I will always admit that being a parent has been one of my most rewarding roles in life. However, I would also add that it comes with its challenges from time to time.
Anyone who has read previous Mum's the word columns will note that I have shared many of those challenges and the creative, and sometimes not so creative, ways I have navigated such challenges.
The thing about parenting is that every child is different, the challenges can be varied and solutions that work for one child, may not work for another.
One thing I have realised along the way is that something as simple as going for a walk can be the ideal option to cope, recharge, reassess and rejuvenate - regardless of the parenting obstacles you many face. In fact, simply stepping outside into the fresh air - as a family or on your own - can be beneficial.
In my earliest days as a parent my first born struggled with collick, this meant he also struggled with sleeping.
That often meant that my husband and I would put him in the car and go for a drive, and if we happened to drive across a bumpy road that was fine. You see the movement of the car - and those bumps - seemed to rock our little one to sleep. The biggest obstacle was when we returned home, turned off the car and attempted to move the baby - who was finally sleeping - from his car seat to his cradle. Some times it worked, sometimes it didn't.
What we both realised during those times was that the sleeping baby was more a result of the movement felt and less about the car ride itself.
With this in mind, we began to embrace the idea of going for walks with our little one in the pram.
We soon learned that this was an activity that offered many benefits.
Firstly, the movement of the pram we pushed was a great way to lull our son to sleep. Secondly, it resulted in a wonderful outlet for both my husband and I. Believe it or not it was rejuvenating.
It provided fresh air and exercise that had the ability to make us feel better regardless of how sleep deprived we were. Meanwhile, if we walked together it gave us the opportunity to talk while the baby slept in the pram. It was the perfect option for some 'us time'.
Such a simple thing proved hugely beneficial and a regular 'go to'.
We never had one of those prams that could carry two children, but when our second child came along we continued the ritual of regular walks with our son, who was by this stage a toddler, in the pram and our newborn daughter was carried in a chest pouch. We continued to reap the benefits of stepping out for a walk. The activity almost always resulted in two sleeping children.
When our third child came along I ramped up the idea of walking. By this time the two older children were at school but I found that walking to most destinations - within reasonable distance - was easier than having to lift the baby capsule in and out of the car to tend to daily chores outside the home. I frequently walked the five kilometres into town (and home again) to run errands including banking and grocery shopping for a small number of items such as milk and bread. The car was definitely needed for those bigger shopping days.
As the children grew older, walking became a great outlet as an opportunity to find some 'me time'. If I was waiting for a child while they trained for sport or dance I would go for walk to while away some time. And if life seemed to get a little too chaotic I would go for a walk around my neighbourhood to breath in some fresh air and gain some clarity. It is amazing just how clear your thinking becomes when you are out on a walk.
I have never been one to like the idea of telling people how to parent. I found as a parent - especially during the earlier years - that well-meaning advise could sometimes be overwhelming.
In fact, the intention of this column is to share experiences with parents who are seeking alternate input, not to tell parents how they should do things. As I often say every child is different. More importantly this column aims to share my own 'fumblings' through parenthood - always from a place of love, but often without skill - in the hope that others will realise they are not alone as they navigate the role of parent.
However, if I was to ever to offer a solid piece of advise to another parent it would be 'step outside and go for a walk'.
Mumma Jak has three children and is familiar with the challenges of parenthood. She is well aware that every child is different, every day can be different and a parent's approach needs to be different according to the situation at hand. She is happy to say she fumbled through, motivated from the perfect starting point - unconditional love. The good news is that all three of her children have become normal functioning adults.
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