Before having kids, probably sometime during the pregnancy phase, when realisation dawned that this is really happening, you probably wondered if you would be a good mum. Or even a perfect mum. I
smugly proudly told all my friends that I was going to breastfeed for as long as necessary; I would feed my child only freshly-prepared, organic foods and would only use natural and organic products on their beautiful, baby-soft skin.
I believed I would take them to all the activities: baby signing, baby gym, music classes, playgroups, dance classes, messy play classes, cookery classes… I would be going for long walks in the park to make sure they had plenty of fresh air (in a parent-facing pram, to enable better communication development!) and to make sure that I stayed fit and healthy.
I planned to buy them ‘educational’ toys that were made of natural materials in muted tones of brown and beige – no nasty plastics here! I would make sure their days were packed full of activities to further their development – and, as a child care professional, I had a full back-catalogue of ideas up my sleeve. But, I would also make sure there was enough downtime for their little brains to assimilate all the input, letting them nap in the hammock I bought instead of a Moses basket, because it was better for little spines to sleep in a more natural position…
And then I had a baby. And I became a mum.
And, guess what? Most of those things didn’t happen. Or at least, not for long if they did. But guess what else? I’m still a good mum. Not a ‘perfect’ mum, but what’s one of those anyway?
We mums are doing the very best we can most of the time. And when we’re not doing our very best, we’re doing enough! We really are. You really are.
So, to prove it, I compiled (with the help of some mum friends) a list of 23 things that all mums do but are too afraid to admit!
- You give the kids an ‘easy’ tea (cheese toasties, pesto pasta, beans on toast) more than once a week because you just can’t be arsed to cook. They had hot lunch at school? Sandwiches for tea! Boom!
- You use baby wipes to clean everything – the kids, their clothes, your clothes, shoes, toys, the bathroom…
- You sniff suspicious-looking brown marks to see if it’s chocolate or poo.
- You weigh up whether the poo stain on the edge of the vest is big enough to warrant a full change, or whether a dab with a baby wipe will do.
- You use your kids birthday money to pay the window cleaner/buy food/petrol, promising to pay it back… and forgetting.
- You throw a towel over the bed when they wet it in the middle of the night but you’re too tired to change the sheets.
- You use spit/rainwater and a (used) tissue to give them a wash on the way to school because you forgot to check before you left the house (or dab with a baby wipe).
- You don’t shower for days because when you do eventually get enough alone time, you have to weigh up whether being clean is more important than sleep/Netflix.
- You hide the best biscuits, cake, and chocolate so you don’t have to share.
- You hide to eat the biscuits, cake, and chocolate so you don’t have to share.
- You realise they’ve run out of clean uniform, so you dig in the washing basket for the least stained clothes and give them a quick spritz of Febreeze (and a dab with a baby wipe).
- Breakfast refusal + being in a rush = junk food brekkie on the way to school (at least they’ve eaten, right?!)
- You blame the fact they’re wearing ill-fitting clothes or odd socks on them being ‘independent’ in choosing their own clothes, when really you couldn’t be arsed to tackle the laundry.
- You forget (or can’t afford) to buy a present for the birthday party for the random kid you’ve never met, so you choose from the following options: a) find a toy your kid has never played with and wrap that; b) use the gift card your kid was given and hasn’t spent yet, and hope they don’t remember it; c) tell the parent you’re so, so sorry but you left the present at home – and hope they forget; or d) shove a fiver in an old, generic card you found in a drawer and hope it will do.
- Using Santa/The Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny/upcoming birthdays as behaviour incentives.
- Saying “we’ll see” when what you really mean is “not a bloody chance, sunshine.”
- Trying to influence who your kids play with because there are certain kids you can’t stand and want them nowhere near in case the naughty rubs off.
- Telling them the if the ice cream van is playing music, it means all the ice cream is gone (classic!).
- You tell them the shops are closed when they ask to go buy toys/sweets.
- You use your hair straighteners to iron shirt collars as no-one will see the rest under a jumper.
- You totally blame your other half for eating the kids’ chocolates after you ‘needed a sugar hit’ and got carried away.
- You use the iPad as a babysitter, especially at weekends when you need that extra half an hour in bed!
- You take an extra few minutes to sit in the car and enjoy the peace before returning home from work/shopping because you know you’re going back into a mad house.
See? You do these too, don’t you? It doesn’t make you a bad mum. Just a real one! Are your kids fed and clothed? Warm and (reasonably) clean? Loved? Happy?
Yes? Then you’re totally winning at mumming!
(Please note: this list is not exhaustive. There are eleventy billion other things we might think of as ‘mum fails’ that are actually just us doing what is necessary to get through the day sometimes! Why not add your own in the comments?)