A Mum friend recently asked me what my best piece of advice was for parents.
At first I laughed because the actual thought of anyone asking me for parenting advice is comical.
I’m not a perfect mother.
I swear too much, my house is upside down, I’ve windows that haven’t seen a drop of water in months and a kitchen floor that can be sticky underfoot on any given day.
My kids get excited when they can find clothes in their wardrobes and don’t have to start climbing the fresh laundry mountain at the top of the stairs. They also reckon that all mothers curse at shitty drivers (maybe they do!) and regularly cheer me on from the back of the car.
So when I was asked for advice you can see why I hesitated and covered up my lack of expertise with laughter. Then I thought about it and the lightbulb moment occurred.
JUST GIVE IN TO IT!
There you go…my advice for parents everywhere.
5 little words.
I’m not talking about giving in to the kids themselves because no good can come from that. Although, there are days when anything goes here just because I can’t actually cope with another bout of whining, pissing and moaning.
I’m talking about giving in to the fact that you’re a parent and that life will change. It’s easier to accept that fact and move on. Call it self-preservation if you wish, but it’s my way of managing my parenthood journey.
I’ve long ago given in to the following;
*My house is now a home to several people most of whom are under 4 feet tall. This will inevitably lead to mess, destruction and chaos. That’s OK…for now! The day will come when they’re not going to destroy the place and I am already picking out colour schemes and soft furnishings.
I just have to remember that it’s their home too. Mess can be tidied, chaos will end when they sleep and destruction….Daddy can deal with that.
*I will not be allowed anything nice for the foreseeable future. My Clarins foundation has been pumped down the sink, my stilettos have been used for dress up, my furniture will have LIGA, crisps and other undetermined substances mashed into it, and as soon as I put on something half decent a child will touch me with grubby paws or vomit on me.
Shit happens, literally. I’ll just have to hide my shoes and makeup, ban food from the living room and start wearing a bin bag over my clothes. This is not admitting defeat, it’s just a mechanism for coping. I’m outnumbered so I can only do so much.
*I will constantly scramble for time. THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH!! Between the kids activities and my own stuff (the stuff that makes me feel human like writing and singing in a choir) I am constantly watching the clock.
It’s my choice to have the kids involved in things therefore it’s my job to get them there. It’s my decision to take time out for myself and I’ll bloody well make sure that it happens.
I’ve just got to concede that life is busy but it’s a damn sight better than sitting around doing nothing. I just have to accept that time, for now, is a precious commodity.
*I have also given in to the fact that a social life is now a privilege and not a given. Nights out require planning of gargantuan proportions and nights away must be organised months in advance.
I’m fortunate to have a very supportive network of family and friends but even so I don’t like to take the piss. Sometimes it’s just not possible to get away or to have time out. But that’s ok.
We tell our kids that they can’t always get what they want so you’ve gotta practise what you preach.
Anyway, I think the hangover is God’s way of reminding parents just how much these little people rely on us. When you’re not firing on all cylinders it can be a struggle to meet even the most basic of their needs. But you get on with it and pray for bedtime.
*I will constantly feel that other parents are doing a much better job than me. They’re not. They’re just giving in on different things. Take the parent whose child is a great eater. I envy that. Mealtime here is a battleground so I give in and cook what I know they’ll eat, even if it’s the same old ding-dong, week in, week out.
However, my kids are pretty good sleepers. I know a lot of parents would kill for this and will do anything to get their kids to sleep – driving them around in the car, rocking them, co-sleeping, whatever it takes.
It’s just about adapting to what works for you and yours. Giving in to the fact that each situation is different. No one way is any better than any other.
These are merely some of the things I’ve given in to. For you it could be something totally different. But as the saying goes;
“Trees that don’t bend in the wind, won’t last the storm.”
To give in to parenthood doesn’t mean giving up on who you were before children. It just means adapting to a new situation. It can be difficult to do and I’ve often felt resentful of the sacrifices I’ve made, the things I’ve given up. I forgot about what I’d gained.
Once I started thinking about it from that angle I realised that I hadn’t actually lost anything, I’d just changed the way I looked at things. I gave in to the inevitable…