When we had our first baby I was the Mum who planned play dates with precision (out with nap times), enrolled our little girl into an array of classes and activities. We baked, went for long walks, crafted (badly), visited family and friends and embraced every soft play joint in town.
You see there was a little voice in my head. A ‘perfect’ mum voice that said ‘that’s how we do parenting’. To be frank: I had read too many unrealistic parenting books and indulged in too much unwanted advice.
I was in the ‘Mummy honeymoon period’ and threw myself into the lifestyle with open arms – the beautiful, the fun, the exhausting and the ugly.
When we had our second baby I tried to keep up the pace but it just wasn’t happening. I needed some lazy mornings where I could stay in my pj’s until at least 11am. Mornings where I didn’t have to pack two kids up and bundle them off somewhere in the rain by a set time. Leaving the house with kids is always stressful, especially for someone like me who always has to be on time.
Although those lazy mornings were just what the doctor ordered, I still felt guilty. Perfect Mum started moaning in my ear ‘you are a slob today – brush that hair, get some make up on and get the kids out to the park – pack some healthy snacks whilst you are at it’. I felt like in some way I was failing my kids as we sat watching Peter Rabbit and eating chocolate hobnobs . They were happy though. They were content. What I should have said was SHUT IT PERFECT MUM – today I will not be getting my boobs out to feed my hungry little boy in a baltic play park. Today we are happy at home.
I am yet to meet a parent or carer, auntie, uncle, grandparent or friend who doesn’t want to play a part in raising a happy child. We all have a ‘perfect Mum’ voice of guilt. As Robbie Williams sings in his latest track, we want our kids to be able to say to us:
I love my life
If you have not heard the song yet tune in, some of his latest songs are questionable but this one is a goodie. Listen to it after a couple of glasses of wine and I can guarantee the lyrics will give you a lump in the throat thinking of a little person you love.
Perfect Mum whispers ‘your kids are not laughing enough today – be funny! put your phone down now and do the animal impressions again. Bark like a dog, they like it when you do that. Tell them to cook something from their toy kitchen and then pretend it is awful and start fake throwing up all over them – they will crease themselves. Try harder. You are being a boring, lazy Mum’
Granted I love being daft with the kids but some mornings I just want to sit and reply to a WhatsApp from my friends and family with plenty of emojos. Some mornings I want to check out the latest gossip on facebook or Instagram my new cosy socks. If the kids are entertaining themselves then why should that matter? It is actually ok for me not to be at their beck and call every moment of every single day.
Perfect Mum told me to spend hours researching the safest car seats. She told me to make sure I have enough educational activities for our family holiday and nutritious snacks for the plane. She told me not to order that gin and tonic and then my son threw up all over me mid flight #fail #makemineadouble.
She told me that kids club was selfish. She told me that reading two books on a family holiday was indulgent. Yet, when I asked my little girl, kids club was the highlight of her holiday. She fancied a boy called Jack.
It got to the point that this voice called perfect Mum was REALLY starting to hack me off. They look tired today, they look overwhelmed. They need a rest. We need to slow it down. Their little minds are fragile. What you got to say about that then perfect Mum?
They have so many educational toys and a social life that Katie Price would be envious of. I think that today perfect Mum you can just shut it. Today we are keeping it simple. Today we will stay in our pyjamas and they will be told what we are having for lunch. I don’t care about the fact you want me to offer an array of salads and sandwiches, a couple of pasta options and homemade banana pancakes. No I will not make fresh guacamole with the avocado in the fridge. I want to save the limes to make cocktails later. Just shut it ok?
Perfect Mum – give me a break. No I will not talk about world peace over the dinner table. My children are 4 and 1. They are not interested in the news. Just shut it perfect Mum – today I want to let them be little. Today I am a free range Mum. They are already growing up too quickly for my liking. Today we will do simple things like play hide and seek and build dens. Today my kids will have space to chill out so they feel calm and grounded. Shut it perfect Mum.
No perfect Mum I shall not be taking my little girl to gymnastics or a piano lesson after nursery. She is hungry, grumpy and frazzled. No I will not ask her about nursery just yet. She is too tired to tell me what she learnt in class. She will tell me later on in the bath once she has recharged her batteries in front of Topsy and Tim. We will talk about all the cool stuff she is learning. She will give me the low down on ‘planet earth’ and tell me she can now write the letter w in her cute little voice pronouncing it ‘wi’.
Just shut it perfect Mum. You are doing my head in. I will decide what is best for my kids happiness. It is nothing to do with you or anyone else. We will naturally find the balance that works for us and our family. We will still get out but we will enjoy chilling too. We will enjoy the simple things whilst we can. There is plenty of time for them to deal with the struggles that crop up in life. For now though they can just be silly. For now they can be little. For now we will just have fun whenever we can and I will try and stay calm when they are so noisy it hurts my ears.
Sometimes I will chose to break free from rigid routines. Sometimes we will just get messy. We will lounge around and watch movies. We will cuddle on the sofa until we get bored. It is none of your business. Goodbye perfect Mum. Goodbye guilt.
This post was inspired by an article I read over the weekend in the paper. It said that our busy, stressful lifestyles today are having a negative impact on our kids. We need to slow down a little. They not only have too many toys but their hectic social lives can be overwhelming. Yes it is good for them to have hobbies – sport, music, arts. Let’s let them be little too and give them time (and us parents and carers) to chill out.