Despite all the parenting TV shows, books and advice out there, the best advice of all is most likely to come from closer to home, courtesy of your own instinct – and your own mum.
That's the opinion of someone who stars in her own parenting show, nanny Kathryn Mewes.
The no-nonsense nanny is starring in a new series of Channel 4's The Three-Day Nanny, where she visits family homes for three days and helps them tackle various problems with their children.
In the new series, Mewes deals with a family where the kids are running riot because the mum's lost her confidence and dad's more concerned with checking his smartphone; a single nursery school teacher who bombards her children with rules; and a family where the three-year-old daughter rules the household.
Mewes, who's expecting her own first child in August, says that family relationships - and parenting – are very different today to how they were 30 or 40 years ago.
“Parenting has changed dramatically - years ago parents didn't have all the books and the 'advice', they were just told to get on with it,” she says.
“Families lived a lot closer to each other, so people had mum round the corner and they could ask her, and work with their instincts.”
Mewes says that when she goes into homes to help parents, she's often paid by the grandparents. “And very often, when I'm working with parents, they say they don't want me to meet their mum because 'that's what she says'.
“When a professional tells you, you listen, but when your mum tells you, you think, ‘What can she remember from 30 years ago?’ Often, she can remember quite a lot.”
Who to turn to
Today's parents would rather turn to Google or seek professional advice, she says. “I believe that's why people aren't asking their parents so much any more. A lot of us feel judged by our parents, so we'd rather seek advice elsewhere.
“But my whole outlook is of my parents' generation – I'm quite old-school. I'm very much about instinct, that it's OK to get it wrong. Give it a try, and if it doesn't work, think of something else.”
She says grandparents are often on hand in the houses she visits to give practical help, like taking the kids to the park, but not always the emotional support that's needed.
“I think the toughest person to go to, to say you can't manage, is your mum or your dad, because they feel they've got the right to judge you, whereas a professional hasn't.”
When to intervene
Mewes says grandparents often don't know how to help and are scared of treading on toes.
“Grandparents are in a really difficult position – they want to help, but they don't want to come across as judgemental, and they live in fear of it not being happy families.”
She advises grandparents to sit down with their child and their partner and tell them honestly how hard they found being a parent.
“Open that door to make your children aware that you didn't do it perfectly, that you found it hard, and that you're there to support them. Make it clear you'll listen, not judge.”
Walking the walk
As an excited mum-to-be, Mewes admits that while she may be an expert on the practicalities of child-rearing, the emotional side is a complete unknown to her.
“I'm very nervous – I hope and pray that I'm not going to be a parent that always says ‘yes’,” she says.
“I haven't been a parent – it's the emotional thing. I look at parents and they're an emotional wreck, and I wonder how a tiny child's done this to them. So for me there's a huge question about this emotional pull that I know nothing about.
"I'm ready to get on the emotional roller coaster."
She says she's spent 20 years seeing how easy it is to get parenting wrong. “What's to stop me going down that slippery slope? A lot of willpower and a lot of logic, though you don't always have that,” she asks.
But there's always her mum to turn to if she's having her own parenting problems, she says.
“If I need advice I'll go to my mum. I've got support all lined up - but only after I'm lost with my own instinct.”
She adds: “What I try to bring back into every home I go into is instinct. I'll just say to them: ‘I'm not the manual, first use your instinct and then ring me’.
“Give it a go with your guts, and if you feel it's not working, we'll see what my gut says.”
The Three-Day Nanny starts on Channel 4 at 8pm on Tuesday July 28.