Okay, let me start by saying I’m not a mum, yet anyway, that I know of. But I enjoy mum related things and many of my friends are mums so I’m not totally alien to their world.
The idea basically seems to be Stay Calm in the Face of Mess and Constant Tardiness, otherwise known as Give Up The Control You Had Over Your Life For The Next 18 Years At Least. Your existence now revolves around doing what’s best for your kids even if it turns you into a sleep-deprived, friendless, taxi driver with maxed out credit cards. There’s just gotta be a better way you guys! I want kids but I don’t want to turn into this… or if I do I want to turn into that at the same time that lots of my friends turn into that so we can at least share war stories and help each other out. But life doesn’t really work like that.
So I’m working on a new philosophy. And I know what you’ll say- “You can’t talk until you have kids. You just don’t know how hard it is yet!” I’m sure that’s true. But I’m developing a theory whereby you can mentally prepare yourself before you have children so that if/when you do, you’re freaking out over the fact you’re meant to share your non-existent wisdom with this growing person, rather than because you’ve arrived for Wednesday swimming late and it’s actually ballet Thursday. Oh and there’s sick down your back and you brought the wrong child anyway.
Like I say, this is a work in progress theory, and any and all parents/prospective parents/anyone at all are welcome to chip in.
First thought- try less. Expect less of yourself. If you think you’re going to be a Stepford wife with the pearls and perfect hairdo whilst raising the next Prime Minister you’re going to fall on your face. The only people like that are robots. They genuinely are. The film ‘Bad Moms’ backs this up nicely and it’s hilarious.
But even if you watch that film and think “Omg I would never go out drinking in the middle of the week or drop out of the PTA meetings- that’s like saying I don’t care about my child!” you can still try this. Of course your children are your world, but it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself and the less-than-perfect moments in your life. At the very least it gives you excellent story material! And maybe you cut yourself some slack eh?
Here’s a YouTube channel I found recently that is excellent at finding that humorous perspective when nothing seems to be going right- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTYDg6Uku_s&list=PL2bG30UsyEQhBtNalvsYCJCFUMigUgy3D&index=9
The second point I’d make, and this is good for starting out when you don’t have kids, is be a good ‘friend without children.’ That means understanding when your friends who do have kids can’t meet up or seem distracted. Here’s an illustrating video from the same group of gals- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36OKi1DRgoA&index=6&list=PL2bG30UsyEQhBtNalvsYCJCFUMigUgy3D
It’s important to be empathetic and not just think ‘Eurgh mums be trippin’.
Third, repeat after me: my children will get hurt. They will go to the emergency room a couple of times in their lives. I did, and I’m fine.
Hopefully, by thinking about this beforehand, you won’t freak out over finding a cat hair on your baby’s face or if they trip a little when taking their first steps. (Again, I haven’t done this myself yet so I can’t guarantee anything. Actually, judging by the way I freak and my other half laughs when our cats fall off the stair rail, I’m more likely to be taking him to A&E than our children. But he’s got the healthier attitude because they’re always fine.)
Here’s another thing- children are expensive. They take your time and money like a bad investment. Were kids always this expensive? I’m pretty sure my dad was raised to play in the garden or sit quietly with a book. He’s not a sports hero or musical legend, but he’s also pretty well off and happy with his life. Do we need to encourage our children to practise karate, swimming, hockey, horse riding, golf and drama all at the same time? Would it really be that important for their college application? Answer, no. The most important thing is that they are a bright, happy, confident individual who can talk passionately about something in their lives. Something. One thing. I like science experiments, I’m a huge basketball fan, I have a large model aeroplane collection. If your kid isn’t that into something for goodness sake do not drive yourself to distraction paying for lessons that you’re always late dropping them off to because they didn’t want to go. Life is too short! And you’ve spent hundreds on those lessons! (Speaking from experience as a child.)
Also, something that annoys me a lot is when people assume the mum has to do everything. In modern society mums have jobs and friends and lives just as much as men do, plus they’ve just had to take leave to have a baby, which is an instant hit on the career. I completely understand that some women prefer to be stay-at-home mums because it’s more flexible for the little ones different rotas and they can focus on supporting the family by doing all the chores etc. Personally, I would prefer to feel like an equal member of a team, where my partner and I both work and both take time to look after the children and do the housework too. It would be nice for the child to be raised by both of you, and for you both to be just as familiar with the doctor’s waiting area, the park and the nursery staff. When you decide as a couple to have a baby you’re not really deciding that the woman will have a baby and the man will carry on his normal life are you? This isn’t the 1950s! It’s so strange to me that if a dad were to bring a child to a party or drop them off for school, people may assume that he’s doing a favour for his partner, or giving her a rest. Or he’s just being a dad?! Surely?! Anyway, little rant over.
Like I said, this is a work in progress mindset for chilling out as parents, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Was there an area of your life that you managed to relax about and let the stress go? How did you do it? Share with the class!