Parenting - Aileen Campbell, former Minister for Children and Young People

Relax


My over-arching tip is that parents shouldn't be too hard on themselves.  The first time you bring a new baby home is daunting, and of course it's a big deal.  All parents want to do the very best they can, so many resort to trying to do things 'by the book'.  It's important to listen to professional opinion and voices of experience, but don't let the 'book' make you feel bad about your parenting abilities.  Have fun with your wee ones, enjoy them, do the very best you can for them, and stress less!

We all need help sometimes.

Asking for or accepting help is never a sign of weakness.  I am very lucky to have an incredibly supportive extended family - Angus and Crawford's grandparents don't live nearby, but they often help out and provide reassuring telephone advice and support on occasion too.  Whether it's family, friends or professional agencies, never feel ashamed to ask for help if you feel you need it - you're not alone.  We all need help from time to time.

My husband is the primary carer for our children, which makes it easier for me to do my job.  I rely on his support.  We're very lucky that choice was open to us and my husband knows the time he has with our boys isn't enjoyed by most dads.  When we speak about parents and parenting we often assume we're talking about mums, which is wrong.  We need to challenge traditional perspectives, debunk myths and celebrate all parents.  2016 is 'Year of the Dad' - it's a fantastic opportunity to promote positive involvement of men in their children's lives.

Unleash your inner diva.

I will never win 'The Voice' but, for now, my boys think my singing has the X-Factor! 
From day one we have read stories and sung songs for Angus, and now baby Crawford is enjoying them too.  Rediscovering songs we sang as children is great fun and I've enjoyed learning many new ones too.  I'm going to continue with the songs, silly sounds and nursery rhymes because the boys love it - I want to enjoy the appreciation while it lasts!  And who cares if anybody thinks I'm strangling a cat - my boys' smiles and giggles are worth more than any feedback I could possibly get from Simon Cowell.  Be silly and have fun - our wee ones only have one childhood and the happy memories will last a lifetime.

Meal time is sharing time.

It's difficult to know if it's something we did or if we're just lucky but, touch wood, Angus and Crawford are great wee eaters.  We have always been really keen that they boys eat with us and they eat what everyone else is having (with less salt, particularly when they're very small, of course).  I can't promise it will stop them from being fussy, but the time you share with your wee ones at the dinner table is among the most valuable and enjoyable you can have.  Turn off the telly, eat some tasty, healthy food, chat about your day, ask questions and laugh lots.  You won't regret it.