. Stay calm and don't react in anger or frustration. Raise your voice, lose your cool, and they're likely to respond in kind.
Kids, especially young ones, learn from their environment and tend to mirror the behaviour they see around them. So if you raise your voice or get frustrated by life's hurdles - they'll probably react in a similar way.
You're going to make mistakes as well! It's okay to make mistakes, and it's okay to realise you didn't do something right. So learn from your mistakes, keep going!
Embrace that patience, and you'll be rewarded in the end!
Be Patient, and You’ll Get There!
Every child is different. They all have their own personalities, likes and dislikes, and they all respond differently.
It's not about you - it's about them!
Your kids will test your patience but stick with it. Always be patient with your children. Don't react to situations in anger or frustration, and always be calm.
This is a difficult one as we are all impatient in some way or another. I am an impatient person myself but have really learnt how to control my impatience with my kids and life in general. As parents, we sometimes forget that our children aren't just ours. They also belong to others - family and friends who love them deeply.
There will be times when your kids will push all of the limits and challenge you. This is where 'tough love' comes into play.
If you don't set boundaries and rules for your kids, they'll only misbehave to see how far they can go - then blame it on their age. Kids do this because they want to see how far they can push the boundaries. When you set the limits and rules - they'll know what they're supposed to be doing. It may not necessarily be easy at first, but eventually, it will get easier as kids tend to respond well to consistency and often settle down once they've found their place in life.
You'll find that the stresses of life and raising kids takes its toll on you both. Make a point to have date nights with your partner or take some time out by yourself. It's easy to get caught up in the daily routine, and we often forget about self-care and just getting away from it all. It's essential to spend time with your partner, enjoy some downtime and discuss things as a couple. Make sure you talk about what you're going through so that both of you know what the other is dealing with on a day-to-day basis.
We often forget how important self-care is and tend to spend more time taking care of others. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but self-care is essential for your general wellbeing. It’s really important to take some time out by yourself. When you need to unwind, go for a run or go out with friends - don't feel like you have to stay at home.
Be sure to have time with your partner - make a point of doing something special for them and enjoy life together. Life is short, too short to spend it all alone! So take a moment to read my blog post: 10 Minute Self-care | Why self-care is important for busy mums.
My eldest daughter is leaving home and heading to university in September, which is both a happy and sad time for the family. We're all so excited to see her head off into the big wide world, and we know that university will be the start of another chapter in her life.
What I've learnt throughout being a parent: there are always new beginnings - you never know what tomorrow will bring. As parents, we often plan ahead for our children's futures and set goals that they must reach before doing certain things or before they leave the nest - whatever you want to call it! This is a parent thing, and we all do it.