Whoa, what? I’m not perfect? Really…?
Ok. So I know this is hardly news. I mean, the perfect parent.. Who is, right? We’re all just doing our best and hoping our kids know we love them, aren’t we?
Every now and then, well intentioned (I hope!) people take it upon themselves to let me know I’m not parenting up to their standards… Just last month there was the man on the bus who told me Mushroom is too big to be in a buggy (he was asleep at the time. Ummm…), the man in the street who said that I should be holding Mushroom’s hand. While he rode his scooter. And then there was the woman who kindly told me that Mushroom should be wearing his hat because it’s cold. The hat that he had just taken off because he was too hot after running around in the park (and how many kids keep their hats on, anyway?). This is on top of the times I berate myself for my ‘failings’ – I shouldn’t have told him we’ll leave Auntie’s house if he won’t behave (because we won’t), I shouldn’t have let him eat that much chocolate… How I react to the ‘helpful’ advice offered in the past month had a lot to do with what else had been going on for us that day. Some days I was mindful, present and I just let it go, knowing it’s their stuff, not mine. On one occasion I’m less proud of, I responded with anger and then once out of sight, I cried. Tired, frustrated at my failings and my inability to respond with more grace, my emotions simply got the better of me.
And it’s not just me.
In my work, many of my coaching clients are mums. Not all come to me to talk about parenting but nearly all end up talking about their role as a parent in some way and a common theme is around the idea that they’re ‘not doing it right.’ I’m paraphrasing here so to be more accurate, here are some of the things I hear:
“I struggle to get everything done” – do we really need to do everything?
“I just want the best, or at least ‘better’ [than they had] for my child” – great, and what about you..?
“I feel guilty because I’m not spending enough time with him/her” – says who? Quality is better than quantity..
and the list goes on.
The thread that holds a lot of these things together is this idea that there is a ‘right’ way to be as a parent. Not necessarily perfect but for some it’s pretty close! These women are beating themselves up because they are not living up to an unattainable ideal and it pains me to see it.
You know what? It’s ok to be imperfect
I have to remind myself of this fairly regularly too but in my heart I know it’s the truth. All this other stuff? It’s not real. Ok, some of it is but the need to be all of the things, all of the time, to all of the people in your life (and especially our children, who we always put first!) is not. Trust me. It’s ok to put yourself first sometimes (yes, really). It’s also ok to get angry or upset if you’re having a bad day (and we all have bad days). It’s actually healthy for our children to see us showing emotions – it shows them that we’re human, just like them. If we respond in a way we feel isn’t fair to them, we can always say sorry and explain why we are feeling bad. Children (especially pre-schoolers) have enormous emotions that they can struggle to manage so they get it. They will be forgiving and possibly even relieved as our being vulnerable allows them to be too.
Being an imperfect parent is nothing to be ashamed of. Aiming for perfection is unhealthy, both for us and for our children. In my coaching work, I love helping mums who are parenting (im)perfectly well to let go of the idea that they are not doing (or even being) enough, put themselves first and be proud of all that they are achieving. So, in a bid to help even more parents, I’m launching my first coached workshops this year!
The workshops will be small groups, limited to a maximum number of six, which allows me to give each group a truly personal experience that will be tailored to the needs of those attending. The Proudly Imperfect Parents series starts with a Working Mums Workshop that addresses the specific challenges faced by working mums. Further workshops will be developed over the course of the year. Find out more about the Working Mums Workshop over on my website. All of the workshops will begin and end with a guided meditation and each group will receive a follow-up email with resources that specifically address issues raised during the session.
If you’re interested in attending the Working Mums Workshop and/or would like further information on future Proudly Imperfect Parents coached workshops, you can sign up below to be the first to find out dates and receive special offers! Everyone who signs up will be given full access to the closed Facebook group, where you can find like-minded parents sharing resources and supporting each other.