Aileen Campbell: Parents shouldn’t be hard on themselves

Aileen Campbell  joined little Holly Mason aged 2 and Daniel Plain aged 2 to celebrate the launch of 30 things to do before you are three.
Aileen Campbell joined little Holly Mason aged 2 and Daniel Plain aged 2 to celebrate the launch of 30 things to do before you are three.
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Aileen Campbell is a Nationalist MSP and minister for children and young people. She also has two young sons.

She has joined up with Parenting across Scotland to share her parenting tips to help increase access to trusted parenting advice and support.

Aileen Campbell MSP for South of Scotland

Aileen Campbell MSP for South of Scotland

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!

Turn off the telly, eat some tasty, healthy food, chat about your day, ask questions and laugh lots. You won’t regret it.

Aileen Campbell MSP

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.

Aileen Campbell MSP' speaking in Carluke

Aileen Campbell MSP' speaking in Carluke

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.

Aileen Campbell is minister for children and young people.

She is supporting the @ScotsParents campaign.

Parenting across Scotland (PAS), an umbrella body for a number of high profile charities, has developed a series of down-to-earth Top Tip advice guides on getting through some of the trickier times of childhood and adolescence in partnership with experts, including Sleep Scotland, Healthy Respect and Play Scotland.

Now, as part of its activity to mark its tenth anniversary, the charity wants as many parents and those working with parents to be aware that the guides are available to download for free or bulk order directly from the PAS website.

The dedicated Twitter campaign sees the charity focus on two of its Top Ten Tips booklets: Sleep and Play. Sleep is just as important as food and exercise, and is especially important in the early years of life. And all parents want the best for their children - and one of the best things is play!

For the next three Tuesdays the PAS Twitter feed – @ScotParents – will be sharing excerpts from the sleep and play advice guides.