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Parenting Hacks & Tips

10 Common Parenting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. There’s so much more to parenthood than I could have ever imagined; something I talked about in ‘5 things about parenthood NOTHING can prepare you for’. 

Sometimes it feels like whatever we do, we’re competing against the Jones’, their perfect social media feed kids and their faultless way of doing things.  

Try as we might, we’re bound to get it wrong from time to time – it’s part of the journey. Relying on our ‘Parenting instincts’ just isn’t enough and, more often than not, we’re too proud to ask for help or advice when we need it because it feels like we’ve failed. 

If you can learn to overcome these 10 common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the best parent you can be. 

1. Fighting your children’s battles for them

It goes without saying that your children mean everything to you, right?

Of course they do.

But, sometimes you just need to take a step back and your kid learn that their actions have consequences

For example, if your child does something that has a negative impact on others, it can be tempting to jump in and protect them if somebody points it out.

The thing is, fighting your child’s battles will teach them that three is no consequence to their actions and that they don’t need to be accountable for their decisions.  

Take time to be constructive and remind them using positive language what the correct behaviour is and why we should do it, rather than ignoring it or always coming to the rescue.

2. Letting technology rule the roost

In the last decade, the way we consume and use technology has evolved massively. Smartphones, tablets, connected technology…You name it, we all have it. 

Technology is an important part of most of our lives and it gives us access to entertainment, communication and connection – particularly during a pandemic! 

It can be tempting to let your children sit on YouTube Kids or watching Netflix because of a few reasons:

  • Your child enjoys it
  • It gives you a moment of peace to get household chores done
  • You can do it together

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of streaming here and there, but try to create quality memories by doing other activities too.

Go for a walk, think up an activity to do together (Looking for inspo? Read this!) or read a book. 

Limiting the time kids sit in front of a screen will not only help you form an unbreakable parent child relationship, but it’ll teach your child some invaluable social skills at the same time. 

3. Not leading by example

So many parents know all the best parenting techniques and can talk big about the right parenting style for every situation, but their behaviours don’t mirror what they say. 

For example, I walked out of a supermarket last week and saw a mum with her child. Not only did she tell her daughter to get off of her phone, whilst simultaneously glancing at her own device, but when the girl raised her voice at her mother in frustration, the mother yelled about how she shouldn’t shout. 

I mean, seriously…

The phase, “Do as I say, not as I do” does not apply to parenting, trust me. 

Remember, you’re the ultimate role model for your child – the hero of their little story.

To be an effective parent, you need to model the behaviour you want to see in them. They’ll be more likely to mirror you than to listen to you.

4. Not dedicating enough quality time

Life is hectic, right? I often talk on our Instagram page about how trying to keep on top of parenthood, finances, household jobs, relationships, friendships and more can feel like spinning plates.

Sooner or later, one of them drops. 

With all that on your mind, it’s not uncommon to feel distracted when you’re with your kids whilst you’re busy thinking about everything you need to do.

Parents feel an immense amount of pressure, particularly with young children; it’s so difficult to keep on top of their own mental health and keep everything else afloat. 

It’s easy to get lost, though.

Remember, your children crave your attention, whether they’re being little angels or playing up. Try to spend as much quality time with your children every day because, outside of telling them you love them, being present and in that moment shows them that you love them. 

Try to make the time you spend together as ‘high quality’ as possible. Put that phone in a drawer, turn off the TV and give them 100% of your attention for as much time as you can. 

5. Not spending enough time on your relationship

Becoming a parent is a wonderful experience and that little person will instantly become your entire universe. Be careful though, your child shouldn’t replace your relationship with your partner, only add to it.

Whether you’re a nuclear family or a separated, blended family, always take the time to focus on your relationship as much as you can. That strong foundation will help you work through some of the natural struggles that come with raising a child. 

I know from experience that if you’re unhappy in a long term relationship, it’ll project into the way you bring up your children. Remember to nurture your relationship with your partner and your child will be so much happier for it in the long run. 

6. Not spending enough time looking after yourself 

With all of those important things to focus on on top of this beautiful little munchkin to raise to raise, we often forget to take the time for ourselves; I’m certainly guilty of this. 

We burn the candle at both ends, which means we become overwhelmed or frustrated at the relentless nature of parenthood and well, life in general. 

