Convenient parenting theories 101
You pick and choose your parenting ethos. Depending on how new to it you are, what your parents did, economic situation or cultural persuasions, you gather and filter the rules you raise your offspring by. And like your situation, these rules can change.
After a nervous early period, grafting over Gina Ford's rigid routines or Annabelle Karmel's weaning recipes, I’m nowadays pretty laid-back about most of our regimes. My husband and I pick and choose philosophies convenient to our lifestyle and family objectives.
Hands up, my kids are often the ones eating the wrong things, staying out a little later on the weekends, sleeping in our beds when ill and other things many schools of parenting might advise against. But they're happy and kind boys. And my husband and I are (by the skin of our teeth) in a good place as happily-married parents.
Here are the very convenient theories that work for us. Our path of least resistance at the moment.
Choose Your Battles The ultimate and tackle-all approach to important relationships! Suck it up and let them dress themselves in pyjamas to a colleagues BBQ, let them sleep with a dummy a little longer or decorate their faces with their new paint set; But, lay it down if they're unkind, if they throw their dinner on the floor or act in a way that endangers themselves or others.
Choose what's really important to you and exhale the rest.
Happy Mummy, Happy Kids The backbone of it all. Ain't nooooo one happy if mummy won't take responsibility of her own well-being. No one likes a martyr. Tell your husband or a trusted friend if you need more support. Be sure to treat yourself, take a break, do other things you love to do and be a better mama for it.
Worry About What They Eat over a Week, Not in a Day Advice from a pediatrician no less! This has stood me in great stead through phases where either one wouldn't eat most foods or on occasion, anything at all.
It Takes a Village to Raise a Child Take all the help you can trust... and be trusting, which includes your husband (he's not babysitting, he's their Dad!) I wasn't always wholly confident that my husband or parents, let alone my childless best-friends, knew the entire parenting manifesto that I was writing in my head (based on paranoid HyperGoogling). But, I trusted how much they loved my kids, that they were competent adults and people I wouldn't mind the boys turning out like, so I've learned to trust them.
So my husband will feed them a tube of Pringles for a picnic 'lunch' and my best friends will happily fire them up on ice cream 30 mins before bed, but really, I'm rarely a better influence.
It's Just a Phase This one was golden in the first two years of motherhood. Every time a few days of awfulness took hold, threatening an eternal pattern, I uttered this mantra. And it's true, it all comes out in the wash and these new behaviours are forgotten as easily as they are taken up. If they don't sleep for a few nights, even two weeks after a holiday, if they stop eating dinners... breath and repeat after me "It's just a phase...". It is.
Kids Need to Get Bored As children my brother and I were taught that "Only Boring People Get Bored." We were encouraged to make our own entertainment, to read a book, play a game... (i.e. leave mum alone). To be happy in one's own company without constant external stimulation is a gift that everyone needs throughout life.
There can’t be any hard or fast rules for parenting as every child and family is different. So feel out what works for you and follow it with confidence.