Have realistic expectations.

Under-fives aren’t programmed to sit still, be quiet and behave. Babies will cry, toddlers will want to run around and preschoolers will fidget and whine. You’ll have an easier time if you expect them to ‘act their age’. If you know that an event is going to be too long for them, think about arranging a mate or family member to look after them instead.

Bring along a quiet bag.

A ‘quiet bag’ with a selection of special no-noise toys and books that they only get to play with at formal occasions will help entertain them if they become restless or bored. The quiet bag could also have snacks that can be eaten quietly and without mess - and a drink bottle!

Talk about what you expect beforehand.

Kids need your help to learn that certain behaviour is expected at certain places. Talk about what you expect before you get there.  Kids cope better when they understand the reasons behind your request. Be specific –“there’ll be lots of people there trying to listen so you’ll need to be quiet. If you get bored, you can get out your quiet bag.”

Don't be afraid to take them outside.

While it can be disappointing to have to leave a ceremony or service because your child is acting up, it’s less stressful all round to act promptly and remove them if noise and energy levels are rising. If it’s a regular or special event, you could arrange to ‘tag’ team it with your partner or a mate, so you only miss some of the service or ceremony.

Try not to focus on what everyone thinks about your kids.

If your baby or toddler fusses or cries you might feel embarrassed but growling or smacking them won’t help either of you. Try and put their needs first. Don’t worry about what other people think – most have been there and know what you’re going through.

Give them lots of praise when they do behave.

When your kids do stay quiet and listen make sure you let them know you’re proud of the way they’re behaving.

Think about other needs.

Take your kids to the toilet beforehand to avoid embarrassing accidents or having to leave in a hurry! If your child is still learning to use the toilet and formalities might go on longer than expected, think about using a pull up just this once and avoiding lots of buttons and zips. Take a change of clothing just in case!

Over it? Use your phone timer to set a time limit for a play activity – your full attention for five minutes is better than half pai for longer.

Need back-up? Family members might be willing to help but not sure what to do. . Be specific – “could you please bath/feed change/dress baby”

Feeling like a bad parent? Look around and check is there anything that could be dangerous to the kids? If not, relax – you’re doing OK!

Feel like you’re always on the go? Your kids are the most important thing - and they’re only young once. Think about what absolutely must be done now and what can wait.

Worried what others think of your parenting? What your kids think of you is what really matters! If you focus on them, you’re already doing a great job.

Feeling down? Talking with someone you trust can be the first step to finding help. Working out whether your feelings are temporary or more lasting is important. Depressed? Writing down your feelings in a daily diary will help you monitor whether it’s getting better or worse. This will also help you explain better if you go to your doctor.

Sick of yelling? Try singing your frustration instead. If you hop or jump at the same time, everyone gets the giggles — another great tension buster!

Feeling yuk? If no-one else can help with the kids, grab a pillow and blanket - set up camp in your lounge until you start to feel better

Had enough? You may feel like you need alcohol or drugs to relax – but they often make the situation worse, especially when you have to deal with kids. Who could help you cut down or cut it out?

Stress over unpaid bills? Have a banking setup that automatically takes money out for your main bills first. Then you know what you have left to survive on.

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Putting it all together

SKIP’s approach is based on six things which children need from parents to help them grow into happy, capable adults.

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  • Love & warmth

  • Talking & listening

  • Guidance & understanding

  • A structured & secure world

  • Consistency & consequences

  • Limits & boundaries