We are bombarded with parenting tips, advice and opinions. We read some pointers that sound ideal on paper, yet flop when put into practice. Now that my kids range in age from late teens to mid-twenties, I have compiled my time-tested top three parenting tips, bestowed upon me by others. I adopted these and personally endorse them as having been impactful and accurate.
#1. Give young children loads of unstructured playtime, but schedule the heck out of teens.
Young children are natural "players" and explorers. They benefit from a relaxed pace, time to be imaginative and creative doing things they self-select. The research supports it. Younger children really don’t need hours of lessons and structured activity. They need access to outdoors and self-directed playtime. Their mental health is better, and their intelligence soars when they are given time and freedom to explore their interests at their own pace and engage in play they are naturally drawn to. Play is their work. Enter teens: as some of our Grandma’s would say, “idle hands are the devil’s playthings.”. Too much free time for this age group welcomes too much time on social media, experimentation with sex, drugs, alcohol, risk-taking behaviour, hanging out somewhere you’d rather they not be or just general mischief. Part-time jobs, challenging academic programs, volunteering and extra-curricular activities galore go a long way to prevent problems from ever starting. Structured time for teens means allowing them access to positive role models, social opportunities, problem-solving, commitment, teamwork, responsibility and hard work. It’s not always about which scheduled activities teens choose. It’s about what they’re not doing during that time.
#2. Be a little bit selfish when spending quality time with your kids. They’ll love you for it.
If you’re a parent who HATES a mess indoors, don’t feel obligated to make homemade slime just because other parents do. Kids love being with a relaxed, happy parent, and often they really want the time together more than being choosy about the activity. Sharing a hobby you’re passionate about with your child, let’s them see you in a whole different light and lends itself to the possibility of having a new shared interest to pursue together.
#3. Take all Mom-Guilt, crumble into a tight ball, douse in gasoline, light on fire, back over remains with your car.
Mom, you did your best. You always do your best, but some days we fall short because we are human. If today wasn’t stellar, lucky for you, tomorrow is a fresh do-over. Take a breath, hit reset and do better tomorrow. Guilt and shame don’t produce better results. There is a compelling argument for “good enough” parenting. The fact you’re even bothered about your shortcomings means you’re almost certainly in the good enough category already. We don’t expect our kids to be perfect, so let’s extend the same gentleness to ourselves.
If someone were to ask you which pieces of advice you’ve adopted that you would consider your top choice, what would it be? Please post yours so others can share the glorious wisdom!! Your favourite tip may become a game-changer for someone else.
Paula Presswood is a former teacher turned entrepreneur. She can mostly be found blogging, doing yoga, drinking tea, chasing around after her three teenagers and sampling delicious appetizers with her crazy magician husband. She is Co-founder of Presswood Entertainment and The ThoughtFull Board. Follow Paula on instagram