A is for Authenticity
It’s easy to get sucked in to believing mummy bloggers who seem to have it all together (no one does) or to look enviously at picture perfect scenes on your Instagram feed. But people rarely take photos of messes or blog about their flaws. Take heart that you are just as good a parent as anyone out there, and don’t try to copy any one person or method wholesale, when it’s really “not you”. Your children don’t want a perfect mum – they want one who’s Authentic. Be real.
B is for Balance
Sometimes we read a good article or book and get excited to try out some new parenting style or system (eg switching from slinging baby to sleep to Cry-It-Out). As with all new ideas, it’s good to begin with caution and be open to changes along the way. Don’t rush into anything extreme headlong and lose your Balance in the process.
C is for Create
Don’t be afraid to Create new systems and rules for your family. There’s a lot to be learnt from the Joneses, but they are not you. Find what unique ways work best for your family.
D is for Discipline
Whether you use time-outs, smacks, dialogue or rewards and consequences, discipline is part and parcel of a parent’s life and responsibility. Don’t shirk it out of a too-strong need for your child’s love and approval. The most loving thing you can do, as a parent, is to mete out Discipline appropriately, in a loving yet firm manner.
E is for Enjoy
All to often, we find the days and years just whiz by so quickly, and our children grow up faster than we would like. Take time to Enjoy the little moments of each day. If you have 5 minutes to spare before the school bus arrives, don’t spend it unnecessarily gazing at your reflection in the mirror – go spend those 5 minutes watching your child run around the void deck. Run with her. Laugh. Remember these moments.
F is for Freedom
Every child needs their space to be Free, to be themselves. These days, we tend to overschedule our children with activities. And yes, children need to learn to sit still and do their homework, or to be quiet when their younger sibling is asleep. But carve out a pocket of time each day when your children – each child – can be free to do whatever he likes, however he likes it! Danger aside, of course. Similarly, find time for yourself daily or weekly, to do whatever energizes or refreshes you. (See Me-time)
G is for Goals
Set mutually agreed-upon Goals that your child and you can work towards together. For example, learning one new word every day, or cooking dinner together once a week.
H is for Hug
Psychologists have confirmed that hugs are indeed essential for the physical and emotional well-being of both children and adults. So don’t shy shy, Hug your child every day – many times if possible!
I is for Improvise
Little messes happen every day. Things don’t go as planned. When you feel out of control and frustrated, it is easy to lose your cool and feel like you are a total failure as a parent. Don’t! Take a step back, breathe, and look at what you have in that situation and moment, and Improvise. You’ll be surprised what kind of solutions you might find out of such situations!
J is for Joke
Laughter really is the best medicine. Anytime you’re stuck in a frustrating situation with your child, try to see the humour, and to share it aloud. Pick out something funny, and make it into a Joke. Sometimes all you need is to burst out laughing by the funny that you see, which breaks the down mood of the experience, and the negativity just melts away…
K is for Know you are not alone
All of us, without exception, have felt like we’re the only one who has to deal with this amount of mess and mischief on a daily basis, at some point in time. But the truth is, we’re really all in the same boat! Knowing that you are not alone can be very freeing and comforting, even though it doesn’t take the frustration away.
L is for Listen
We can’t say it enough. Listen, listen, listen. Many times, offering an attentive listening ear to your child is all that’s needed to tip the scale in favour of a good day and nip a tantrum in the bud. And recognize also that you need to be heard. Make time to have daily heart-to-heart chat time with your spouse, even if it’s just for 5 minutes.
M is for Music
Music calms the soul. Some days, the silence of a quiet house or screams of noisy toddlers can really wear you down. Fill your space with music that makes you happy. It could be a particular radio station or a favourite CD. Your kids might begin to like those songs too!
N is for No
Don’t be afraid to say “No”, sometimes. Your child needs to know what’s off limits and what his options are. By all means, offer choice and rationale, but don’t shy away from the “N”-word.
O is for Observe
You might have harsh words of anger on the tip of your tongue as your son streaks through the living room without taking off his muddy shoes. But wait – first bite your tongue and Observe his face beaming with joy, and his hand clutching a piece of paper with what looks like doodles. “Mummy! Look what I made for you in school today!” Now, wasn’t that extra moment of restraint totally worth it?
P is for Perspective
It’s not easy to be a little person – to be told what to wear, what to eat, when to eat, when to sleep, how to walk and how to talk. At least once in a while, put yourself in your child’s shoes and imagine how she views the situation from her Perspective. You might gain a little insight into why your child reacts in certain ways to some of the requests you have of her.
Q is for Question
There is a ton of parenting advice, from books and websites like these, to be found out there. By all means, read as much as you can with an open mind, and be informed on methods, principles and research. But always remember to Question what you read, because every author is fallible, and every child is unique.
R is for Run around
There are many benefits to having some form of daily exercise, including weight control, stronger muscles and bones, lower blood pressure, and a happier outlook on life! Don’t just watch your kids in action at the park or playground – join them and Run!
S is for Self-care
You care for your family 24/7, and oftentimes, Self-care suffers. As you provide for your family’s needs – cooking, cleaning, refereeing, disciplining, encouraging, ferrying – remember to take time out for yourself to relax and recharge. It could be just a short 10 minutes each day before bed, when you can catch up on your reading in the tub, or a short jog around the neighbourhood in the evening while hubby holds the fort. Me-time is not being selfish – it’s an essential for the long haul.
T is for Time
It’s not about quality time versus quantity time – both are essentials in the journey of parenting. Make Time for your children, your spouse, and loved ones, and your heart will be full.
U is for Understand
It’s easy to jump to conclusions, but words once said, can’t be retrieved, and unwarranted discipline helps no one. Don’t make assumptions, even if you know your child inside out. Always seek to clarify and Understand his needs and motivation before addressing your concerns.
V is for Vocation
Whether you’re a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM) or full-time working mother, motherhood is part of your Vocation and life calling once your baby is born. Don’t take this responsibility lightly – it’s a huge honour and a privilege to be raising our future generation! By all means, keep you 9-5 job which you love, but when there are hard choices to be made, family should always come first.
W is for Wind down
It’s good to have a quiet moment before bed, when you can Wind down with your thoughts on the day that has passed. Perhaps you could start a nightly ritual of sharing your day with your spouse? Just a few things you are thankful for and some things you’d like to change or discuss. It’s a great way to connect with your spouse, and a meaningful end to a long day.
X is for X-plore
Be adventurous! Try out new things and new places with your children, and see these things from their perspective. Go out and X-plore our very own Singapore parks, attractions, pools and cafes with your little ones. You won’t know if you never try!
Y is for Yesterday
Don’t hold on to Yesterday’s failures or mistakes, but look forward to today’s new joys, graces, struggles and challenges. Give every day an equal fighting chance, and choose not to focus on the past. As the saying goes, “the Present is a Gift”.
Z is for Zzz…
Did you know that chronic sleep loss or deprivation can lead to health problems like weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power? Experts advise at least 6-8 hours of Zzz (sleep) a night. If frequent night wakings are a norm, try to catch your forty winks during your lunch break at work, or even when your kids take their naps. A well-rested parent is a happier one!
By Dorothea Chow