Anxiety and the Modern Parent

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I’m a mum who tends to worry a lot. About whether my child is hitting their milestones, about whether he’s happy, if I’m doing the right thing sending him to nursery, if I’m doing enough crafting with him, if he should know his colours by now. These are worries that I can put aside, but then will pop into my head again, just when I think I’ve got past them. I’m clearly not alone in this, as I read similar concerns from other parents on a regular basis. It seems to be the curse of modern parents.

 

Testing, testing, testing…

Generation Y parents are used to being tested. My school year was the first to encounter SATS testing in Year 6, before being tested again in Year 9, GCSE’s in Year 11, A Levels in Year 13, then for some of us, on to university for more testing. And then we entered the world of work, thinking that we’d left scoring and testing behind. But no! The workplace these days is another world of testing – performance ratings, peer feedback, annual appraisals; the world of employment has embraced the culture of scoring and the need for continuous improvement. Is it any wonder that our generation are always aiming for perfection and constantly seeking approval? From beautifying our life for our Instagram feed, to checking our Facebook to see how many likes we have on our latest post; we’re all doing it.

 

Generation Y Parents

 

It’s this kind of subconscious thought that leads us to put pressure on ourselves. You can’t browse mummy blogs for 5 minutes without reading about the dreaded ‘mummy guilt’, and having written about this myself, it’s not something that’s easily put aside. But when you think about how this kind of scoring and need for external validation has been drummed into us from such an early age, is it any wonder we’re constantly trying to be the best parent we can, measuring ourselves against some imaginary ‘perfect mum’ and finding ourselves wanting?

 

Ditching the Job Description in your head of The Ideal Mum

Although as mums we might crave the transparency and validation that the world of job descriptions and performance ratings offer, they just don’t fit easily to being a parent. Each child is different, and although we are all doing the job of ‘mum’, I think it’s fair to say that every mum would need a different job description.

There are so many different parenting decisions to be made on a daily (even, hourly!) basis, and all of these decisions need to be made based on the child you have rather than what your ‘ideal mum‘ might choose to do. I was really keen on the idea of baby led weaning – from everything I’d read it sounded great and certainly lots of my friends really rate it. But for me and my child it just didn’t work. Max wasn’t able to pick up small things at 6 months, and continued to struggle with this for a few months longer. He also has a very sensitive gag reflex which means that even now, at two, he is often sick from choking on bits of food. It just wasn’t for us.

You might have a child that sleeps well (lucky you!), but who is a fussy eater. Or you might have a bad sleeper but a great eater. Or a bad sleeper and a bad eater! All of these combinations (and the many more I could list) are going to mean that you have different stresses from other parents.

And as for ratings and rankings – when we enter ourselves in this subconscious competition, it’s one that we can never win. We see all parts of our parenting day, the good and the bad – not the selected highlights of someone else’s. And when it comes down to it, you are a good enough parent in the eyes of your child, and that’s the only person whose opinion matters. So we need to stop stressing about our small failings – they won’t matter to your children when they fling their arms around you for a bedtime hug.

 

The Internet – A blessing and a curse

Although it’s without question that the internet has given us huge advantages as parents, it’s also upped the stakes in our ability to compare ourselves to others, to read about various different parenting techniques and to question ourselves more. Looking back to my mum’s generation, there was no google to search, no blogs to read, and although my initial instinct is to think ‘how awful!’, as a result there seems to have been more of a reliance on instinct. If your child was happy and healthy, then there was no reason to worry about things or question what you were doing as a parent.

 

Too many Parenting books

 

I’ve always been a avid reader, so it was inevitable that I would read lots of parenting books and articles. Naturally some of them have been really helpful, but many of them are contradictory (unsurprising, given that what works for one child may well not work for another), and some of them have been downright unhelpful. If we’re going to embrace the internet and books as a source of parenting information, then we need to have the self-confidence to dismiss the information that we instinctively know does not work for our children.

Let’s forget the external validation and focus on our own instincts – who knows, maybe we’ll end up happier parents as a result.

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
36 Comments
  • Elsie Pop
    April 14, 2016

    Great post Katy! Trying to ditch the worry and guilt is something I’ve been trying my hardest to do lately – it’s pretty ingrained in us to be able to find the “right” answer, and I hadn’t considered the link to the endless tests in school. There often aren’t rights or wrongs, and a lot of the stress can come from trying to find them. P.S. those baby books look well-thumbed! 🙂 xx

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 14, 2016

      Thanks Louise – in my defence, some of them were second hand!! I think you’re right – things often aren’t as black and white as a tick box for ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but it’s often hard to realise that in the heat of the moment.

