The 8 topics every parent talks about

Becoming a young parent at the age of 20 to a little boy is one of my proudest moments. But as a teenager, parenting has also led to a lot of self-sacrifice and a sense of loss and mourning as I knew I would be missing some early 20s experiences.

Now at age 25 I feel I haven’t missed out on as much as I worried I would – I just had a completely different way of growing up to my other friends. In saying that, I’ve never been one to follow the rules or the ‘normal’ path in life.

I take hope in the fact that I am not the only one feeling this.

When I joined my new parents group of 9 beautiful and inspirational new mothers, some of whom I call my best friends today, I knew I wasn’t going to be alone in my fears.

We had many coffee dates spent talking about our worries, issues and fears for the present and future and to this day we still discuss our children, their successes and worries as they all head off to school next year.

Some of these mums have gone on to have second and third children and through playgroups, kinder, cafes and playgrounds I’ve met many mums and dads – who I have realised have the same problems as all of us.

I’ve found over the past 5 years that the following topics are in frequent discussion:

·      Feeding – This topic is such a huge part of every conversation I have with a mum – even my own mum – whether it’s BF, formula and their brands, bottles with their different flow teats, when they should start solids and children not eating certain foods. From infancy to age 5 it is still a huge topic and issue for every parent I know.

·      Dummies/Pacifiers – This was always a huge topic for me because I was always made to feel bad for my son having a dummy. I would always be asked when I was going to take ‘the thing’ off him. I found again that I wasn’t alone in this. I don’t think you’ll meet a parent today that has a child with a dummy that hasn’t been questioned when the dummy fairy will come and collect it.

·     Socialising children – I never had a problem with socialising my son – if anything I over-socialised him as I knew he would be an only child and he was a very social kid. However, there seem to be many rules involved in socialising kids, particularly in etiquette – they mustn’t hit, bite or take toys off friends and must always clean up when they leave a friends house, no matter how insane the tantrum is. Most of my friends agree with this rules however I have come across some mums who are against what they see as ‘strict rules and control.’ They prefer their kids to have free run of a home and to explore freely and learn what they can and can’t do on their own.

·      More kids – One of the biggest questions I find being asked is when will you have another kid. I find myself asking other parents that as well and know how difficult that question can be to answer but it is always the question myself and many other mums go to when they don’t know what to say to you.

·      Sleeping – When my son was little this was my biggest issue and was something I spoke to my mum friends about often, searching for advice or tiny little things that might make all the difference. Often they would say that their child is sleeping so well and that it ‘just happened’ one night, which always infuriated me but I know now after having my own sleep success story (however it took a week of no sleep to get there) that they were just super proud and relieved mums.

·      School and Influences – Our biggest topic at the moment is school as most of our kids will be starting school in 2019. Our discussions started around August when the kinder starting taking the kids on excursions to local primary schools. I tagged along on one of the excursions (incidentally the one where my son will be going) with 4 other mums who were all there to check out the school themselves.

I had an interesting conversation with a mum I had never spoken to until then. She had an older son in a neighbouring towns school and a daughter in my sons kinder group and was looking at moving them to a different school. She had all the right questions when talking to the principal. I however, went blank. I knew then I had to research what qualities and facilities I wanted in a school and of course went to my fellow mums for advice. Now our kids are all enrolled in different schools around our area, each tailored to our different kids’ needs.

·      Skills – This was another popular topic when the kids were younger and constantly changing, whether they be rolling, crawling, walking, talking, eating, teething etc. We were always needing to discuss these topics to see where our children were at even though there was 2 months between the oldest and youngest.

Whether they were falling behind or a mini Einstein it was the all-important information that we seemed to be searching for at that time. I look back now and wonder whether comparing children was really the best thing to do but it seems to be common for all new mum groups.

·      Technology/screen time – This topic only started coming into play recently but I’m sure will be a continual discussion amongst mums with young to adolescent children. I know it has become a real issue for some of my friends who have had Xbox and PlayStation games in their house pre kids and have allowed their young children (3 years and older) to play for an allotted time. Others have ipads that have child specific games on them and YouTube videos. It seems to be less of a phone and more of a device that entertains the kids while they do some shopping or catch up with a friend.

I don’t judge or care what they do however they seem to always feel the need to explain themselves to me. I luckily have never had an issue with this as we don’t have any of these devices or gaming consoles and don’t see myself getting one in the foreseeable future but it’s definitely a talked about subject.

One topic that’s sadly rarely discussed with a mother is mental health and our emotional wellbeing. PND & PTSD are topics I’ve only ever discussed with extremely close friends. They’re only short and simple discussions and when I have ever tried to dig deeper, those friends completely shut down.

I myself have suffered both of the above along with anxiety pre and post having a baby and find it difficult to talk about with my friends because of some fear of being judged. I have since spoken very openly to a stranger about my experience after having my son and feel I am in the long process of healing.

I think it’s about time we all as mothers open up to at least one person in our lives whether it be a best friend, husband or family member or even a complete stranger in order to heal ourselves and hope that soon the mental health of parents can be included in the above ‘common topics.’

Overall I have found parenting side by side with other mums often overwhelming and confusing with so many opinions and none of them completely right or completely wrong. I have found myself change and evolve and feel I have so much knowledge, but also wisdom in knowing that each mother has a choice and a decision of their own to make in what they truly want for their children and what is best for themselves..

This story was generously provided by Stefanie Johnson, mother to Levi (5).

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