Do You Judge Other Parents?

As human beings we are all judgemental, some of us more than others. Maybe it’s a western culture thing, maybe it’s not. I cannot stand people jumping to conclusions, but yet I am guilty of it myself sometimes.

As a mum you feel constantly judged, so I’ve made a conscious effort not to judge people, especially other mums. Being a mum is hard enough without being judged by someone who doesn’t know you!

I’ve been non-verbally judged on hundreds of occasions, sometimes I care, sometimes I don’t, sometimes I secretly cry, but most of the time I stare it out. There’s nothing more scary than being caught out on the thoughts you were trying to keep silent. The face speaks a thousand words!

Here’s three judgey situations I find myself in regularly. See if you relate to any;

The Candy Judge – The candy judge watches your every move. Smiling assassin. They watch you try and calm a hot, sweaty, hungry two year old. Nothing is cutting it. It’s midmorning, approaching snack time. The bus is stuck in traffic. You rummage around for a snack of some description. All you can find is a lollipop. Your irritable child sees the lollipop and instantly assumes they’re getting it. You hand it to them. Ouch! What’s that? Oh, it’s the stare of the Candy Judge burning a hole in your forehead! You can read their mind “I cannot believe they’re giving their child a lollipop at 10am, I’d never give my child one!”. They label you. A lollipop tells them all they need to know, or so they think. What they don’t know is your child gets up at 5am so it isn’t early morning, it’s five hours into their day. They had a nutritious breakfast, 150ml of milk, a yoghurt, and 3 portions of fruit by 8am. They vigorously brush their teeth twice a day at least. They were up a lot during the night coughing so they are a little touchy. A lollipop helped. Give him five more! He’s also being weaned off his pacifier. This momma was doing her best, nothing wrong with that.

The Dummy Judge – Dummies are a choice. A very good choice in my opinion. I wasn’t overly keen on my children having them until I actually had children. Surprisingly, the most overopinionated people regarding dummies usually don’t have children of their own. Both my children have a dummy/pacifier. And both will continue to until they reach school age. Their speech has not been effected. They are now two and three and are restricted to having their dummies when they are asleep or poorly, or when they are moaning whilst I need to grab some shopping! Dummies are a God-send if you ask me if used properly. I don’t agree with children having them in all day long even when they’re playing. There are appropriate times and reasons for the use of a dummy. I cannot stand it when you pop a dummy into a child’s mouth and someone glares at you in an unapproving manner without knowing the reason. Maybe the child is ill and needs some comfort whilst their momma has to do some essential shopping, or maybe that momma is having a bad day and needs a moan-free trip to the shop because she is on the brink of giving up! Don’t be a dummy judge.

The Discipline Judge – Discipling my children is not something I enjoy, especially in public. In your own home you can discipline your child privately without wondering what other people think. In public every eye is on you. You know how it goes…You’re at softplay, your child pushes over his brother, he has a warning, he has a second warning and is told he’ll be put in timeout if it happens a third time. It then happens a third time. Your child thought you were joking. You weren’t joking. You now have to go through with what you said for two reasons; so your child knows you mean business and so that every beady eye that’s on you also knows you mean business. Sometimes my child sits out and doesn’t move until I say so. Other times he does not. Othertimes he runs off forty times and I drag him back and pray to God he listens this time because my facial sweats are unbearable. I can feel the Discipline Judge looking at me, thinking I’m cruel, and should just let him play, but I ignore them. My child needs healthy boundaries. I feel the Discipline Judge stare at me in a disgusted manner. How dare I force my child to sit in time out? I dare to because the world has to live with them once they leave my care. It’s better they learn good behaviour now than in prison. Don’t be a Discipline Judge!

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Next time you come across one of these judgey people maybe inform them of how very wrong they are.

Life is hard enough without us judging each other. Each momma has her own story to write, unique to her, don’t presume you know better.

Keep going mommas, you’re doing a great job!

Always Running Late

Since becoming a mum my punctuality is mostly appalling. As my children get older my punctuality gets worse, well I say ‘my’ but I’m never the reason we are late, my two rascals are.