Make sure you factor in some ‘me time’ to gather your thoughts where possible. Allocate a little block of time into your routine, perhaps when the kids are in bed, to meditate, write in a journal, exercise or have a bath. 

I struggle with switching off and always feel like I should be doing something. My girlfriend will often remind me that it’s OK to just relax sometimes and she’s right – recharging your batteries will save you from burnout, making you a better parent in the long-run. 

7. Being controlled by your emotions

As our children grow, they’re still learning to rationalise their thoughts and deal with their feelings. They may act up, misbehave or whinge for seemingly no reason at all.

Children have evolved to elicit a response out of their parents because, unlike many other species on this planet, us humans and our big brains take a long time to develop. 

It’s perfectly normal to feel a sense of frustration or anger if your child keeps pestering you, misbehaving, crying…or anything else for that matter.

The important thing is to try not to let your emotions take hold. 

Remembering that children are impressionable little things and will mirror your behaviours is important. If you react emotionally or get visibly angry, your child will think this is the appropriate way to behave in future. 

If you’re feeling stressed, try to take a quick time out. So long as your child is safe, leave the room for a minute and take a few deep breaths, count to ten and get ready to go again. 

8. Doing everything for your kids

We all adore our children and we want them to be happy. If you’d have told me 5 years ago that I’d be bringing my daughter breakfast in bed every time she stayed with me, I’d have laughed you out of the room. 

It’s perfectly normal to feel a sense of responsibility to our children, but it’s important that you don’t do everything for your kids. 

Children need to learn to appreciate the value of what you do for them rather than expect it. You don’t want to set expectations for your child because they’ll grow up without any sense of ownership of their own lives. 

9. Not listening to your children

As I mentioned earlier, children can be irrational little devils sometimes. They’re still developing and their perception of the world has been shaped by a very limited experience of it. 

When a child is talking to you, parents can often shoot them down without even knowing they’re doing it. 

In the brilliant book, “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber, she explores the concept of really listening to your children.

She uses this example:

CHILD:Mommy, I’m tired
ME:You couldn’t be tired. You just napped. 
CHILD:(louder) But I’m tired. 
ME:You’re not tired. You’re just a little sleepy. Let’s get dressed.
CHILD:(wailing) No, I’m tired!
Excerpt from ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk’ by Adele Faber

Adele explains, “I was…telling my children over and over again not to trust their own perceptions but to rely on mine instead”.

Instead, encourage them to talk to you and hear what they have to say. 

Rather than denying your child’s feelings, try acknowledging them instead, even if you know the outcome will still be the same.

I’ll share an example of what I mean.

Last week we were getting ready to take my daughter, Evie, back to her mum’s house. 

EVIE:Daddy, I don’t want to get dressed
ME:Oh I don’t want to get dressed either! I wish we could stay in our pyjamas all day and play. 
EVIE:Me too! We could bounce on the bed ALL day! 
ME:That would be SO MUCH fun! I’d love that! We do need to get you back to Mummy’s house though, so maybe next time we can do that?
CHILD:(big compliant sigh) Okayyy then. 

This example is what Faber describes as ‘giving a child their wish in fantasy’. By acknowledging that Evie didn’t want to get dressed and understanding what she wanted, we imagined what that would be like to give Evie the outcome she wanted in that moment before coming back to the original task at hand: Getting dressed. 

Evie proceeded to get dressed beautifully and didn’t mention it again. 

10. Being inconsistent 

Part of being a child is testing boundaries (Man, part of being an adult for me is testing boundaries!).

Children have an amazing sense of what they can get away with and they’ll try their best to push their luck at every given opportunity. 

One of my absolute musts as a parent (and in the workplace for that matter!) is consistency. If your child knows exactly how you’ll react and that you’ll always do what you say you’ll do, parenting becomes infinitely easier. 

For example, if you tell your child they can’t watch the TV one day whilst they have their dinner, but the next day you give in and let them because you’re stressed and can’t face the argument, guess what they’ll do the next day when you say no…

They’ll keep pushing until you give in or they’ll get upset when you don’t.

Children feel safe and secure when they know what the rules are and how to stick to them.

Some days you won’t want to stick to your rules, but trust me…those small ‘in-the-moment’ battles will be far easier than the on-going arguments when they challenge you on everything!  

