This month my son turned 10. I’ll save you from all the “where did the time go?” cliches and just say the last 10 years went by faster than my previous 28 years combined! I really enjoyed writing and sharing my Insights from 10 years of Marriage last year so today I thought I’d also share 10 Insights from 10 Years of Parenting.
First – a little back story…
Becoming a Parent
We welcomed our son into the world 10 years ago. We were living in a town called Palmerston North in New Zealand. It was a beautiful Winter’s day (my midwife wrote that in my maternity notes and it’s stuck with me).
My pregnancy had been fairly smooth. We had a scare very early on. And towards the end the health care professionals became worried he was measuring small. I ended up being monitored for the last couple of weeks and was booked in for an induction the day after my due date.
We turned up at the hospital for an induction but it turned out I was in the early stages of labour. They broke my waters at 9am. I held my baby in my arms at 12.40pm. The hospital staff joked that if we had another I should probably book in the night before given how quickly my first had arrived!
Becoming a mother was hard. I struggled for a long time. Being responsible for a tiny human was my biggest challenge in life so far. I gradually learnt to relax and lean in and accept that I was doing the best I could at any given time. And I’ve learnt a lot along the way…
10 Insights from 10 Years of Parenting
Parenting is something you have to learn on the job. No amount of preparation can get you fully ready until you are a parent!
Listen to the advice that many people freely give. But it’s perfectly okay to do the complete opposite. We have to pick what works best for us at the time. As long as you have your own and your child’s best interests at heart don’t feel you have to justify those decisions.
We took a parenting course when our son was 4. Wish we did it sooner. It really helped us work out what kind of parents we want to be and gave us strategies to deal with frictions that arise in families. (If you’re in New Zealand – it was a Parenting Place Toolbox Course for the early years – would 100% recommend).
Build your own traditions. Celebrate them. Get the kiddos excited to be involved. And cherish them. Some of our favourites are:
- pancakes for breakfast on birthdays and Christmas
- decorating the house with streamers for special occasions
- reading all together in the evenings before bed.
Find a way to capture the memories. I’ve always loved documenting life. I was a scrapbooker, I take part in day in the life and week in the life. I collate 1 second of videos from every day (I’m doing this in 2020 and have the full year from 2018 too).
For me – documenting life helps me realise how awesome the season we are in is while we are in it!
We grow in stages – remember the stages come and they go. Even the really tricky stages will come to an end. You will get through it. This too shall pass.
Learn to embrace your child’s personality. Figure out what drives them and work with that. Their personality may be completely opposite to yours!
For me, some parts of parenting have felt like a wild ride and I’ve wanted to stop the ride and get off. What’s been helpful is knowing myself better and knowing what makes me feel rested and refreshed. As an introvert I NEED alone time (something that was so severely lacking in those first years). I’ve learnt to find ways to get that alone time and come back as a better parent!
In terms of making rules and guidelines – we found some advice we were given really handy… it’s easier to start with stricter rules and gradually relax them than it is to enforce strict rules after starting more relaxed.
As a side suggestion here – learn all you can about the online world and how it effects our mental health – this is having a massive effect on kids today. Our school offers an annual e-safety session and I’ve picked up so much useful information through that.
Let them be little! I can’t say this enough. The world of responsibility and cynicism and adulthood will reach them at some point. But let them be little for as long as possible! Let them soak up the magic, the wonder and the whimsy of childhood while they can!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights from 10 years of parenting. f you’re a parent I’d love to know some of the things you’ve learnt along the way.
I wonder what the next 10 years will bring? Teenagers and all kinds of things I am far too naive about I am sure!