Mum Life · Parenthood

An open letter to the ‘perfect’ parent

Dear the perfect mum, you do not exist. Social media might suggest that you do, but you don’t. Your perfectly edited selfies and impeccable make-up may suggest that you got 12 hours sleep last night – but that doesn’t mean you did. The photo of your 100% organic homemade baby courgetti does not mean you haven’t said “f*ck it, fish fingers it is” for the third night in a row because you’ve had a long ass day and you can’t be arsed. Your seemingly immaculate house may suggest that you’re at the top of your mum-game, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t just throw all the toys behind the door because you were sick of the sight of them but too tired to move them.

Your Instagram page may suggest that you have your sh*t together, but I know for a fact you have balled your eyes out at 3am because you’re so exhausted. I know for a fact you’ve doubted your ability to be a parent numerous times, and have thought “I am way out of depth here”. You know how I know? Because it is effing normal and I am just as guilty as you are.

How many times in one day have you warmed up your cup of tea before thinking f*ck it and pouring it down the sink? My record is 4. How many times have you left the house with baby sick on your jeans and just not given a sh*t? I’ve lost count.

I am usually the first to praise social media and it’s ability to bring communities together, but tonight I made the decision to leave all mother and baby groups on social media, after one page I was a member of hosted a ‘debate’ night. Conversations about drinking alcohol during pregnancy, co-sleeping with babies and disciplining children were amongst the topics, and it’s fair to say some opinions were stronger than others. However, I soon realised that actually by taking part in these ‘debates’ we weren’t debating at all. We were in fact ramming our opinions down each others throats, shaming and outing other mums, even if we didn’t point the finger.

Whose business is it if I decided to have the odd shandy whilst I was pregnant? Absolutely nobody’s. Who actually gives a sh*t what my opinion on co-sleeping is? The thing is, we all want people to think we’ve got it together. We know what we’re doing here because we’re pros… Right?

I realised that the pursuit of happiness no longer seems to exist, and in fact everyone is on the pursuit of perfection instead. Which would be fine if perfection existed, but it doesn’t. Why are we all striving for something impossible?

Come on mama, quit while you’re ahead. 

Okay so you slept with your child until he was a year old, who cares?

Your bump took 3 months to go down, but remember you grew another human being inside your body… Not everyone gets the privilege of growing a miracle.

Do your stretch marks really seem that significant when you look at your beautiful creation and realise he/she is yours to love and nurture forever.

Do you think your little person worries about the state of your house when they’re building the den? Or that they just rubbed jam into your new crushed velvet chair? Or that they are covered head to toe in mud?  No. They’re having fun and they’re happy, so what else in the world could possibly matter? Who cares what the snotty neighbour thinks. Or the woman who doesn’t have kids but is judging you anyway because she doesn’t know how f*cking hard it is to be a parent. Don’t listen to the “if that was my child”, because it is not their child, it is yours.

What you see online is merely a fraction of the truth. You can’t see the chaos that is happening at the other side of the lens. We only let people see what we want them to see. Social media has destroyed our perception of what is important in life. It’s not the expensive pushchair, the designer baby clothes or how quickly you got back into your jeans. It is the pushchair that you scraped the money to afford, so that you could take your baby on adventures and create memories that would last a lifetime. It is the clothes that kept your baby warm in winter months. It is your incredible body that you don’t give enough credit for giving you the gift of life. Stop comparing yourself and start loving yourself, because when you do what you can, love will do what you can’t.

Perfect mama, you don’t exist, but let me tell you this: your little people think you do. You are the centre of their universe and they love you unconditionally, so just keep doing you and be happy. x

Mum Life · Parenthood

Juggling work, a baby and dealing with the guilt of being a working mummy…

After nine months on maternity leave with my chunky monkey, I was soooo ready to get back to work! I think I can vouch for a lot of us mummies when I say that I love my baby with all my heart, but I needed something to remind myself that I am so much more than just a mummy. I felt like my brain was turning to mush, and by the time Alfie was 6 months old, the “baby brain” excuse seemed to be inadequate for pretty much every ditsy thing I did.

I was starting to lose who I was as a person and was worried that I’d have completely forgotten how to do my job, or that everything would change and I wouldn’t fit in anymore. I also needed to use my brain for something other than making up songs like, Alfie’s done a stinky poo poo, why can’t he use the loo loo”.

Childcare costs

Before deciding to go back to work we had to work out our finances and find affordable childcare. (I know, affordable… Hahaha). At first we looked into nursery prices, £40 a f*cking day…. YOU WHAT? Can you repeat that please? FORTY F*CKING POUNDS…. For one single day. And believe it or not, that was the cheapest. That kind of cost might be okay for parents with established careers and a bigger income, but for a young parent whose career is still in its infancy like mine, £40 a day is a LOT of money.

We decided to do some more research and discovered that our neighbour who we knew quite well was setting up her own childminding business. This waCaptures perfect because it meant we didn’t have to travel far for childcare, and Alfie already knew Jolene. To save money my friend also looks after Alfie two days a week. As a mama-of-two herself, she knows the juggling act all too well! All hail this wonder-woman AKA Mama Natalia!

I even get daily updates about Alfie… Even those I don’t really want to know about, like this… 

Excitement of Going Back To Work

Although I was anxious to leave Alfie for four days a week, I was eager to get back into the swing of work life. I knew I would miss him, but I also knew that my little boy was in safe hands and would get to spend time interacting with other children. I found comfort in the knowledge that going back to work would only benefit us all in the long-term, and I was so excited to have adult conversation on daily basis!

