There’s so much pressure on parents – have you been on Facebook or Instagram?
If you’re not feeding your kids additive-free, organic apples in their own tech-free kids play bungalow on a deserted island surrounded by low-tox hand whittled educational toys you should be expecting the police to show up at your door any second.
Parenting is scary, and as a very new parent, I’ve gone to the dark side many times. Like when I got obsessed with maintaining my kid’s room temperature at the most optimal level. I had three sensors in her room to prove that the heater’s thermostat was out by at least a degree. The introduction to allergens was just as obsessive. I’d have a day bag packed with all her essentials and the car full of petrol, keys on the entry table ready to get her to the hospital at the first sign of a puffy lip.
The thing is, all of this utterly bananas behaviour comes from the right place. We all want the best for our kids. We spend hours every night researching the best potty/cubby house/football boots/young teen fiction to make sure our kid gets the very best of everything. (Although it’s kind of okay to get obsessed about some things – our girl has been in Little One’s since she was born and I won’t use anything else because we’ve never had a leak. Ever. When we went to New York when she was 1 year old half our suitcase was taken up with Little One’s nappies because I didn’t want to risk using another brand while we were away. When it’s working, it’s working.)
In my humble opinion, here are a few things you DON’T have to do.
Sacrifice literally everything for your child.
I recently read an Instagram post from a kids nutritionist who said she hadn’t eaten a single raspberry in two years (even though she loves them). The reason? Her grocery budget only stretched for one punnet a week, and all of those raspberries were reserved for her one year old.
And look, I can see how this happens if you have a fussy eater or a kid with sensory processing issues. Hell, you might even have a kid who freaking loves raspberries and watching them devour the tasty morsels is worth the money/self-deprivation but for real. Your kid will survive without raspberries for a week – buy yourself a punnet and enjoy. You deserve it.
Stop doing the things you love.
There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t leave your kid with a responsible adult (partner, friend, grandparent, paid professional) and go to the movies or out for dinner with some friends.
Even if you work full time and don’t get to see your kid much during the week. It’s still okay to spend a Saturday morning having brunch with your girlfriends, doing a fun run or reading a book in a cafe for an hour.
And if you feel guilty, just squash that guilt with an extra-large mimosa. Cheers!
Stop doing the things that keep you sane.
Exercise is not negotiable for me, so it’s worth it to pick my kid up a little later from daycare when I need to go for a walk or hit the gym. I used to feel guilty about this but stuff it. I’m a better parent when I exercise and take time to do the things that help me function.
Buy into ‘being a parent.’
With absolutely no shade at parents who DO buy in to being a parent, it’s not compulsory.
And by ‘buying in’ I mean babymoons, setting up fancy nurseries with matching decor, getting pregnancy photoshoots done, having massive baby showers, push presents and gender reveals.
If people want to do that, I’m all for it. I love a fancy party as much as the next person – I’ll even make matching cupcakes!
It’s just that when I was pregnant, we (my partner and I) didn’t want any of that. It didn’t feel like something we wanted to spend time, money and energy on. So we didn’t, and everything was excellent. I had casual dumplings in the park and non-alcoholic cocktails with my mates for a baby shower, and that’s it. And it was perfect.
If it’s important to you – go for it. If it’s not, I give you permission to let your 1-year-old sleep in a (perfectly safe) cot in the corner of a room that’s full of boxes you haven’t unpacked from your last move. It’s also perfectly fine for your kid’s ‘wardrobe’ to be a plastic tub until you figure out how on earth to store Bonds onesies.
As long as your child is loved and safe, they don’t need a matching wicker baby change table and cot combo with pastel-hued soft furnishings, and a giant cursive cut out of their name on the wall. If you WANT to do that and it feels good to you, go for it. If you want to tap out of that (like we did) go for it.
Trust your intuition.
I was told repeatedly not to read books, not to listen to advice and to trust my instincts. For some people, this works brilliantly. For people like me, refraining from researching something is very anxiety-inducing.
I read lots of books. Heaps. I asked lots of questions. When my baby was born, I didn’t know how long she should sleep per day, when nap times should happen, roughly what times she should be feeding. I read a few books and discovered a few sample schedules of what newborn life could look like, and it gave me a framework and a great deal of comfort. Trusting my instincts did not work for me. Researching what other people do, how different cultures handle the newborn period and asking specific questions to health professionals saved my bacon.
Again, no shade on those beautiful people who ease into parenthood with full confidence in their own innate abilities. I’m in awe of you – I have several friends like this, and they are beautiful parents. That path wasn’t for me. It made me super anxious so if you’re like me and feeling lost and like your intuition is going fail you, read a book. It might actually help.
You do you … boo!
Did you feel any pressure from other Mums, your Mum or social media to ‘perform’ as a Mum? We’d love your thoughts or advice in the comments below!
This post is proudly brought to you by Little One’s Ultra Dry Nappies – designed to help your child stay comfy and happy. We’ve recently refreshed our Little One’s Nappies. We’re introducing our new nappies, and you will see more of them on the shelves over the coming weeks. They are still the super absorbent nappy you know and love but now proudly Australian made and a super soft breathable lining for softness. Discover at Woolworths. #sponsored