How many times have you sat down to watch the Olympic Games and thought 'I know exactly how that feels'? Not often right, but perhaps we as parents should. It struck me recently that parenting is actually not dissimilar to this sporting event, with numerous hurdles, sprints and relay's taking place all the time. I'm not just referring to that 200 meter dash every parent has done to swiftly block an oncoming collision with a stumbling toddler, or the passing of the baton during those nights of endless waking. I believe raising children can be much like training for an Olympic event and as every good sportsman knows, it all begins with preparation.
Managing a Hefty Schedule
Just like athletes, parents tend to have a chock-a-block timetable and learning how to manage this is key. On those busy days you might feel like you're running a mum-athon, juggling multiple events at once with the finish line seeming a long way off. Finding a balance between work time, play time and down time is essential, and although you must to be able to adapt to changes last minute, aiming for a routine that allows you to be calm, content and productive is vital in order to get stuff done!
Never Stop Learning
Those first few years of parenting can seem daunting, with children developing at a rapid pace. Guidelines are forever changing and as such, parenting never stands still. I strongly believe there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Mistakes are part of progressing, so don't beat yourself up over the small error's you might make from day-to-day. Unlike sports, parenting is not a competition. So if you stumble over a hurdle pick yourself up, dust yourself down and continue at a speed that you're comfortable with.
Manage Your Nerves
I should seriously take a leaf out of this paragraph. Just like an athlete before an event, making sure you are able to de-stress and and stay calm is vital to healthy parenting. Worrying about your children is natural, but over-worrying can be counterproductive and detract from the enjoyment of raising your kids. I for one understand the protective instinct of motherhood, but children learn so much from exploring themselves so it's important to allow them to express themselves freely. Remember, children respond to what they see, so give them a positive example by recuperating and recovering yourself.
Catching those Zzzzz's
Every parents nemesis. Sleep, or to be more accurate, lack thereof. When it comes to sleep and parenting there are two main tactic's. You may opt to 'Grab it while you can' or use the 'get used to it' approach. Whatever your choice, the fact is that sleep is vital for efficient muscle function, brain activity and mood balance. Like an athlete before a major race, make sure you get enough rest yourself. If you've had a few late nights or early starts prioritise rest in the coming days and allow your body to re-energise.
Believe in Yourself
One of the most important attributes an Olympic athlete can have is a healthy dose of self belief. There is no 'how-to' guide for parenting and to a certain extent you have to learn on the job. However, we have one thing on our side that no one should underestimate. Instinct. If you're a first time parent you might find you are constantly bombarded with conflicting advice from well-meaning family and friends, and no matter how politely you try to assert yourself, the unsolicited advice continues. Ultimately, you are the parent and if in doubt trust your intuition. Although at times it's good to learn from experienced minds, if you can find a way to trust in yourself and believe in your own ability, you will be one step closer to achieving that metaphorical gold medal.