Every parent can certainly agree with me that bringing up a child is nothing like ABC. Some people sail through parenthood more easily than others, while some others are tested almost throughout. Of course there are also the in-betweens. That's probably where I am.
Parents often sit down comparing notes and sharing anecdotes of their growing up children. New mothers share their anxiety over engorged bosoms, sleepless nights, wailing bald heads and the simple debate of to breastfeed or not to breastfeed. It soon develops through a series of milestones: first tooth (and how much it hurts nursing Mums - Ow!!)/step/word/birthday to first day at kindy/school. As they grow older, the challenge is more mentally exhausting than physical - how do I make him sleep in his own bed, should I let her have it, or just the more obvious, how do I say NO to him without feeling guilty and him rebelling?
As a single parent, I find that one of the most trying things I have had to deal with is when I have to say NO to the children. You really feel like a baddy when you're almost forever responding NO to their questions or requests (especially when you're the only adult they ask permission from). In the past, I had wriggled myself out of sticky situations by occasionally directing the children to their dad, Go ask Abah...
Believe it or not, the children are often testing us by seeing how flexible and easily persuaded we are. Surely, it's all in the How to bring up your child handbook, and even on TV - Stoppard, Thomas, Supernanny, Nanny 911, etc. The rule of the thumb is to be firm and to remain consistent. Easier said than done.
Hence, the slogan that goes in the house nowadays is as the title goes: NO NEGOTIATIONS!
If mummy says we're coming home at 3pm, that's what we're going to do - nobody negotiates for an extra 5-10 minutes.
If mummy says we're sleeping over at a friend's for 1 night, that's what we're going to do - nobody negotiates for an extra night.
If mummy says they can play their X-box on weekends on school holidays only, that's what they're going to abide to - nobody should ask on a weekday.
It isn't easy but I think we're getting there. Once the rule is established and everyone respects it, I believe everyone will be happier and less stressful (moi! moi!).
Before this, we went through the concept of appreciating time; that there was time for each activity. When it was time to play, then everyone should go all out and enjoy themselves (without needing to negotiate for extra time later!). When it was time to eat, everyone eats without any interruptions (no TV, movie, and those never-ending yakety yaks). When it was reading moment, everyone gets a hardcopy of some reading material to indulge in.
These sort of slogans will InsyaAllah help me with my daily responsibilities. So watch out kids, with Mama there are just No negotiations!!