By Svetlina Jeanerett When we embark on our parenting journey, we are thrown very much in at the deep end. Many of us feel overwhelmed and our relationships are tested to the limits. We're getting to know this precious little person who is changing our world - but we are also learning a great deal about ourselves. We've imagined what our child will be like, what sort of parents we want to be and also pictured what life as a family would be like. Then as they arrive, the time for planning often stops and we soon become reactive, simply doing our best to cope. But having a baby is only but the start of having a family. And in my mind, a great culture is the crux a happy family life. A harmonious home life is the springboard to fulfilling our individual potential - it is the wish of every parent but it is something that requires focus, planning and good communication to achieve.
Here are a few questions to help you check you're on track: 1. Do you have a dream? Like with anything in life, one of the keys to success is having a clear goal. If you take time to talk about the relationship you want with your partner, your values, the principles you want to teach your children, and understand each others' aspirations and needs, you will reap the rewards tenfold later on. Have you spoken about your own childhoods, what you liked and disliked about your upbringing? Do you talk about your home life, about what makes you happy, things that frustrate you, what replenishes you and what depletes you? You already know each other very well but if you're willing to explore a little deeper and open the dialogue, you will learn new things about yourselves. 2. Have you written about your ideal family life? Once you've created a picture of your ideal family life, put it down on paper in a summary. The clearer your goal is, the more likely you are to achieve it. 3. Do you sing from the same hymn sheet? Do it together. Having a common vision will make a huge difference to everyone. As a couple it will bring you closer, improve communication, and you'll be better able to support each other and present a united front to your children. Remember that you as a couple are the rock of your family. 4. Do your house rules fit in with your vision? You can choose your house rules to help you create your ideal home life and nurture your relationships. Do you regularly review your house rules together and adjust them as your children grow up? Making those decisions together is a wonderful way to move toward your goal. 5. Do you trust yourselves? There are myriad ways to be a family. Give yourself permission to do it your way and don't expect yourselves to get it right all the time. Life is an ongoing creative process and families are no different. Be bold, trust yourselves and have fun cultivating a family environment that makes you happy.
Svetlina Jeanneret specialises in working with parents to help them create the life they want for themselves and their families. She runs The Oxfordshire Family Project, regularly appears on BBC Radio Oxford and is on The Toddle About Panel of Experts. Follow at facebook.com/oxfordshirefamilyproject.