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Parenting guilt is a very, very real and over powering issue. For so many of us this daily mental battle takes the spot as the hardest thing to adjust to as a parent. And that comes as no surprise when you take a look around at the environment we have to navigate today. Social media gives us a tool to sit and mindlessly rank ourselves with against the highlight reels of other parents all over the world. Meanwhile, the unspoken rules of parenthood are getting stricter and stricter, while our outspoken generation has brought parent shaming to an all time high. Now, I'm not saying we should go back to the days of feeding new-born babies whiskey to help them sleep while they sit in smoke filled rooms. But it's also not really anyone's business to judge if little Jimmy's poor, exhausted parent who's been up since 4 AM, cleaned the house, changed four nappies, defused three tantrums, done a load of washing;,and fed their child a balanced diet for the past week gives them a sausage roll in their pram to shut them up for half an hour, so they can do a bit of shopping in peace, is it?
Parenting is hard, and the majority of us are just trying to do our absolute best. But we cannot be perfect all of the time, and we should stop trying to be. Bellow you'll find a picture of my toddler's lunch for the day. I could have tried in vain to force feed him the vegetables he's grown a deep hatred for over the past few months, for some unknown reason only toddler-logic can explain. Right now we would be involved in some weird little stare down during which I lose all of my dignity as I beg and plead with him to please just put one piece of carrot into his mouth. And this would have been followed up by him scrunching cold vegetables between his fingers before dropping them defiantly onto the floor.
But after a nightmare of a night during which my little angel demanded I dragged my eight and a half month pregnant, 13 and a half stone-self out of bed a minimum of five times I was well and truly done. So I took the easy way out. I put this weird little mix of snacks I know he likes together in under five minutes, and sat his sleep regressing toddler bum down to be entertained by the wonderful folk of the CBeebies studio for an hour (or longer, probably longer). Meanwhile, I sat down with a crisp sandwich, and wrote this article while we contently spent some time ignoring each other. The dishes are still in the sink, the washing is still at the top of the stairs, and it will all still be there when I'm good and ready to deal with it. So am I sorry? Nope, not one tiny little bit. Plus for the first time in like five days he actually ate everything I put in front of him, so I'm calling that a win.
The fact is that we cannot continue to feel inadequate every single minute of every single day. We have to give ourselves permission to be mediocre at parenting sometimes, and be satisfied with that. If we don't, we'll end up burnt out, stressed and snappy and honestly that just isn't good for ourselves or anyone around us. If you're feeling the burnout today, just give yourself permission to take the easy way out for a couple of hours, and don't feel bad for that. If you're lucky even, your child will thank you for it. And if you're really lucky ,their little cherub face will light up as much as my little boys did when he realized the main staples of lunch today were a Go Ahead bar and a packet of Quavers.