emperor penguins

5 Parenting Tips I’m Totally Stealing From Penguins (Yes, Really!)

If you think about it, humans aren’t so far removed from the feathered and furry members of the animal kingdom. This became especially apparent when I was pregnant for the first time (resembling a whale), gave birth (almost exactly like livestock), and spent the following months with a tiny creature attached to my breast (don’t even get me started about how it feels to pump). Now that I’m nearly a decade into parenting, I feel like I have more say in what kind of animal I’d like to emulate as a parent. And I’ve gotta say, the front-runner has to be the penguin.

As you’ll discover when you watch March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step on Hulu—now streaming—the polite, orderly, and impeccably dressed Emperor Penguin possesses many admirable qualities. The film tells the incredible story of an Emperor Penguin and his son braving some of the most challenging conditions imaginable, which goes to show that penguins are also pretty awesome at parenting.

Here are five parenting tips I’m totally stealing from penguins.

  1. Establish an equal partnership. Male Emperor Penguins do not simply kick back on the ice and let the female penguins do all the work. They share responsibilities, splitting their time hunting for food and taking turns sitting on their young so their chicks don’t freeze to death. What’s more, daddies are very involved in penguin communities. It’s a good reminder for me to leave my husband in charge every now and then while I get some much-deserved me-time. Not only is it good for kids to see equal partnership between both parents, but it will also certainly make me resent my husband less.
  2. Develop your family’s own unique call. Finding your child in a massive crowd of children who all look the same is any parent’s worst nightmare. The Emperor Penguin’s secret? Develop a unique, identifying call that only you and your child know. Simple, smart, and effective! This is evolution at its best. No more freak-outs at pick-up time; just calmly make your designated sounds until you find each other.
  3. Adopt impeccable manners. I’m from the South, where manners are a big deal. However, the art of politely standing or walking in an orderly fashion seems to be slipping away with the passing of time. If nothing else, I hope we can all draw some inspiration from penguins, who are masters at training their young to stay in line (literally).  I can barely keep up with my three kids in the grocery store, but if 7,000 penguins can walk in a single-file line for miles and miles without a problem, there’s still hope for us, right?
  4. Keep a low profile. Adult penguins are badass, but they tend to keep it under wraps. They look slow and out-of-shape waddling around on land—similar the dowdy-looking parent you feel sorry for when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. But it’s all an act! Penguins’ stout figures actually allow them to survive extreme temperatures. And while penguins appear to move at a leisurely pace on land, they’re insanely fast, carnivorous swimmers. It’s a good reminder that when parents keep their badassery on the down-low, the kids stay on their toes. It’s good to keep them guessing.
  5. Mothers eat first. The most vital parenting tip I’m stealing from penguins is the idea that a mom should take care of herself before she takes care of anyone else. In the penguin world, the mother lays the egg and then immediately excuses herself for an eight-week vacation, where she does nothing but eat while the male penguin stands around holding the egg on his feet. When she returns, the father and hatched chick are waiting expectantly, and she’s in the emotional and physical place to be able to care for her family. I mean, #parentinggoals, right? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m overdue for a very extended vacation.

To learn more fascinating facts about Emperor Penguins, gather up your flock and tune into March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step on Hulu.

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