My Parenthood Journey

My Parenthood Journey
Posted on February 13, 2016
Archive : February 2016
Category : News

My Parenthood Journey

We all have different experiences from our own childhood and memories that shape our outlook on parenthood. How we parent today is very different to how our parents brought us up, as more women work and now have to balance family and profession. Technology is a huge part of our family’s lives and will become even more prominent in our children’s and fathers have a more involved role in their children’s lives. The definition of ‘family’ is changing.

My perception of parenthood has definitely changed since having my son. I had worked as an early year’s teacher and previous to that as a nursery nurse and nanny. I felt that I had a sound knowledge of child development and experience of working with a range of families with different outlooks and ways of raising their children. I had worked with lots of children with various needs and challenges and a huge range of families. I had a very clear idea of how I would and wouldn’t raise my children.

 Although the experiences I had as a professional were valuable, nothing prepared me for the roller coaster ride of parenthood. The overwhelming love for your baby, the need to protect and nurture it no matter what, the feeling of exhaustion and lack of sleep that I’d never felt before. Yet the feeling of elation followed by disillusion and worry that you are doing everything right and not ‘spoiling’ the baby as many well wishers warned.

One aspect that was completely overwhelming and often unproductive was the advice from friends, parents and social media - all well intentioned but completely conflicting. Thankfully, I had a great support network in the shape of a NCT antenatal group. New friend’s who didn’t judge, were going through the same thing and with whom you could have a good cry and didn’t feel a failure whilst confessing all your worries as a new mum! Our babies were all born in April and we all got on really well from the start (and still do!). Having people around me who were going through exactly the same experiences and who I’d would have loved to be friends with before parenthood helped enormously. This really made a difference to me as I followed a baby centered approach to parenthood rather than the highly scheduled routine my sister and mum had followed.

We all found our own paths and although great friends, we respected the ways in which we all cared for our children. We listened to advice but were able to take or leave it and without judgement, but supported each other when things went wrong. Looking back as a new mum I didn’t always get it all right first time but made decisions that I felt was right for our baby and us as a family that were in line with our values.

As time moves quickly on, the days of baby-hood seem along way behind as we are now in the midst of toddlerhood. The challenges are different, overcoming tantrums and frustrations, finding outlets to expel as much physical activity as possible, learning to communicate effectively, and testing boundaries are all in a day’s work. For a short period of time I felt I’d got the hang of it as things were going swimmingly – right until another phase began!

I have now learnt that parenting comes in ‘seasons’. For example my son has just learnt after endless modelling, to express himself properly using language rather than emotions to let me know how he’s feeling or what he wants. It felt like he would never stop whining and stamping to communicate his emotions. However, as every parent does, I kept on modelling the language he needed to use feeling that he would never get there. Then, one day I realised that it wasn’t so much hard work anymore and we hadn’t had an episode for a few days. I started praising him for asking and using his language, realising that this last challenge (season) had passed and I could celebrate success.....right until the next challenge began!  

So as we start the new pre-school year, what advice would I give to new parents? Surround yourself with positive people who respect your views and values. Stick to what you believe in, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes and change your approach to suit your family and situation. Humour ‘helpful’ family members who ‘did it differently in their day’.  Savor every moment, you may not feel like it when times are tough, but they grow up all too quickly and we can’t turn back the clock! 

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