When I first caught up with Toni, she was coping with a two year old and pregnant with number two. We had a great chat about her expectations for parenting a newborn with the wisdom on board of already having been there, done that.
I remember being in a similar position when I was hosting daily show 5.30 with Jude with a preschooler and pregnant with my son, wondering how I would manage to keep all the balls in the air with home life and work, but being determined to just let it all wash over me and go with the flow. The little people were the priority and everything else would just sort itself out…and sleep, well that was for another year!
Life has moved on and Toni is a veteran of the preschool years, and has some sage answers to my questions as she looks back, and looks forward…
Looking back, how did the advice you gave to yourself pan out about a second newborn? Is there anything extra on reflection that got you through that you think parents really should know about this stage?
I cannot stress enough the importance of showering your child with love, whether it’s reading them a book, talking to them or just holding them for a long cuddle. The Wright Family Foundation has just launched an initiative called “Love Grows Brains” and it’s so true. I think sometimes as parents we can get caught up in all the advice out there, but the simple truth is the absolute number one best thing you can give your child is love above everything else. Some days you feel like you haven’t achieved anything, you might have a pile of washing, dinner hasn’t been cooked ahead of time, but if you’ve snuggled and talked adoringly to your baby, that is enough.
Now you’re through that stage, what do you miss about it, and (go on, be honest) NOT miss about it?
I miss the feeling of my baby being totally dependent on me, now Juliette and Mackenzie are a bit bigger they can happily go to Kindy and Crèche and wave me goodbye at the gate! I miss the sweet smell of a newborn. I definitely don’t miss the constant changing of nappies (Mackenzie has recently stopped), or the waking up in the night!
What’s family life like these days? What parenting stage are you at now? Got any tips for that stage, for parents keen to look ahead?
I’m finding the 4 going on 5 stage with Juliette really enjoyable, she’s really inquisitive and I can understand her and have really cute discussions. I love helping her learn about the world.
Mackenzie is two and a half and is really starting to let her views be heard, she’s quite stubborn. My philosophy is not to give in when they push the boundaries the first couple of times otherwise you’re making a rod for your own back… be strong when they are demanding that extra lolly, or when they don’t get their own way, it will make life far easier in the long run if you’re firm upfront!
With some more parenting track miles under your belt all round, do you think you’ve developed any particular parenting ethos, philosophy, or default setting for situations perhaps that might describe you?
I think I’m a far more relaxed parent now that I’m nearly five years down the track. I started out quite particular, wanting everything to be perfect, and would really wind myself up when it wasn’t. Children are unpredictable and I’ve learned the best approach for me is to roll with the punches and to not sweat the small stuff.