So five weeks ago I was preparing for my first day back at work. I felt like a Supermum and for once like I really had my sh*t together! I’d even laid the clothes out for the next morning and prepared lunch for the next three days (who even does that?!).

Fast-forward one month…

Fast forward one month and life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and I certainly don’t feel like I’ve got my sh*t together. In fact, I think I am close to losing my sh*t. You know when you think you’ve got the whole bedtime routine and sleeping through thing, cracked? Yeah well don’t get too used to it, because there’s one thing that is almost guaranteed to disturb your 12 hours of peaceful sleep a night… That thing is called TEETHING!

At 4:30 this morning, I sat on my son’s bedroom floor and cried into his blanket out of sheer frustration that no matter how much I rocked and “sushed” him, I could NOT get him to go back to sleep and I was completely exhausted. At 4:45 I opened the medicine cabinet to discover we had run out of Calpol and he had thrown his dummy down the side of the cot as a result of a teething tantrum. I then remembered that I hadn’t prepared any lunch for day ahead and I wasn’t entirely sure I even had clean clothes to wear when I had to get up in four hours time. Defeated, I walked back up the stairs to my screaming nine-month-old and continued to rock him.

crying baby gif
Accurate representation of me rocking baby to sleep at 4am

At 5am I found myself nodding off whilst standing up with a baby continued to wail in my ear hole. I got back into bed, this time cradling Alfie in the hope that he might sleep better in Mummy’s bed. Nope… Still twisting and crying. By 5:30 I thought F*CK THIS. I got up and went downstairs to make myself a cup of tea. Alfie finally decided it was bedtime at 7am when it was time to get up for work.

It is now 8pm on a Tuesday night and I am sat on my sofa with a glass (bottle size) of wine in hand because I’ve been up since 4am with a teething bwine.gifaby and I am f*cking knackered. It’s been an exceptionally long day and I am riddled with overwhelming guilt because I spent the majority of it at work. I know that eight hours isn’t a long working day in the grand scheme of things, but it is eight hours that I missed out on comforting my poorly baby, and it seems completely unfair that he doesn’t understand why mummy leaves him first thing on a morning and doesn’t come back until an hour before bedtime.

Juggling Act…

As if being a parent wasn’t a juggling act enough with trying to manage a household, a baby, making time for a social life and still trying to manage to squeeze a bit of already non existent “me time” in, I now have a job to uphold too!

Every night without fail, I sit in bed and think to myself “okay so if I get up at 7 and get the baby ready then get myself ready I can get out the door for 8:15. Then I’ll pick the baby up from work at 5:30, get him bathed and into bed, then make the tea, then eat, then wash up, then make make lunch for the next day… maybe I’ll get to sit down at like 8pm!”

(And you’re probably thinking “well how do you get time to write a blog then?” I actually started this last Tuesday and it has taken me an entire week to complete!)

Oh and does someone want to tell me when the F*CK I am meant make time to wash, iron or clean the house?! I barely get time to wipe my own arse let alone clean the entire house from top to bottom. I can spend a whole hour cleaning before someone comes to visit, just to say “excuse the mess, I haven’t had time to tidy up”, as I swiftly throw all the toys behind the door and brush the biscuit from my child’s face.

Making Mummy and Baby time special

I’m lucky that work let me go back to work four days a week instead of full-time, and I’m super grateful that I get a long weekend with him. One extra day with my little monkey makes all the difference and I feel far less guilty for leaving him – even if it does mean I’m knee deep in cheese puffs, snot and sh*tty nappies.

The thought of missing major milestones like crawling or those first precious steps is heartbreaking, which is why I always make the most of my days off with my Alfie. I normally spend my Thursday night cleaning (if I can be arsed) when Alfie goes to bed, so that on Friday morning my sole focus can be me and Alfie. Whether we cuddle up on the couch watching movies together, have an indoor teddy bears picnic or play outside in the paddling pool, Fridays are our special Mummy and Alfie days. Spending quality time together somewhat mitigates the guilt of not seeing him during the week.

Our new normal…

I had been so excited to get back a sense of ‘normality’ and routine back, but a few weeks back into work and I have realised that ‘normal’ has completely changed for us both. Mummy being at home all day everyday is all that Alfie had ever known, and going back to work meant that I was completely turning his little world upside down. It was going to take time to adjust to this new juggling act that they call ‘life’. So now I consider myself to have two jobs – my part-time job as a Marketing Executive is what I call my “career job”, and being a mummy is my job for life.

The guilt is unreal, and sometimes I question whether I am doing the right thing. The way Alfie looks at me when he realises that I am leaving him yet again is heartbreaking. This morning I dropped him off at Natalia’s house, and he cried when I left him. I know it’s important for him to get used to being independent, but I couldn’t help feeling guilty. As I left I said “oh I know sweetheart, bad Mummy!” To which Natalia reminded me that I am not a bad mummy, I’m simply setting Alfie up for a better future!

I’m still getting used to leaving Alfie and dealing with the guilt on a daily basis. I don’t want to miss his first steps or his first proper words. I don’t want to have to choose between sports day and important meetings at work. I never want to say the words “sorry Darling, Mummy can’t make it” to his school football match. As a new mum I’m asking myself, “am I being selfish?” I am learning that life is about compromise and sacrifice, and not to take advantage of every moment I get with my little man… Even if that does mean 4am wakeup calls and sleepless nights. And I’m learning not to be so hard on myself, because I’m trying – even when I feel like I haven’t got my sh*t together.