Goodbye control freak, hello parenthood

Last updated 05:00 19/07/2013
READ: Read to your children whenever you can, turn off the TV, point at pictures, help build imaginations.

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I have two daughters, an almost 3-year-old and 8-month old, and they are the light and bane of my life.

I love them both to death and would do anything for them but I also understand that sometimes they drive me nuts.

In my pre-children life, I was a control freak, a not-so-great listener, fast-paced (impatient), or at least those were some of my not-so-wonderful qualities. Now that I've become a parent there is no room for that kind of behaviour in my life and when my kids do it to me, I understand how frustrated my poor husband was.

Children give you the heights of joy and the pits of absolute despair some days. I was fortunate enough to seek out and receive wonderful support from my family and parenting community so here's a couple of things I've learnt:

1. Get help

Put your hand up, don't be ashamed if you can't cope. All parents have sat on the end of the bed and cried at some point or had to put themselves into time out. There is amazing support if you need it, through your midwife, Plunket or well-child providers, such awesome groups like PAFT (parents as first teachers) and family - they were my life support system. I believe wholeheartedly that it absolutely takes a village to raise a child and I wouldn't be without mine.

2. Don't judge other parents

Just accept that everyone is different and isn't that what we are trying to teach our kids? To be leaders, be different, and accept people don't do it the way you. Filter all advice you receive and give, some is welcome, some is not. My kids are not vaccinated and I am vigilant about their health, it doesn't mean I'm against vaccination, it just didn't suit our family situation and that's okay.

3. Use 'when' and 'then' statements

This was an absolute godsend for me. When you've eaten some tea, then you can go and play. Don't use if or beg your kids, they just won't do it.

4. Slow down

This is the key to everything. Children may have trillions more braincells than us but they are still connecting up, so take the time to see things at their pace. When you rush, that's when tantrums come, at least for my toddler - rushing her out the door is like setting off a bomb. Prepare in advance and leave early if you really have to be somewhere at a certain time.

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5. Tickle

Tickle their inner thigh when they go like a surfboard in the carseat and don't want to be buckled in - it instantly makes them sit.

6. Cuddles

Hug and kiss them as much as possible, it makes them feel secure and you won't get this time back in the future.

7. No verbal abuse

Don't call them names or say they are stupid, it's spirit crushing and you want them soar. My eldest understands that her 'behaviour' was bad and not her. She is not a naughty girl but her behaviour was naughty, there is a difference.

8. Apologise

We all lose the plot sometimes and yell at our kids, even scare them. Make sure when you've calmed down that you apologise for your bad behaviour. This helps them to see that we all have moments and teach empathy.

9. Taking turns

Instead of say 'please share your things', encourage 'taking turns', it doesn't mean they'll never get that toy back, it's just someone else's turn for now.

10. Look at photos and videos often

My kids just love to look at themselves and what they've achieved, it helps them build memories and an identity. We all take 1000s of photos of our kids documenting our lives. We sit down and look at them together and talk about what we were doing that day.

11. Read

Read to them whenever you can, turn off the TV, point at pictures, help build imaginations, read, read, read!

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