21 Rules For The 21st Century Parent

14/08/2014 16:53 | Updated 22 May 2015

21 rules for the 21st century parent

On the face of it parenting today is easier than it's ever been. For a start there's no need to give birth to eight children just in case five die of a cold and two get stuck up a chimney. However, there are a few challenges the 18th century mother and father didn't have to face. With that in mind here's a handy guide to avoiding some 21st century parenting problems.

1. Put your hands up and move away from Facebook.

Everybody understands you want to show the world your freshly popped mini human, but let's face it most newborns look the same – weird and a bit ugly. Wait until they've grown some hair and even then limit yourself to uploading two pictures a month if you want your friends to retain any interest.

2 Never open a social media account on behalf of your child.

Nobody really cares what you think your three-month-old is thinking. Because really he isn't thinking much more than: "Jesus what are those weird things attached to my arms? What are arms? I'm tired and want to cry."

3. Do not leave a toddler alone with your smart phone.

She'll either input an incorrect security code so many times your phone self-destructs or rack up a horrific bill buying extra toppings for a digital cupcake.

4. Do buy organic pureed vegetables.

You may feel virtuous blending, mashing and pureeing veg all day, but your mush will never go down as well as the stuff Ella and HiPP knock out. Save yourself the culinary rejection.

5 Find a softplay centre that sells good coffee.

When I was a boy there were about three ball pools in the country. They were mystical places that I never saw because my parents would rather drag me around the Museum of Extremely Dull Things. Now they're on every corner.

Built using design principles including: 'who needs windows?' And 'good ventilation is for wimps', they are airless fetid places serving food that's been fried in some kind of fatty abyss. You will be spending a lot of time in them. If you find one that has some natural light and serves proper coffee never leave, just in case you can't get back in.

6. Don't introduce your kids to On Demand TV.

They'll expect back-to-back Peppa Pig everywhere they go but grandma has only just realised there are more than four channels.

7. Stop looking at nurseries on Pinterest.

Unless you have a lot of money and too much time you'll never compete. But that's OK because babies really couldn't give a toss about feature walls and shabby-chic mobiles.

8. Forget about five-a-day.

If your toddler eats just one piece of fruit or veg a week you should hold a street party to celebrate.

9. Let them watch TV in the car...

There's a brand of smug parent who will tell you their kids were happy to spend the two day drive to the south of France "looking out of the window at the beautiful landscape". They're either lying or have lobotomised the lot of them.

Long journeys are only bearable if small children are transfixed by some kind of screen.

21 rules for the 21st century parent

10... But not in a restaurant.

Unlike in the back of the car, you can't hide your guilty parenting secrets in a restaurant. Even if you've spent the entire morning doing something active, educational and organic, you will be judged A Terrible Parent if you allow your child to watch an iPad over lunch. Keep them quiet with a massive ice cream instead.

11. Get used to asking for babyccinos

Before you had kids you might have thought babyccinos were invented for the skinny-jeaned metropolitan type who only dresses his progeny in babygros designed by an up-and-coming designer with a pop-up on Brick Lane. But no, children love them, you're just going to have to come to terms with sounding like an idiot.

12. Always take a scooter.

The number of scooters in a room must always correspond to the number of children otherwise there will be a massive fight.

13. Save up before nursery.

Because once the fees hit you might just be able to scrape enough cash together to treat yourself to a packet of Monster Munch at the end of each month.

14. Don't take an electric car to the park.

Parents generally possess a deep well of goodwill towards other children unless, of course, they're driving a baby-sized, battery-powered BMW through a playground. You might as well write, "I'm richer than you", on the kid's forehead.

15. Don't internet diagnose a rash

Before long you'll have convinced yourself your entire family is about to die, even the ones who have emigrated to New Zealand.

16. Don't fall out with the grandparents...

Thanks to modern medicine it won't be long until most people are living for 1000s of years – unless antibiotics stop working, bird flu finally gets its act together or Vladimir Putin falls on the nuclear button while wrestling a bear, but let's not worry about that – which means if you play it right you could have gratis grandparental-childcare on tap until the kids leave home.

17 ... If you do find a free babysitter.

Not so long ago teenagers would happily babysit for £2-an-hour and a packet of Chewits. Now they expect at least £7, half your local supermarket's snack aisle and a lift home, just to sit there and watch your TV. Try and find a friend in equal need instead.

18. Work from home.

Nowadays you don't have to actually be in an office to ping an email, blue sky think or get traction. As long as you have a good wifi connection you can touch base from your sofa with a baby tucked under one arm and your partner having a nap upstairs. She or he will love you for it. Let's action this by the end of play.

19. Live (a little) dangerously for a change.

Let them travel in the boot of the car (not on any proper roads if you don't want to get arrested, or at more than 5mph), scooter in the park without a helmet and play beyond a 10m radius of your reassuring presence. That's how we rolled in the carefree 80s. And I only nearly died twice. Your kids will think they're, briefly, on some kind of wild lawless adventure.

20. Don't take them to all the classes

Not every toddler has the right frame of mind for yogic meditation.

21. Keep it simple.

No matter how far technology evolves children will still be at their happiest being dragged around the floor in a cardboard box.

Which ones, if any, of Chris's 'rules' would you keep, which would you scrap, and what 21st century parenting rules do you have?

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