Friday, 18 October 2013

Be as thorough as you need to be

I've read a few posts on other blogs just recently about parental guilt.  Guilt over food, controlling your children in public or returning to work to be specific, although there are others I'm sure.  So, I'm writing about my own parental guilt and how I have tried to get over it.

Years ago, when I was still working, my boss once said to me during an appraisal, "you're as thorough as you need to be". That's to say, I wasn't perfect at my job but I had all the bases covered to a good enough standard.  Since becoming a parent I've kind of adopted this as my mantra for life in general.  I'm not a perfect housewife, I don't have a showhome kind of house, but it is clean and fairly tidy (if someone came to visit me right now I wouldn't be embarrassed by it).   I don't always cook the best meals (dh will testify, last week he accidentally ended up with a raw pork chop!) but I plan our meals and try to provide everything that my family needs and wants from their food, even if sometimes they don't eat it.  In short everything I do is as good as it needs to be on a day to day basis. 

As far as the children are concerned I try not to beat myself up over minor things.  The major things are all covered of course.  They are fed, clean and loved, but I don't spend hours a day providing them with stimulating activities or making sure their diet covers all the major food groups, as long as their needs are met and everyone is happy then thats good enough for me.  I do feel that there are far too many areas a parent can become guilty over these days and I wonder whether my particular generation puts too much pressure on ourselves to provide everything and to be perfect.  My parents never had to, and at risk of yet again sounding like my mother (see what I did there?), it was never like this when I was a child.

Maybe it's because I've got a large family, and I've been through the whole mum guilt thing a few times but I have almost become immune to it.  At least I thought that was how i was feeling.  Then last year, ds1 went to high school and the whole mum guilt thing started again,  perhaps being as thorough as I needed to be wasn't going to cut it after all.

I think the guilt over providing the right things for your children reaches a peak when they are secondary school age or thereabouts.  If I had a pound for every time one of my eldest two came home moaning about how their friends have the latest game/phone/holiday abroad then I'd be a rich woman. The problem with teens and pre teens, I'm learning, is that they can make you feel totally rubbish for not buying the latest 18 certified video game for them, because x y and z at school have it and they will be so unpopular if they can't have it too.  Things were so much easier when they were small and just seemed to accept the differences between themselves and others without wanting to be part of the latest trend.  But these days they do, and according to ds1 and his friends I am "tight" and a terrible parent for not allowing him to hide away in his room with access to all kinds of stuff.  Other parents let their children do it, apparently. *sigh*

It says 18, not 13!

It's not about the cost, our kids don't go short and have access to shared consoles, tablets and other stuff, it's about control, guilt over control.  While all my kids are under 18 isn't that what I'm supposed to do though, control what they do and make sure it's appropriate?  I don't think I'm completely strict over this and other things.  I've let ds1 play a 16 rated game (only if his younger siblings are not in the room) and dd1 has a basic smartphone, its a compromise I thought we were all happy with.  We still resrict Internet access and the younger children get timed access too.  I'm as thorough as I need to be, remember?  I guess I'm just upset that my older children can't see things my way and understand that I'm doing it for their own good.

I know I'm right and so I'm trying to step back from mum guilt for now at least.  The lightbulb is back on in my head again and its made me realise that there is no such thing as a perfect parent, even if my children are hell bent on following their friends it doesnt mean that I have to follow what other parents do, or feel guilty when I don't.  We're all just doing our best after all, surely there should be no shame in realising this?  So be as thorough as you need to be, that's my motto and I'm sticking to it.


  1. You are right. We can all feel guilty so easily about no being perfect, and sometimes we just can't compete - and in any case it is not a competition - being thorough as you said that the start is good enough. I have the odd wobble when I think that I can't do anything right but somedays (usually when I am sat with a glass of wine, all kids fed, bathed and tucked up in bed) I think - Yes, I do a good job, and I am good enough. I try and avoid the guilt :) xxx

    1. Yes its funny, when I wrote that I was feeling guilty but more recently I just don't anymore. Being good enough is just fine for me! xx


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