Warren Hayden: A touch of groundhog days for parents

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Have you seen the 1990s’ movie Groundhog Day? It stars Bill Murray who plays a TV weatherman who finds his life is on a loop.

He wakes up each morning to find that the day ahead is exactly the same as the day before. No-one else is aware of the time loop except him.

Throughout the film, you see his character becoming more and more depressed that each day is exactly the same. And apparently parenting can be just like Groundhog Day.

Last week, I read an article about a mother of three who suffers with the self-coined – and self-diagnosed – ‘repetitive parenting syndrome’.

She describes how, as a parent, we go through exactly the same experiences with our different children.

She talks about being determined to ensure that her youngest daughter experiences the same things her elder siblings did, despite the monotony that this brings.

Her weekends are a merry-go-round of ferrying her offspring to various clubs and classes.

She describes how to make sure that each child is treated equally, she repeats the same trips, treats and experiences for each child.

The mum believes ‘repetitive parenting syndrome’ is more common than ever as parents strive to ensure all their children get the same experiences in their early years.

As a father to two daughters aged four and five, I can totally understand where this busy mum is coming from.

You don’t want your child to feel left out and feel they are getting less than their sibling. You want them to have the same experiences, in the hope that this will help them bond as they grow up.

But on the other hand, I also think it is important to turn this idea on its head and let our children be their own person, become individuals in their own right.

All parents of more than one child have heard the words ‘I want one because they had one’.

However, I’m a great believer in making sure that both my children are also treated as individuals.

The experiences which are planned and given to them by me will hopefully be matched to their personality.

It’s quite nice to give them individual experiences, and as their father, spend time with each girl individually.

For Caitlin, five, this might be a trip to the cinema, while for four-year-old Alyssa, it might involve a walk to the library or maybe the local swimming pool.

Of course, the girls also have similar interests and like doing the same things. A visit to the park is one thing which springs to mind.

I agree that ‘repetitive parenting syndrome’ exists, but for me it isn’t to do with ensuring siblings have the same experiences. I see it as more to do with reading the same book at story time each night or watching the same Disney movie for the 100th time – and, so far, I haven’t found a cure.