Tuesday, February 11, 2014

From Best Practise to Survival Tactics




When I was pregnant with my first baby I had SUCH intense ideals. I was gong to be the perfect mother. I would never raise my voice, never let my child cry or watch T.V. Never would they eat pre packaged food or too much sugar. They would be perfectly well behaved and I would expect no less given that I was to be the perfect mother.

When I only had one child I held strongly to my ideals for as long as humanly possible. We didn't own a T.V, I seldom bought off the shelf baby food and sugar was huge treat. I would be consumed with guilt if I ever left Zeph to cry so that I could wee or stretch my aching back. Don't you know that leaving a baby to cry (for less than 3 minutes) will cause them life long psychological damage?*

As the years have passed I have slowly relaxed my standards. When Zeph was 18 months and Pip was was in my tummy,  I could take my own perfectionism no more. I relented and allowed Zephie 20 minutes of Play School a day so that I could lay next to him and have a rest and once little Pip was ready for solids I watched guiltily as she consumed the odd pre-pureed meal from a packet.

By the time she was 18 months Pip was well versed in the ways of Fire Man Sam and the theme song of Octonauts was forever on her lips. By necessity I reassessed my ideals to accommodate the changes in our lives.

Now that there are three of them, I look back on my first years of parenting and shake my head - I realise there's 'best practise' and that ideally, all children would be raised according to the written and unwritten laws of parenthood perfection each and every day. But then there is that sneaky little trickster called reality and reality dictates that best practise just isn't always possible.

The fact of the matter is someone is always crying, the chorus of my children begging for food is always in my ears, there are always crumbs underfoot and if I'm lucky, my kids are always watching TV (not really).

With every passing day I realise the perpetual juggle that is parenting is a juggle that will, for me, remain forever unperfected.


But there sure is great joy to be found in the journey.





*said idealistic mothers of one.

23 comments:

  1. My perfect is always going to be someone elses flawed. As my girls have grown older, and me too I guess, I care much much less what anyone else thinks, let them judge, go ahead, and care only what our little unit of 4 thinks of my performance in the home. I think your family always looks happy, you manage a lot with a very young gang, relaxing standards, if that relaxes mum, I think is a good thing x

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    1. amen to this. all of it. It really is part of being comfortable and secure in your own parenting, huh.

      x

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  2. You are the perfect mother Em. Because really, perfect is such a subjective thing ... and you can only be perfect for your family, with your kids, with your circumstances right now. If your (big) lady baby's comments the other day are anything to go by then your little family has clearly decided you are perfect and that's wonderful! Love the honest post though ... As I prepare to bring our little baby girl into this world I'm turning my own mind to these things and it's terrifying. I'm not even up to the parenting bit, just trying to make 'perfect' decisions in preparation. I've already received (probably well intentioned) push back from my own mother and it's hard. I must keep reminding myself of my own comments to you - there's only perfect for your own circumstances, no perfect standard.

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    1. aahah oh thanks lady. Yes, the push back is hard. Everyone has something to say - make dinner before lunch, be organised, be prepared, sleep when the baby sleeps, teach your child good manners, give them a moral compass blah blah blah. All great advice (all be it common sense), but thats the point, right- we do our best and thats all we can do!

      You'll be a beautiful mother and your daughter will adore you. xx

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  3. Can I remind you that your oldest daughter just said she wanted to be YOU? I'd say you're doing things perfectly perfect.

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  4. I think we all have ideals of what type of parent we want to be before we become parents then we have that first baby & we rethinnk things. We know our idea of perfect prenting cannot happen each day so we accept that things have to change in order for us all to stay happy.

    With each new baby comes a new way of parenting for me. The way I parent my third is vastly different to the way I parented my first & with the fourth due soon I'm soon things will be changed again. I still have moments ( some days many moments) where I question myself, beat myself up for things I've said/done ( or not said or done) but one thing I have learnt is it all will be OK. The kids dont care if the floors are dirty or if we have baked beans on toast for dinner or that I've yelled at them for not cleaning their room/doing their homework/or one of the sometimes million other things I find myself yelling about. They know I love them & that I am trying my best each day to give them a good life. And that should be enough for all of us :)

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    1. totally true 'With each new baby comes a new way of parenting'. this has been so true for me too and yes, it really will all be okay.

      (just served up bakes beans for dinner- true)

      xx

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  5. The pressure of perfection is so high no wonder so many falter and fall these days. As long as you know your children are loved and the standards of manners/care are what you yourself see as perfect to you then that is all that counts not someone elses, or societies ideals (mind you in saying that, I think the moral lessons of what is right and wrong are every parents obligation to teach their children). Also you can make things easier on yourself. How many of us have looked at the empty fridge or no have no idea about what to have for tea at 5 to 5 and panic. Plan ahead, take that kind of every day pressure off yourself early in the day, then life or at least that day suddenly seems so much less daunting.

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    1. We all do our best don't we Lyn. Even if our kids are at times ill mannered and dinners not made till 7.30!!

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  6. Nodding along with all of this Em. I have learnt to banish my perfectionist tendencies since becoming a Mum too and now live in the land of reality :)

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  7. From the child rights lens with which I view the world every day, you are punching above your weight. High fives all 'round, I say.

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  8. Amen sister! How far the mighty have fallen...and by mighty, I mean my ideals! As an Early Childhood teacher I though I had it all figured out, but forgot that babies don't come out as spunky six year olds. Um, thank GOD!

    There were SO many things I was going to avoid (hello Disney princess, licensed anything, formula, SUGAR) but out of the necessities of life the rule book got thrown out the window somewhere along the journey and we never quite remembered to go back and get it...

    Somehow the kids are turning out OK ;)

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  9. The thing I'm trying to do now is to surrender to it. I never realised I was a such a control freak until I was into a couple of years of motherhood! So now, on a daily basis, I remind myself to surrender to it. xo

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  10. I was (and am now) right there with you! Fireman Sam is a favorite around here, too :)

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  11. I can relate to this so much. Though in my mind I've considered it more as my slowly dropping standards of how much cartoon time is ok, what is acceptable for a snack, and so on. I only have 2 children, so I can only imagine with a third lol! But it's true, we are probably our own harshest critics. There would be some people who would look at me and think what a marvellous job I'm doing, and there would be others who can't believe I allow my daughters to eat that or whatever else!!! Aim for the best, but try not to beat myself up about it if it doesn't work out is my new way of looking at things!! x

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  12. Hardest thing to accept at first that you're not a perfect mother but quite freeing when you do. You've just got to do your best really. And age appropriate cartoons have saved me and my daughter on days when it's all feeling too much so I can only imagine that's intensified when you have three!

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  13. Lovely blog, friend.
    Just found you through Bloglovin.'
    I actually wrote something similar on my blog yesterday....
    xoxo

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  14. Lovely post Emily ,yep things are hard being a Mama but there is ALWAYS joy to be found when having children and there is no such thing as the "perfect mother" i think the best thing you can do for your children is to give them your time even if it is just reading a book to them xx

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  15. Here here! Well said! I have walked the same path... Three kids is tricky, but, they have each other and that is the best thing EVER!

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Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em