There are so many parenting styles floating around in the sleep-deprived, chaotic world that is parent-land.
There's helicopter parenting, bubble wrap, attachment, tiger, dolphin, kick ass, alpha, lawnmower, intensive, relaxed, risk-aversive, free-range, positive, slow, respectful, authoritarian, permissive, toxic, common-sense and good enough.
Possibly, thanks to Google, there is far too much information now for parents to navigate very quickly and it can be confusing and difficult to find a pathway that works for your family.
My vote is for KISS parenting. This acronym has been around a long time and essentially it means "keep it simple, sweetheart" (I know, it used to be 'stupid' but 'sweetheart' is kinder).
KISS is about seeking the easiest and simplest solution. The guiding principal for is to keep family rules to just three.
Young children especially can get so confused with too many rules – these three cover almost everything as we teach and guide our children to make better choices.
The only three rules that matter are…
The main thing we want in our homes is that we all feel loved and safe from harm.
These three rules aim to do just that. So we don't throw the wooden truck because it could hurt someone or hurt the wall or break the truck. We don't call our sister names because it could hurt her feelings.
We pick up our Lego, or at least create a pathway for others to walk through, because those little bits can hurt like heck!
We feed the dog because his stomach will hurt if he is hungry. We do our chores because otherwise our home will get filthy and mouldy and we may get sick.
With creativity, we can weave almost any situation back to these guiding rules.
I am a huge fan of imperfect, good-enough parenting that allows children to see that everyone including grownups can have moments when things go wrong or we make mistakes.
No matter what high positive expectations we have, some days just don't flow and our children (with their immature brains) may make choices that distress us and them.
Think of the response of a toddler, for whom things have not gone their way. Being upset is totally valid – crying, stomping their feet or doing a downward dog – are all possible ways to express their angst, disappointment and frustration. However, hitting you, kicking or calling you awful names are not acceptable because of the three rules.
The three rules and you
Let's be honest, parenting has moments that are as boring as the proverbial bat poo.
The sleeplessness, noise, chaos, mess and need to be on guard to meet our children's needs can be exhausting, tiring and repetitive.
Healthy children will struggle with things one day and not the next and the unpredictable nature of parenting can cause many, mums particularly, to struggle with big ugly feelings because we like normal, routines and order – preferably our order of course.
The KISS approach means no second-guessing, no "tsk tsk"ing ourselves, no stress or worry about our kids future when they are only two.
KISS means we opt out of social media sites that makes us feel crappy or a "less-than" parent and rather stay connected to people who are honest, real, helpful and who make us laugh.
Keeping it simple means being present – now, in this moment – and accepting children are children and one day they will grow up and leave home.
Their number one need is to know they are loved, fiercely and unconditionally … well, most days.
KISS embraces that you are the adult – the alpha person whose main job is to keep your children safe and yes that will mean there will be days they won't like you. KISS keeps a balance between mean and loving – as both matter.
Other than the three rules that you might want to display on the fridge, I have a few other tips to master the KISS way.
Some other KISS tips:
1. A good quality fruit and nut chocolate hidden in the parent's bedroom is both a health food and source of stress release.
2. Occasionally, a toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwich or scrambled eggs should be considered an acceptable dinner.
3. Missing a bath or a shower for a night will not ruin your child.
4. You can raise good decent human beings without a degree in child development.
5. Fairness and kindness are great discipline tools.
6. Laughter makes homes and hearts feel safe and is undervalued.
7. Too much, too soon and hurrying childhood are not good ideas.
8. Teach your kids that disappointment sucks and it is a part of life.
9. Create your own village of parents who like life and their kids.
10. It's never too late to say, "I'm sorry".
11. Please let your kids be kids, not just brains on seats or sources of data.
12. You can never hug your baby or child too much.
So breathe and know that in becoming a KISS parent you will enjoy the ride so much more.
The magic moments of connection will become what shapes your day, not the worries over how am I doing? We are all doing the best we can with what we know … it's simple really.
Maggie Dent is a parenting author, educator, resilience specialist, mother of four sons and a grateful grandmother. Maggie is the author of 10 books, including the recently published second edition of her bestselling book, Real Kids in An Unreal World, now also available as an e-book. She blogs at www.maggiedent.com