Summary 

It’s important to remember that no parent is perfect. We all have good days and bad days and nobody expects you to get it right all the time.

Guess what? The fact you’re even thinking about it shows you’re an amazing parent already. 

If you have an off day, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just take a moment, reflect and see if you can improve the next day! 

You’ve got this! 

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Follower Focus, Guest Posts

Follower Focus: The Windsors

We have so many fantastic followers on social media. Each and every one of them has an amazing story to tell and we wanted to share some here on thebreakingdad.co.uk. Our first ever Follower Focus is from one of our earliest followers, @WindsorFamLife, an amazing mum of five from Dorset!

I’m Gemma, 40 and a Mum of five from sunny Dorset on the South Coast, married to Darren and together we make up The Windsor Family!

My eldest daughter, Lottie (Charlotte) is 16 and she was diagnosed as having autism in June 2019. My eldest son, James is 15 and was born with Down Syndrome. My youngest son, Ollie (Oliver) is 13 and my youngest two daughters, Emily and Lucy are 7 and 5.

So, if your maths is good, you will have worked out that I had James when I was just 25, which isn’t at all common, as most women that have babies born with Down Syndrome are older mothers.

Darren and I met in 2002 and we had bought our first house together just a year later! A year later again in 2004 we had our first child and in 2005 we got married.

This brings us to December 2005, when we bought our next home and within 2 weeks of moving in we had James!

We didn’t know James had Down Syndrome and at the 12 week scan (which was the day before our wedding) they told me that I had a 1:400 chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome. Not to worry they said, you are very young! So we didn’t think of it again, until the night before I went for my C- section when it suddenly popped into my head! However as quick as the thought was there it was gone again as it was exciting to be meeting our second child.

James was born 5 days before Christmas and as they laid him on my chest in the operating theatre I was going cross eyed looking at his little nose trying to work out whose nose he had as it didn’t look like mine or Darren’s.

In recovery I tried to latch James on for a breast feed but he was so floppy and sleeping, he just wasn’t interested. So the nurse did his baby check on him instead and said to try feeding him again later.

While they did his baby check, a nurse brought me some toast and a drink, so I tucked into that not really watching the baby check but Darren however was watching and later told me they were spending extra time this time compared to our first baby’s check.

A few minutes later, the midwife went off to get a second opinion of another midwife. It was at this point they said they think our baby may have Down Syndrome as he showed several physical characteristics.

  • A flattened face, especially the bridge of the nose
  • Almond-shaped eyes that slant up
  • A short neck
  • Small ears
  • A tongue that tends to stick out of the mouth
  • Small hands and feet
  • A single line across the palm of the hand (palmar crease)
  • Small pinky fingers that sometimes curve toward the thumb
  • Poor muscle tone and loose joints

There are several different characteristics and James had most so they said they would send for a blood test to confirm if he had Down Syndrome but it would be 5 days for the results.

We took one look at him and it was like the penny had dropped! That’s why we couldn’t quite place his little nose, why he couldn’t latch to breastfeed and why he was so sleepy.

They then said he needed warming up and a tube feed of some formula as he hadn’t fed since birth, so they popped him in the hot cot for the night while I was on the ward expressing breastmilk like fury!

I didn’t get to hold him again until the next morning which was really hard. Once I was able to get up and walk I was straight in to see him and it wasn’t long before he was on the ward with me again.

We stayed in hospital for 6 days, which included Christmas Day which was heart wrenching as it was our first Christmas in our new house and our baby girl was at home without her Mummy on Christmas morning.

We came home Boxing Day night once James had finally managed a bottle feed and had his tube removed!

It hit Darren hard the first day he was told James had Down Syndrome and he came home and cried.

For me, it was a case of carrying on being James’ Mummy. He was a baby who needed me. However as the months went on and all my other baby friends’ children hit their milestones, it started to sink in that James had Down Syndrome and what this meant for him. It hit me hard around 6 months – I went onto antidepressants and was at an all time low.

However with time and support, I got better and excited that James is just an absolute superstar!

He is 15 now and has proved to me he can do anything he wants to in life!

If you’d like to share your story, drop us an email on [email protected] and let’s talk!

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Blended Families, Lifestyle & Adventures, Parenting Hacks & Tips

Grow Your Parenting Instagram Account to More Than 10K In Less Than 12 Months

Want to grow your parenting Instagram account? It’s easier than you might think. You just need to show up.

