Parenting or caring for babies and small children can feel like a thankless task at times. The smiles, hugs and “love you’s” are delicious but few. The hours are long, the pay is awful and there are few tea breaks or nights off. Employees and customers get a big thanks at the end of the year for all their hard work with a cash bonus or a cheap deal. Whilst I can offer no cash bonuses or cheap deals, I can offer all you parents and carers, whatever your work/life/relationship status/religion/income bracket/gender etc is; a big thanks for all your hard work this year. Hard work that will flow over into next year and for years after.
Thank you for being on call 24hours a day, 7 days a week, for years on end.
Thank you for smiling when your little one follows you to the toilet…again!
Thank you for stepping up and answering the 100 “why?'“ questions your kid throws at you as they learn about their voice, their curiosity and the world.
Thank you for all the times you’ve helped your baby get their gas out, even if it’s 1am, 2am,3am…
Thank you for getting the kids outside and allowing them the freedom to make a giant mess of mud and wallow in it. It’s probably easier to stick them in front of a screen, but we all know which is ultimately more fun!
Thank you for staying calm when your child bites/hits/pinches you/their sibling/a friend. Thanks for helping them manage their big emotions without shaming, hitting or yelling at them.
Thank you for continuing to care and love your child, regardless of their ability, their age, their gender, their state of health or what they are able to give you in return now or in the future.
Thanks for all those times you felt awkward and uncomfortable, but sang out loud, danced in public, laughed inappropriately or helped your kid through a difficult scenario anyway.
Thanks for those times that your child behaved differently to expectation, or differently from others, and you backed them anyway because it was how they needed to express themselves at that time.
Thank you for staying patient and continuing to set decent boundaries, even if your child says “no” to you all day now that they know the word and its power.
Thanks for continuing to prepare and offer healthy food even after numerous rejections because the food is “yuck” or “disgusting” or the plate is the wrong colour or you dared to look at them and smile when you served it.
Thanks for trying to see your child as a flawed human being when they’re having a rough day, and treating them accordingly.
Thank you for laughing when your little person squeezes a full bottle of conditioner all over the floor or cut their own hair because they loved how it felt. Thanks for understanding that it’s these experiences that make the funniest family stories.
Thank you for sending the kids to their grandparent’s house for the night so you can restore your sanity and be a better parent (this does NOT make you a selfish person!)
Thank you for all the times you stepped your weary body up, to meet the need of your first, second, third, fourth or fifth kid (indeed the numbers will keep rising for some)
Thanks for encouraging your kids and family to spend time in Nature, to notice the birds and the bugs and learn how to care for and respect the land we live on, the air we breathe, the water we drink or swim in and the creatures we share the Earth with.
Thank you for showing how much you care for your own friends and family too, by making meals, doing their dishes, inviting them over for a cuppa when they need a chat or having their kids for the day because you can see they’re worn out.
Thanks for sharing the care of your kids with other adults…be that family, childcare, friends, ex-partners or nannies.
Thanks for accepting a helping hand when life is at its toughest.
Thanks for offering help to make someone else’s life more manageable and joyful.
Thanks for putting “work” (ie paid work) on hold while you work harder than ever, for little pay or recognition, sometimes for years on end.
Thanks for going back to work (in any capacity) so that our society ticks over, and parents are represented in the workforce and can influence decisions that affect the day-to-day life of us and our community.
Thanks for all the times you have managed none of the things on this far-from-exhaustive list of parenting experiences, and yet you still get up the next day and have another go at it.
The future adults of our society are being raised now and I am hopeful for our future as the voices of our young people speak and are heard. These are the people who will be caring for us, our lands, our customs, our cultures and our communities in the future. These are the people who will be making decisions that will affect the health of our bodies, our communities and our Earth. I hope, with all this wise and brave parenting I see going on around me, that our kids will grow up to make decisions based on compassion, empathy and a desire to assist others to do the same.
The thought you’re putting in, the tough choices you’re making, the relentless tasks you perform every day and the energy you’re putting into parenting/caring DO matter and are worth the effort. Happy New Year and keep on keeping on!