Keep calm, or buy shares in Ice Cream – Blog Four
What routine and/or parenting style do you use for your child? This is a question that, funnily enough, ‘Routinely’ crops up in discussions between parents.
The name ‘Gina Ford’ will be well known to many parents, whether you believe in what she preaches or not. We brought the book prior to our first child being born, read it cover to cover (well, my wife did), then decided to take bits from it but also ignore a lot of it.
I’m sure all parents think their way is the best way. Not many parents will admit to ever doing it wrong either, even with hindsight. The proof, of course, is in the pudding. The pudding being the children and the custard on the pudding being how dark the rings around your eyes are!
I will buck the trend and admit we got it slightly wrong by thinking we could adopt exactly the same approach with the second child as we did with the first. I think the bottom line is, you have to be adaptable but you also have to stick to your guns, no matter how much you feel like killing your child at 3am!
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you what routine to follow, I wouldn’t dare. Also, I doubt you’d listen. Why would you? I haven’t sold a squillion books on how to bring up children. All I’ll do is give you a few examples.
A conversation with a friend of mine, when I asked him why he looked so dreadful, went thus:
Him: “xxx wakes up every single night at around 9:30pm, comes downstairs and plays or watches TV with me until I go to bed around 11pm. I never get any time to myself to just chill. I’d love to go to bed at 10pm but I can’t”.
Me: “You can’t stop him waking up, but why do you let him out of his room and downstairs?”
Him: “What else can I do? I can’t stop him. It’s driving me crazy. It also means he gets really tired and irritable around 4pm.
Me: “Mate, you’re about 6’ 3” and built like a tank. You could stop ME from leaving my room so you can certainly stop a four year old!”
Now as I said, I would never suggest what you should do, but surely there are things to not do, right? All children will try it on, no matter how good or spirited (naughty) they are, but if they understand that if they do misbehave they can’t ‘Break’ you, then you WILL win. Not straight away, but eventually you’ll win. So with the situation my friend was going through, obviously he can’t stop his son waking up, but he can stop him taking control of his evening!
And guess what, a month later I asked him how it was going and sure enough, xxx gave up on getting back out of bed because there was sweet F.A. to entertain him in his room.
A quick proviso on this though, don’t do what I did when Isabelle went through a little phase of wanting to come back in the lounge shortly after going to bed; Don’t forget to remove all interesting and fun things from the bedroom, because you’ll end up not watching the highlights of MotoGP and instead, will spend nearly an hour in your child’s room building a castle out of mega-blocks for all her princesses!
Here’s another example for you: A family member has a bit of an issue with her child being too rough with other children. I met said family member at a play group (thank god, because none of the other mums can even muster a ‘Hello’, let alone chat to the Alien in the room that is: A man!). In the car on the way to the play group she had told her child that if he didn’t play nicely with the other children she’d take him home. Literally 5 minutes after arriving he lashed out at another child. She didn’t just reprimand him and try again. She didn’t take him outside to really show him she wasn’t happy. No, she handed me her cup of tea, said sorry, took him by the arm and in front of everyone, marched him out, stuck him, screaming, in the car and drove home.
Do you think he’s behaviour is getting better? Yep.
Anyway, take from all that what you will, but I guess what I’m saying is keeping calm and staying in control will pay off, either immediately or eventually.
It’s so hard because the ones you love the most are always the ones that can push you to breaking point quicker than anyone else. I smashed my palm down on the table the other day in annoyance because Toby had basically been naughty during the day and deprived me of sleep at night for about four days on the trot. It made a huge bang noise. I instantly regretted it because his whining turned to screaming, Isabelle’s nervous silence (because she could tell daddy was getting annoyed) turned to crying. I had a sore hand, a spilt drink and the fifth different type of food that Toby was refusing to eat got scraped in to the bin. I then cuddled them both and said how sorry I was for banging the table!
Descending down to his level and ‘Spitting my dummy out’ also cost me an ice cream on our post-lunch walk to the beach, by way of a further apology to Isabelle.
So my conclusion is, Keep calm and carry on, or you’ll end up spending a fortune on ice cream!
Food tip of the week:
Hearing an over-weight parent say, “I can’t afford to eat healthy” as an excuse for giving their over-weight children processed ‘Ding food’ drives me utterly mental.
I spent £12 at our local farm shop recently on the following:
One whole organic chicken, some spuds, a broccoli, some mushrooms, three carrots, two red onions, two parsnips and a swede.
I roasted the chicken, along with the spuds and parsnips and boiled some broccoli & two of the carrots to create a roast dinner for all four of us. For that roast dinner I used one side of breast to feed the four of us. With ‘All the trimmings’ it was plenty. 4 meals.
After the kids had gone to bed I then removed ALL the meat by hand. This ensures you waste nothing but also discard every single bit of fat, skin & gristle. There is so much meat on an organic, free range chicken it’s amazing. I emphasise organic, free range because if a bird sits on its arse all day, every day inside a crowded barn there simply will not be as much meat.
I use the other breast to make our sandwiches the next day. 4 meals
I then make a 4 adult portion curry with the rest of the meat, one of the onions, the mushrooms, the carrot and the swede. 4 meals
Even if you say you need another £4 to cover the few extra bits you need (bread, creamed coconut, curry powder, etc), it means you’ve eaten 12 meals of organic food for £1.33 per meal.
Fact of the Week
More chickens are raised and slaughtered for meat than all other land animals combined!