The times might change but one thing stays constant—raising kids. And speak to any parent in your social circle and you’re bound to hear about what a ridiculously awesome challenge it is. Fun but exhausting. Heartwarming yet tiring. Absolutely hilarious but bordering on tears because your kids won’t eat the meal they asked for and you haven’t slept for, seemingly, years. Raising munchkins is a natural part of life and, at the end of the day, building a family together is one of the coolest parts of life on Planet Earth. (Right next to owning cats and dogs.)
But don’t just take our word for it. There are plenty of parents sharing the funny, quirky, and sometimes mind-boggling ups and downs of their daily lives raising kids right on social media. And Bored Panda’s collected some of the best recent parenting tweets for you to kick back with and enjoy. Perhaps with a hot mug of tea and that candy bar that you hid away from all your other family members.
Done upvoting your fave parenting tweets of the month? Want some more parenting wins and woes to read during work? You’re cordially invited to check out our earlier lists from March, February, and January 2021. Happy scrolling!
However, sometimes parenting seems like an insurmountable challenge. Burnout and stress are replacing the fun and it's easy to feel lost. Bored Panda wanted to learn about how to better navigate the more challenging sides of parenting, so we reached out to counselor Katie Rose, the founder of the Chigwell Therapy Centre and a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Therapist Katie went into detail about how we should avoid wanting to be perfect, how resilience and occasional boredom are essential for kids, and how gratitude and opening up to others can help parents deal with daily stress.
"I think that as parents, we feel the need to be perfect. Usually, that means trying (and failing) to live up to unreasonably high expectations we’ve set for ourselves and are impossible to meet," Katie said. "Instead, consider this. In order for our children to learn and grow, they need to understand that we’re not perfect—in fact, that perfection doesn’t even exist. Instead, by failing them in small, manageable ways, we help them learn to tolerate the small frustrations that they will inevitably face in their everyday lives in the future, helping them grow into successful adults." You'll find Bored Panda's full interview with Katie below.
BACP member and founder of the Chigwell Therapy Centre, Katie, pointed out to Bored Panda that boredom is "essential" for children. In appropriate doses, of course. "It allows them to tap into their own imagination and creativity, and learn to rely on themselves. Next time you go out in the car, suggest that instead of staring at their screens, they look out of the window. Notice where you live, where you’re going, and what’s going on around them. Be curious about what’s around you, and help fuel their creativity," she suggested that we embrace occasional boredom instead of shying away from it.
While most parents instinctively want to protect their children from everything bad that can happen to them, this can have an adverse effect on their growth. "Resilience is essential to help children grow into successful teens and young adults. While it’s important to protect children from the worst that’s going on around them, it’s also important for them to understand that things won’t always go their way, or that sad or difficult things might happen, and that they can not only tolerate them, but survive and thrive under difficult circumstances," counselor Katie said that we have to look at the long-term growth of our kids.
If you're feeling stressed out from family life, going outside for a walk or a bit of playtime in the park can nearly always improve your family's mood. "Get outside. Kids don’t care that it’s not the hottest day or the biggest theme park. Put on a coat, and take advantage of your local open spaces or playground and get outside in the fresh air," Katie from the Chigwell Therapy Centre said. It works, too. Fresh air always improves my mood, no matter how stressed I am. And I'm sure that plenty of you Pandas will agree with this.
However, sometimes the issues and challenges that parents face are so big that they need to talk to someone about them in-depth. "Some counselors are still working face to face work, and others are available on the telephone and online via Zoom and Skype. Look at the BACP Directory and pick up the phone. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Even if you were ok before, you might be finding things a struggle now," Katie suggested.
Bored Panda was interested to find out about the role that gratitude has when it comes to managing our stress and expectations. "Gratitude is about focusing on what we do have, rather than what we don’t have. Practicing gratitude improves our mental wellbeing, makes us healthier individuals, helps us sleep better and strengthens our relationships with family and friends," the mental health professional listed the benefits.
