Having recently written about the ways my parenting differs from my mum’s, it made me think about all the ways it’s similar. I actually learnt a huge amount about how to be a good parent from her and so I thought I’d share the highlights.
Read to your Children Every Night
My mum read to be every night before I went to sleep. I would beg and beg for one more story, one more chapter, one more page. This quite often ended with her falling asleep before I did! I started reading to my children ever night when they were just a few months old and have continued ever since. My mum carried on reading to me long after I could read myself and I have done the same. I believe listening to stores helped my son fall in love with books and that love of books is what helped him learn to read even though he found it hard work.
Don’t Reward School Performance
As a child I was a bit put out by this one but as an adult, I’m totally onboard. When my friends did well in tests they were often rewarded with gifts, days out or even cash. I thought that it was dreadfully unfair that all I got was a heart felt well done. As an adult, I realise that this lack of reward for my work is part of what led me to be intrinsically motivated. I am driven to work hard without any external reward. I really want this for my children too and so, while I am often tempted to bribe them to do some more timetables practice with the promise of extra screen time, I try not to do it.
Let Them Play Out
While this was probably more important for me as an only child than it is for my kids, my experience of playing out has led me to want that for my children too. In the school holidays I spent much of my time playing out in the street with my friends, occasionally popping into the house to get food or beg for money for ice cream. I believe that by playing out with my friends, with no adult supervision, we learnt how to deal with our own disagreements and that’s a skill we all need.
Relax about Mess
I always remember that my bedroom was my own and it was up to me what happened in it. While she occasionally suggested that I might like to tidy it, she treated it as my space to do what I liked with and I eventually earn to take pride in that. I can also remember being allowed to make huge amounts of mess when I was playing and I loved having a mum who didn’t stunt my play with worries about keeping things tidy. I try to have the same attitude with my own my kids. When they were toddlers, we did lots of messy play, the garden is full of junk for them to get creative with and the crafty cupboard is always open for them to get creative (although that last one did take a while!)
Never Go Bed on an Argument
This is one I practice not just with my kids but with my husband too. If we have disagreements, they are always sorted out before bedtime so that we can all get a good nights sleep. Sometimes this means a bit of a late night while hurt feelings are mended, sometimes we need a bit of time after we’ve made up for things to feel normal again but I think its worth it to stop any of laying in bed and worrying.
And Finally, Put the Christmas Stocking Outside the Bedroom
Once I was older, my Mum told me all about how late she would have to stay up, waiting for me to fill asleep on Christmas Eve so that she could fill my stocking. The older I got, the later she had to stay up. This always stuck in my head to when we had kids I made it our tradition to hang the stockings down stairs. I also had to good sense to buy a special door hanger to leave teeth for the tooth fairy in so that I didn’t have to go rummaging under pillows in the night!