“Good Enough” Is Actually Good Enough
Today I’d like to give a big shout out to Mediocre Parenting or “Good enough” parenting.
If you’re a regular reader of my posts you’ll already know I’m often supporting parents just doing whatever they think is best. Or the best they can at the time.
Mediocre parenting is the one step beyond that; it’s acknowledging that as parents we all do things we either knew at the time, or retrospectively, wasn’t the best thing we could have done. And that sometimes we don’t necessarily strive to do better.
Because mediocre parenting is sustainable. It’s achievable day in, day out, for 18 years or so.
The “30% Rule”
They* say if you’re getting it right** 30%*** of the time then you’re doing well.
* No idea who “they” are.
** Who knows what’s “right” anyway.
*** Probably not a real statistic.
But that seems fairly accurate to me. Let’s pretend 30% is a third – because I’m also pretty mediocre at maths – doing whatever you think is right, a third of the time, is a good enough.
- Putting the kids to bed at their actual bedtime one out of three nights. That’s fine.
- Of the three main meals your child eats in a day, one of them was healthy. That’s okay.
- You keep it together once every third time your child drives you absolutely batshit crazy. That’s pretty good.
- For every three times your child asks you to do a craft activity with them you say yes once. That’s actually pretty impressive.
Feeling Guilty For Being A Good Parent
There are also some things that I know I sometimes feel guilty about because I think I should be doing better, that are actually good things. Not just good enough, but genuinely good parenting.
Like serving lollies, fairy bread and a sea of chips at my kids birthday party. Why on earth have I stressed about that, and felt guilty??! You know what? They don’t eat them all the time and it’s a kids party! Also fairy bread is SO GOOD there is actually an International Fairy Bread Appreciation Day. If you want to serve some fruit or kale chips or whatever else, that’s fine, but don’t for a second feel bad if you serve party food at a party. Seriously!
The Joys Of Benevolent Neglect
Benevolent neglect is potentially really good for kids. It teaches them independence, resourcefulness and initiative; these are positive things. If you don’t believe me, trust Pinky McKay. When I was growing up my parents rarely, if ever, actually played with us. And yet these days there’s an expectation a parent taking their kid to the park is only half the job. Then you have to actually play with them once you arrive. When I was a kid we weren’t even escorted to the playground. We went alone – with other children. AND had a fabulous time.
Kids can thrive and have fun without our complete and undivided attention at all times.
Impact On Mental Health
I’m making a light of this, but there is a slightly heavier side to this subject. I know I’ve been going on about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety a bit lately, but one thing that does play into that anxiety and isolation is the pressure on parents – especially mothers – to be exceptional all the time. To be present all the time. To be constantly doing their best – actually not even their own best, but someone else’s idea of “best” (which they probably aren’t doing themselves in the first place.)
There is just way too much pressure to perform at our best. All the time. Often on limited sleep, support, time and opportunities to actually take care of ourselves.
It’s something that I really struggled with for some time when my son was born. I thought anything less than having everything handled myself was a failure. That mindset makes it impossible to ask for help, even when you really need it.
The Role Of Social Media
Social media makes this even harder, because it can look like everyone is just constantly being amazing. I’m guilty of this. I’ll post a picture of my kids happily engaged in a craft activity, but what I don’t share is me freaking out over the mess afterwards. Or vowing to never let my children near glitter ever again.
Though I think it’s still okay to share these good moments. It’s okay to share wins. Or celebrate when we’re actually being amazing. I think there is a tendency to take this sentiment too far – to the point of actually attacking parents who appear to have everything under control.
It’s okay to have a clean house, or only cook nutritious meals, or love doing craft activities with your kids. I don’t think we need to take this as far as to put other parents down for not being as mediocre a we are. Okay?
But just remember – “Don’t judge your behind the scenes on other people’s highlight reels.”
Because good enough really is good enough.
Actually, it’s pretty great.
Are you great at being “good enough”?