I was chatting to a friend today about our kids and the battles that we have with them. All good, all normal. And then she said, “I don’t believe in bribing them, they need to do things because I tell them to do it not because they might get something.” I nodded wisely, whilst inside my head I was screaming “YOU NEVER BRIBE? ARE YOU MENTAL? HOW THE HECK DO YOU GET STUFF DONE?”
But clearly it works for her, and each to their own, but I personally find the thought of a Freddo frog at the end of a supermarket trip works wonders on the shopping behaviour of my two. Of course, parenting experts would agree with the no bribery rule but I’d like to see them get through a full supermarket shop with two tired kids, a wonky trolley and the period pain from hell without offering inducements. (That was my Thursday)
Which made me think about all the things in my friends and families parenting repertoire that make me go “Say what?”.
A close friend recorded the start and end time of every breastfeed her three children had in exercise books (and she fed them until just over 12 months of age). The same friend who doesn’t bribe her kids (and she has three under three!) puts them to bed for the night at 6pm. Consequently, they get out of bed before 6am, but that’s what she prefers. It wouldn’t work in my house as my mood is not good if woken before 7am on a regular basis! Another family I know (gosh, this makes me sound like I have OODLES of friends!) don’t put their children to bed until around the 10pm mark. I’d love the sleep ins but child-fatigue sets in for me around 7pm.
One family who have four girls NEVER pass clothes down. Every child gets brand new clothes. My poor second daughter rarely wears anything that hasn’t been on her sister’s body first (underwear and shoes excepted).
My own mother had my younger brothers wearing singlets until almost the start of high-school, until another mum pointed out it probably wasn’t helping their street cred. My aunt was fastidious about her kids (and us when we stayed there) tucking their singlets into their underpants. And on sleep overs at her place all stuffed toys would be removed from our beds after we were asleep.
Quietly confident that I was the only parent on the planet that didn’t have quirks I went about making my kids “Little Tea”. Then it hit me, I don’t know anyone else’s kids who have two teas.
“Little Tea” evolved when my 7 year old daughter was a toddler. She had tea at about 5pm as my husband was often not home until 7pm-ish, which was too late for a toddler to wait for their main meal (or Big Tea as it‘s referred to in our house). As she got older we hung onto ‘Little Tea’ and then added ‘Big Tea’. She’s at school now and most days both my girls still have Little Tea – usually noodles or spaghetti. Just a little something to tide them over until Big Tea is ready.
Some may think it’s completely bonkers to prepare TWO evening meals but it works for us. My girls are in better moods and it stops them grazing on rubbish.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these quirks (and there’s especially nothing wrong with the Little Tea idea!), they are simply the rituals and habits that form over time. They make perfect sense to the family who own them it’s just the rest of the world who says “You do WHAT?”