Why Meeting Other Parents Is Like Speed Dating

I’ve never went speed dating myself, but the concept is pretty simple and yesterday whilst taking my toddler to the park, I realized getting to know other parents is a very similar concept.

Speed dating gives you four minutes to meet someone, ask a few questions and decide on whether you’d like to pursue another meeting with that person.

In a park meeting for instance, you’ll probably be there longer than four minutes, but between chasing your kids around, engaging them in activities and generally making sure that they are staying out of trouble, you have limited time to chat to other parents with undivided attention.

For a lot of us, the way we ease into conversation with other parents is to ask their children’s age. It’s a non offensive question that can lead to the exchange of information about your own child, especially if they are engaging in play together. Feeling nervous? Maybe drop a compliment in there: “Your son/daughter is so cute/well behaved/well spoken.” There’s nothing a parent likes more than to hear good things about their child!

See the parallel here with speed dating? In those four minutes if you can’t at least ask something that carries on the conversation, you can at least compliment the person you are trying to get to know. And similarly, something inoffensive is always the best option after-all, you want to leave with a number, not a black eye!

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So you manage to engage in conversation with this other parent, the questions may continue with exchanging of names, the classic “do you come here often?” And finding out whether you share similar parenting situations eg: stay at home/working. The key here is to keep the conversation light, try not to bring up controversial subjects like breast vs. bottle, vaccines vs. non vaccines (although this one may sway you in following up with a future play date/meeting).

At the end of the day, keep asking the questions until you find some common ground. Like dating, it may not be perfect at first, but a lot of the time even if you don’t follow up with solid plans, you’ll probably see these parents and their children again and it’s always nice to have a sense of familiarity when venturing out into the exciting (and sometimes scary!) world of raising children.

Second Time Around

I’m coming up to 16 weeks with baby #2 and so far I can honestly say I don’t “feel” pregnant. I think this is mainly because I don’t have time in the day to just sit and ponder pregnancy like I did with Calvin. When I was pregnant the first time, I could go to work, come home and sit and relax and really focus on my body. I was able to notice the subtle changes and when I started getting tired or sore, kick my feet up or take a nap.

Pregnancy the second time around and especially with a toddler is so different. For starters, when I’m tired I still have to chase around a very active and willful little person. When he naps I’m trying to catch up on cleaning or laundry (which seems to be never ending!) and when I do sit down for a while, the time just slips away and it’s back to ushering the tornado towards less destructive activities.

I have definitely shown earlier than I did with Calvin, I’ve already got a bit of a sizeable (yet soft) belly growing and the maternity jeans came out at around 8 weeks just for the bloat! I’m having a harder time this go at really accepting my changing body, it’s a selfish outlook, but it’s hard to look at myself in the mirror some days. I know this will pass once I feel more pregnant, but right now I avoid the scales and rush past anything reflective.

One thing that I have to laugh at is that my emails inbox seems to have daily emails about how to help adjust a toddler to becoming a sibling. They seem to all be geared towards older toddlers that can really grasp the presence of a baby within their mothers stomachs, who can perform tasks like folding baby clothes and singing to mommy’s growing belly. I haven’t found anything yet, at least not in the links I’ve received that helps you to prepare a younger child. I suspect that this will be a learning experience for us all, a fun, yet scary one!

Being Honest About Stress

A fellow parent and friend asked me yesterday morning how I dealt with stress. My first instinct, and my actual reply, was that I didn’t really get stressed. Not a very honest answer when I thought about it, not that it was a lie, but that I guess I kind of brush stress under the carpet. I treat it like it’s a dirty little secret, no one can see that I’m stressed, that side of me can’t be shown.

It’s probably not the healthiest way to think, but it’s that British “stiff upper lip” showing, I buckle under. I get through. I make it work.

Calvin is going through a very “interesting” stage right now. Most of the time he is his usual smiley, happy self. But, there are times right now that he really tests my patience with whining and tantrums. And even though I know it’s a phase, there are days when my eye starts twitching, my head pounds and my voice gets raised. On these days I have to admit that I’m stressed, even if only to myself.

I’ve not found a way to eliminate stress, but I guess I am handling it, if only with sitting down for a while during nap time, having a cup of coffee in the morning or taking an extra five minutes in the shower to just soak. Parenting isn’t easy, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be. But I’m not in University anymore, dealing with stress by going to the pub at lunch time or cramming in the library at 3am, or hitting the club or student union on a Saturday night isn’t my coping mechanism now.

I’m aware that I need to work out better ways to deal with stress, to take a deep breath when the wall looks so welcoming to bang my head against. We all need to find a place or a way to centre ourselves, I’m still working on it.