Real parents have been chatting to Parent24 about their experiences, which range from side-splittingly funny to deeply moving. Why not find out more about these moms and dads, who are, very often, just like you.
Who is Se7en?
I'm the mom of "Se7en + 1" and I have eight kids the oldest is 14, and they range down to the youngest who is 2. Obviously I am a mom and any mom is a full-time mom!!! We are home-schoolers and so my days are fairly busy with kids and creating and learning. I love the question about spare time!!! In my "spare time" I love writing a blog
, I enjoy sharing about our life and times and answering questions about life with eight kids.
What have you enjoyed most about being a parent so far?
The nicest thing about being a parent is being able to go back and do the things I enjoyed as a child. I am in the business of making great memories for them. I have had so much fun showing them the best books, taking them for walks on the beach, the best spots for ice-creams. Really it is my privilege to spend time with them and I am so happy to be able to spend this season of their lives with them. Are there any challenges you’ve found which have been particularly tough?
The biggest parenting challenge for me was trying to keep up with the "media mom." The one who is perfect and never sleeps late, she always has dinner on time, she takes her kids to exotic countries on vacation and gets the laundry done. And then she still has a full time job and time to run a small organic farm in the yard so that her children can have "fresh" pancakes for breakfast... Don't mind that she has perfect go-getter children, who play first team everything and have been carefully groomed for perfect careers. It took me quite a while to realize that I was the mom that my children wanted, just the way I was!!! Really. My kids would never be able to keep up with the “media mom" anyway!!!What would you do over, if you had the chance?
I would ignore all the nay-sayers, there is always someone saying: Just wait till you are in labour, just wait until they are teething, just wait until they start tantrums, just wait until they are teenagers. No one ever warns you about the enormous love you are going to have for your children, the fact that you will do anything to help them on the road of life. All the sleepless nights and the funny food fights, the mountains of diapers you change, not to mention the laundry, will all be nothing compared to how much you love them and want to serve them. And that you will actually like your children and hanging out with them, even when they are teething, having tantrums or teenagers!!! Nobody warns you about the overwhelming love - I think they should!!! Do you have any tips for pregnant moms?
I spent my entire first pregnancy preparing for "the birth." In retrospect, birth takes hours (maybe even a number of them), compared to children, which take years to grow and to raise. I wish I had spent more time hanging out with new moms and their babies. I read tons of books, but really, the best way to get to know about babies and coping with babies is to spend time with them. I always encourage pregnant moms to find some new moms and hang out with them. New moms, who are slightly ahead of you can be the best support and encouragement, they haven't forgotten how hard the sleepless nights are - or how busy you are!!!
Any tips you have for new parents, based on your own experiences?
Learn to smile and wave!!! Read all you can from real moms, make your own decisions about how you want to parent and then go with it. Everybody will have mountains of advice: Where, when and how your baby should eat, sleep, dress. The knowledge that will be imparted to you will be mountainous and conflicting. You need to know what you are doing and even when you feel a little doubtful, (everyone does sometimes!) pretend that you do. When someone tells you something that is totally ridiculous you can just say: "That sounds lovely," and then do your own thing. Trust me when you are a new mom it is not the time to argue with an ageing aunt about whether your 9-month-old baby should be toilet-trained or not. It will just get nasty and the well meaning aunt will end up looking like a saint compared to the sleepless new mom. Trust me, just smile and wave!!!
What characterises a “good parent”, and would you call yourself one?
I think a good parent was one that provides a balance between being there when their kids need them and someone who can stand back and let them get on with things when they don't need help. Someone who can find the balance between having heaps of fun, and training them to work hard and to strive to be their best. Anyway, I asked my kids and they actually want a mum who is fair and who provides them with life-skills. Someone who teaches them how to cook and do laundry and to drive... I think they slipped that last one in to gauge my reaction. Not ready for driving yet kiddos!!! Do you feel you have enough support?
Having the correct support is critical to being the best parent you can be. I didn't realize how important it was until I was knee deep in babies!!! You need to figure out who your support team is and nurture them. You really need a team of supporters: Those you can talk to about anything and those you can ask to do anything and even those you don't have to ask anything they just know. Don't over-use them, or abuse them because your team will flee to the hills!!! And don't be afraid to ask for help, folks are often really willing, they just don't know where to help.
Your craziest parenting moment? Why not share it with us?
Are you kidding me with this question? I have 8 kids, I have tons of craziest moments... like when my first born was about 18 months old and carefully fed the fish for me and sprinkled fish food all over the lounge of the furnished rental we were staying in. I turned to get a broom and looked back, he was "helping" to clean up with a WET, and I mean soaking, dripping WET cloth, all over their suede lounge suite!!! The smell of fish and fish food never quite left that room, I know we moved on long before the aroma did!!!
Or what about more recently, when my youngest got busy with what could be his future career, while the rest of us weren't looking closely enough. He went around to each sink in the house and carefully disconnected the plumbing pipes under them. I suspected nothing, even when the entire sink of dirty dish washing water landed on my feet. It was only as a number of spills throughout the house became apparent that I realized some busy little hands had been really hard at work!!! And now I know how to plumb a sink- I tell you a mother never stops learning!!! Why not give Se7en's blog a read? It's full of special memories and inspiration for all parents.
Do you know any awesome parents with a story to tell? Drop us a line at email@example.com. You can also chat to us on Twitter and Facebook.