It doesn’t matter whether you’re a working or SAHM, you still end up feeling like your kids are missing out somehow and that you’re a bit of a rubbish mom. Thanks to glossy parenting magazines, sanctimommy forums and child focused ‘experts,’ who always strangely never seem to have children of their own you feel like you aren’t making the grade. There’s always the hidden pressure, or insidious ‘mum guilt’ that you should be doing more. Playing with them, encouraging them to take advanced classes, cooking healthier, cleaner meals or banning electronics from the house so that they can play outside or focus on creative pursuits like drawing, painting or playing the flute.
It’s hard to admit that getting Nathan upstairs to bed is like going into battle with a wailing, grumpy monster when Julie next door is singing the praises of Toby who practically dances out the door at bedtime. It’s even harder when a group of children is the same age and there’s a frenemy-style competition of who’s walking, talking and feeding themselves first. Which then leaves you feeling like ‘if they can do it why can’t I.’
Sadly, kids don’t come with maintenance manuals but if they did the first page would contain a heartfelt dedication to the new parents:
‘don’t worry you will never feel good enough- happy parenting!’
Firstly, you need to realize that it’s not just you who feels like they’re failing as a parent everyone thinks they are. In a survey conducted by BabyCenter, a staggering 94% of respondents said they’ve suffered from ‘mom guilt’ at one time, or another. Mumsnet is always flooded with posts by anxious parents including one who was despairing if it was ok to ‘feed another child a hot dog for his tea or not’? Somewhat predictably, the responses varied from ‘I’d be over the moon if someone had fed my child’ to ‘ugh hot dogs wouldn’t real food be better?’ Once you realize you can be a high flying executive, or a stay at home mom, organic, fair-trade supporter and still have worries over if you’re parenting the ‘right way’ episodes of mom
Children, just like the rest of us like watching television and if it’s for only a couple of hours and not all the time, then there’s nothing wrong with it. Even the most dedicated mothers struggle to get the housework done, when there’s a screaming five-year-old attached to her legs, so if you need to pop them in front of some cartoons or let them watch a few episodes of Dora The Explora then so be it. Ironically, despite what our moms told us there’s no such thing as ‘square eyes’ and actually, experts now suggest that sitting closer is better for you as technology has changed the pixel or screen definition.
If you still feel pretty terrible about sticking them in front of the ‘box’, then make sure they’re at least watching something educational like a wildlife program, craft shows on how to customize t-shirts or a denim dress, or a kids cooking show as opposed to Pokemon. In 2003, the American Paediatric Association caused chaos when they suggested that no child under two should ever watch TV! Education experts now say that small chunks, i.e., fifteen-minute segments is fine as long as the program is age appropriate.
If it’s not your kids pestering you for new t-shirts, shorts, and pretty tops every five minutes despite the fact they have a wardrobe bursting with clothes, then it’s the wave of shame that comes over you every time you use a disposable diaper. Sometimes we are just are too busy to recycle, making sure to separate all our containers or rinse out cloth diapers by hand to help the planet. Green, or environmental based guilt isn’t helped when spot your neighbor’s brand new eco-friendly car as you reverse your noisy gas guzzler out of the drive. Stop worrying about what you can’t do and think about what you can, i.e., unplugging appliances, timing showers and using low energy lightbulbs because every little bit helps!
End The War On Junk
You’re round your friend Elizabeth’s house enjoying a lovely cafe au lait and a chocolate cookie when horror of horrors George pipes up with ‘mommy can we have McDonald’s’? You blush and tell him to be quiet while Elizabeth kindly pretends not to have heard and busies herself preparing the salmon for her kids tea. Despite the fact junk food isn’t poisonous, just a tad unhealthy, many holier than thou parents see it as such. It’s perfectly okay to treat your kids to a burger and chips once in awhile, but if you’ve noticed that you’re turning to the drive through more and more often then it may be time for a bit of a rethink.
Try to avoid buying items high in fat, salt, and sugar as well as experimenting with recipes that may be convenient but are also packed full of healthy fruit and veggies too.