Parenting is difficult. Yes, everyone does it. But you never know what it actual entails until you become a parent. When you were single without children, you may have listened to your parent friends moan about their challenges and rolled your eyes. After all, they chose to fall pregnant right? The thing is that even when you desperately want a baby, you cannot truly prepare yourself for having to look after and raise this little human. So much of parenting is about the intangible things. How you give guidance, when to show tough love, how to discipline – there’s no handbook to parenting and what works for one parent might not work for the other.

 

To be fair, you are probably doing a great job. Or at least, the best job you can and that’s probably enough for your kids. But there are some things you can do or focus on that will assist you in your effort to be a great parent. Things that simply help you and your child to manage daily life.

 

Trust your gut

Gut instinct plays a big role in good parenting. Your intentions for your child are naturally good and therefore you can expect that what feels right is right for you and yours. This includes everything from nap routines to diet and time in front of the television. Also, when you discover that other parents are doing the exact opposite and succeeding, don’t beat yourself up. If what you’re doing is helping your child be healthy and helping you stay sane then do it. The reality is that no one knows your children like you do. If you’re really stuck on something then consider consulting an expert and follow their guidelines. But again, if they’ve suggested something that doesn’t feel right to you and your child is indifferent or reacting negatively then don’t force the issue.

 

Ensure help is in place

Before the baby arrives, you should get your life in order with regards to your insurance and policies. You should make sure all is in order annually. But, when you are pregnant it is wise to spend some time updating your information and announcing the arrival of your little one to your insurance companies. You also need to make sure medical cover is in place. While it’s costly you need to have some kind of cover and hospital insurance options in South Africa are fairly affordable. Now you’re likely to have medical cover already as going through a pregnancy with no cover would be very risky. But once baby arrives you need to make sure that they are covered properly too. This is incredibly important as the lack of medical cover could see you land up in a lot of debt should anything untoward happen as medical bills are exorbitant. Also, you cannot simply sign up for medical cover for your child. You have to list your children as beneficiaries on your own medical cover.

 

Commit to taking care of yourself

This is one of the most challenging things any parent can do. It’s almost counter-intuitive considering this little person demands all of your time and attention. In fact, most mothers really struggle to leave their baby’s side. In South Africa new mothers receive four months maternity leave and many moms have to return to work at the end of their leave period because gone are the days of one income households. So most homes have two working parents and this means two very busy parents. Mom or dad, you should spend some time on self care. This could mean assigning time to be alone, read a book or go for a walk. It could also mean something as simple as doing your grocery shopping by yourself or something as indulgent as going for a massage. Sleep deprivation is also a concern for most parents but you must find ways around it. If you have a little one who still naps in the daytime then nap with them. And if your kids are older, teach them to pour their cereal and some milk in a bowl for breakfast on weekend mornings. This means you’ll be able to have a sleep in. And little things like ensuring a bit of a lie in on a Sunday morning are sometimes all you need to reboot.

 

Embrace mistakes

Your little ones, no matter what age, are learning every single day in every way. If they don’t get things right then you and them both need to be okay with that. It is through their mistakes that they learn. And always remember that mistakes aren’t an indication of their capabilities but rather an indication of them trying. Rather than becoming angry with them making a mistake, encourage them to try again and show them how to succeed.

 

Parenting feels difficult some days but it can be the most rewarding relationship of your life. Don’t try and be perfect, just offer love and seek advice whenever necessary.

About The Author

I was born in the Eastern Cape, close to the waves. After getting my degree in Media, Communication and Culture, I knew it was time to make my way to a big city. Not wanting to leave the ocean, Cape Town was the natural choice for me. At first I thought the fast paced world of marketing. But I never forgot that what I'd always wanted to do was write. Now I'm a freelance writer, where my office is my bedroom and my platform is the World Wide Web. I live with my partner and our two beloved Great Danes. When not reading or writing you can probably find me on the beach or exploring nature trails.

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