There’s lots of things I’m good at as a parent – there’s some things I’d even say I’m great at. I’m a pretty good mum. I’d like to think I can be a fun mum, I’m a patient mum, I’m an affectionate mum… but there’s still a lot that I suck at as a parent that I’d like to share with you today (just in case anyone is under the illusion that I have this parenting thing totally handled, because I don’t. I really don’t)
Getting My Kids To Sleep
The messed up thing about this is I’m actually quite good at making other people’s kids sleep. It’s MY kids I struggle with. I worked in a childcare nursery before I had my son and I could get 13 toddlers aged 18-24 months to go to sleep every day, at the same time, mostly on my own (because I worked in a centre that didn’t much care for childcare ratios, but that’s a story for another day).
I’ve also been a casual babysitter for many babies, most of those babies I’d meet that evening and be left to put them to bed with little more than a “He’s never been left with anyone before but he likes this teddy” or “I just breastfeed her to sleep, so maybe try giving her a bottle.” Or “We went to sleep school last week and the health nurse said she’d never met a baby like her and we’re going back next week. So. Um. Yeah. Good luck.” #truestory.
And each and every single one of those babies fell asleep (eventually) in my arms.
My kids? HAHAHAHAHAHA NOPE.
As they get older it’s getting easier, but still. If they won’t sleep. They. Just. Won’t. Sleep. And there’s not a darn thing I can do about it. I cannot even begin to count the number of nights I’ve sat up with either (or both) of my kids through ungodly hours of the night because they woke up at midnight announcing it was time to watch Peppa Pig.
(On the upside, I am very good at coping with moderate to severe sleep deprivation)
Sticking To A Routine
I’m not a routine person. I just don’t do it. It’s not me. I don’t really watch the clock and time gets away from me. Which is fine with little babies, or babies who don’t really need a routine. My son was the kind of baby who just slept when he was tired, let me know with a bit of a nuzzle that he was hungry – no worries. I can totally handle that.
My daughter, not so much. She NEEDED a routine. It took 6 months of floundering through each day to work that out. And even though establishing a routine (and finding she was so sensitive to changes that it needed to be precise down to the half hour or the whole day, night and even following day would be ruined) meant she slept longer, fed easier and was generally a much happier tiny person – it was hard for me to stick to it, and I felt trapped. I was actually grateful when she stopped having day sleeps entirely; I found that easier than having to put her to bed at any particular time.
Also my inability to stick to a routine means we are either early or late to school. Rarely do we get to school at an optimal time and when we do I feel rather chuffed with myself.
Limiting Screen Time
This I really do suck at and I do need to get handled. I SAY “You can have 10 more minutes and then you need to turn that off” and what I REALLY do is get busy something else and forget that they’re still watching TV, because they’re not under my feet and don’t remind them to turn it off for another hour… or so… it’s a combination of failing to keep track of the time and following the path of least resistance that leads to way more screen time than I’d care to admit to.
Returning notes to school in a timely manner
I apologise to teachers and school admin everywhere – I am that parent. I TRY not to be. Really I do. If it’s a simple matter of signing a single piece of paper and putting it back into his communication bag – I’ve got that handled. No drama. It’s when that note requires cash to go with it that I struggle. Then I have to go and get cash and return it to school. And somehow even though practically every time I ever buy anything I’m asked “Do you need cash out?” I say “no thank you”. YES! YES, I DO I NEED CASH OUT!!! THANK YOU!
Every. Freakin. Time.
Honestly, this would all be a lot easier if the school accepted Paypal and I could pay for all the excursions, incursions and fundraisers online at home. Heck I could pay it from my smart phone before I step out of the school grounds on the day that the note goes out. But no. They want cash. And while they want cash I will continue to pay things the day after it’s due back.
Packing An Interesting School Lunch
I feel like such a fraud because I even wrote a post about lunch box ideas – though I wrote it while I was trying to inspire myself to get a little bit more creative after my son asked me “Why do you give me the same lunch every day?”
He gets an apple, a banana, a packet of crackers and a sandwich. The sandwich is either jam, vegemite or honey. Done. Sorted.
One time to make his lunch more interesting I drew a minion on this banana.
Making Mum Friends (without the internet)
The problem is I am actually quite shy – and I get nervous when I’m shy – and when I get nervous one of two things happen:
I say absolutely nothing Or I say absolutely everything.
Neither is particularly good for making friends.
Especially when making friends with other parents, because that present a minefield of topics that can go badly, especially when my mouth is running too fast to realise I’ve put my foot in it. Also thanks to being an active member on a parenting forum for a number of years, I’m quite sure that all the other parents are constantly judging absolutely everything that I do and say.
But the great thing about making friends online is I can proofread and edit what I’m going to say rather than letting words just tumble out of my mouth (sometimes in no particular order) with nervousness.
Playing Make Believe
The other day my 3 year old insisted that I sit with her while she pretended to cook me dinner and make me cups tea, which I was supposed to slurp noisily and hand back to her for her to “wash” in the sink. And then she’d caution me not to touch her toy oven because it’s hot. Which is all very adorable for the first 90 seconds or so. That’s about when I start to zone out.
I don’t *do* imaginative play. I do crafting. I’ll mass-produce origami ninja stars. I’ll take them cool places. We can play a board game (as long as everyone follows the rules.). I’ll even show some interest in Minecraft and watch Frozen for the eleventy-hundredth time. But not pretend cooking. I would rather do actual cooking than pretend cooking (which is what I ended up doing the other day – I announced it was time to bake a cake instead and off we went to the real kitchen to cook with real food. THAT I can handle)
Being Less Afraid Of The Dark Than They Are
Whenever my son calls me into his room because he’s had a fright, or heard a noise, on the outside I’m all “It’s fine, there’s nothing there, everything is okay. I’ll just lay down with you until you fall asleep” On the inside I’m freaking out “WHAT IF IT REALLY IS SOMETHING?! I better keep my legs completely covered and keep my arms in the bed just to be sure.” I really am genuinely afraid of the dark, and I do my best to hide it from the kids. The last thing I want to do is give them the impression that there really is anything to be afraid of, because there’s not…. probably….
Not an exhaustive list of things that I suck at, and I’m still better at parenting than I am at adulting, but there you have it.
Feel free to comment below anything you feel you don’t do well as a parent.