With a little bit of time, effort and consistency, you’ll get to 10k in no-time.

I couldn’t believe it when we hit 10k followers on Instagram. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that we’d get to that point in less than a year, but here we are!

There has been SO MANY things I’ve learned along the way when it comes to managing an Instagram account along the way and it can certainly feel like a bit of a minefield when you start out.

With so many ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ of Instagram, it can be difficult to know how to grow your account for the best.


I’ve broken down some of the key tips and tricks we used to be able to grow our account to more than 10k in less than a year.



Want to view it directly in YouTube? Click here.

Lifestyle & Adventures

The next chapter: Blended family

Every now and then, there are days that stand out as ones you think you’ll probably always remember. Last Sunday was one of them. 

Life has a way of shifting in little phases like acts in a play or chapters in a book. Your story is unfolding and in no time at all, you might find yourself propelled into the unknown. 

Typical examples might include a change of career, the start of a new relationship, having kids or the outbreak of a global disease – these things can all thrust you into disarray as your mind tries to adjust to the new situation and find that ‘new normal’.

The last chapter of my life came to an end when Evie’s mum and I separated and I felt very much lost about what the future would look like.

Meeting somebody new 

Me and Rosie

I met Rosie after almost exactly a year of being single. I found the adjustment into being in a relationship quite difficult, despite the fact I had absolutely no doubt that being with her was what I wanted. 

Going through a difficult separation can leave a lot of raw and exposed nerves, so allowing yourself to let go fully into a new relationship can often feel tough.

We took our time and gradually, over time, our relationship started coming together. 

Rosie has two kids and I have Evie, so we were both very careful to make sure we were sure things were on the right path before we started to even think about making introductions.

Fast forward a few months and Rosie met Evie – they hit it off immediately. Zoom a little further along the timeline and I met Rosie’s kids, Tilly (5) and Liza (2). I fell in love instantly and, thankfully, they took to me.

Then, it was the big one: Our kids meeting each other, 

On their first meeting, Evie and Tilly decided they were best friends and we all had the most perfect day pumpkin picking together. 

Everything felt so natural and we spent the day smiling.

FINALLY, after years of things never quite feeling ‘right’ in the past, suddenly I understand what it means to be truly happy.

Finding a new normal (Featuring Father Christmas)

Evie and Tilly meet Father Christmas

This weekend we all met my mum, mum’s other half and sister at the Watercress Line for a day out meeting Father Christmas. 

The significance of the day was that it was the first time we were having a traditional family day out with what is gradually becoming our new ‘blended family’. 

You can see some of the pictures below, but I honestly can’t tell you what a lovely day it was. 

I was in awe of Rosie and how she raises her kids; she’s so attentive, hands-on and kind to all of the children, it blows me away. 

The children were so sweet to each other and there wasn’t a single temper tantrum or strop. We had nothing but smiles and laughter all day. 

Tilly, Rosie’s oldest daughter (5), even said to my mum as she said goodbye, “I hope you have a lovely Christmas!”. I mean honestly, what five year old do you know that’s that polite!? 

You can see a few of the pictures here: 

Before the separation, I always felt like I was accepting my lot. I remember speaking to a colleague at work about how miserable my home life was and the conversation going along the lines of, “Well, so long as Evie is at home, I won’t be going anywhere. This is the life I live until then”. 

Oh what a terrible decision that would have been. 

I look back now and realise just how much I was missing out on. My life is happier now than I think it’s ever been. I’m more emotionally and financially secure than I’ve ever felt and I’m with somebody I can call my best mate as well as my girlfriend.

We have three beautiful girls and, though I’m hopelessly outnumbered, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

When one chapter ends, another begins

It can be easy to feel trapped in an unhappy life for what you think are ‘moral’ reasons. I certainly did. I thought I was doing right by my daughter by not walking, 

Ultimately, the decision was taken away from me and it was the best thing that could have happened for Evie’s wellbeing. 

She now has two incredibly loving homes and as she transitions from her mum’s house to mine, she sees two glaringly different perspectives on life.

That’s great for her.

There was a time when I thought the end of the last chapter meant the end of any sort of meaningful future for me too. 

I was totally wrong, the next chapter has already brought more romance, excitement and laughter than I could have ever imagined, and it’s only just getting started.

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