Bella and Reb from early years specialists The Parent Collaborative in Bath, discuss some of the challenges of being a parent and urge us all to give ourselves a break

The only thing children really want is to be loved and to feel safe. Why is it, therefore, that we tie ourselves up in knots trying to be perfect parents who never put a foot wrong?

This is interesting in itself, bearing in mind resilience is all about making mistakes and something we should actively encourage in our children. We can blame social media for some of our need to strive for perfection but in fact most of the pressure comes from within, because, put simply, we love and care about our children, we want the best for them and, as such, we want them to have the best parents.

However, we also have to learn to give ourselves a break, after all, this is one job that we took on with no real knowledge of what lay ahead. We didn’t train to become parents. Talking to friends who are also parents doesn’t always help because being parents themselves, they are often keen to present a picture of coping.

It’s a job from which we never get to switch off and one, more importantly, in which we are emotionally invested. Teachers have the luxury of not being emotionally invested in their pupils to the same extent, which is why we would always say it is so much easier to teach a class of 30 than to be a parent of one… And we know, we’ve done both!

While at The Parent Collaborative we offer a variety of services and workshops to help support families going through a tough time with children, first and foremost we are parents. As such we’ve made, and we continue to make, mistakes. However, as teachers we had the luxury of being able to study child development from a distance, allowing us a quite different viewpoint.

After all, as parents, we only ever see our own children in isolation or within small groups of their peers. As teachers, on the other hand, we have gained 40 years of experience in classrooms full of children of similar ages, allowing us to witness the patterns of behaviour that develop, along with the privilege of seeing what did and didn’t work as we tried to find answers and solutions in response to these behaviours.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying we know it all – knowledge and understanding of 0-7 year olds is no help when you’re faced with your first teenage strop as a parent! Just like any other parent, once our own children became teenagers, we had no experience whatsoever of what we were to experience, all alongside the realisation that every child in every family is essentially unique.

Instead of a bedside table weighed down by books on parenting that we never have time to read, especially when the crisis is happening right under our noses, we would like you to see The Parent Collaborative as the friendly, experienced support that helps your family get back on track when times are tough.

We offer 1-to-1 sessions, where we will sit and work out a plan that best suits your family, as well as relaxed, informal workshops. We offer relaxed, informal workshops on topics such as ‘Resilience’ and ‘Starting School’. There is also a six-week course that covers the most common behaviours seen in young children, where we explain what they mean, empowering you to better understand your child and learn how to best meet their needs.

We don’t want you to feel like you have to struggle on your own. Believe us when we say, you’re not alone, there are so many parents out there who are going through exactly the same things as you, which is why sometimes sharing those moments in a small group can be hugely beneficial. We’d love to make your life a little easier and for you to get back to enjoying the precious time you have with your family.

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