Sleepless nights, tantrums and a child’s first day at school top the list of the 50 most challenging things about being a parent, a study of mothers in King’s Lynn has revealed.
Coping with a child being unwell, getting into a new routine and bedwetting were rated as daily stresses faced by mums, along with a child’s first day at a new school and dealing with competitive parents at the school gates.
Almost three-quarters of the mums polled even admitted that motherhood had been much more challenging than they ever imagined.
Emma Kenny, child psychologist and spokesman for pygama pant-manufacturer DryNites, who commissioned the study, said: “There are some challenges you expect when you embark on parenthood, like the sleepless nights and tantrums, but I don’t think anyone can be prepared for how many issues and stressful situations you will face over the years – from the baby and toddler stage and throughout a child’s school life.
‘’Once the tantrums subside and you are getting more sleep, you then have to face a whole new set of trials, such as your child’s first day at school, which many mums are having to get ready for over the next couple of weeks.
‘’And once they are settled into school life, mums have to contend with the worries of bullies, moving up to new classes and schools, as well as a whole range of tests and exams.
‘’Even teenagers and young adults seem to come with their own set of challenges for poor mums.’’
Researchers found that sleepless nights are the biggest challenge, followed by toddler tantrums, staying patient and other competitive parents.
Getting children to eat the right foods was named as the fifth most common trial for mums, along with potty training, sibling rivalry, childcare issues and giving your child what you want without spoiling them.
Encouraging youngsters to clean their teeth properly completed the top ten.
Other trials and tribulations faced by millions of mothers over their youngster’s childhood include trying to keep them away from computers and games consoles, having to answer a constant stream of questions and tackling bullying.
Researchers also found that 56 per cent found their child’s school years stressful, with 14 per cent even believing that they found it more of a challenge than their son or daughter did.
Making sure they do their homework, avoiding bullies and just getting them to enjoy school were named as the biggest school-time challenges.
Another 28 per cent of mothers found they had the most trials during their child’s pre-school years around the age of three or four years old.
And more than three quarters of mums admitted they worry that things are only going to become more challenging as their children get older.
Over half of the mums polled also claimed that they find things more challenging than their partner.
Stephanie Madrell, DryNites brand manager, said: “There is no surprise that a child’s first day at school rated highly among the challenges parents face. A child’s first day at school can understandably be a particularly stressful and poignant time for both mothers and their children. The upheaval of starting school and dealing with all the new things; new teachers, new friends and the sudden change in sleep patterns, can often couple with your child hitting a bedwetting speed bump. If your child starts to experience bedwetting it is important to reassure them and offer support and encouragement as they acclimatise to their new routine in the classroom.’
Parents can find free support and advice at www.drynites.co.uk
Top 50 challenges parents face: 1 Sleepless nights/sleep deprivation 2 Tantrums 3 Having patience 4 Keeping on top of the household chores 5 Getting children to eat the right foods 6 Potty training 7 Sibling rivalry 8 Juggling childcare 9 Give your child what they want without spoiling them 10 Getting children to clean their teeth properly 11 Dealing with an ill child 12 Leaving your baby for the first time 13 Getting a baby to sleep through the night 14 Getting a baby/child to sleep at night 15 Not constantly worrying and wrapping your child in cotton wool 16 Getting children to do their homework 17 Encouraging your children to concentrate and work hard at school 18 Tackling bullying 19 Going back to work after having a baby 20 Keeping an eye on your child 24/7 21 Encouraging your children to be friends with the right crowd 22 Getting into a routine with a new baby 23 Trying to keep your children from spending too much time in front of a computer/TV screen 24 Bed-wetting 25 Getting a toddler to stay in bed 26 Getting time off work when your children are ill 27 Your child’s first day at nursery/pre-school 28 Your child’s first ever day at school 29 Teaching them the value of money 30 Dealing with other people’s opinions on your parenting skills 31 Having to answer your child’s constant questions, even when you don’t really know the answer 32 Keeping a lid on bad language 33 Getting to school on time 34 Other competitive mums 35 Helping children to take the right path through their education 36 Keeping your children in clothes that fit when they outgrow things so quickly 37 Teaching them that fighting and hitting is wrong 38 Finding time to do your child’s reading homework every night 39 Keeping an eye on what your children are looking at online/watching on TV etc 40 Children sitting exams 41 Trying to convince doctors to listen and take you seriously 42 Your child’s first day at secondary school 43 Leaving your children with a babysitter for the first time 44 Remembering to fill in all school paperwork 45 Preventing children from smoking 46 Explaining birth, life and death 47 The Birds and the Bees chat 48 Coping when you’re child’s first pet has died and knowing what to say 49 Knowing how to react when they use their first swear word 50 Clingy children