  • Talya Stone
    April 14, 2016

    So true! All of this just makes us feel totally unconfident as parents. We need to strip away the noise and focus on well, just, parenting! And being ourselves. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely x

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 14, 2016

      Thanks Talya – I think mostly, cheesy as it is, your gut feel on these things is normally right and we (or I at least!) should learn to trust it more. Thanks for hosting, commenting, and sharing – you’re a star!

  • Island Living 365
    April 14, 2016

    All very true! I wrote something similar about how we need to put the manuals down! We are always too hard on ourselves and we need to learn to go with the flow more and actually enjoy being a parent #coolmumclub

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 14, 2016

      Thanks – I loved your take on it too. I first wondered whether maybe it’s a certain personality type that tends to be more anxious (book readers, overthinkers), but then I realised I know so many parents who feel like this. I should take inspiration from my sister, who is far more go with the flow than me and a much more laid back parent as a result!

  • Right Royal Mother
    April 14, 2016

    I think I only really learned to ‘put the manuals down’ as Island Living (Emma, sorry!) says when NC (the baby) was born. With NG I was constantly Googling and comparing with NCT friends and, with hindsight, it was such a silly, stressy thing to do. But so difficult not to. Now I tell all pregnant friends not to buy any books unless they need something to prop the cot up with 🙂 #coolmumclub

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 15, 2016

      Thank you for commenting – that’s really encouraging, as I’ve said to myself that I would try to take a much for laid back approach if I have another baby, but I’ve questioned whether I’d just get sucked into the same trap again. So glad you’ve found that you’re able to this!

  • Laura Dove
    April 15, 2016

    I have never read a baby manual, not even with my first, but I did listen a lot to the advice of others and with hindsight I wish I had trusted my own judgement a little more. I suffer with chronic anxiety, it has plagued me my whole life despite constant therapy, and I do struggle sometimes with feeling like I’m not a good enough parent. I love this post, thanks for sharing. #PoCoLo

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 15, 2016

      Thanks for your lovely comment Laura – it’s a tough one to have that confidence and I think if you weren’t super confident in yourself before becoming a mum then that only increases. I’m not sure I’m totally there with it – I definitely still struggle with the ‘not good enough’ feeling but I’m trying to put those thoughts aside.

  • Abiola Olaleye
    April 15, 2016

    Mommys are worriers, it’s in the DNA…lol.

    Seriously, we worry about EVERYTHING forgetting sometimes to enjoy the moment. That’s me. I agree totally with you on ditching the external validation in favor of our instincts, maternal instincts seldom goes wrong.

    I enjoyed the post.

    #PoCoLo
    http://www.biolaleye.com

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 15, 2016

      Thanks for commenting – I think that’s the worst thing, that we get so caught up in worrying that we stop enjoying things – worry is the joy sucker!

  • Tim
    April 15, 2016

    All parents are worriers, but I think there’s definitely something about modern life that piles on the pressure, whether it is the easy availability of info online (a real double-edged sword at times), or the constant pristine Instagram photos and selectively always-positive Facebook updates. I’ve got a pretty thick skin insofar that I don’t let other people’s supposed perfection concern me, plus with three kids you learn to lower your standards and expectations with your second and third child in a way you never did with your first! 🙂

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 18, 2016

      Thanks for stopping by Tim – I do find it encouraging the number of people who’ve said that they’ve managed to be more laid back with subsequent children!

  • Kayleigh Woodland
    April 17, 2016

    I try so hard to think and act ‘a happy mum/happy child’ but sometimes its hard! It’s hard not to worry, it’s hard not to compare and it’s really hard not to get stressed and anxious and I think as a parent you’re not just feeling your own personal anxieties but also that of your child too and that’s a lot to take on!

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 18, 2016

      Thanks Kayleigh – I think no matter how much you recognise that worry and stress don’t really help anything, it’s difficult to put them aside completely. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Merlinda Little
    April 17, 2016

    A lovely read! I was just thinking of test and how I took so many of them that I thought I am so use to taking them and yet I am not (thinking of this while Im doing my walk at the seafront).

    I agree that internet is such a blessing and a curse but its mostly me who put pressure on myself. I think that if one day I can take myself not too seriously is the same day that I would be free!

    #pocolo

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 18, 2016

      It’s easier said than done, isn’t it? I know I’d be much better if I worried less and took things less seriously, but it’s harder than it sounds! Thanks for stopping by.