Sometimes there are genuine reasons for our lateness; kids with a fever, nappy changes, sleeping through the alarm, power cuts etc. But most of the time there are not so genuine reasons that make me late. I refer to these as not so genuine but in actual fact they are genuine, they’re just not deemed acceptable by people without children.

I have hundreds of examples of why we run late, but I’ve hand picked the reoccurring ones for this post;

One child needs an emergency poop

One child doesn’t quite make it to the toilet

One child has a meltdown because his brother has eaten cheesy crisps “He stinks! I’m not getting in tthe car with him. I want him to stay home!”

One child refuses point blank to brush his teeth and face plants the floor, causing an emotional break down.

One child grabs the post from the doormat. The other child wanted to first. A fist fight occurs.

One child wants a custard cream. We don’t have any custard creams. He will not believe me.

One child throws cheerios at the other. Both boys fight. Two changes of clothes needed.

One child won’t get in the car. It’s too hot. Full blown tantrum. He is karate chopped into his seat.

One child refused to have a bath. I bathed him anyway. My bathroom floor is ruined.

One child wanted a banana. The other child stole his banana and stamped on it. Tantrum prevails plus cleanup mission.

One child eats my eye shadow.

One child insists I remove a wedged bogey.

One child refuses to wear his tiger t-shirt because “It’s scary!”. It was the only thing clean.

One child wants to watch the end of The Lorax before we leave. The other child switches the TV off anyway. Cue fight.

One child randomly kicks me. He will not sit out. Forty minute battle of wills commences.

Momma has to get changed after she finds an unidentifiable squishy bogey type mess on her shoulder.

Momma had to search the whole house for her phone. It was in her pocket.

One child needed to set out all 458 toy soldiers in a straight line ready for his return. The other child thought it was a game of domino’s.

One child needed to find that Kinder Egg toy he had 3 years ago, and hasn’t been seen since!

The drinking cups have travelled to the Bermuda Triangle.

Daddy took a three week vacation in the bathroom.

My list could go on, it’s endless!

So next time I’m late meet me with chocolate and an expresso, chances are I’ll be needing both!

Pause. Then React.

Some days I wake up like Mary Poppins with the patience of Mother Theresa, mixed in with the determination of Super Nanny. Other days I wake up and within minutes my energy has been zapped, my patience stretched and snapped, and my ability to think before I speak ceases to work. These days leave you feeling deflated and like the worst mother on the planet, but you’re not; you’re normal! Not by Pinterest standards, but by real human being standards!

There are only so many times in the space of thirty minutes that you can repeat yourself without getting frustrated. “Don’t kick your brother!” “Don’t kick your brother, especially in the face!” “Right you can sit out now because I told you not to kick again!” “Get back here, I’ll count to three!” “Do not hit me!”.

Sometimes I keep my cool although inside I’m simmering. Other times I get louder and louder. My husband says I have a ‘loud gene’ I’ve inherited. My two kids have inherited it too!

After a day of raising my voice and losing my cool I feel poop. It makes me feel like I’ve failed as a parent. I have to remind myself tomorrow is a new day!

Some days you’ll be Mary Poppins and other days you’ll be the Grinch, that’s life. The only time to worry is when you’re the Grinch more than the Mary!

I’ve found that consciously making myself count to five before I react to a stubborn toddler really helps. It makes you reassess your frustrated outburst and let’s you reply calmly. Try it next time you’re being driven around the bend!

We have to accept the frustrating days and remember the stubborn mules we live with are just children. They’re little people trying to figure out their emotions and the world around them, and us as parents should be the lamp to their little feet.

Remember our children get their emotional cues from us. They learn how to deal with their emotions from the people around them. I have a very short temper, with adults mainly but occasionally I do lose my temper and end up shouting at my kids, but I always apologise to them and reassure them. I talk to them about why I got frustrated and that you shouldn’t shout. Never be above apologising.

I’ll be totally honest now sometimes my kids are so naughty I wish I could hold a grudge and not speak to them for the rest of the day, but for obvious reasons I don’t act on those feelings, I love them through gritted teeth. Just kidding! 😉

This parenting malarkey is hard enough without you being hard on yourself too. It’s a journey, a learning journey. You learn on the job. You have to give yourself a break. You’re not gonna get everything right all of the time, but if you’re kids are happy and loved and they know they’re loved then you’re doing a marvellous job!

