If you turn on the television right now you are sure to find an advertisement for some invaluable product featuring a perfect family. The house will be clean. The children will be cute and immaculately dressed. The mother will be wearing makeup and a smile.
Try not to glance round your own home and compare. Feeling guilty is a special skill you develop as a parent. Beating yourself up over the little things that feel like failures isn’t helpful, it makes you miserable and it damages your confidence. However, it’s totally normal. If you do happen to live in an advertisement, here are some useful techniques for making you feel like a bad parent (so you can relate to the rest of us):
don’t get up as soon as the baby cries/toddler shouts/child bounces on you. Send your other half or steal an extra half hour by distracting them with a toy.
don’t get them dressed right away. Quick nappy changes and lounging in cosy pyjamas won’t matter for a little while (or a day).
they’re happy and if you can block out the music and avoid singing the Birthday Song all day, everyone wins.
go for a quick and easy breakfast. Pop-tart anyone??
you’re awake right? That’s enough. Who needs makeup? In fact, is it totally necessary to wash your face quite yet?
placate your children by promising them the world – the sun will shine and today is the day you will do all the things you promised to do over the last week and never got round to.
instead of making piles of things that need to be transported to other rooms/the bin/the laundry, get some exercise by stepping over the mess.
If all of this makes you feel unbelievably guilty, then here are some very quick and easy ways to remind yourself that you are human and you are doing a tough job and don’t deserve the torture we put ourselves through as imperfect parents;
the nutritional content of the breakfast and the less than impressive reflection in the mirror, look at your children. Are they happy? Do they know they are loved? If so, then even if your house is falling down and you can’t remember the last time you had a shower, you are getting it right.
if you have forgotten to put the dinner on in time because you were busy building Lego, scrubbing paint off the toddler or kissing a sore knee better, then you are getting it right.
Give yourself a break and remember – bad parents aren’t tortured by guilt over the fact that they feel like bad parents. Bad parents don’t care. As long as you feel that twinge of worry over whether you could have done something better, whether you are managing quite as well as the neighbours or whether your children will suffer from not having been to Disneyland yet, you are getting it right.