How to Win at Parenting

I remember coming home with my first-born and staring at this brand new human wondering: "Now what?" Thirty years, 7 children and one grandchild later I am not claiming to be Mary Poppins but I can pass on some of my wisdom, some of it learned the hard way!

madmumof7 holding baby grandson

I'm going to start with the diaper bag, baby bag, nappy bag whatever you want to call it. Now some people seem happy to swan out with just their child and their phone but these are the same people who were always begging for bits out of my capacious and well stocked bag.

If you have a newborn assume a poonami WILL happen. When it does you will need everything to be changed. Treat your diaper bag like a secret service "go bag" and check the contents regularly. Trust me you do not want to find you only have one dryish wipe and no spare clothes which fit left in the bag when that brown tidal wave hits. Yes, that scenario is something that happened to me.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Have a quick check you have enough breast pads/formula/colic meds/dummies/pacifiers before heading out. I know it feels like you are dashing about and don't have time but you will be grateful when you aren't caught out. If you are breastfeeding take a drink and maybe a snack for yourself too.

It's tempting to cut down on the stuff you carry around when they start to toddle but this is the time to add one of the best weapons in your parenting armoury. Even now I have arnica cream for soothing and healing  any bumps in the house. Honestly when they are toddling it seems they fall, bumble into things or injure themselves in all sorts of creative ways every single day and arnica cream helps reduce pain, swelling and bruising.

As an aside I've heard arnica cream is good for osteoarthritis too, apparently reducing stiffness and pain especially in hands and knees. Worth a go if you are suffering.

Back to the toddlers. I found the weaning and potty training stage the most intense in terms of practical parenting so it's well worth getting organised. I bought a fold up potty - basically a frame which you add a bag with a liner in for out and about emergencies. The built in pad soaks up any liquid and you can tie it up and dispose of it easily.

For weaning life is much easier nowadays. With good quality ready made sachets and pouches available now, feeding on the go is much simpler  than back in my day. Modern mums probably don't need to spend so much time making and freezing food their child won't touch anyway but if you enjoy it did you know you can get reusable baby food pouches now? 

Snacks are very important for those early years so always have snacks in your bag and a drink in a carton or non-spill cup. Little ones burn an extraordinary amount of energy and their tiny tums can't hold enough food to keep them going for long. Healthy snack choices for toddlers like fruit, smoothies, raisins, breadsticks, rice cakes, cheese, fromage frais and the like will hopefully prevent too many hangry tantrums.  My daughter in law makes up a daily snack selection in a compartmentalised reusable box -it always looks delicious and my 2-year-old grandson loves it!

child drinking smoothie from carton

The other thing I always had in my bag was some form of entertainment from birth upwards. From basic rattles and soft toys to tech and tablets you will make your life easier if you have something to calm or stimulate depending on the situation. You might have an iPad but sometimes a simple colouring pad and crayons will keep a hungry child occupied until your meal arrives. And don't underestimate how much a simple toy car or train, push pop fidget toy or fast food restaurant toy can entertain a child who may have tired of a moving screen. 

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

The saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail and I think that's very true when it comes to the practical side to parenting, especially in those hectic early days. At one point my diaper bag would have failed the budget airline size checks but it gave me confidence knowing that whatever scenario came along to test me, I was ready for it!