Friday, 24 May 2013

Good to Outstanding - Pressure on parenting

When I was pregnant I had a brief spell on my birth board for the month E was due on parenting website BabyCentre. Many soon moved over to Facebook, and in my humble opinion the majority of girls over there were loopy or trolls. Thankfully along the way I found some not quite so loopy ones, some who live locally and others who are further away but we make the time to hang out when we can fit it in. One of my closest and most wonderful friends that I found amongst the highly opinionated, my-way-or-no-way, know-it-all mums to be was Leah. Thank goodness for her. She was a voice of sanity and normality and as well as sharing my love for IKEA meatballs, she seemed to share my feelings and ethos about what parenting was going to be like and subsequently has been like. She's down to earth, and she's realistic. She is the flag flyer for what she describes as "wing it" parenting, with a little big of "Captain Routine" for good measure. 

And a lot of the time, I did wing it, with Captain Routine and a little of the Baby Whisperer to thank. Throughout for the first year, I was bombarded with emails from parenting websites and manufactures of baby "stuff" telling me about what my baby should be doing and what I could do to encourage that stuff. Cool. Baby was doing stuff she needed to do, on time or early, whatever I was winging that week was working and I felt in control. Ish. But the emails have slowed right down over the last eight weeks since she turned one and I suddenly feel like I have no idea what I'm meant to be doing. I mean, I know I still have to give her meals and that she probably can't make me a cup of tea just yet, but what are the milestones now? What is normal, what are they expected to arrive at school knowing, do people think I'm utterly loony-a-la-birth-board for taking my 14 month old out and teaching her to ride that scooter? When DO kids start using a knife as well as the fork? Is it ok that she's useless at jigsaws and can't seem to grasp some of the shapes on her shape sorter? Are her teeth going to rot because she's too independent to let me brush her teeth, yet her idea of teeth brushing is normally to suck the toothpaste off and wobble the brush around her mouth for a moment before throwing it in the bath? Should I be reading an online manual? I have no idea. She seems to be at the same stage as her peers but occasionally someone will tell me their kid can do something and panic hits me... MY child can't do that, how does their child even know that? Am I missing something integral to this parenting lark because I taught my child to pretend to much on leaves at the sight of a giraffe but haven't left her alone with a doidy cup to discover what happens if she tips it upside down? Or am I being ridiculous?  I assume that were she missing some fundamental skills, nursery would have highlighted it... 

I guess there are two things that got me thinking about this.

As a school we're always trying to move forward, get better, improve. Better results, bigger numbers, more value added, more levels of progress, better take up. As a teacher, I am always aiming to be outstanding. And as parents, we expect that the places our children go to learn, be it nursery or school, are keen to improve too. When I chose a nursery for E, I looked for transparency, love and a good or better OFSTED report. But as parents, I don't think we talk about ways in which we can improve our parenting, like the way us teachers do. We don't like to admit to the stuff that we got wrong or didn't work. Most of the time, we're just winging it. Or I certainly am. I am not an attachment parent, I am not a baby led parent, I'm not a Gina Ford parent. I am just a "whatever works and seems to make sense when I rationalise it" parent.

I cannot wing it in the classroom. 

In the news this week there was a lot of talk about the number of 7-11 year olds who are unable to swim. Whose responsibility is that? Have their parents let them down? Does it matter if kids can't swim? Do all schools have access to swimming pools? I have no idea. My friends take their babies to swimming lessons and I am considering it if I can find a course where the location and time suit me but I'm not worried that at this stage about when she'll be able to swim. She loves being in the pool and splashing and water play and that's enough for me for now. I recall that aged 5, I wasn't a confident swimmer at all, but by the time I was in Year 4 I had my 1500m badge and adore swimming now. Any harm done? I guess being a confident swimmer means you're more likely to survive if you fall in a river or off a boat.... 

So over half term I am going to try and do something new and exciting everyday for E in a bid to carry on winging it with a little help from Pinterest. Tomorrow? Water beads from a florist are already soaking in anticipation.

And if anyone can enlighten me on the million dollar question about when toddlers use knives, I'd be over the moon.


  1. Toddlers use knives when mom innately knows it's time. We're lucky to have that sixth sense thing going on. :) Happy long weekend to ya!

    1. Hmmm..... I'll wait patiently for that then!

      And to you!

  2. Popped over from the weekend blog hop, I am loving your idea on the florists beads! I really struggle with being a stay at home mum and ideas of what to do but these sound fab!

    1. They're all swollen now and feel AMAZING. I plan to out them in the water table in the garden but my friend who works in reception says she uses them on a light box... Really cheap too!

  3. Aw, what a cute little girl! I don't have kids so I can't really help you out in that respect, but I am sure that you will know what is right for her at what time. Just keep interacting with her as much as possible so she can pick up words etc etc.

    I found your blog from the blog hop, please feel free to check my blog out too!

    Corinne x

  4. My kids are 3.5 years old, love the water but don't know how to swim. My Father gives me grief regularly and I tell him that he's free to take them. I have to care for two kids at the same time, when I'm in the water with one, who looks after the other?. Sounds like a recipe FOR drowning.

    My husband never learned to swim, I am a confident swimmer and my kids will be too. When they are either old enough or circumstances allow me to take them both. We do lots of other things instead.

    Thanks for the BlogLovin follow. I'm a new follower of yours via BlogLovin. Thanks for linking up to my weekly BlogLovin Hop (

    Looking forward to connecting further.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

    1. It must be very difficult with two, especially both of the same age. I read an article the other day about a family with four kids and each kid has an individual 30 minute lesson every week with one of their parents as that's they only way they've been able to over come the ratio issue, which sounds great but must be a huge cost implication.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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