Parents, you’re nothing short of Super heroes! So on the days when your cape slips, snuggle your babies goodnight, read them an extra story, have a big slice of chocolate cake, and go to bed early ready for a new day tomorrow.

Your babies don’t hold grudges against you so don’t hold one against yourself!

Be a YES parent

Sometimes we get into such a routine of saying ‘no’ to our children,  not out of being a bad parent but just because we condition ourselves into having this response.

D1: “Can I tip this tub of trains out Mummy?”
Me: “No, it’s too messy, you don’t need to!”

I say no because it’s convenient for me. Surely he can play without tipping them all out, and I guarantee I’ll be the one putting them all back into the tub later. D1 looks sad.

Why didn’t I just say yes?

A tipped out tub of trains wouldn’t be that messy, he probably just wanted to see which ones he’d got, and he would have probably helped me pick them up.

D1: “Mummy can we play outside in the rain? ”
Me: “No it’s too wet, and you’ll get filthy!”

I say no because it’s more convenient for me. I don’t want to stand in the rain. I’ll have to wash wellies and dry coats, and even iron fresh clothes. D1 looks sad.

Why didn’t I just say yes? Puddle jumping is fun. Dirt washes away. We have plenty of fresh clothes to put on. Fresh air is good for them and gets rids of their excess energy.

D2: “I play playdoh a bit!”
Me: “No we’ll play with it later I’ve just swept the floor!”

I say no because I’ve cleaned the house and want it to stay tidy. Playdoh is so messy. Plus they’ve just had a bath and don’t need playdoh stuck in their fingernails. D2 cries.

Why didn’t I just say yes? Who cares if I have to sweep again? Will it hurt me?! No! Who cares if they need rebathing? They love the water anyway. They love creating playdoh models, why don’t I use the time to interact with them?

 

Be A Yes Parent by Becci Nicholls | Photo: © Miredi

Be A Yes Parent by Becci Nicholls | Photo: © Miredi

It’s so easy to say ‘no’ without thinking things through. Children are not an inconvenience.

Do you want to create a tidy house with neatly stacked toys or do you want to create memories to cherish forever?

The truth about YES parenting

All the above are actually real examples, but I learnt a long time ago to say yes whenever I can. Life is too short to be anything less than fun. An untidy house doesn’t matter, but your children do. A simple yes will make their day. Try it out!

My boys love making my garden look a mess. Onlookers would see sand covering every concrete surface, chalk drawings on the floor, fences, and sheds, an upturned police car, water soaked toys, an empty sand pit, and a slide covered in wet sand. My kids see an adventure land / beach. They’ve carefully spilt the sand. They’ve drawn sharks in chalk. They’ve tipped their police car upside down to fix it with their invisible tools. They’ve played. They’ve unreservedly played, and that’s what rears happy children. Fearless children.

Sand can be swept up. Chalk can be washed away. Toys can dry out. Cars can be put the right way up. But children’s memories cannot be faked; they’re either good or not good.

Last week I filled our garden path with shaving foam and hid lots of dinosaurs in the ‘snow’. It was messy from the start. It got even messier when they figured out clapping your hands in the foam created a mini blizzard! I could have easily not bothered, or said no to the clapping but they had so much fun! They even spoke about it the next day! And the worst that happened? We all had to get changed.

Does your babba want three bedtime stories? Why not! Who’s counting anyway? One day they’ll be too big to have a bedtime story so don’t ever refuse them now.

It’s not about saying yes all of the time

Obviously this post is about saying yes more often in regards to fun and play, it’s not about saying yes to everything else. Children need healthy boundaries, but they also need a safe environment to be children. Let your babbas be free to play. Yes parenting is vital to their development.

Try having a day of ‘yes’, let them have fun, messy fun. You’ll enjoy it too and feel much more relaxed!

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The Black Clouds Called Depression

It’s possible to go weeks, months, even years without the black clouds heading your way, yet regardless of the length of their departure you always know when they’re on the way back.

