If there’s one thing that serves to humble me on a daily basis, it’s being a parent. One of the reasons for that is that things I vowed I’d never do before I became a mum tend to come back to haunt me…
🍰 Slice 1. ‘The kids will work around us’
It took me a ridiculously long time to come to terms with this one. But I’ve finally accepted that children are not actually as flexible as I thought they could be, and that it’s ok to work around them for a more peaceful life – especially when they are three and under.
I’ve always had a bad habit of attempting to accomplish too much, but some of the things I’ve tried to do with babies in tow have – looking back – been completely unrealistic. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if I could go back to the start, I’d be a lot kinder to myself, and to the little ones too.
🍰 Slice 2. ‘I will honour every social commitment I make.’
Before the girls came along I was a stickler for arrangements. No matter what happened, if I said I’d be there, I would be there.
What I didn’t count on were the new variables of wakeful nights, daytime naps and unforeseen sickness.
Maybe there are some babies out there that never get sick, sleep on command and always fit effortlessly into their parents’ schedule, but this is pretty far from our experience, I’ll tell you.
If you don’t facilitate naps, it’s often not worth taking them out at all. Grouchy toddlers are no fun for anyone. If I’ve slept a total of two hours, I’m not going to be able to be the life and soul of the party either. Sometimes it’s just better for everyone to reschedule.
It also helps the frustration levels if you can hold arrangements loosely, because as life would have it, as soon as you plan something, the kids inevitably get sick. In short, before kids I was convinced I wouldn’t sacrifice my plans for my little people. Boy was I wrong!
🍰 Slice 3. ‘I’ll never let them watch screens’ (or at least only educational programmes.)
Ha. Ha. Ha.
In this day and age, this goal is a pipe dream. Keeping screen usage down is a continual battle in our house. The more tired you are and the earlier your kids get up, the harder it is to be disciplined about this.
Yes, I have endured many episodes of the psychedelic and completely random Night garden. I’ve also watched random kids playing with barbies on YouTube who somehow have managed to get millions of views despite their mindless chats and awful accents.
Screen time has reaped some unexpected benefits, however. At bedtime prayers, Eden has been known to thank God for things I didn’t even know she knew existed. Turns out ‘Blaze and the Monster Machine’ taught her what kinetic energy was. Who knew?
🍰 Slice 4. ‘I’ll never let them have sugar.’
This, my friends, is one hundred percent mission impossible; at least in Northern Ireland, where we live.
Even if you decide not to give your children sweets, other people will; most of the time without asking. The old lady at the park, the shopkeeper, Kids’ clubs … you name it. It’s almost like children have ‘give me sweets’ written on their foreheads. At Halloween, it’s candy apples and trick or treat collections, at Christmas it’s selection boxes, at Easter it’s Easter eggs, and in the summer it’s ice lollies and candy floss.
The only way we have been able to have some control over this is to limit portion sizes to ‘one in each hand.’ But we know that won’t last long…
🍰 Slice 5. ‘I’ll never make empty threats’
‘Bye! We’re leaving without you!’
(Which of course, you can never actually do.)
‘If you don’t do x… we’ll tell the babysitters not to come.’
(and before you know it, you’ve cost yourself a date night out.)
The whole consequences thing is draining and tedious. We all know in our heads consistency is key. But we are doing this drill day in day out, and in the heat of the moment, threats that actually cost you more than they cost them tend to slip out.
So do I follow through every time? No, I don’t. It’s an unfortunate reality, but reality all the same.
Slice 6 🍰 ‘They won’t eat things I haven’t already paid for at the shop’ 😂
I used to think when I saw kids opening a packet of crisps before they got to the till – ‘like can’t your children wait just another ten minutes?’
Let me tell you, ten minutes is a long time when the baby is wailing and the hungry toddler is whining. I’ve now lost count of the times I’ve opened a multipack just to get me through the last aisle at Tesco. Let’s be clear though, I do pay for it at the till!
🍰 Slice 7. ‘My children will only drink water’
Well that’s ok, if they will actually drink water. If they won’t allow it to pass their lips, you’re choosing between juice and dehydration.
Five years into this parenting thing, I’d rather have a child who drinks than doesn’t. Zoë prefers water over juice; at times Eden will only drink juice. But the phase passes, and really, there’s bigger battles to worry about.
🍰 Slice 8. ‘I won’t bore people by talking about my kids’
For years, I struggled with conversation about nappies and sleep and milestones etc. Every time I started talking about that stuff, I either felt like I was being boring or that somehow I was losing my ability to have intellectually stimulating conversation.
Now, I realise that yes, I am a mummy, my girls are a big part of my world, and as long as I am sensitive about who I am speaking to, I don’t need to feel apologetic for the fact that my kids are a major part of my life.
I’d start to get worried if they were the only thing I talked about, but neither do I need to try to avoid talking about them.
🥧 Humble pie ain’t so bad after all!
Is it hard to have these myths busted on a daily basis? Sure it is. But all in all, perhaps eating a slice or two of humble pie regularly isn’t a bad thing. It keeps us grounded, normal and a whole lot less judgey. And truth be told, I’m starting to enjoy the taste.