This is paid collaboration as part of my Ambassador role with Johnson’s Baby
Perfectionism is an impossible thing when it comes to parenting. I’ve always been a perfectionist. I was the child in school who always got 10/10, and I’ve gone through life always aiming to do my absolute best. But more than anything else, being a mum is the thing that I’ve wanted to be perfect at. I’m sure it’s something that all new parents feel – that overwhelming sense of responsibility as you realise that you are the person that needs to look after this tiny, helpless little being, and everything in you wants to be the very best parent you can for them.
In that first year with Max, that sense of responsibility consumed me. I remember being so unsure of myself as a parent, and I wanted to do everything in exactly the right way. I’ve always been a reader and a researcher, and I loved that in the age of the internet I had so much information right at my fingertips. I read books, looked up research papers, and studied different parenting methods. But modern technology is both a blessing and a curse. I found all that information so overwhelming, and the contradictions were baffling – for every piece of research that said one thing, there was another to contradict it.
I’d read other mums saying “You know what’s best for your baby”, but I have to admit that I scoffed at that sentiment. I just didn’t trust my intuition or the choices I was making. How could I, a first time mum who’d never even put a nappy on before having her own baby, know better than the experts and professionals? I questioned everything I did, and agonised over whether it was the right choice.
But as I’ve put in more years as a parent, I’ve come to realise that there is no one ‘right’ way of doing anything. I’ve seen so clearly now that I have two children, that what works for one isn’t necessarily what works for the other. Max and Ben are chalk and cheese in many ways, and I’ve had to find different ways of doing things to suit each of them. Max was all about the routine and familiarity, and even at 4, he still struggles with new situations (much like me!). Ben is his complete opposite – he loves new experiences and is far more flexible with a routine.
Having my eyes opened to the fact that there is no ‘right’ way has given me far more confidence in my ability as a parent – I’m far happier with my choices these days and I can actually look back and see that the choices I’ve made have been right for us as a family and for my individual children. It’s cliched but it’s true – Mama (and Dada) knows best!
Having two children has probably been the turning point for me on the perfectionism front. Whereas with one, I could try my hardest to achieve that perfection (even if I never quite got there), with two children it’s all about the juggle and I’ve realised that something has to give.
It’s impossible to be the perfect mum for more than one child – you’re always prioritising, thinking about who needs you more in that moment, always juggling everyone’s different needs. When you have to wake the baby from his nap to head out for school pick up. Or when you’ve got a clingy teething baby but your eldest has fallen over and scraped his knee and needs a cuddle. Or when you’ve dropped the ball and forgotten to get anything in for tea and you end up having a ‘picnic’ in the living room in front of the TV, with a plate full of all the leftovers you could scrape together.
I’ve finally become ok with being the ‘good enough mum’ rather than the perfect mum, and giving myself that permission has been so freeing. I’m happier with my choices, and I can accept that we all have our bad days – the days where I’ve shouted, or lost my patience, or not been able to find the time to give them the attention they’ve wanted. Sure, the guilt still creeps up on me, but it’s a lot easier to squish these days. And do you know, I don’t think either of my boys care about having the perfect mum. Max snuggled into me in bed the other morning, and whispered in my ear, “Mummy, you is the best mummy – in the world!”. And that’s good enough for me.
The sharp eyed of you might be wondering just how this all relates to Johnson’s Baby. Well, just like I’ve evolved as a parent, Johnson’s Baby is evolving too. Watch this space!
Disclosure: This is a paid collaboration as part of my Ambassador role with Johnson’s Baby