The current Covid-19 lockdown is pushing all of our parenting buttons. Amanda Cassidy is prepared to try anything — even parenting like a princess for the sake of peace
Routines get a bad rap.
They suggest an uptightness of character, a need for order and an emphasis on the mundane. But usually, routines evolve – they begin as a loose pattern that seems to work for a reason.
Exercising might work better for you in the mornings, homework might be less of a nightmare if you do it straight after school rather than waiting until children are tired. A big meal at 4 pm might be needed, or you may prefer to eat at 8 pm. ( Or both, like I do.)
Either way, routines become routines for a reason. And then, because we, as humans, love repetition and familiarity, we stick to them over and over again.
And then the coronavirus pandemic hit. And nothing in your parenting arsenal can prepare you for what that means. Wiping bums mid-conference call; homeschooling while trying to stick to deadlines, sick to your teeth of arts and crafts and crafts and arts and glue and glitter.
Fitting a yoga class in between LEGO competitions doesn’t do much for our wellbeing (or benefit our down-dog).
We all know what’s coming next... ish
But here is where we find ourselves. And like the predictable humans that we are, we strive to find some sort of routine – a structure to our day, a way to differentiate between weekends and weekdays that is not based around wine consumption.
Here, we are beginning to see a pattern – my children eat two breakfasts and they are hungry for lunch by 12.
The snacking recedes until about 4 pm when I roll out the big guns in the form of giant casseroles or lasagne. We've noticed that the minuscule amount of schoolwork we do is less hellish if they do “PE” first. A structure appears. We all know what’s coming next... ish.
My down-on-my-knees explaining technique turns into a bellowing competition. I even close the windows first.
But then the discipline wanes. The bar drops considerably. Things slide… drastically. My down-on-my-knees explaining technique turns into a bellowing competition. I even close the windows first.
We are cooped up, trying to function as normal with school and work and yet, it is all completely dysfunctional.
I try to remember my parenting instructions and recall how I’ve always admired the way Kate Middleton seems to react around her children.
In fact, a parenting expert, Cai Graham has written extensively about how the mother to George, Charlotte and Louis seems to have the right balance when it comes to keeping her young charges on track. And it is all down to three techniques.
And while my feral offspring may not currently measure up to the Peter Pan-collared Royal siblings, I've little to lose by trying the three techniques (most of which are common sense anyway). And I'm pleasantly surprised when they work.
1. Don’t refuse help
It is easy to be a good parent if you have bucketloads of nannies, right? Well, keep in mind that your children always want YOU, and are more likely to be shaped by how you react to them.
Speaking in a recent interview, Graham explained: “Kate is a busy working mum and appears to have learned very quickly that as parents we cannot do everything ourselves. Immediately out of hospital with her first child she enlisted the support from her own mum to help her adjust to the demands of being a new mum.” She then got a full-time nanny.
Of course, many of us don't have the luxury of nannies or help. Especially not at the moment, when many of us have LOST our childcare as we lock-down with our families.
But the point is that there are always ways you can plan to take the pressure off yourself. Either enlist your partner to help out more, from your new working-from-home reality, even to free you up for a walk.
Alternatively, use whatever means available to get yourself 20 minutes of peace even if it means extra screen time, a bribe, extra TV.
Take the help. It takes the pressure off. Don’t be a martyr.
2. Don’t indulge
It is lovely to give your children all of the things. But be prudent. A child who gets whatever they want whenever they want is unlikely to understand the importance of working towards rewards, relishing them or appreciating them.
Naturally, Kate Middleton can give her children a great deal. But to retain a more normal upbringing, she and William don’t seem to spoil their children with material objects.
Instead, they are being taught not to have a sense of entitlement. Graham explains: “They are quite obviously going to have a life of privilege, but this does not mean that they necessarily have to behave with an attitude of entitlement.”
In our current isolation, that translates into trying to retain boundaries, keeping on top of things like manners and respect as a priority. Not stuffing them full of cakes and games all of the time just to keep them happy (although, in fairness, it is pretty tempting).
3. Keep calm and carry on
Keeping calm and carrying on is a typically Royal attitude. And princess-mom here doesn’t always feel like taking a deep breath and explaining things patiently. Especially stuck at home in lockdown with three tiny terrors and a dinner to cook.
But. We all know that having a major adult tantrum to match the kiddie one happening in front of us doesn’t work. Ever.
Channel your inner lady, take a moment and remember that they don’t have the mental capacity to understand that mummy and daddy have deadlines while they are playing Sumo Wrestler Last Man Standing on the trampoline... loudly.
Graham observes: “When her children appear overwhelmed or perhaps 'over-excited', Kate is quick to get down to their level and reassure them with a calm word or a reassuring hug."
If our own children are not behaving well, especially during the current situation, it is worth remembering that they are probably bored or looking for our attention. Staying calm ultimately keeps the household a lot more positive. And quiet.
So parenting like a princess might just be worth a try. Because so far, parenting like a teacher has not worked. Nor has parenting like a baker, or a LEGO engineer, or a babysitter or an industrial cleaner.
And none of it has done anything for your blood pressure reading.
Keep calm, ladies and carry on. This too shall pass. Double Hallelujah for RTÉ School.
Images via Kensington Palace Instagram
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