"Even if it feels like there’s little to be grateful for right now, we can always celebrate the small things in life—the sun shining, the pretty spring blossom on the trees, your favorite chocolate bar or takeaway, for example," she said that there's always something to be grateful for, even if it sometimes feels like we're at the bottom of a well, in the dark, with no way out.
One way that we can improve our own lives is by turning on our altruism and helping others. "If you have time, you could consider getting involved in your local community," Katie suggested. "Volunteer to help someone else—from making a phone call, to doing some shopping or baking a cake, there are plenty of ways you can help to make someone else’s day a little bit brighter—and yours in the process."
However, like other skills, gratitude takes practice to master. Getting yourself a journal and writing down the five things you're grateful for every day can be a good start, according to BACP member Katie. "Although you might find it tricky at first, you’ll find that you start noticing and remembering things as time goes on. Putting your thoughts down on paper will help you to see them differently, and over time, you will be able to notice patterns, and see changes in how you are feeling," she said.
Asking somebody about parenting is pretty much the same as mentioning politics, religion, and Covid-19: everybody’s got an opinion, a handful of theories, and odds are they believe that their approach is the right one.
When it comes to parenting, however, there isn’t just one approach. Different folks have different goals. Some parents value independence and self-sufficiency the most so they want their child to be self-reliant as soon as possible. Other parents want to instill more progressive values in their kids, so they start teaching them consent from the time they’re babies. On the flip side, you have parents who want their children to grow up in a more traditional household. There’s no single answer on how to raise your kids.
However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a goldmine on advice on how to be a good parent, whatever path you’ve chosen for your family.
One of the harshest truths about raising kids is that you’ll never ever (ever) be a ‘perfect parent.’ No matter how hard you try, it’s an illusion that’s actually making you miserable because of how unreachable that goal is. You can be a good parent. Heck, even a great one! But perfection is best left on the wayside because of how much stress it puts on your shoulders.
And we’re not the only ones who think perfection should be binned when it comes to parenting. Anita Cleare, parenting expert and the author of ‘The Work/Parent Switch,’ earlier told Bored Panda that trying to be a perfect parent is bad for everyone involved because “it sets everybody up to fail.”
According to Cleare, the founder of the Positive Parenting Project, we should all aim for parenting that’s ‘good enough’ because that’s what’s best for our children. What this means is “getting it right most of the time but also failing your children in ways they can handle—so that they gradually increase their independence.” And independence, in Cleare’s opinion, helps prepare our children for the real world.
“Great parents make mistakes but they try to learn from them (and not to repeat them too often!),” the parenting expert said that we should all cut ourselves a bit of slack while at the same time ensuring that we don’t get caught in an endless loop of repeating the same mistakes.
Part of letting go of the idea of being a ‘perfect’ parent also involves learning to listen to your own needs and to find the time to get some rest. Family life can be exhausting, largely for new parents. And especially during a global pandemic.
So among the endless stress, exhaustion, hunger, and lack of sleep, parents need to look after themselves. They’re not doing anyone any favors by putting themselves last. Quite the opposite. However, if they’re full of energy and love of life, it’s a bonus for the entire family.
“Putting yourself last is not good for you or for your kids. Even when you are really busy, try to find regular 5-20 minute breaks in your day when you can relax, practice some mindfulness, or do something joyful,” parenting expert Cleare told Bored Panda during an earlier interview.
What’s more, maintaining a positive mindset is also vital. You can do that by identifying the things that you’re grateful for at the end of each day. Cleare suggested starting off by thinking about three things that you’re incredibly glad to have in your life. “Looking for the positives really does increase positivity,” she said.
So remember to stop wanting to be a ‘perfect’ parent and go be a great parent instead, dear Pandas. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear some fun tidbits from your own family lives. Has anything hilarious happened recently? What are you most grateful for when it comes to your family? How do you find the time to relax when life doesn’t seem to stop rushing forward? Share your thoughts and feelings below.