If you have been at the parenting game for a while, you would agree it’s no easy feat. Every day comes with its own laundry list of to- do jobs and sometimes even managing through the day without completely losing it, seems like an overwhelming task.
And if that’s not enough, we sometimes manage to get ourselves trapped in a vicious circle of self-doubt and parental insecurity. But it’s really not our fault! In the Pinterest and Instagram age of over achieving moms, tiger moms, helicopter moms and what not, it’s completely normal to second guess yourself when you hear about a parent doing something different and better than you do and wondering if you would be a better parent if you added that to your already busting-at-its-seams list.
There are days full of pangs of guilt about our parenting ways, when we get nostalgic for pre-parenthood life and secretly wonder why we ever had kids in the first place. It is moments like these that make the uphill battle called parenting even harder and lead to unhappy parents and stressed out families.
So after more than a few months of fruitless battle with my own guilt, here are 10 things I do not allow to define me as a parent anymore.
You are not a bad parent if:
1. If you do not engage in displaying your artistic talent by preparing your kids amazing school lunches with hidden darling lunch notes and beautifully decorated Instagram (Read photo shopped) inspired freshly baked blueberry oatmeal cookies. In fact, occasionally you even succumb to simple PB&J sandwiches and sometimes when the plumber, office meeting and nanny time decide to collide by some uncanny trick of fate, you feed them entire dinners cooked in the microwave.
2. If you have a living room that looks like it has just been paid a visit by a fierce tornado and it doesn’t bother you. In fact, you leave pee soaked underwear hanging on the bathroom faucet, mashed banana on the rug and pasta sauce strewn over the table cover while stray Lego of all sizes and shapes decorates your floor. And yes, your kids’ bath toys are right where they left them after the bathwater drained – but you neither lose your cool nor feel an overwhelming urge to clean up.
3. No matter how hard you tried you haven’t been able to set up curfew times and firm time limits for TV time and your LO’s wee bit longer always ends up stretching more than 40 minutes. And while the outer are great with their swings, rides, scooters, trees and sticks but if your LO is spending a few days of the week at home with the electronic or digital nanny because of your hectic schedule commitments, it really won’t do him any harm.
4. You go one step further and let them be seduced by these highly animated brightly lit screens during the car ride home from the day-care. Because when you are at the wheels and making your way through a vehicle jungle, the last thing you need is a wailing baby at your back seat. A perfect invitation for an accident or a traffic slip.
5. If you occasionally let them know who is the boss running this joint. No matter how you pally your relationship with your little one, an occasional gentle reminder that makes it clear that some commands cannot be ignored and need to be heeded to is perfectly ok.
6. If you wield out lies like the playground is closed, the TV has broken down, you have run out of chocolate brownies, the one who finishes his dinner first will get ice-cream for dessert and other imaginary made up commitments you never intend to fulfil. And yes some years the Easter bunny asks you not to put up decorations. It really upsets him!
7. If you offer candy/lollies/sugar sweets to pacify them during a public transport ride/ social dinner/lunches/other gatherings where you need to take into consideration other factors like everyone’s convenience and peace of mind along with your LO’s strong teeth. That maybe can wait for a while longer!
8. For working full time or staying at home: Whatever the choice is that you make, you have your reason for it and you really don’t need to validate your choices with anyone’s approval or the lack of it. As long as you spend the right amount of time with your LO’s, you are doing just fine.
9. You do not enroll them in focus after school activities, acting, karate, French lessons, yoga, modern dance class, lacrosse practice and origami classes and dress them up in coordinated outfits. In fact, you don’t even know where is the nearest craft store and tots aerobic classes held. It certainly does not qualify you as a bad parent if you haven’t organized (lest thought about organizing) such activities for your kids. The important thing is to find out what the kids enjoy most; if your kids enjoy non-scheduled time better, then those moments can serve to be as productive and instrumental in their physical and mental growth than any focused sport or activity.
10. For taking self- timeouts: Parents at the end of the day are no super humans and deserve to take breaks that re-energize them and give them a window to connect to the real world beyond all the insanities going on in their own life. Going for a coffee date with yourself, catching up on your favourite book, meeting an old friend, spending a romantic evening with your significant other, or just sleeping in- whatever your choice of relaxation, just treat yourself to it without any cloud of guilt hovering over your head. Oh and go see a movie while you still can!
At the end of the day, we need to remind ourselves, it isn’t a competition and we are not running for the best parent trophy. All we need to do is be our best (as best as we can) and engage with our kids in quality interactions giving them our undivided attention and care and that’s all they ever need from us. It really is that simple!