“Aw, nine years ago!” I exclaimed, looking up from my phone. “Facebook Memories just showed me your first day at ‘big’ school. You were so cute! Got to share that,” I smiled happily in the face of my daughter’s icy glare. Just one more example of how we parents so often fail to follow our own advice…
1Don’t post embarrassing stuff on social media
We tell our kids to be careful about what they post on Facebook, Instagram and the like. The picture they took of Grandad asleep and dribbling in his chair might be funny, but he won’t want the world to see it. And if anyone ever shares the one of me in a facemask and curlers, I’m stopping their allowance for good.
Yet we think nothing of sharing old pictures of our kids when they pop up. We find those childhood images adorable; they think they are excruciating. The same goes for indiscriminately tagging them in posts we think they’ll find interesting. They might secretly love watching Ice Road Truckers with you, but that doesn’t mean they want their friends to find out.
2Brush your teeth before bed every night
We all know how hard we have to work to drum this into our kids’ brains. Brushing their teeth at bedtime is the cornerstone of many a night-time ritual.
But when it’s really late and we’ve had a night out – and, let’s be honest, more than a glass or two of wine – it all seems like too much effort. Easier to fall into bed and promise ourselves we’ll do it first thing in the morning.
To be honest, it’s a rare thing for me not to brush my teeth at night. But I will admit to leaving my makeup on occasionally, which is just as bad (if not worse). Believe me, I regret it when I wake up.
Using rude words isn’t big or clever, but there are times when only a good, heartfelt oath will do. Like the times you stub your toe. I freely admit my language can leave a lot to be desired on occasion.
Like most parents, I tried not to swear in front of the kids when they were little. I explained patiently why certain words shouldn’t be used. Then one day, my husband was a few minutes late collecting our son from school.
“I was just saying to my friends, ‘Where’s my bloody dad?’” our cherubic blond-haired, blue-eyed five-year-old shouted happily as his father rushed around the corner.
“Don’t say ‘bloody’,” he was told. “We know better than to swear, don’t we?”
“But Mummy does it all the time…” came the reply. Oops.
4Always wait at roadside crossings
Road safety is another topic we take seriously. We spend a lot of time explaining to our kids why they should only cross roads at the ‘proper’ places. Why it’s important they wait until the signal changes and it’s safe to cross. We explain they should walk, not run.
Then, when we’re in a rush or we see there’s no traffic, we dash across whenever we like. Usually at speed. Often shouting at them to “Hurry up before a car comes” as we go.
5Fresh air is good for you
We encourage – ok, sometimes nag – our kids to get out more. They need more exercise, we say. Being outside is good for you. Why not just go into the garden and kick a ball around? Take the dog for a walk. Go out on your bike.
Then, after we’ve shut the door behind them, we make a cuppa and curl up on the sofa with a bar of Dairy Milk and the TV remote control. After all, isn’t that what chilly Sunday afternoons are for?
6Too much screen time is bad for you
Spending all day staring at your laptop or tablet is bad, we say. Not only should they spend less time doing it, but when they do, they need to make sure they take regular screen breaks. Five minutes here and there to stretch their muscles, adjust their focus so they don’t damage their eyes.
Hands up everyone who has told their kids this? And how many of you regularly sit at your desk for hours on end as you work, only looking up to see whether you’ve missed any calls on your mobile phone? Guilty, your honour…