Hiya, in this post I am going to talk about my experience with parenting expectations, and how I have come to learn the secret of happy parenting!
I wrote this post a few years ago when I had 3 kiddos 2.5 years and under, haha how about them parenting expectations ;-), I can assure you I never expected to be in that situation.
It is now 4 years on and I am now a mum of 4, I read back over this post and still liked what I had written (which is unusual, as usually, I cringe at my early posts) but I hope you enjoy it too and come away with the mystical and magical secret to happy parenting.
Our Parenting Expectations start before we even have kids!
One problem with Pregnancy is it is just too darn long. Nine long months for an expectant mum or parent to plan and overthink everything, and I mean everything. Nine months for expectant mums to come up with a list of rules and expectations that they are adamant they will achieve.
Common expectations expectant mums have
- I will not use pain relief during childbirth
- I will exclusively breastfeed for 12 months
- I will not use a dummy
- I will not use formula
- I will not use disposable nappies
- I will make all my child's food from scratch
- I will sleep in the same room as my baby for 6 months
- I will love every minute of being a mum
These are just a few the list goes on and on.. and on for some mums to be.
I think this quote from the fabulous William Shakespeare sums up the problem with parenting expectations very very nicely
"Expectation is the root of all heartache" Shakespeare
The thing is, many of these best-laid plans are made by us expectant mums before we have kids. Over time these best-laid plans, become expectations we feel we need to live up to, and then once we are in the thick of it we feel terrible if we break any of these self-imposed rules.
The crazy part of all this is, in most instances no one else is judging us on our parenting decisions other than ourselves. Sometimes the highest expectations we have to live up to are our own preconceived expectations before kids So here are some of my own self imposed parenting rule fails.
Expectation 1: I will not have a water birth
Before I had munchkins the idea of a water birth completely freaked me out. I am a bit of a clean freak when it comes to regular baths. I typically shower before I have one, as the thought of soaking in a bath of my own filth freaks me out a just a little.
So a water birth seemed a step to far to me. Maybe even a bit too alternative for my scientific/healthcare professional trained mind.
Anywho, labour starts with my first and what do you know all I want is water. I laboured at home in the shower. Arrived at the hospital 9cm dilated, The midwife said would you like the birthing pool. I said no. She ran it anyway. As soon as it was full, what do you know I was in it and loved it. (As much as you can love labour anyway) So much so I was disappointed that for number 2 there were no birthing pools available, but very pleased that for number 3 I had another water birth.
People will tell you repeatedly that once you are in the throws of labour, you won't care and all your plans for modesty etc will go out the window. They will tell you this, and you will think 'yeah right', and you will make your own plans anyway.
And then you will labour... And then you will be one of those mums telling the expectant mums that you won't care when you are in the thick of labour, and they won't be believing you.
Expectation 2: I will use cloth nappies
It seemed like a reasonable option. Until I quickly realised that as I lived in an apartment with no outdoor washing line and no laundry (washing machine in the kitchen) Cloth nappies were not for me. Or at least not in that apartment!
I have since gone on to use cloth nappies with my other kids but I have never managed to be a full time cloth bum mum. I don't beat myself up about it, I have reduced my own expectations and I am a much happier parent for it.
Expectation 3: My toddler will not have screen time.
I was an anti screen time mum. Until I found myself with a super active 15 mth old boy and a newborn. Screen time was my saviour for breastfeeding. If I had not turned on the TV (A hairy McClairy DVD and Bob the builder) I don't know if I would have ended up breastfeeding my newborn.
Peoples' well-meaning suggestions re a box of special toys or reading books while breastfeeding did not work for us. and trust me, I tried. But my little guy just wouldn't stay put, he was out of the room like a shot, into places where I couldn't see him, climbing stuff he shouldn't be climbing. So the TV went on when needed. Needs must when needs must. Again I adjusted my own preconceived parenting expectations and I am a much happier parent for it. Happy kids equal Happy Mum.
I have since had other toddlers who do sit quietly beside me while ai feed a newborn, but my son, no way, it just didn't work
Expectation 4: I will love every minute of being a mum
What I've found hardest over the past 2yrs 8 months of being a stay at home mum, to one, then two and now three kiddlywinks Is the fact I really really miss work. I was good at work, I enjoyed the challenge and I miss having adult conversations every day.
By adult conversations I don't just mean conversations with other parents about their kids, I mean conversations with adults about things that are completely and unequivocally not child-related. Three kids so close together meant going back to work in between has not been possible. While I love being a mum at home A LOT of the time, I don't love it ALL of the time. I wish I had some sort of work-life balance. I know it will happen at some stage. But some times, that dream seems like something so far in the future. Hence the start of this website and blog. Thanks for reading and commenting, it really does make me feel vaguely human again.
Guess what, the blog is now 4 years old, and is now a legitimate business. So I do now have something outside of parenting to full my own bucket.
My secret to happy parenting?
Reduce your expectations!
To all those expectant mums out there, by all means, make plans, just don't let those plans become expectations and then self-imposed rules. If you have no preconceived expectations and rules about being a mum.. it will mean there is no way that you can fail.