(and that's ok)
Want to know a secret about my parenting? I fail. A lot. Thrown together dinners, lost kids, 7 am shouting, four year olds dropping F-bombs - you name it, it’s happened.
At the time I felt like crap. The feeling of shame, or of letting your child down, can be overwhelming. With so many Insta perfect parents in our eyeline, it’s easy to feel you’re the only one that hasn’t got your shit together. Let me tell you, you’re not alone.
We all issue the harshest judgement to ourselves and I’m here to tell you that failing is winning.
THE TIME I LOST MY TODDLER
Ah, that old chestnut. I mean, are you even a parent if you haven’t misplaced a child or two? All joking aside, kids wander off, and while you feel hideous that it happened, you come out of it with some valuable lessons. 1) tie your child to you 2) getting frantic doesn’t help 3) teach your child some important ‘lost’ techniques.
I have said to my two that if they think they are lost in a big space, like a park, beach or woods - just stay put. I WILL find you. If we’re shopping (shudder...shopping with children is an extreme sport), then they can go into a nearby shop and tell the person at the till that they can’t find mummy.
These plans only came from actually losing my son - and while I hope to never go through that panic and fear ever again, I know that my experience has taught me well.
THE TIME I HAD £10 FOR A WEEK'S FOOD SHOP
You know what people don’t talk about much? Money. I mean, I’m not saying we should greet friends with a bank balance, but those that feel the pinch often feel embarrassed and ashamed. I know I did. There have been times where I’ve had a week of pasta, beans, jackets, eggs and Co-op’s fiver deal. I've joined the group ‘Feed Your Family for £20 a Week’ on Facebook (join, it’s really helpful - I love the sausage and roasted veg traybake).
The days I’m feeding my kids a meal that has to cost less than £2 are hard. I mean, who wants to feel like they’re nutritionally depriving their offspring? But they are fed, they flippin’ LOVE all those dishes (and I can actually cook them), and these simple meals are easy to get them involved in making.
THE TIME I LOST MY COOL
I mean, when I say time, I actually mean times. Many, many times. Children have a knack for pushing buttons, don’t they? I've started a day thinking that I’m going to be nurturing, calm and earth-mama. I end the day red-faced and mad as hell. And I feel like crap. After I’ve shouted, removed toys, children from rooms or the promise of a much-loved activity I don’t feel like I've successfully navigated stormy parenting waters - I feel depleted. Overwrought. Emotional. That, when faced with the decision to react calmly or to lose my rag, my default is the latter. Especially at bed-time. Is that a failure? Or is that just human nature? Sure, yelling doesn’t seem to have any actual effect, in fact, I’d say they’re desensitised to it now. But sometimes pulling rank is all I have. This is the one area I don’t have a peppy positive, I really don’t think it helps a situation - but I also don’t see it changing for me, so I’ll accept that, for now at least, I’ll lose my cool on occasion.
THE PERFECTLY PACKED NAPPY BAG
I’m sure we all have a friend that has the ‘perfect’ nappy bag; fully stocked with enough nappies, wipes, plasters, clothing changes and healthy snacks. Alas, that’s not me. There was one glorious day that I had such a bag - I’d thought ahead to pack it, but once I’d rifled through it to wipe noses and bums, it was back to disorganised chaos. And to be honest, I’m better in that zone.
There’s way too much prep involved in being, well, prepared.
This is my biggie. Juggling housework, work and kids is a daily battle, and one I rarely feel I win. We live with ‘clothes mountain’ which is all the clean clothing piled sky high. Every day we load it on our bed with the intention of putting it away, and every night we throw it off again. I guess it dusts the floor at least!
My emotional battle comes from putting my smallest in childcare. We all love his nursery setting, he’s very, very happy there but it’s still not mummy. When I drop him off, he can be clingy and fussy (although he always settles quickly), but I can’t help but feel that I choose to be self-employed so I can be with my kids more, yet the demands on my time mean he’s in childcare. I think every parent struggles with the balance - I was told if you don’t feel guilty, then you’re not doing it right haha
The truth is, no one is a perfect parent. There's no such thing. We learn and grow with our kids (they do say that the first born is the experiment).
Be kind to yourself, don't dwell on your perceived 'failings' because tomorrow is a new day, and now you're armed with information that you can use to do better. You've got this.