It’s not easy being a mum. Sometimes you need some help and guidance. Here are six books which I recommend that have certainly helped me.

A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life by Juanita Phillips

Part memoir, part cookbook, A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life by ABC Presenter Juanita Phillips should be required reading for all stressed Australian mums.

With experience managing a baby and toddler and a full-time job, Phillips provides useful strategies to organise life when there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. From tips in decluttering to sharing the chores and managing the unachievable expectations of being a Superwoman, Phillips encourages us to strive for a simpler life.

She also writes candidly about the stresses in her life, which culminated in a panic attack on live TV.  This very public episode prompted her to make major changes in her life starting with her pressure cooker. She extols the joys of using a pressure cooker – a risotto in 7 minutes! – And provides recipes and techniques to get you started on your pressure-cooking journey.


The Crafty Kid – Projects For and With Children by Kelly Doust

I love this book even though I am the least crafty person I know. But somehow when I read this book, I feel like I can sew, knit, crochet, smock, etc. In fact, I felt so inspired when I read this book, I attempted to make the Sweet Dreams Nightdress out of a pillowcase as suggested by Doust. The result, I ended up with a dress that fitted my daughter. However, she refused to wear it for more than a minute since it was formerly her pillowcase.  No worries, I quickly sewed the dress back into a slightly smaller and misshapen pillowcase. I’m hoping for a better reception when I make the Punch & Judy finger puppets.


The Complete Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali

It’s not necessary to convert to Buddhism to appreciate this compilation by Sarah Napthali, as mothers of all faiths will find something valuable within her writings.  This volume includes three of her bestselling titles: Buddhism for Mothers, Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children and Buddhism for Mothers of Schoolchildren. These titles focus on using Buddhist teachings and principles to deal with the challenges of raising children.

I love this book as when I read it, I am reminded of what’s important. It’s not having a clean house or perfectly behaved children but rather parenting mindfully and finding calm.  Napthali states how her journey to Buddhism stemmed from her wish to be more patient, more compassionate and more positive, qualities that I know I strive for. Following the teachings contained in Buddhism for Mothers is a great tool in achieving these qualities.


How to Raise an Amazing Child The Montessori Way by Tim Seldin

The teachings of Maria Montessori provide a blueprint on raising children from babies to adulthood developed by the Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori. This philosophy aims to create independent and confident children. Although there are established Montessori preschools and schools, this book aims to provide parents with suggestions for implementing Montessori guidelines within the home.

A key guideline is making your house child-friendly and maximising opportunities for your child to be independent. This might involve arranging the child’s bedroom with easy access to clothing and toys so that they are able to dress themselves and choose what toys and books to play with.

This book also provides parents with creative activities to help children develop independence, concentration and social skills. My favourite is the Silence Game which involves ringing a bell and challenging the child to close their eyes and remain still.  The silence doesn’t last long but I’m hoping as time goes by, the silent periods will get longer!

As suggested by the book, we have also set up a family garden. This introduces a child to nature’s cycles from planting seeds and watching them to grow to harvesting the crops. It is a lovely family activity that we all enjoy. My daughter loves going out every day to check for red strawberries that she can pick and eat.


Creative Play for 2 -5s: Recognize and Stimulate Your Child’s Natural Talents by Dr Dorothy Einon

It can be a challenge sometimes coming up with fun and stimulating activities for young kids. That’s why I found this book so useful. It provides hundreds of suggestions of activities from modelling dough, sorting socks, obstacle course to making pasta jewellery. The book shows you how to create a creative environment at home to recognize, support and enhance your child’s natural abilities.  Talent spotter checklists provide questions to assess your child in different areas such as imaginative play, music and song and thinking creatively. It also allows you to monitor your child’s progress by providing year-by-year development checklists.


Ages & Stages: A Parent’s Guide to Normal Childhood Development by Dr Charles E. Schaefer and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo

Although the title of the book sounds more like a textbook,  this book is actually an easy to read guide for parents wanting to understand and support their child’s development.It is written for parents of children from birth to age 9. It provides information on what behaviours parents can expect at different ages and stages of development. The book covers emotional health, cognitive development, family and peer relationships, personal growth and character formation for different stages of a child’s life. The book is divided up into 4 stages: Birth to 18 months, 18 months to 36 months, 36 months to 6 years and 6 to 9 years.

I found this book extremely useful in explaining behaviour especially that of a toddler. In particular, the book explains how children 18 months to 36 months expect order and predictability and that changes to routine can lead to tantrums and/or tears. By following some of the suggestions in the book, we have minimised the impact when the family routine has be adjusted. These include setting up rituals and routines which can be replicated elsewhere such as completing a bedtime routine at Grandma’s and explaining to the child beforehand the changes to the routine. These small things can make a significant difference in reducing tantrums and tears benefiting the entire family.

I’m always looking for more books to read, so if you have any recommendations for parenting books, let me know.