17th January 2016

I’d rather be imperfect…

Photo by Lidiya Kalichuk Photography

By Lidiya Kalichuk Photography

If being a perfect mother means I can’t flick on the TV to calm the boys down, I am definitely failing.

If being a perfect mother means I can’t pick up my phone for a quick scroll when they are playing happily together in the park,  I am definitely failing.

If being a perfect mother means I can’t leave my children with a babysitter once a week to enjoy a night out with my husband, I am definitely failing.

And if being a perfect mother means I can’t hand the boys an iPad so my husband and I finish our meals in peace in a restaurant, or switch on the oven to cook fish fingers as I completely forgot to plan something healthier for their dinner, or give them a snack half an hour before it’s ready as I just can’t stand the moaning,  I am definitely failing.

And do you know what? I don’t even care.

Because if sacrificing these things is the definition of perfect parenting, I am happy to fail.

I know that my boys are happy. They enjoy playing with their toys, reading books together, and sprinting along on their scooters in the fresh air. But when Mummy is tired, they are delighted to get to watch episodes of Peppa Pig on a loop, play some educational apps on the iPad, and eat fish fingers, smiley faces, and peas cooked in the microwave for their dinner. And yes, they even get a dollop of ketchup and I don’t care if they eat it first.

These are sometimes the things that keep me sane.

After all, motherhood isn’t easy – but it’s all too easy to start striving for perfection.

I don’t think social media helps. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, I’m pretty sure our mothers didn’t throw insults at each other across the room at baby groups about their parenting styles.

You let her watch three episodes of Button Moon IN A ROW, Sarah?!! Have you not heard that screen time can fry their little minds?! I would personally never do that. What exactly is the point of being a mother?!!!”

No, I’m pretty sure they were too busy discussing the merits of their new teasmades and soda streams – or inviting each other to Tupperware parties, with us kids totally ignored at their feet. And when we were older, we were sent out on our bikes to get some fresh air while they stayed inside, occasionally checking on us through the window (the horror!)

But these days, admit that you take a few shortcuts on social media and a pack of vicious lionesses are waiting to pounce and declare us unfit mothers.

How very dare you consider your own feelings in this thing called motherhood!   

The point is that intelligent mothers know that too much screentime isn’t a brilliant idea, that food generally needs to be healthy, and that sitting all day on our phones while we ignore our brood is pretty barmy. But if these things in moderation get us through a day when the children have already stamped playdoh into the rug, had four potty training accidents, and shown us up at the local baby group by trying to plot an escape, I have no qualms about taking a few shortcuts to make it through to bedtime.

The most important thing is that my boys are happy and healthy, of course – but sometimes when we strive for that, we forget that we have to be happy too.

Happy Mum = Happy Kids.

And that is the definition of perfection to me.