According to all our social media feeds we live perfect lives, with perfect houses, perfect clothes, perfect cars, perfect pets, we go on perfect holidays and more than anything, we’re all perfect parents.
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Well my wife and I certainly aren’t perfect parents – although I don’t think you’d necessarily know it from the filtered lives we publish. The life we promote online is very different to real life - like so many parents, we tend to keep the things that might be deemed slightly dodgy behind closed doors. But are they actually wrong?
Just because a book by some super nanny has told us our child should be doing this or that, a magazine has told us they should be eating certain foods or an Instagram feed promotes angelic children, does it really mean that what we’re really doing is wrong? Isn’t comparing ourselves to other parents’ potential unreal standards, actually more harmful? If the things we do are actually that bad, then frankly, I’m surprised my daughter Edie even makes it through the day.
Here are a few of the supposedly irresponsible things we’ve done over the three years we’ve been entrusted with a young life:
Baby bottle – still to this day, at the grand old age of three, Edie has a baby bottle for her milk before bed. She refuses to use anything else and the hissy fit that erupts if an alternative is offered, is just not worth it before bedtime. It’s obviously a comfort thing for her as she settles down for the evening, but it’s not necessarily something most parents would advertise. But guess what, somehow she’s still alive, despite our appalling parenting.
TV – Edie watches way too much TV. There was no turning back once she’d discovered Peppa Pig. Screaming matches and meltdowns ensued if we refused to let her see it, so we began to allow it in moderation. That moderation has since become a little too relaxed and now a couple of years on, Charlie and Lola soundtracks our household. Not something to be proud of especially, but guess what, somehow she’s going from strength to strength despite her access to the idiot box.
Sleeping in our bed – Edie used to be a terrible sleeper, appalling in fact. She’s ok now and I’d say 9 times out of 10 she sleeps through with no fuss. On the odd occasion that she does wake in the night due to wolves, dragons and witches apparently congregating in her room, she goes back to sleep with little trouble. From the age of 1-2 though, more often than not, she’d end up in our bed if she woke in the night. I suppose it was our laziness in seeking an easy life at 3am, so we’re completely to blame, but despite our dreadful childcare she’s turned out ok.
Over-reliance – we’ve all read how you shouldn’t rock your baby to sleep or you shouldn’t have a mobile above their cot, as once they get used to a certain way, they’ll expect it every time. Well, sod that! When you’re desperate you try anything and yep, we did become incredibly reliant on gizmos such as Ewan the Sheep, a white noise app on our phone and the soothing motion of a rocking Moses basket until she fell asleep. And once all that got her to sleep we spent the rest of the evening tiptoeing around the house cursing every darn floorboard that creaked. But in our humble opinion, you’ll do anything just to get through those early days, despite what the books say. Dreadful parents, I know.
Breastfeeding on demand – again, books will tell you to breastfeed with some structure and not just to ease the crying of a newborn. Well, linked to the above two points, Edie was breastfed on demand (which often meant literally all night) just so we could survive the witching hours. And by heck, somehow she survived too.
Bribes – we use bribes and bungs more often than a FIFA executive. Whether it’s a supermarket tantrum, getting toenails cut or just simply getting out of the front door without starting a world war, Edie will often find herself the benefactor of a new magazine, a trip to the swings or (gasp) a sugary treat if she complies with our demands… don’t call the cops.
Sugary treats – talking of which, over the summer, shares in Mini Milks rocketed thanks to our sweet-toothed child. I know some parents wouldn’t dream of letting their young child anywhere near such an unhealthy indulgence, but a once-in-a-while treat is let’s face it, perfectly normal. I’d also far rather Edie have them in (relative!) moderation rather than suddenly flipping out on an E numbers-overload aged 5 at a pal’s party. So there.
There are loads more of these inexcusable horror stories to reveal, but you get the idea. We did a lot of things that are supposedly wrong which we didn’t dare publish online (well except for the excessive lolly consumption) or even talk about publicly, because they’re just not the done thing, are they? Think what such revelations would do to the perfect parent model we all aspire to and broadcast. The chorus of tuts would be heard like a klaxon echoing around our online social circles – ‘LOOK AT THOSE TERRIBLE PARENTS!!’
Actually though, if you stop and think about it maybe, just perhaps, such allegedly poor methods are actually, perfectly ok. Maybe, we might all feel a little more reassured if we knew we weren’t alone, if we knew that the secret to perfect parenting is a hefty dose of imperfect, every now and then.
Despite all our ‘mistakes’, Edie is a flourishing three-year-old, so perhaps we didn’t get things that wrong after all…