  • White Camellias
    April 17, 2016

    What a great post! I think that all parents are worriers . I think that in this modern age we have so much available information that sometimes it’s difficult to just trust out instincts. We want to do the best for our kids and that deep desire to do so sometimes makes me anxious. We know not to compare our life’s and kids with those of others but sometimes we just van’t help it! I think it’s just human nature. Since having my second child though I feel much less anxious. Thanks for sharing. #KCACOLS

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 18, 2016

      Thanks so much for such a lovely comment – I think trusting our instincts more is the key. All the things I’ve worried about with Max, it’s turned out that my gut instinct was right – I need to learn to trust it more and have more confidence in myself as a parent. I’m so pleased to hear you’ve found it better with your second! I’ve vowed to be more laid back when the time comes but I’ve been wondering whether I’d just revert!

  • Ann H
    April 18, 2016

    Love this. What good parent doesn’t worry. A couple of my kids have additional needs and I’m mostly a wreck. It just goes with parenthood territory. Like you say though its ok to be the worrier because you are but not because of any kind of peer pressure. Stay calm and #KCACOLS XXX

  • Suburban Mum
    April 20, 2016

    All parents cannot help but worry but you are so right we should trust our gut instinct more and not rely on books. I also read loads of parenting books when I had my first but after number 2 came I didn’t need them anymore and had confidence in myself to know what the right thing to was!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday x

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 20, 2016

      Thanks for stopping by to comment Maria – I’m so pleased to hear another person saying that they managed to shake the worry when number 2 arrived! I find that so encouraging that it is possible!

  • Davina
    April 20, 2016

    I am SUCH a worrier, but I’ve also found that I’m a lot more relaxed with my second child than I was with my first. I really struggled the first time around with grasping what was “normal” and, in fact, how flexible those boundaries actually are. It’s so easy to get sucked into the belief that your child should be able to do everything that your friend’s child can, but it doesn’t always/often ring true. My eldest is hopeless at riding bikes. It took him until he was about 2 to actually propel himself forward on one of those little sit-and-ride things. My youngest, on the other hand, has been confidently riding his since he was a year old! They do things in their own way and at their own pace, but it can be so hard not to worry when you think they’re not where they should be and that your parenting is somehow to blame for being lacking. Truthfully, it probably has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the fact that kids are just little versions of us and equally individual :). #KCACOLS #Coolmumclub

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 20, 2016

      It’s so hard not to compare, isn’t it? And especially as they get a little bit older and the parameters of ‘normal’ seem to become so much wider than when they were tiny. So pleased this got easier with your second child!

  • Bread
    April 20, 2016

    I was born worrying my mum says, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep a grip on it when Snappy is born. I mean, I do worry less now, so we’ll see. Mostly as long as the baby is clean and warm and fed, I’ll be happy. #KCACOLS

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 20, 2016

      I think that’s a really good attitude to have! Babies needs are simple when it comes down to it, I think we overthink things a lot of the time!

  • Madeline Littlejohns
    April 21, 2016

    Oh there is always something to worry about as a parent! I think you’re completely right though, that every parent is/has to be slightly different from the next, because no child is the same. I really don’t like competition between parents, our children will do things and learn in their own time, and it all evens out with time! x #KCACOLS

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 22, 2016

      Thanks Madeline – I completely agree. As they get older and start doing things at such different time it’s hard not to compare, but they all get there in the end.

  • Babies, biscuits and booze
    April 21, 2016

    I really empathise with everything you say in this post, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Our children are all different and comparing ourselves to others will only ever cause a problem. Although that’s easier said than done! I read lots of articles and books too but I like to think I am giving myself lots of information that I can then choose what works for us! #KCACOLS

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 22, 2016

      Definitely easier said than done! I think perhaps it depends what kind of person you are too – I said that I was taking that approach too, but I don’t think I had the confidence in my decision not to worry that I might have made the wrong one. Perhaps that’s why so many people have said it’s easier 2nd time round – easier to be confident in your decisions because you’ve done it before.

  • Amanda
    April 21, 2016

    You are def not along in this! I am SUCH a worry wort about the smallest of things even though I really try not to!Definitely need to embrace our own worries and not take on others’ though – we have enough of our own!! #KCACOLS

  • Stephanie Robinson
    April 21, 2016

    There’s so much pressure on everyone now to conform and fit the ideal – but what’s the ideal. pretty sure you’re not alone feeling like this and pretty sure your last sentence is the best advice you can give yourself. Thanks for linking up to #PoCoLo x

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      April 22, 2016

      Thanks Stephanie – I think the last sentence is what I’m trying to live by now. Fingers crossed I can stick to it!

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