Expert Advice

Mum of 14 gives her top parenting advice

Who better than a mum of 14 to offer some sage parenting advice in the lead-up to Mother’s Day?

Jane Anne McAllister has 14 children and 23 (and counting) grandchildren. The founder and CEO of Dimples by Jane Anne, a successful New Zealand children's clothing brand and store, has learned a lot about parenting after more than four decades in the role. In time for Mother's Day (13 May), she shares some of her wisdom with us.

Learn as you go

Having been a mother for the past 44 years I've been able to see and learn how the way in which we parent changes. Each way of parenting your child is different as each child is different.

There are always new techniques and values which affect everyone differently. With my own children, I have always learned from the last, keeping an open mind and gaining more experience as each of them grows, and eventually passing on my knowledge to help guide them to develop their own unique parenting techniques.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

The best advice I would give to other mothers is: "Don't sweat the small stuff."

Every action has a reaction and it is best to always have an open mind. I am not saying to always take the easy road, just to choose your battles, and focus more on helping your kids learn from their mistakes and guiding them to make the right choices.

Be inspired

The biggest motivation for me is my father. He started from nothing and with his clever thinking and good morals he became an amazing businessman. He has taught me everything I know about running a business. People who strive for greatness and beat the odds are an inspiration to me.

Teach them well

The biggest highlight for me is my children and who they have become. Each has his or her own motivations and values in life, and that is all I ever wanted for them.

Stay supported

The biggest challenge for me was time. I never seemed to have enough of it. Having the three stages of children meant I was always busy caring for a newborn, going through the terrible twos or helping the children with school work all in the same day. I definitely couldn't have done it without the support of my husband, Sam.

Accept help

There definitely was never a dull moment in my house! The most children I have had living in one house is 12. The washing would pile up, dinner time would be a rush and there was always something that needed doing. Luckily my children always pitched in around the house to ensure a smooth-running household and, being so many, there was always someone to turn to if they ever needed help or advice.

Just keep going

On weekdays it was a rush to get the kids off to school. Making sure they were up and dressed, beds made, bags packed with lunches… and with at least seven of them going to school at a time, I'm sure you can image the workload involved. Weekends were not much different as my children participated in extracurricular activities like soccer, gymnastics, dancing etc. There was always something I needed to do or somewhere I had to go.