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n=1 (or one size does not fit all)

Updated: Oct 22, 2022

As a scientist, I learned very quickly that almost nothing in parenting is an exact science. Even some of the official guidance on feeding and sleep are based on the flimsiest evidence. And yet parents are full of advice, based on their highly individual experiences. This blog is even collating that advice.

So should you take advice based on n=1?

My strategy has been to just try everything and anything (assuming it presents no actual harm). Some things might work, others might not, it's almost certainly not your fault if it doesn't, so give yourself a break. For me, these little hacks give a sense of control, something else to try, another little experiment to run that might just help.

Miniblog courtesy of @aidanhorner

Like parenting, this is really about the kids - but tell us a little something about yourself

I'm a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of York, but mostly I bake bread!

How old are your kids?

5 and 8

What is your favourite parenting hack?

All children are different, so it is never a case of one size fits all. We have always benefited from a reasonably stable bedtime routine (dinner, bath, stories, bed) that is good for the children but also good for us - it ensures we have 1-2 hours every day where we fully engage with the children (eg. without phones/tv). We almost always eat together as a family, and that provides the opportunity to talk about the school day in an unforced manner, which means we often avoid the usual "I can't remember" response.

What do you find most difficult as a parent?

The relentlessness of it. In particular the rapid adjustments to the work/life schedule when something comes up last minute.

What never fails to bring you joy as a parent?

It is the hundreds of small moments that catch you off guard. The cuddle on the sofa when watching a film, the moment they understand something they previously couldn't, the time they resolve an argument between themselves without you having to intervene, the meaningful conversation about friendships at school, the unexpected act of kindness.

a side note

These posts serve partly as therapy for me, and partly in hopes that the words will resonate with you and help build a community of parents and friends that can support each other. Take a look around the website, and join if you want to see more.

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