How did it get so hard? Where did we go wrong? Did I answer my parents back at 3? Surely not. Was I negotiating each time my mother asked me to do something? Did I win?
Allow us to introduce a wonderful mum into our fold. Louise White is a Sydney mum who hails from Wales originally. This week Louise, mum to two beautiful little girls, reflects on how parenting is often harder than we thought it would be and that it really is OK to get help with parenting. Welcome Louise, it’s fantastic to have you! Louise writes …
”Terrible two’s”…not easy, but 3….wow, I didn’t see this coming.
I type this on the eve of our first daughter’s 4th birthday and boy (or should I say ‘girl!’), what a year we have had. At least we are ending on a high note and as we tuck her into bed tonight, she pipes up “Mummy, when I am 4 and really big, I am going to be good all the time and not whinge” (honestly, they were her words!!)
It’s not been an easy year in the White House. Actually, it hasn’t been easy from the start however, like many parents, we muddled along with some help from the trusted Robin Barker; her Baby Love book was our bible and never left the bedside table. The weekly newsletters that I subscribed to were a godsend too; a step-by-step guide of what to expect and when to expect it, when to start feeding solids, toilet training, and so on.
Second birthday came and went, second baby on the way, new house, new business, no time to read, no weekly newsletters and at the time, I hadn’t even realised how much I missed being drip fed information.
I’ll fast forward the next year otherwise I could be here until Christmas. In short, we have been taken to a place we never knew existed. Before kids, I negotiated deals with my eyes closed, confidently presented to a room full of buyers, hosted VIP international client dinners and now, here I am, debating with our daughter.
How did that happen? How did threats and consequences become part of every day life.
Never one to ask for help, I finally surrendered after another shocking bedtime debating match and turned to my husband and said, “Enough is enough, we need help”
And there it was. The next time I logged into my Gmail account I found the Happy Child newsletter and a link to the Triple P Program. (www.triplep.net) I noticed a four week seminar coming up in September covering the Power of Positive Parenting, Raising Confident Competent Children, Raising Resilient Children & Ages & Stages. Sounded perfect, so at 6pm every Wednesday evening, I would head off for a two hour session.
I cannot stress enough how much this 8 hour investment in time and energy has transformed our lives. My husband and I had similar upbringings in that there were clear rules. Politeness, manners, respect and discipline were key factors and this is how we want to bring our children up. We are confident, competent adults, firm believers in the power of positive thinking, always thriving to do better, all we want is to do a good job so my mind was racing as I was driving to the seminar on the first night. My stomach was in knots, my head in a spin, how did we get to this point? Would I ever own up to reaching out for help? Was I putting too much pressure on myself, my husband, my daughter?
As I walked in to the seminar, the look on the other 25 parents instantly revealed I was not alone. That in it’s self was a massive weight taken off my shoulders. We all looked as nervous, anxious and exhausted as each other!
We covered a lot over the 4 weeks however I wanted to share with you what stuck for me and how it worked for us:-
* Did you know a child needs to hear 60 descriptive phrases per day. (!) This is more than just a “good girl or good job”. This is saying, “I really love the way you painted the picture” or “thank you for sharing so nicely with your sister”
* It takes an adult 7 times to break a habit – it’s no different with a child.
* 5 seconds is a long time! Next time you nearly lose it, take a deep breath and count to 5 and see how long it is!
* Talk to a child the way you would expect to be spoken to – when was the last time you were shouted at by someone 3 times your size
* Tap into your child’s social and emotional stage. Give your 3 year old a go; they need opportunities for independence.
* A child’s love affair with rules – it works!
* Look after yourself – healthy happy mum = happy husband = happy children = happy family (gym membership thrown in here..!)
* We really are not alone and overall, we are doing an ok job of it. Don’t beat yourself up!
* There is help out there, lots of it in all shapes and sizes. You just need to know where to look for it. www.resourcingparents.com
“Mummy, I haven’t been in time out for a long time” (6 weeks to be precise!)
“You are a good lady mummy looking after us” (this one nearly made me cry as I was walking out to the third seminar)
“Calm down sweetheart, come here and let me give you a cuddle” (big sister consoling little sister after tripping over the doll)
“Mummy, I have done my jobs without you asking (“jobs” consist of pulling up the blind in the bedroom, making the bed and switching off the bedside lamp)
The Triple P Program is not telling us how to be a parent, it’s giving us the tools to be better at it. At school, at university, at work, we are always trying to improve our knowledge, better ourselves, so how come it stopped when we became parents. Investing some time in our family’s wellbeing was the best thing I have done to date.
So, to wrap up, a much more harmonious White House these days however don’t get me wrong, we still have our moments however mummy is much more informed to tackle the situation.
Happy 4th Birthday Ms White.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, the seminars are free in NSW. Check out more details here http://www.families.nsw.gov.au/families_nsw.html