Advice for new parents
I was asked recently what advice I would give to a new parent to stay calm and cope with the challenges of motherhood. As a mum of 5, the one phrase that comes to mind over and over again is “it’s just a phase”. When one of them has used a swear word for the 10th time to get a response, I remind myself “it is just a phase”. Or when another has pulled down his pants in the middle of the playground and done a huge wee right by the other kids. I say to myself “it is just a phase”. When my eldest began answering back big time I had to stay calm and keep saying “it is just a phase” even though I know this phase could last a long time!!
Difficult behaviours do CHANGE
The beauty with having had quite a few kids is that I realise now that all the challenging times and difficult behaviours do CHANGE. No matter how bad things seem, there will come a time when you realise that things have changed and that you and your child have moved on. How many times did you feel like a certain behaviour was just going on and on and then a few months later you suddenly realise at some point it just stopped.
For instance I cannot remember the day that one child suddenly stopped biting other toddlers when he was about 2, I cannot remember the day when another stopped caressing my breast for comfort, I cannot even remember the day I stopped breastfeeding them, I cannot remember the day when one child stopped whining and used words clearly and succinctly – all these things just silently and gracefully stopped.
I remember when my eldest was a baby he developed colic when he was about 6 weeks old. After 3 nights, a well-meaning friend tries to comfort me by saying that colic normally goes by about 12 weeks. At that time I felt that 12 weeks seemed like an eternity – how was I going to cope with another 8 weeks, 56 more days of inconsolable crying? I remember wishing that the time would pass quickly but feeling like time was going so slowly. As it turned out, as soon as I stopped consuming dairy products his colic went completely and so he only had it for about a week. However the point was that it was just another phase that passed and I coped.
It will pass
So my advice is no matter how bad things get, it will pass. I do not mean that you can just ignore it and hope it will go away – there is still a huge amount of parenting, explaining, communicating and loving that needs doing. However the reward is that once it has passed you will get a new peace (even for a short while). Plus you will have learnt new coping strategies and found different ways to teach them how to deal with life and you will have grown as a parent.
So the next time you feel like their tantrums are driving you nuts, or they refuse to eat anything green, or they repeat words they have heard in the playground, take a deep breath. Let it out. Repeat. Then remember that it is just a phase and think of it as an opportunity to help them find a new way to manage the situation and for you to grow as a parent.
As testing as it can be, bringing up children, remember they are just learning and exploring. Forgiveness can be a powerful tool for both yourself (don’t expect to be a perfect parent and get it always right) and them (testing the boundaries is their job. It’s how they find out where the world is). Take a moment in the day to give and receive a hug. It’s a powerful thing and you can find out the benefits of ‘hugs’ here.
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