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For any of the parents or carers out there who ever feel pressured into a system that doesn’t seem to suit their child, this is a reminder. Every child is different, so all advice on development is not set in stone.

Remember: it’s a road map, not a custom fit suit!

When I was pregnant, I followed all the proper advice and read all the books. What to eat, how many portions of dairy, how many pints of water. What exercises are good whilst pregnant? I am a total bookworm, and I am very good at following instructions.

Then there came the books on how to be a parent, you know, the part that happens after pregnancy! The book I remember the most was Gina Ford’s ‘Contented Little Baby Book’. This was a God send. It gave me an idea of daily chores and routines, an idea of naps and breaks needed, and an idea of how the daily structure changes with your child’s age.

When having a child, becoming familiar with a road map of what to expect and how to do your job is a good idea. Especially if you’re a brand-new parent, but DO NOT use this road map as a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting.

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Remember: every child is different

Every child is different, and every child will need different levels of care. Gina was not a mother and not a mother to the children she looked after. She was fantastic at outlining how to structure your day and what’s needed in the mammoth task of looking after a newborn baby. But for the love of God, if you don’t have your child down for their nap at precisely 1300 hours, and you’re not promptly feeding them at 1400 hours, do not give yourself a hard time over this!

Sometimes, your child may sleep for longer. Maybe you’ve gone out, and they’re napping later than normal…they may even be hungry not on the schedule (shocking revelation, I know!)

I sometimes find that this ‘set in stone’ approach seems to be what happens with children in general. It’s as if somewhere, someone ‘all-knowing’ once decided children should behave this way and do certain things by a certain age. If not, there’s something wrong with them. Then we get the dreaded ‘parent guilt’ and feel ashamed of ourselves. Why are they different? What did I do wrong? What must others think of me? Gasp, shock, horror. [Enter unneeded drama here]

Suffering from parent guilt

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Remember: every child’s milestones are not set in stone

Maybe they’ll read by six years old, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll have good motor skills and be feeding themselves with a spoon by two years old. Or maybe they won’t do that until two years later.

Just stop a minute and ask yourself, are they breathing? Are they loved? Do you nurture them every day? Read to them, love them, play with them?

Yes?

You are doing a great job, and you know your child. By all means, look at ways to help with the things that your child struggles with. Maybe it’s a special diet, maybe it’s therapy. I’m not saying not to support them. But drop the guilt, as it’s not doing you any good. Release the pressure from the lie that things should be different to what they are right now.

mother supporting her child

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Remember: every day is a victory

Every day, you’ll do what you can for your child that day. Some days are wins, and some can be… let’s be honest, pretty miserable! Then there are days when that thing you’ve been working at for weeks, months, years even, finally shows signs of improving.

The first words come, the conversation shared, an illusive hug. Maybe it’s the friendship you see blossoming when your child has been lonely for years and unable to play with others. Those days, they are true magic.

Road maps are great, as they guide us. But they are not set in stone. Some people get on at different parts of the journey. Some are way off course. But you know what? That just makes the steps closer to the destination worth celebrating even more!

You’re doing an amazing job. Your child is amazing. Everything you do every day is adding up.

You’ve got this.

Much love x

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