Well, if you Google that question, you come back with “About 565,000,000 results!”
So, this is something that clearly lots of people write about and have thoughts about, and it might even be something that you think about…
I know that I hear heaps of parents say, ‘I’m not sure I’m good enough at this parenting thing.’
You know what?
I want to weigh in here (she said, feeling anxious in the light of SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many Google results!)
First of all, I don’t have the answers…
I do have thoughts.
I don’t think that one size fits all here. So long as you are meeting the needs of your child then you are making a pretty good start. It might be that you do that by following the books to the letter, or by following a baby guru, or indeed you might be like the majority of us and just be winging it. But I don’t think what we are talking about here is how to be an ok parent, I think what we are talking about is what makes a great parent.
For that, I need to dig a bit deeper than changing nappies, providing food, and nurturing your child.
First of all, I will tell you what I think being a great parent is not…
It is not a parent who spends heaps on really expensive toys and gives their child everything they want when they want it.
Children, particularly babies and toddlers, really don’t need heaps of toys. The things you have in and around your home are just fine for your baby to play with and explore. The outside world is an amazing playground of adventure for your baby. The conversations you have with your baby are brilliant entertainment for them too. Honestly, for your baby simple is just fine, because the learning they are doing with those simple things is HUGE.
It’s not about sending your baby or toddler to hundreds of classes so they can be stimulated and developed either. These classes are great to do if you want company and a reason to get out (when we can!) But most of the development stuff is done when you are hanging out at the duck pond, chatting about what you see. Or when you are bathing your baby and you talk about the sound of the pouring water. It is in the simple daily activities that you do that your baby is learning the most (and if you want some help with these, then the Oliiki app is just the place to go. It has over 1000 simple, daily, age-appropriate activities to do in and around the home using things you already have in the house. It is grounded in scientific research and evidence-based. The activities are written by teachers and education researchers, so you can trust that you really are doing the right thing for your baby. And, the best thing of all about these activities is that they will also show you quite how much learning your baby is getting from the play you are doing.)
So if that is what a great parent isn’t, then what IS a great parent?
Well, I think a great parent is an intentional parent…
“What’s that?” I hear you say.
Well, it’s someone who thinks with the end in sight. Someone who thinks about the kind of parent they want to be as early as possible, and then takes steps to be that parent in everything that they do. For example, if you want to be a calm, gentle parent, then shouting and losing it when you can’t find the car keys isn’t setting the best example, is it?
I also think it’s someone who thinks about the outcomes they want for their baby and then parents with those outcomes in mind. When I ask parents what they want for their children the answer I get given most often is ‘I want them to be happy.’ Well that’s fantastic, and I think we would all agree with that, but intentional parents go deeper with this one… For example, if you want your child to become an independent adult, then you are going to need to parent in a way that gives them the skills to become independent. And those skills don’t just pop up overnight, they need to be taught, learned, nurtured, and developed, and like everything your baby needs to learn, they need to be taught and then practiced one tiny step at a time. If we don’t do that, we really are setting our children up to fail at the stage when we ask them and expect them to demonstrate their abilities to be independent.
I think the intentional parent also gives intentional time. By that, I meantime, no matter how small, that’s committed to focusing on their baby each day - on developing their baby’s skills and helping their baby move forward tiny step by tiny step. By doing this, not only are these parents helping their child develop, but they are also developing themselves as a parent as they recognise the steps and development their baby is making, and they are taking steps to move them forward a tiny bit more the next time they spend time together.
I also think the other thing that is important is developing your confidence as a parent. Like all things, when we start out learning something new, we question ourselves, we wonder if we will ever be able to do it, and then over time, we learn tiny skill after tiny skill and those all build to help us build our confidence. Parenting is no different - only this time, the thing you are learning about (your new baby) is constantly changing, learning and growing as well! So, it’s no wonder that we are constantly questioning how we’re doing in our parenting skills. But spending that intentional time on intentional activities that let you see how your baby is developing one tiny step at a time (like the Oliiki app gives you), develops your confidence. In fact, the biggest bit of feedback we get from our parents is that they feel more confident after using the Oliiki app than they did before.
I also think a brilliant parent is a parent who recognises that it’s about progress not perfection in every area of life. When we are moving forward, we are making progress; when we are seeking perfection, we actually stop progressing. Life will never be perfect, no baby will ever turn out to be the perfect adult, no parent will ever be the perfect parent, but when we make progress one tiny step by one tiny step in all areas of our life, then we are heading in the right direction. And if you’re intentional about the way you parent, the direction you are heading, the things that you doing with your baby, and the skills you are developing in them and yourself, then it might just be that you are headed in the direction of becoming a great parent!
If you want a bit of help to find those intentional activities and understand the learning that is coming from them, then the Oliiki app will show you what to do, how to do it, and most importantly why you should do it. It will also show you how to spend that intentional time developing your baby one tiny step at a time. It might also give you a feeling of confidence that you are a great parent!
Why not download the Oliiki app today and take advantage of our free 7-day trial?