“Having it all”- The growing pressures of parenthood

As I had a rare moment of “TV time” the other day, I opted for one of my favourite programmes at the moment: “This Morning“. I enjoy watching it because they often talk about topics that one way or another interest me. And today was no exception. As the Silver Fox announced that, up next, they would be discussing a new survey that revealed how Mums are feeling more overwhelmed than ever before from the growing pressures of parenthood, I was suddenly very interested. Because this is a topic that interests me greatly and is one that I can definitely relate to. As a mother myself I know this feeling well. Overwhelmed by the love you feel, which in turn brings the constant worrying. Overwhelmed by the amount of nappy and outfit changes (seriously, babies are messy). Overwhelmed by the mess in the house which no matter how many times I tidy, just comes back. This last one overwhelms me the most. But all of this comes from the pressure of trying to impress others and worrying about what other people might think of your four day mum hair. As much as I love social media, I believe it is the cause of this “wanting to have it all” craze. Blamed for everything nowadays, it certainly is a divide between the generations.

I like to often think back to what it must have been like for my Mum. Even my Grannie and Nana. Before social media existed and they had no way of seeing the beautifully decorated “Child One’s” bedroom with its quirky furnishings and amazing wall art. (Of course hidden from view of the camera are the clothes on the floor and the overflowing bin.) They had nothing to compare their houses too; not at a click of a button anyway. They didn’t need to worry that Mrs A was feeding her child a wonderfully organic dinner with no processed foods because of the links to cancer, whilst they were dishing up fish fingers and pasta for the second time that week. To me, they seemed to of had a much more laid back way of life. My Nana tells me about the summer holidays spent going down to the beach everyday with the same friends and a picnic. How she loved the holidays because it was a time when you didn’t need to be rushing around getting the kids ready for school and everyday was a lazy day. How times have changed I thought! Even during the school holidays, we are still putting pressure on ourselves to provide the best, fun packed days to keep the children happy and so that we can Instagram or Facebook about it later. But surely our children will be happy doing what children do best: playing. Why spend money on days out that end up costing a fortune and there is a possibility not everyone will enjoy it? What is wrong with going to the park or beach everyday? Do we perhaps feel like we aren’t doing enough for our children because their friends are off out on trips? What I have learnt so far on this parenting journey, is that one thing that makes my son happy, is when we are all together as a family and playing. Be that at home or the local park, that is all he wants to do. We do still have days out, more for our sanity than anything, but I am starting realise that new experiences don’t have to involve spending lots of money and putting pressure on ourselves to make everyday amazing. There is plenty of time for that as the children get older and WANT to do what their friends are doing. But for now, I am going to take a leaf out of my Grandparent’s book and head to the beach with a picnic. Or the park as we can walk there and not have to use the car. Even better. (I shall trial this in the up coming summer holidays and report back on how we got on…)

On the flip side, I can see how social media is benefiting today’s parents. There is so much support out there now for struggling mums and dads and an all round “openness” about what goes on in family life. A parent has a question and they take to social media to ask it which then generates a conversation, sometimes with strangers, but leaves them feeling strangely reassured and a lot happier. Surely that is a good thing and is perhaps the intention behind social media. I have often found myself, during the long night feeds with a new born, Googling various questions such as: is my baby’s poo normal? (Nice) or when will I feel human again? Believe it or not, there will be a thread on a forum somewhere about it because someone else has asked the same question as you. Everyone is thinking these things, we just don’t share them. Until now. Where we can hide behind our screens and not be embarrassed about asking such things. So it’s not all bad!

I believe the best thing we can do as parents is to support one another; find your support network and stop worrying about what other people may think! We are all doing a great job as long as our children are happy. That is all they are going to remember. Not how you look on a bad hair day or how many likes you got on your last Instagram post. (I still love Instagram and will probably still look at how many “likes” a photo has had, but my children won’t care). So let’s try and lift this pressure and start enjoying our time with our children more. Before they grow up and make us feel old.

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