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How to parent smarter not harder.

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Thinking Parenting Blog

The Work/Parent Switch by Anita Cleare

I am delighted to introduce you to my new book The Work/Parent Switch: How to parent smarter not harder which is published by Vermilion. The aim of the book is to empower working parents to build a family life which is low on conflict, high in warmth and good for children’s development. So you can be the parent your child needs, and still do your job. It is the essential parenting book for every working parent who wants to enjoy their family life more, shout a little less and raise happy, successful children.

What is the book about?

Most working parents feel like we are running just to stand still. We want to be good parents. We want to get parenting ‘right’. We do everything we can to smooth our children’s paths and give them a good start in life. But we have limited time, limited energy and too much to do. Something has to give.

This book moves the goalposts. It’s about being a great parent by doing less, rather than always trying to do more. Parenting smarter rather than harder, by understanding what children really need from us. So we can use those bits of time left over when work is done to focus on the right things – connecting with our children and creating a happy family life.

The Work/Parent Switch outlines a totally practical way to parent actual children (not ideal ones!) in real families. It will give you strategies that fit into modern working patterns and which build happiness and well-being for the whole family – without stretching you to breaking point. So you can build a family life in which you and your children can truly thrive.

Why the work/parent switch?

In the book I argue that the mindset we use for work is not the same as the mindset we need for parenting. Work is all about being efficient and task-focused and goal-driven. But children need a different set of skills from us. They need parents who are in the moment (not three steps ahead), who are able to be messy and playful, who tune in to them and see the world through their eyes. Parents who are calm not driven. Learning to transition seamlessly between work-mode and parent-mode is essential for working parents. Because if we approach parenting with our goal-focused work heads on, our needs and our children’s needs tend to collide. Children go looking for other (often less peaceful) ways to express their needs. And we get frustrated by their inability to just stick to the plan. The result is lots of conflict and nobody’s needs being met.

Why did you write the book?

Most parents work. But most parenting books don’t seem to take that into account. Not only are more of us working, we are working harder and longer. And digital communication makes it even more difficult to step away from work during ‘family time’. Many of us have lives so tightly timed that when their children won’t co-operate or their big emotions bubble over, there’s not enough slack within the family system to cope and everything gets derailed.

Talking to parents across all walks of life, I was struck by how the same issues and cries for help came up again and again. Parents frequently confess that their evenings consist of relentlessly cajoling children through dinner, bath, bed – whilst all the time feeling guilty about their lack of time, lack of energy and lack of patience.

photo of The Work/Parent Switch by Anita CleareAnd yet we are trying so hard! We spend all of our free time taking children to clubs, parks and educational activities, determined to give them the best start in life. We battle through endless hours of homework. We angst over so many decisions and responsibilities and do everything we can to eliminate every potential hazard from our children’s paths. But, despite all our efforts, we are all doing less and less of the stuff that really does help children, like listening to them or letting them take risks or play freely. We are doing more but understanding less of what our children really need from us.

Where did the ideas come from?

The Work/Parent Switch brings together the happiness-building ideas of positive psychology with an understanding of children’s development from developmental psychology. Plus all the real-world practical solutions I have learnt from teaching evidence-based parenting skills in real families. The focus is on small do-able changes and real-world wins to support children’s and parents’ well being. Everyday actions to help you create the family life you want to come home to.

How is it different from other parenting books?

This is a parenting book firmly grounded in the reality that being a good parent when you are stressed and tired from work is doubly difficult. It covers key challenges for working parents such as managing difficult behaviour when you’re tired at the end of the day, and modern concerns such as controlling children’s tech time and promoting good mental health. Plus, there’s a focus on those sticky parts of the working parent’s day like getting kids out of the house in the morning and avoiding homework battles.

The Work/Parent Switch is written from a solid evidence-base of how children develop and what creates happiness. But the message is firmly grounded in the practical realities of what actually works for real working parents.

Who is it for?

The Work/Parent Switch is aimed at time-poor parents who want to be good parents – dads as well as mums. It respects the huge diversity of family set-ups which mean that a parent might only see their children for a few hours a week or they might be the taking the full brunt of parenting solo (on top of working). It’s aimed primarily at parents of 2- to 11-year-olds (teenagers are a slightly different challenge!) but the central messages apply to all ages. In essence, it’s for any working parent who wants practical tips on how to be the best parent they can and enjoy time with their children!

If you do read the book and enjoy it, please pop back to the bookseller’s website and leave a review to help other parents know what it is about and whether it is the right book for them.

This post contains affiliate links (see Disclosure Notice for more info).

©Anita Cleare 2020

Anita Cleare, parenting expert, holding a copy of her book The Work/Parent Switch

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