If I had a penny for every time I regretted something I’d done, or didn’t do, when it came to parenting in those early years, I’d be rich. We all would, right? Because I bet that for every bit of guilt, every regret, every sinking feeling you’ve ever had as a parent about the way you handled something- I bet every other parent out there can relate to you and has been there. I even bet every other parent out there would tell you that what you did is ok, and probably that they’ve done something worse.
We have all turned up late to weekend birthday parties and made up rubbish excuses, we’ve all forgotten to pack snacks on our day trip - meaning our child gets ‘hangry’ - and we’ve all lost our temper in the heat of the moment when our kids throw food you’ve slaved over across the table. It would be unrealistic if we didn’t struggle with these everyday emotions like this. So, knowing that we’re all running around, doing the best we can, why do 'us mums' still strive for perfection in everyday life?
We are kind and nice to our friends when they talk about tough times with their kids. We listen to their daily struggles, and we offer solutions. But when it comes to ourselves, deep down, there is still a pressure on us mums to be doing it right. All. The. Time. We don’t cut ourselves the slack we need.
When my firstborn son was around 6 months I managed to ‘escape’ for a girly day out with another mum from my NCT group. I spent the entire car journey talking about how I was so frustrated with the various temper tantrums, routines that seemed impossible to stick to and the general pressure to maintain a clean and lovely home with fridge stocked and dinners cooked.
My friend was so surprised and in awe of how I ‘outed’ these daily struggles - and she eventually joined in with her experiences. And by the end of that car journey, we both felt refreshed and empowered to own our struggles and more importantly, let them go. To stop agonising over how we could have done things differently and to start looking forward to the next time, learning from mistakes and growing as people.
My friend, told me most new mothers tend to keep their struggles under wraps, not talking about them for fear of being judged. She was pleasantly surprised that I’d inadvertently had the courage to spill the beans.
Of course, any parenting blog out there will tell you it’s because you care so much that you worry about these things. It’s because you want to help your child feel better about themselves. But the only way, really, they’re going to do that is if they see you - their main role model- feel better about yourself.
Sometimes it takes a rant in a car with a friend to do this, other times it just takes telling your inner voice (you know the one I mean, the one that’s always rude to you!) to do one and accept that you’re only human.
You are good enough.
Even with a few mistakes along the way. Think about it from your child’s eyes too; do they want and need a mum who’s constantly worrying they could do better, or a mum that’s happy and learns to live in the moment? Do they want and need a mum who’s constantly comparing herself to other mums who seem so together, or one that is self-aware?
I see the constant strive for perfection from new mums when I’m in my photography studio; those mums who - like I was - are unable to let go of all the little things (like the way the nappy is tied on or whether or not they should comb their baby’s hair, or whether or not their baby needs an extra cuddle when they’re fast asleep! And so on). If they can learn to let go and feel relaxed and comfortable then that energy transfers to the baby. Happy parents make for happy babies.
So, I want to challenge you to try and take a deep breath, find an inner calm and stop worrying. You are doing just fine mama, I promise you. Nobody can do your job better than you - and your child wouldn’t want it any other way.
Louisa of Louisa Peacock Photography is a highly experienced and an award-winning baby, child and family photographer based in North London. After a successful career in journalism, she became a mum to two boys and then discovered her true calling: capturing special family moments in distinctive and timeless portraits. Her photography has been featured in top women’s magazines, mummy blogs and in luxury children’s clothing retailers. Instagram louisapeacockphoto