Before you have children, it’s pretty easy to fantasise about what you will and won’t do as a parent. And to believe that if you raise your children as per your specifications, they will become perfect, well-behaved little people.
The flaw in this theory? One that is grossly underestimated until you have children of your own?
They are actual people. Right from the start. They have their own personalities. Their own opinions. Gosh, their own attitudes! From a considerably younger age than we realise, as well. Dag nammit.
Here are some things that Husband and I were adamant we would do a certain way. And then didn’t. We laugh about it now. Fools, we were. FOOLS.
Pre-kids – no television until at least three years old. Television rots the brain, leads to ADHD. The studies are there and we all know, research doesn’t lie.
Reality – Princess was 18 months when she started watching TV – BoyChild was newly-birthed and, realistically, Mummy needed Princess to be distracted from the new baby. BoyChild has always been a tv kid, his first words were Wiggles lyrics. I’m pretty sure Baby Girl thinks the TV is a member of the family, judging by the way she waves as she passes it by.
- Soft Drinks/Milk
Pre-kids – the children shall drink only water or milk until they are (age unspecified).
Reality – This one we actually did ok with, the first time. Princess was 2 before she drank anything other that water or milk. It was at her second birthday party and I walked in on someone feeding her Fanta straight from the bottle. When said person has their own kids, I will be waiting. BoyChild? Juice won’t kill him, right? Baby Girl seems to be on track at the moment, although she does have a tendency to sneak Daddy’s OJ when he’s distracted.
- Dress the kids in odd clothing
Pre-kids – we all have those photos of us as 4 year olds, wearing socks and sandals. Pants up to our ears, you know the ones. I vowed NEVER to dress my kids like that. Oh, the shame.
Reality – The one thing I didn’t consider? Kids have Their. Own. Opinions. Shut the front door. I stopped buying Princess clothing that I liked about a year ago because Oh! The disappointment when she wouldn’t wear it. If it’s not a dress or skirt, she won’t wear it. But, socks with sandals is ok with her?! In ten years, when she comes crying to me in embarrassment because of the clothes she wore, I’ll happily tell her who picked them.
Pre-kids – You don’t need to yell. Any parenting book gives you many other options. Reason with your child. Speak softly and they will speak softly in return.
Reality – Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I just … it just … they … ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha *wipe tears from eyes*. Ok, in all seriousness, I try not to yell. Because even I can see it’s not the most effective way of communicating with the kids. But when it’s 8:45am, kindy starts at 9am and Princess decides to go BACK TO BED, voices get raised. I won’t lie.
As I write this list, I realise there are so many more I could add here. Bribery (probably one of the best tools out there. Although I prefer to call it, Coercion with Reward), ignoring the kids occasionally, tricking them into doing things, the list goes on.
My point is, you do what works for you. And for your kids. What works for one child may not work for another, even in one family – Princess LOVES reward charts, BoyChild couldn’t care less about them. At the end of the day, you do the best YOU CAN for YOUR CHILDREN. It’s so easy for people to wear their Judgey-McJudgey hats when they don’t have kids, but just remember – you get to watch them have kids one day. And maybe, just maybe, their little SonnyBoy will be the one wearing socks with sandals. Haha.