Looking for some expert approved, family friendly parenting advice? Well, let me help you there!
I don’t usually bang on about the stuff I do, but this time I am, so indulge me. You see, I’ve spent quite some time wrangling the key info together about the first few years and the day to day stuff it involves, and putting it in one spot. Raising Children is that spot. It’s a digital video resource about the first decade of life, with a focus on the first years, and it has been my passion project for the last few years. And… it’s just a had a rebirth of sorts.
The TV series is back on air till the end of the month on Prime, popped in after the preschool programming, daily at 8.55am. Part of each episode sees me meet various well-known Kiwi families to see how parenthood is for them. Answer? It’s much the same as for the rest of us! And that was the point really – to show that we all have similar day to day parenting challenges, regardless of whether you’re famous or not. Kids are a great leveler. It’s been lovely reconnecting with these guys too for the website update to see how life is trucking along, a couple of years down track from when we shot the series.
They’ve got some profound and humorous things to say it must be said about what parenthood has taught them about themselves, about relationships, about how little people tick, and about what’s really important. Some pearlers of sage advice and solidarity have emerged. My personal fav: ‘it’s normal to leave the house looking like it was burgled when you’re getting out the door in a hurry with small children’… and on a more ponderous note: ‘We love telling family stories, of bravery, of grit, of resilience, of love – these give the kids a sense of identity, values, and belonging to something bigger than themselves’. Nice. There’s always value in hearing how other people get through I reckon.
Apart from the celeb updates, and a general tidy up, the website has now also made connections to lots of other useful sites too. And the app has had a rather useful addition to it. By enabling push notifications and adding your child’s date of birth, you’ll get regular, short, age appropriate parenting tips in your palm. Weekly from birth, fortnightly from age one and monthly from age three, all approved by Brainwave Trust.
So that’s what has kept this gal busy in the gaps… seeing the resource get some traction with a new wave of parents. It’s an aha moment really when you go from not really wanting to know anything about parenthood, to suddenly keen to know what’s ‘normal’ and how to deal with it, as I did as a new inhabitant of planet parent. It’s that strange and wondrous place you find yourself transported to in delivery suite when ‘the baby’ becomes a reality.
And that’s my motivation really. As cheesy as it might sound, I want to do something helpful and useful for parents coming behind me. I used to be a nurse in the post-natal wards when I started out and I remember then seeing the huge difference the right support and information made to a new mum. Knowing how a baby ‘ticked’, some idea of what to do when, and the having the support to get there was crucial.
You don’t always get it right, whatever ‘right’ is anyway – but it’s good to get some support along the way I reckon to help you make the choices you think work best for you and your family, within the context of whatever life has dealt you.
For me, my kids are now 14, 18 and 22… and I’m no parenting expert, that’s for sure. I’m just a curator of it for others to use. I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself and reflected that I really could have handled some situations much better than I did. But having knowledge of ‘best practice, ha ha’ means the mistakes are useful too – you gain insight into how you could try it a different way next time that might have a different outcome. These teen and adulting phases are just a different life stages with new situations to understand. But it’s also fantastic seeing them grow and develop, and I do enjoy young adult company. We have some fun together. I look back fondly now on the younger years and think in one way how easy it was, and yet how hard it was too to enter a new ‘world’. I’ve concluded I think that each stage feels hard at the time (and it is), and once you’re through it and onto the next stage to understand, it perhaps just looks easier in hindsight!
Whatever stage you’re at, drink them in I say. Enjoy the age, get some support from friends in the same boat, and some good advice when you need it along the way – none of us are expected to just know this stuff, or be experts by osmosis.