Am I being too strict? Too permissive? Have I handled that situation well? Wait, should she be eating that? As parents, we can constantly wonder whether we’re making the right decisions and it can be all too easy to convince ourselves we’re making a mess of things. If you’re doubting your parental prowess, perhaps these seven reasons why you’re not a crap parent will change your view.
Photo credit: Sarah Megginson
You read to them
The average child enters first grade having been read to for around 1,000 hours. That equates to roughly 30 minutes per day of story time, which is not only quality time you’re spending together, but it also does wonders for your little one’s language and speech development. Even if you only average one story per day, reading to and with your kids is one of the most valuable ways you can spend your time together.
You know when to focus on your kids
It sounds cheesy, but the best gift you can ever give your kids is your undivided attention. Smartphones, tablets, iPads, iPods, laptops, computers, TVs, gaming consoles… these gadgets are constantly competing for your attention and, sometimes, we can all be guilty of spending too much time attached to one of these devices at the expense of time with our children. But when it really counts — whether it’s during meals, riding bikes, playing outdoors or building forts in the living room — it’s important to switch off from these distractions and just focus on being in the moment with your family.
You feed them healthy meals as much as possible
Okay, look, we all have those nights where we give the kids toast for dinner. And most of us have a pantry stocked with pre-packaged snacks and treats (for the, ahem, “kids”). But for the most part, you can pat yourself on the back for making a consistent, daily effort to ensure your children are eating as healthily as possible. If you’re worried your kids aren’t getting enough nutrients, try to boost the colours on their plate — red strawberries, orange pumpkin mash, green grapes, etc. — and remember to look at the bigger picture. They may have eaten nothing but yoghurt and popcorn on Friday, but how was their fruit and vegie intake over the whole week?
Nutrient-packed foods for your toddler >>
You lather them in sunscreen
According to the Cancer Council Australia, “Evidence suggests that childhood sun exposure contributes significantly to your lifetime risk of skin cancer.” So it doesn’t matter whether your kids’ natural skin colour is lily-white, olive-toned, dark brown or somewhere in the middle: Growing up in Australia, it’s important that all kids aged 12 months and over are slathered in sunscreen whenever they spend time outdoors. Under 12 months, you should avoid direct sun exposure where possible and only use a small amount of sunscreen on the face, neck and ears.
You encourage their creative side
Quick quiz: In the last week or two, have you spent time with your children colouring in? Painting? Crafting? Baking? Dancing? Singing? Reading, writing or telling stories? If you answered yes, you can rest easy in the knowledge that any and all of these activities encourage your kids to develop their creative side and explore their world in new and interesting ways.
You give them the opportunity to get there in their own time
At least a dozen times a day, I have the urge to hurry my kids along, but ever since reading this beautiful article by Rachel Macy Stafford, I try to resist giving into those urges as often as possible. It may take my toddler 7 minutes to wash her hands, and putting on her shoes can be an excruciatingly slow experience — but that’s what toddlers do! They move at a glacial pace as they carefully absorb their world. It’s how they learn, develop and grow. There are definitely times when we need to hustle things along, but whenever I’m able to allow my daughter to learn to do something in her own time, her spectacular pride at doing it “all by my own self” reminds me how worthwhile it is!
You know that television is not your babysitter
Confession #1: My daughter watches television. She was obsessed with Dora the Explorer before her first birthday! Confession #2: I’m perfectly okay with that. She learns loads of new words, songs, animals and other fun, educational facts from watching TV, but more importantly, it’s an activity she participates in in addition to playing shops, colouring in, reading books, finger-painting, playing with marbles, building cushion mountains, etc. TV viewing comprises a small part of her adventurous and fun-filled day. And, hey, if she happens to zone out with 20 minutes of Dora or Peppa Pig while I’m making dinner, folding laundry or returning emails, then that’s a win-win in my book!