As part of the guest blog series Olivia from The Wilsons of Oz has shared a post on how she’s going to ignore all the ‘perfect’ online parenting advice and wing the next 12 months with her kids – a great and fun read. Check out more about Olivia and her family’s journey on her blog here.
As I sit in bed, sipping coffee and flipping through Facebook, (the children are plonked in front of the TV SHOCK HORROR) I can’t help but feel emotional that it’s one of the last mornings of the school holidays. Don’t get me wrong, the kids have really got on my nerves this week, arguing, bickering, wiping bogies on each other, you know, the usual stuff, but I really cherish these times, although I am sure I look like I am about to have a nervous breakdown. There’s no pressure to get dressed at the crack of dawn, no school gate politics, we are free to come and go as we please. I love my “holiday handbag” overflowing with extra toys, snotty tissues and squelchy bananas (non-organic I may add). I love the long beach days, coming home all sandy and salty, utterly exhausted and wondering how on earth I am going to find the energy to make a nutritious, healthy family meal that we can all enjoy together. Is there such a thing?
There is so much pressure on parents these days that we kind of miss the fun when it comes to parenting. We are bombarded with “helpful advice”, when actually all our children really need is to be happy and feel loved. Does it really matter that I have allowed my babies to eat an non-organic apple for their 10am snack and that it was a bit sandy? Does it really matter that they have watched Lego Friends on Netflix for two hours this morning while scoffing jammy toast? No! And I don’t feel at all guilty! At the end of the day, mothers and fathers need to be told they are doing a good job, rather than made to feel shameful that they served up fish fingers, chips and beans for dinner last night. I mean “who on earth would serve that?”
The truth of the matter is we all have a pile of laundry sat waiting for someone to organise, we’ve all rushed our kid’s homework at the breakfast table at least once, and we’ve all given our kids a cup cake for dinner because the salmon fillet was “ugh, disgusting mum”. This doesn’t mean we are failures, this doesn’t mean we need helpful advice on nutrition or to be told how important Year 3 homework is; we just need a pat on the back and maybe a snap chat of some other mum who is covered in Nutella (kitchen staple) and crying into her cold cuppa.
No matter how “Facebook perfect” people’s lives look, we’re all in the same boat. We’re all being watched when our children are freaking out in the supermarket and all you can do is ram sweets down their throats to keep the peace, or when your darling son tells an old lady he’s going to “kick her in the butt”. Oh yes, we’re all in the same crazy boat full of nutters, and the last thing we need is miss snooty pants telling us how “easy” it is to live like her. Wearing her hand knitted outfits and eating her home baked pastries with her adorable little children enjoying an afternoon of craft! Look, no-one ‘likes’ doing craft at home, that’s what toddler groups are for. No-one in their right mind enjoys having PVA glue and cotton wool stuck all over their dining room table! I let my children paint…. outside, I let them use glitter…. at other people’s houses, and I let them bake…. when I am feeling especially patient! No I am not a fun sponge, I’d just rather not have even more chaos when a game of hide and seek in the garden gives just as much pleasure. I am sure someone somewhere will be thinking ” without an hour of craft a day you’re hampering your child’s development, and they’ll never be able to create an award winning presentation at Google HQ”. Bite me!
The internet is full of advice on everything from breast feeding to creating the perfect kids party. We’re lucky to have this to hand but I can’t help but wonder what ever happened to asking your mum for advice or turning to your friends? I am guilty of asking questions on online forums and then being made to feel like an awful, evil human being when someone tells me they are shocked that I would even put my son on a booster seat. Then they proceed to tag me in some hideous video of a child being propelled out of the windscreen and across a motorway to prove their point! Shoot me now – I am not a perfect mother! I am nowhere near perfect! My children are not perfect, god damn it, no one is perfect, but we have a wonderful life, we have fun, we bicker and we adore each other, warts and all.
So my mission for the next 12 months is to completely ignore all the pop-up bits of “parenting advice”; all the cookbooks teaching us how to make a sodding caterpillar out of shepherd’s pie, and how to “resolve a tantrum without giving in”! (I mean who does that?). I am going to wing it. I am going to wing the next 12 months. If my children want to sleep in my bed, so be it! If they want to go to the shops in their underwear and slippers, I may join them! We will be going on adventures to far flung places, we will be trying new types food, we will be playing, we will be hugging, we will be laughing, we will be doing chores, we will be comforting each other, we will be swimming, we will be doing homework, we will be cooking supper, and we will probably be doing craft at some point! Not because I am the world’s best mum, or because I want the yummy mummy’s approval, but because I am a mum, and that’s just what mums do!!! (And dads for that matter!)