As both an early years educational trainer, and as a parent myself, every day I come across conflicts between the glittering ‘ideal’ of parenthood and the real picture. This is why I was excited to learn about and support the cause of Netmums and their fantastic ‘Real Parenting Revolution’ for 2011.

Netmums say that from listening to their members, parents are fed up with the pressure put on them to be ‘perfect’. I am the first to admit that being a parent isn’t easy; whilst it is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, it can also be one of the most challenging. Even if, like myself, you work with children as your day job, with the insight that this provides into children and how best to support them, this does not always make for guilt-free parenthood!

As I am sure that every parent can tell you, there can be days when you feel like super-woman; calm, confident and ready to handle anything thrown at you. Yet on other days, trying to juggle responsibilities (and in my case mud) can leave individuals falsely disillusioned about their ability as parents as the following snapshot shows only too well!

On a visit to a children’s play area with my two children on a wet and cold day I learnt this lesson only too well. For me, this was particularly poignant as I was dressed for a rare meal out in town, and yet found myself wading into knee-high mud to rescue my 4 year old who had not believed me that the brown mounds laid bare by the departing tide were in fact mud and not rocks! Not wishing to dampen his curiosity I had let him slosh though the black mud, but as he continued towards the potential dangers of the deeper mud, he’d ignored my attempts at distraction and then requests to come back, and had promptly become stuck in the stinky stuff. His older sister attempted to free him but returned as her wellies started to stick too. Wearing smart boots that I knew were sadly not waterproof, I waded into the knee high mud, silently fuming. For my unrepentant four year old the remedy was easy, a quick slosh of his wellies in the pond and all evidence of his expedition were washed away. Sadly for my mud encrusted boots soaked, cold feet and nice lunch out the answer was less straight forward – I never did get the mud out of the zip and our trip to town turned into a rushed hour without lunch instead! And so I came to be standing in that play area on a bitterly cold day, silently fuming, with freezing feet, posh coat and mud galore. Entranced by those children delighting in that muddy puddle, I chastised myself for being ‘grown-up!

With lessons like this learnt everyday across the world, I believe that this campaign to recognise ‘real parenting’ is vital. We should recognise that we can remove the rose-tinted lenses, take a deep breath and admit that no one is perfect, without feeling guilty. Although the divide between the expectation and reality of ourselves as parents can be disheartening to admit, as Netmums is campaigning, our challenge now is to feel good about ourselves for “simply being ‘good enough”, and I for one cannot wait to spread the word!

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