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Be a better parent

how to be a better parent
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7 day countdown…

Wanting to try and be a better parent? Ever felt like you’re letting your kids down, robbing Peter to play with Paul, and generally giving parenting a shoddy name? Well, firstly, you’re not the only one. And secondly, you’re probably actually doing OK. But we could all do with a metaphorical shot in the arm now and again, so here are seven days’ worth of quick and easy ideas to give your parenting a perk-up.

Day 1

Turn off the phone, tablet and laptop for the first hour that you’re home from work. Your children have been without you for the last 10 hours in some cases, and they’ll be in bed soon enough. So this is their time with you, when they can have your undivided attention and you can share a bit of their day. Work can wait, surely.

Day 2

Do something new together. It might be something you’ve never shared with your children or something completely fresh for everyone. It could be craft-based (anyone for origami?), sporty (crazy golf usually goes down a storm) or outdoorsy (how about a bat-walk?) Choose something that’s interesting for you and your kids, and have fun learning new skills together.how to be a better parent

Day 3

Read a parenting book. Many of us probably pored over countless chapters of advice and information during pregnancy, but how often do you make time to follow this up now your kids are here? You might have a specific problem you’re dealing with, or it might just help to get some fresh ideas. Even if it turns out that your bedtime or commuter reading simply reassures you that you’re on the right track, some words of wisdom can give you a real boost.

Day 4

Remember what it was like to be a child. You could re-read your childhood diaries, share old photographs with your young family, or teach your children some games you enjoyed playing. They’ll love hearing about you when you were little (especially any tales that Grandma might have to tell them), and recalling your own experiences can help you understand your little ones’ needs and emotions.

Day 5

Put yourself on the reward chart. Earning stars and stickers for good behaviour and doing their chores can be a real motivator for children – especially if there’s a treat or day out at the end of it. But wouldn’t your parenting benefit from a few goals and rewards, too? Think about what you’d like to change (less shouting, more playing) or let your children make up a rule or two for you. But expect to rule out their first three ideas, which are likely to be along the lines of ‘giving us more sweets, letting us watch more TV and making bedtime later’.

Day 6

Make time for a family meal. It might suit your family to sit down to a home-cooked roast, or it could be a takeaway treat or a picnic in the park. But make it a time to sit down, talk to each other, and just enjoy hanging out.

Day 7how to be a better parent

Have a topsy-turvy day. Put the kids in charge of what your family will do, where you’ll go and what you’ll eat – and you have to ask their permission to leave the table, have a biscuit or go to the park. They’ll have a ball (and probably abuse it massively, and demand weekly reruns). And you? You’ll get an insight into your children’s roles in your family – and if you’re lucky they might do the laundry for you while you’re watching Disney Channel. Maybe.

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About Alison McKay

About Alison McKay

Alison McKay is a charity PR professional with over 15 years' experience in full-time, part-time and jobshare roles. Since being made redundant while on maternity leave, she has divided her time between working for a local museum, freelance and volunteer writing, and being chief wrangler to a two-year-old mud-magnet and an almost-seven-year-old wannabe dog-care worker with a penchant for hair accessories. Alison's hobbies include yoga, reading cookery books and putting away just enough clean laundry to keep the pile below 3ft tall.

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