Friday, 31 January 2014

Parenting advice for single parents and tips for children changing school

Courtesy of E.ON, as part of their campaign involving bloggers taking advice on all sorts of aspects of their lives, I was afforded a session with a parenting expert.

We had a general chat about what it has been like being a parent.  Going right back to how things were when Max was very little, and when I was suddenly left to parent alone.

I’m glad I started blogging, and I’m really glad that I got asked to write my book, Parenting with Balls, which forced me to focus back on that time in our lives.

Because sometimes it’s easy to forget what it was like.

When parents, who perhaps find themselves in similar circumstances, ask me for help and advice it doesn’t always come easily.

But learning for my mistakes, and not replicating them, is something I hope a few have found useful and benefitted from.

One of the things I took too long to recognise was the importance of a break, and getting time for your self.

It was for a multitude of reasons: desperation to establish myself as Max’s dad, the fear of him feeling unwanted if I wasn’t around and perhaps the paranoia of how other’s perceived my parenting acumen.

Yet parenting is exhausting, and how could I possibly be at my best, and therefore give my child my best, if I was knackered?

Added to that I started to find that short periods of separation bought me time to reflect on things, and perhaps better understand my son’s behaviour, and it certainly helped get a clearer picture in my mind when it came to decision-making.

And I was fortunate.

It’s all very well saying it’s great for parents to take a break, but how do some manage that if they simply don’t have the family, friends or babysitter money, to buy themselves time alone?

This is where advice I’ve often advocated makes good sense.  Offer to look after other children.

Stay with me.

If you’re strapped for folks to look after your children, or even when you’re not, I always think it’s a good idea to offer to look after other children.  Setting up play dates.

Might seem a stupid suggestion for the exhausted parent to take on more kids, but – I’ve found – having more than one child of a similar age to look after, isn’t like too much extra work.

But the real added benefit is that parents of the children you are looking after will often reciprocate, meaning that your child goes off for a play date, and you end up getting a little time to your self.

Not to mention the benefits to the children who get to learn all about interacting and socialising in a variety of settings.

Obviously this practice can’t just be applied willy-nilly, asking random parents at the bus stop if they’d like to leave their kids with you.  But at places where you can start to build relationships with people, play groups, soft-play centres, nurseries and school playgrounds.

You can also accompany your children on these dates and ask parents likewise.  So you can better judge if it would be a good idea to leave your children with people, and for them to see their kids are safe and going to enjoy their time in your care.

It’s certainly worked for us, and still works for us.

Max has formed some fantastic relationships, and on days he goes to his chums for tea after school I get an extended working day.

This advice was endorsed by E.ON’s parenting expert, who also offered some other great – and current – advice.

I recommend for anyone who has a child changing schools in the near-ish future, the video of our parenting expert session would be very worth a look at.



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