Sometimes it feels like parenting is a battlefield. I don’t mean the daily battle to get the children to wear a coat (though in our house that heralds all out war). I mean a Hunger Games style battle between parents. I don’t know what happens but the moment you see that little blue line to show you’re pregnant, but everything suddenly changes and without knowing it you are thrown into a pit with all the other parents and must struggle to be the best, as if there is only one winner. Caring for children is hard enough – why do we have to compete with each other as well?
There are so many areas of competition. It can start pretty instantly with what sort of diet you have during pregnancy, whether you are planning an all natural home birth to the lulling sounds of whale music or a trip to the hospital. Then of course there is how to feed the baby, when to start solid food, how to feed solid food, how to get your child to sleep, where your child should sleep, when to return to work, whether to return to work, how to discipline your child, how to school your child, what clubs to take your child to,whether to wear designer clothes on the school run or to rock up in your onesie and slippers. Do any of these things make you a good mum or not? I don’t think so. To be honest I’m pretty relaxed I do what works for me, generally the best bits of everything, and trust my instinct as much as possible.
So what makes a good mum?
I’ve been thinking about this a bit recently. This blog is predominantly kids crafts and activities. I always worry that as well as being a bit show-offy it also marks me down as one of those “Should People” – you know – one of the people who is constantly saying you should be doing this or that with your child otherwise you have failed as a parent. I’ve felt Pinterest Envy – when you look at all the beautiful crafts and bakes on Pinterest and think that you will never match up. I try to remember that I am judging my back stage chaos to their red carpet glamour *. Yes I do these crafts with the girls and I do produce something which looks good, but it’s only half the picture. I try to be as honest as possible when I post and say when something hasn’t worked or if one of the girls has decided to stick googly eyes on her sister instead of on the birthday card she’s ma,king but you still never see the whole picture: the pile of washing waiting to be done, the smudges on the window which have been edited in Picmonkey, the first bake which was completely burnt and ended up in the bin, or the tears of frustration because they just have to throw the buttons on the floor and spill glue on the carpet.
Showing off what a fantastic parent I am and how everyone should do it exactly the same as me is not what this blog is about. Instead it’s my happy place where I share some of the successes we have in a way which hopefully will help someone looking for a different way to decorate a pumpkin or help their preschoolers learn to count.
People have said to me things like “You’re a wonderful mum because you craft with the kids” or “I’m such a rubbish mum because I hate crafting.” But really does doing crafts or activities mean you are a good or bad parent? Of course not. I do crafts and activities because they are the things I enjoy myself. It’s the same reason the clubs I take them to are swimming and ice skating – they are the things I enjoy and I want to share them with the girls (although just recently ballet has crept in – that one is nothing to do with me). If I loved doing up old cars or fly fishing and I shared these with my children then they would be just as valid. I think it comes down to spending time with them. That’s the big thing for me. Unplugging the phone, turning off the TV (although sometimes curling up together and watching the TV can be the best thing ever) and doing something together which everyone enjoys. If you hate doing crafts and the thought of glitter brings you out in a cold sweat then why do it?
Celebrate the good things
I’m determined to start celebrating the little parent successes. They might not make a pinworthy blog post but at the end of the day they are what really matter. These are the things which make me go to bed thinking I’ve done a good job.
- Staying calm and not shouting
- Spending one on one time
- Eating together
- Getting the girls to school on time with all the correct things
- Saying something which makes them beam with joy
- Doing something fun and unpredictable
- When they say please and thank you without being prompted.
- When they care and help each other.
- Doing something together we all enjoy.
- Singing together
- Taking time to find out what they want – what they are interested in and what to do.
So no, my ability to make a toy car out of a cardboard box and a few elastic bands does make me a good parent, just as feeding them the occasional takeaway whilst watching Strictly Dancing in front of the telly means that I am a complete failure. What really matters is happy, healthy confident kids who know I care for them. Now where can I get me some of them?
What things make you feel like a good parent?
* I read this somewhere but can’t remember where and can’t find it with google search. If you know where this quote comes from I’d love to find out.