Parents: Stop Worrying About This Stuff! They'll be ok.
So many parents put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect when really there is no such thing. All it leads to is a lot of unnecessary worrying, anxiety, excessive expenditure and lots of disappointment. Even worse than that, we allow our worries to filter down to our children and make them feel anxious too.
Kids who have been molly-coddled are often far less able to cope with challenges that their peers and far more likely to develop a strong sense of entitlement than their peers to boot, which means easing up a little could do them and you the world of good.
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t put a decent amount of effort into your parenting – you absolutely should – but you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff or beat yourself up when you fall short of your self-imposed parenting goals.
Don’t know where to start with being more relaxed as parents? Giving up worrying about the following things is as good a place as any:
Not Spending Enough One-to-One Time With Your Kids
One of the most common causes of anxiety and guilt amongst mums, in particular, is the feeling that they are not spending enough time with their children. Now that having both parents work is more common, this is something that comes up as an issue far more often than it used to and it can cause so much unnecessary angst.
The fact is, you only have so many hours in the day and you have to work, look after he house, cook, and…well you know the drill, which means you may not have as much free time as you would like for the kids.
Spending time with your kids is very important, but so is earning money and looking after the practicalities of family life. The good news is, you don’t need to be glued to your child 24/7 to build a strong bond and ensure they’re happy. Spend as much time as you can manage on a daily basis, and set aside one day each month on the calendar just for you and one of your children to spend together one-to-one and they’ll know they’re loved. Anything else you can fit in will be the cherry on top of the cake.
Not Having the Latest Thing
Another common source of parental anxiety in the social media age is not being able to provide your child with all of the latest gadgets and gizmos that they desire. This is something you should never feel guilty about providing you provide the essentials such as food, shelter and kids clothes that fit, as well as lots of love, of course.
Sure, it’s nice to have extras like iPads and Nintendo Switches, but they’re hardly essential, and actually having your kid go without once in a while will teach them a valuable lesson in life – you can’t always get what you want.
Encourage them to be grateful for what they do have and they’ll grow up much more appreciative and less likely to adopt a “keeping up with the Joneses” attitude.
Not Being Available
Parents are busier than they’ve ever been with work and other commitments, which means there are always going to be times when you can’t make a dance recital or school nativity. It sucks, but it isn’t something you should spend days beating yourself up about.
All you can do is make an effort to be there for them when it is possible for you to do so and to ask them all about the big event once they’re back home with you. Chances are they’ll enjoy telling you all about it as much as they enjoyed actually performing in the first place!
Oh, and recordings are a thing.
Some parents think that they need to spend every single available moment with their kids, and to do otherwise is to be a bad parent, but parents are only humans and most humans need their own space from tie to time.
Sometimes, heading off and leaving the kids with mum or grandma or whoever so you can relax and get a bit of perspective is the best thing you can do for you and them because you come back all calm and refreshed ready for the next parenting challenge you’re sure to encounter. The kids will understand.
Forgetting Something Important To Them
It’s only natural to feel bad if you end up forgetting something that’s important to your child, whether it’s making them a costume for World Book Day or failing to take them to that playdate you arranged last week, but you know what? Even mums are only human and it doesn’t hurt kids to see that from time to time.
When it does happen, apologise to your child, see if there is anything you can do to make it up to them and then move on. If you’re tempted to go overboard by showering them with gifts or whatever, don’t. This could give them unrealistic expectations and you could be in danger of spoiling them. If they’re old enough, get them involved with managing their own schedule alongside you and these kinds of things are less likely to happen again in future.
How Well Your Child is Doing
Okay, so if it seems like your child may be struggling to hit their milestones or it looks like they could have something medical going on, you absolutely need to take action, but if it’s just a matter of your kid being a little slower to pick things up or make friends, don’t panic.
Kids grow and learn at different rates and you agonising over their progress every minute of every day really isn’t going to help them or you. Do what you can to support them through their problems, get outside help where necessary, but allow them some space to navigate their own issues and they will benefit far more because they will learn how to solve their own problems and stand on their own two feet. They know you’re there if they need you.
Not Feeding them “Perfectly“
Some kids will eat anything you put in front of them. Others will eat little more than chips and chocolate spread, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about that. When your child is a fussy eater, fighting with them; trying to force them to eat foods they don’t want to eat can just make things worse. It turns mealtimes into a battleground and the more you push the more they dug their heels in and refuse to comply.
The best you can do sometimes is to continue offering them healthy options, but not sweating it when they refuse. Eventually, they’ll try that carrot stick or eat their peas and you will be delighted, but until then, play the long game and try to remain calm. If you’re worried they may need some medical help with their issues, obviously do that, but otherwise, don’t sweat it mama!
Bad Things Happening
The news is full of bad things happening to children, and people of all ages, in fact, all of the time, but you’ll drive yourself crazy if you think about everything that could go wrong with your kids, The fact is, most children make it to adulthood without any major incidents, in the west at least. So, do what you can to minimise risk where you can, but don’t let it rule your life.
Being parents is hard, don’t make it harder by worrying yourself silly about things you really don’t need to!