It’s pretty impossible to describe the feeling to someone who hasn’t experienced them. It’s like your emotions go into lock down and a new emotional system kicks in.

You feel nothing. You feel everything. You want to sleep forever. You can’t sleep. Your appetite is non-existent. You eat your feelings. A little ball of rage consumes you, with unknown triggers. You feel out of control. Irritable. Your own breathing makes you annoyed. Your partner annoys you, for no reason. You have no patience with your children. You feel worthless. You listen to your own words and wonder why you cannot prevent them. You feel numb. Locked away. Silently drowning. Too scared to speak out.

Every cloud filled day leaves you questioning your existence. You beg the clouds to move. They never listen.

You see yourself lashing out at your loved ones as if your watching from afar.

You’ve just got to plod on. Keep going through the black cloud towards the sunshine. Bask in the sunshine, nobody knows how long it’s here for.

Speak out. Do not struggle in silence. Ever. You are not crazy, you have a chemical flaw NOT a flaw in character!

Your Second Child

Having a baby is an exciting experience, whether first child or second child, yet your experience with your second child is totally different.

With your first child during pregnancy everybody treats you like a pampered pooch, and wants to protect you. You lounge around napping at every opportunity and with good reason. You do all the correct exercises and enjoy the weird cravings. You get to experience morning sickness without questions. You buy everything brand new for your baby. You plan the nursery down to the last detail. You have your maternity notes in a pretty binder and you frame each scan photograph. You spend your pre-birth maternity leave shopping and sipping decaffeinated machiattos with people gushing over your bump and imminent arrival. People buy you presents left, right, and centre.

With your second pregnancy it’s somewhat different. You already have a child, an 18 month old in my case. Pampered poochness has long gone. You have to get on with it. You can’t wee in peace. You cannot lounge around and you most certainly don’t nap your way through a day. You get to eat when time allows, and cravings are generally neglected (unless your husband tries to win you over, wink wink). You have to run to the toilet with a screaming 18 month old under your arm as morning sickness takes its toll for the fourth time that morning. Your nursery is already planned, and full, so you have to rearrange things to accommodate your future arrival. You don’t attend antenatal classes because you’re too tired, and have an infant in tow. Your infant has to watch you pee into a bottle. Your maternity notes are folded in half and shoved in your changing bag. You detest shopping, unless it’s online. Shopping, being pregnant, and an infant make for a stressful nose-sweating sort of trip. People do not gush over you, instead they give you a sympathetic look or comment. You’re not glowing this time, you’re sweating like you’re in the Amazon. You don’t get maternity leave if you became a SAHM first time round. You reuse your first child’s car seat, baby bath, moses basket etc. Not so many presents head your way. You spend the majority of your time in pjs.

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When your first child arrives you spend countless hours cuddling your sleeping bundle (& crying because they won’t settle and you haven’t got a clue what you’re doing), you enjoy people cooing over them in their stroller. You change their outfits several times a day so they look gorgeous. You meet with your friends for coffee and shopping trips. You can get a few chores done whilst they bounce in their rocker to Disney Jnr.

When your second child arrives you have to ensure they self soothe. It’s impossible to hold a newborn without an 18 month old demanding attention. You have to have eyes in the back of your head. You can no longer leave a child in a rocker, the older one will poke them, hard. You now only change clothes if absolutely necessary as to avoid both ironing and adding to the laundry tower. You rarely meet with people; leaving the house with a billion bottles, snacks, two dressed infants, and a clean face yourself are near impossible. You now run on your own time zone. Housework schmousework! People don’t coo, they say ” I bet your hands are full!” No, they’re not, I have plenty of time to myself, they sit quietly and read, they even feed themselves!!

But it’s ok. As abnormal and as run off your feet you feel, it’s normal. It’s normal to feel guilty like your second child has somehow missed out on precious mummy time, but they haven’t. It’s hard to split yourself in half, but there’s no need to. There’s no rush. Your older child will learn patience. Your baby will learn that mommas love is so heroic it stretches to their sibling too.

Having a second child is more of a shocker than your first, but I’d never change it for the world. And it does get easier. Much easier. And although you may feel like you’re in some kind of comedy show be rest assured your normal!

Go enjoy every minute!