YOU are the core, the centre pole, the rock of your parenting journey.
Learning to take care of yourself in order to be the best parent you can be for your child takes practice, trust and courage. It's very easy to get praise on social media when you spend all of your waking moments creating the perfect space, the perfect snacks, the perfect educational toys, the perfect routines, the perfect social calendar and the perfect wardrobe for your child. As soon as a mother shares that she has booked a babysitter or is scrolling on her phone while the kids play in the park, that praise is gone.
Wild Parenting is about bringing back some of the traditional parenting methods, incorporating some of the modern parenting methods and really only holding on to the ones that work for you.
After some conversations with my dad, who is one of eight children, I know for sure that my nan didn't spend all of her days entertaining them all or driving them all over the place to fulfil an acceptable social calendar. The expectation wasn't there so she didn't feel any 'mum guilt' about getting things done or reading a book while the kids played in the yard.
There is such a high level of expectations on mothers now to; have a fulfilling career (but be able to drop everything if there child is sick or to attend a performance), keep an immaculate house that is insta-worthy, look amazing and stay in great shape, PLUS provide the educational, social and emotional support for her child around the clock.
No wonder women are burnt out and depressed.
Unfortunately the only thing worse than these expectations are that other women fuel the criticism and hate spread on social media if a woman is doing life differently.
Wild Parenting is about choosing how YOU want to parent and supporting other parents however they choose to parent. There is no right or wrong way. There is no shaming or guilt because someone parents differently to you. When more women support each other, the more we all thrive.
At the time of writing this I've been a parent for 11 years. I have 3 incredible children and am constantly reflecting on the way I parent as they move through different stages of childhood.
I certainly parent differently to my own parents. This didn't go over too well with my dad early on but he is on board now. Unfortunately my mum passed away a few years before I had my children. It is scary as anything to become a mother without the guidance of your own by your side. I'll share that story another day.
I became a teacher before I became a mum. It helped me in some ways to understand how children work and what they really need. After becoming a mum I realised that children don't need much 'stuff' at all to be happy. I remember buying my son this incredible toy for his first birthday and he only wanted to play with the cardboard box. He played with it for ages, he chewed on it, crawled through it and tried to constantly get the dog inside it. That was a great lesson for me; it's not always about the stuff (until they get to around 7 years old!!).
I incorporated many different philosophies of education into the way I parent; Reggio Emilia, Montessori and some elements of Steiner. I took the parts that I enjoyed and left the rest.
I love the independence focus of Montessori. I love the play-based elements of Reggio and I love the nature focus of Steiner. I incorporate these into how I set up my home, how I talk to my children, how we have dinner at night and how we play together (most of the time). Most of the time I am parenting how I want to truly parent. Then there are times when I lose it and hide in the bathroom for some peace and quiet. I then come out after regaining some patience and we continue with our day.
The more I've learnt about myself, the better I have become as a parent. Having children has required me to understand my 'buttons' that they love to push, learn how to let go of needing everything tidy and ordered all of the time, and learn to ask and accept help when I need it (this is something I struggle with more than anything else!). Allowing myself the time to read or watch videos or take some courses around things that I enjoy make me a better person which then continues to make me a better parent.
Parenting is such a journey. There is no end point. There is no stage where you say 'Excellent, I've got this nailed, I dont need to learn anymore'. It's a constant journey of learning about yourself and learning about your child. We learn new ways to communicate with them. We learn how to support them at school. We learn how to support them with their social interactions. We also learn how to step back so they can tackle things on their own and learn.
As my children have gotten older (all of them are at school now) I always make my own breakfast first in the mornings. I make my eggs and a cup of tea and I sit outside to enjoy some space. This started because we were always running out the door and I hadn't had a chance to eat my own breakfast yet. I know that I will always find time to get the kids ready but I didn't give myself the same luxury. I now love this time in the mornings and sometimes one of my kids will come out to chat which is always beautiful. Most times they do their own thing or migrate from their beds to the couch as they aren't always morning people. They know that if they want me to make them something for breakfast they have to wait until I'm finished. They can choose to either make their own breakfast (a popular choice these days) or wait until I'm free. This has taught them independence skills that are important as they grow up, which is one of my main goals as a parent.
I often think about how I can change things that aren't working in our family. I dont like to winge about things that can be sorted out. I also like to think outside the box for the right solution. This is always ongoing. I always felt like parenting was the hardest thing in the world, I was always exhausted and cranky. I shifted that. Now I feel that parenting is fun, it comes a lot more easily to me now, I'm not as exhausted and we have such beautiful connections in our days and weeks.
I'm looking forward to sharing more of how I made that shift and what our days and weeks look like. Feel free to ask questions and to share your own Wild Parenting journey with us.