As a nanny for years I assumed I would automatically know what to do when I had my own children. I specialised in nannying Autistic children and helping to create healthy family dynamics. I dealt with life-threatening allergies, sleep issues, behaviors, had copious amounts of energy and with a naturally positive and calm disposition I was head-hunted for years from families around the world.
Then I became a parent. Cue the greatest human crumble of all time and a severe case of PND. I attempted to continue my training and specialty on my own children but to no avail. Turns out looking after other people’s children when you get to go home and have a full night’s sleep and looking after your own are two very different things. Who knew.
As a reformed ‘perfect parent’ I now solely function on coffee, bribery and the firm belief that there are no perfect parents but rather a joint collaboration to survive hard days and enjoy the good ones.
What have I noticed most since my reformation? Fear based parenting. Mental health awareness is at an all-time high (hallelujah!) and we are so bombarded with news of destruction around the world that we are taking the protection of our little ones more seriously than ever. This in itself is a fantastic thing! But what happens when we are so afraid of doing something wrong that we are actually crippling their neuro development?
Here are the 3 reasons I think we are afraid –
1 – Sexual Content in Advertising & Marketing
You’ve heard the saying that ‘Sex Sells’ but there are no boundaries where advertising and marketing keeps childhood free of this pocket-lining agenda. How can we keep our children free to just be kids when everywhere they turn they are encouraged to grow at a faster rate than their brains can physically handle? I mean, sure, the attitude and sass of my three-year-old Overlord is often referred to as that of a defiant teenager but I am in no rush for her to grow to that age. In fact, I am desperate for her to stay the sassy boundary pushing three-year-old she is because there is no getting this stage back once it is gone. As much as her defiance frustrates me, she is only little once and the defiance helps her find her limits. My theory is to create a safe place for her to push those limits rather than just shutting them down completely. Play makeup is the same. Removing the sexual content from Oh Flossy advertising and marketing is what creates the safer environment for play, experimentation and what will, in time, help with their self-identity.
2 - We Are Afraid of Making Mistakes
Hello?! Have you escaped your parents’ failures while they attempted to raise you? A little therapy doesn’t hurt…in fact I would say it does the opposite doesn’t it? But seriously, I think for the most part of our society and their generation they were only doing the best they knew how.
We however, live in a generation of information. We have more research coming to light every day that both proves and disproves parenting strategies and theories we have come up with. Not to mention the loud voices with unhelpful and mostly half-baked ‘guides’ to create the perfect child and adult. This is super unhelpful for people like me who just want to do our best but know we are falling short of everything we would like to be for our tiny humans. Do you know what I realised recently? Those short-falls are pretty darn great. I mean, who really cares if you breast or bottle fed – your baby doesn’t! Your tiny human has no idea that Sally-down-the-street is getting her wipes gently sou-vied in a warm bath of Olive Oil and Shea Butter before being used. Your baby only knows what you give them and if that results in an imperfectly parented adult who needs a little therapy because they had a cold bottom then I think you’ve done pretty damn well.
3 – We Are Time and Financially Poor
Kids are expensive! In both our time and our finances. There doesn’t seem to be enough of either to satisfy that loud voice called “Mummy Guilt” screaming at us constantly.
What have I learned though? Quality not quantity.
What are your favorite memories from your childhood? Is it the large hours you spent at home while your parents cleaned or cooked dinner? Or the time spent in front of the TV? I think it’s safe to say that the best memories are those made where a specific amount of time was dedicated to you to just play and enter your world. I can guarantee those moments were hard for your parents to allocate at times but the investment was worth the pay off because it is what you are thinking about right now. That quality time is what shaped you and helped you find your identity.
I’m not saying we settle for the lowest bar imaginable but perhaps along with our striving to provide a natural childhood with natural products, we can allow ourselves a bit of grace too and remember that the time spent playing together is just as important as the break we need to give ourselves.
Fear doesn’t always create good parents. Love and quality time do.
Also, coffee and wine. Liquid balance helps us too.