I am a bit of a ‘netmums’ addict. Today they launched their REAL Parenting campaign, recognising that we should all stop trying to be a ‘perfect’ parent and to relax and do the best we can in our own situation.
As all parents know , raising children is full of ups and downs. There is nothing more wonderful than watching your child grow and acquire new skills, they make you proud in so many ways. With all the joy and love that children give they also take from you a great deal. They take your independence, sleep, money,time, energy, appearance to name but a few. So why not be realistic and honest for a change – parenthood can be great but its also damned hard work and if we strive to be perfect parents won’t we always leave a little of ourselves behind?
My attitudes to parenting have changed a lot in the past 7 years. When my eldest daughter was born I had high expectations of the type of parent I would be. We used real nappies, had home made baby food and no sweets much before the age of 2, she was exclusively breast fed for 8 months and followed a strict routine. As an early years teacher I was keen to involve her in lots of creative messy activities , it was rare that you would leave our dining table without bits of glitter stuck to your clothes and she only watched television if I sat with her and we talked about it together.
My 2nd child followed a slightly less strict routine, was weaned on finger food because she wasn’t interested in my healthy mush and developed a penchant for ice-cream. She has therefore had sweet things from little after 6 months of age. She watches television with her sister and ‘Charlie and Lola’ is the perfect vehicle for keeping her occupied when you want to get on with things. She is in disposable nappies by the age of 2 and rarely paints, glues or plays with dough and clay.
My 3rd wears a mix of disposable and real nappies, has been introduced to one formula feed a day by 3 months old, and has fallen into a pattern of co-sleeping.
With the first 2 children I didn’t return to work until they were almost 2 year old and was happy to stay at home. This time I’m really looking forward to going back into the adult world again and building a life for myself. Does this make me a worse mother? I doubt it , surely a happy and fulfilled person will be best equipped to raise happy and fulfilled children.
My attitudes to parenting have changed , I feel a more relaxed parent (as much as one can be when juggling 3 small children) and have come to the conclusion that if you pressurize yourself too much about how you should behave as a parent , then somehow you lose a part of you. When all concept of who you were before has gone everything suffers, relationships break down, self esteem crumbles and you find yourself talking about the price of nappies and which level of spelling your child is on.
Give yourself a break, we are good parents, our kids will be fine if we instil in them basic values , love them and listen to them. Don’t give up everything for them , look after yourself or what will be left of you when they are gone?