Archive of ‘ranty’ category

Homework should go in the bin. End of.

Yes homework should be banned. I have said it before and I’ll say it again – children need to be allowed to be children. The school day is jam packed enough with academic and educational lessons, and in my opinion that is where it needs to stay.

Homework is a complete and utter waste of time. It helps no one, least of all the children and I can say this with absolute confidence having been a primary school teacher and assessment leader who has monitored the impact of homework on children’s learning and their knowledge retention. Homework is often fought against by the children and then it creates tension, which leads to huge battles that only serve to make exhausted and tired children feel even worse about themselves and their learning.

Children are naturally inquisitive and motivated. They just are. But the pressure piled on by the government and schools with regards to their education stamp this out of them bit by bit, until they no longer want to learn and are no longer enthusiastic about school.

Home should be the place where children are allowed to relax, play, and be taught age appropriate skills that serve a purpose in their lives. Swimming, bike riding, cooking to name a few. They do not need to sit down at the dinner table and spend the precious few hours after school with their parents struggling with yet more work.

Homework takes away quality family time. There is no time to go to the park after school, or go swimming or bowling or do anything, because the school day does not stop at half past three anymore. And on top of that, many parents often feel inadequate because they don’t understand homework set and cannot help their children. How great is that, setting something that makes the entire family feel like a piece of crap.

I wish now, just like I have wished for the last few years, that people would realise that children are not work horses good for nothing but doing academic work until they leave school and then have to go out into the real world. They don’t deserve to have their childhood sucked away from them by people who truly believe that bringing a horse to water will make them drink. Throwing extra work down children’s mouths will not turn them all into geniuses. Ask a fish to climb a tree and it will fail, yet breathe underwater and it will excel. What about those children who are destined to be creative? Those who could be inspirational artists or award winning designers? What about those who will excel in the West End or inspire the next generation somehow? How does homework help them?

Being academic is not for everyone. And making parents force their children to consolidate the learning they have done at school is unfair. That is not a parents’ job. As parents yes, of course, we want to and can encourage and support our children through their time at school, but we do not need to become their second teacher. We are their parents. Their carers. The people responsible for helping them grow into independent and confident adults who are not afraid to chase their dreams.

When will this obsession with academia being the sole focus for all children end? When will education teach them skills they could not survive without at adults? Allow for individuality? Allow for creativity?

When will children be allowed to be just that…children? Without a fear of failure. Without pressure. Without stress.

Children are the most magical and wonderful human beings on this planet and they are the only things that can offer hope and inspire change. And change is what we desperately need because the current state of the world is one that is going to require resilience, empathy and compassion in bucket loads.

Take your child to the park. Show them the world if you can. Open their eyes.

And throw the damn homework in the bin.

Blame

Blame: feel or declare that (someone or something) is responsible for a fault or wrong.

2016 was meant to be a tad more positive than 2015 was for me, but several days in and I already doubt whether that’s even possible. Not because of my situation or circumstance, but because of the general anger that appears to be gripping the majority of people I come into contact with.

I’ve been noticing it building for a while. There have been more incidents of unnecessary road rage. Politeness is becoming a fast declining quality. People everywhere seem to begrudge everything and lack any kind of empathy for anyone other than themselves. I know everyone has stresses in their lives, but that doesn’t justify taking it out on some poor unsuspecting person who undoubtedly has their own crap going on. But how did we get here? How did everyone end up so angry?

Maybe the culture of blame, which has been developing over many years, is an important part of how this has happened. The media and its scaremongering propaganda feed on blame. There’s always someone or something to blame for the atrocities the world is facing. No responsibility. No justification for the blame, but blame nonetheless. Making people feel hard done by, put upon, unlucky. Confirmation bias then bonds people through mutual annoyance. Who even cares what they are annoyed about or why they were annoyed in the first place? It’s not their fault they are annoyed. They are not in charge of their own destiny. Hell no. And then, pretty soon, bad things become expected. Looked for even. And worse case – you end up having no one to blame but yourself.

I listened to the news on the radio last week, to a piece about the sex attacks in Cologne. Women, it would seem, are expected to prepare for such things mentally as if they are a given and destined to happen. It was implied that in a crowded place where everyone is fuelled by alcohol what more could these women have expected? Of course they were going to be assaulted and if they cannot deal with that then it was their fault for not being prepared mentally for such an event. And if they were then affected by being assaulted it’s their fault for not having expected it. Or the fault of the government who, the news are reporting, have let the men into the country as asylum seekers. And whom do they blame? The culture they were brought up in where rape is committed and not talked about. Or the bombers who have destroyed their once safe home.

There are more examples of blame in the news – the gender pay gap makes you depressed, it’s what you get for being a woman and having children. Magazines on shelves and celebrity DVDs blame you, yes you, for being fat and unhealthy. The government is to blame for education being messed up and the NHS being on the brink of collapse – ok, I’ll give you that one, you’re perfectly entitled to be enraged by both of those things. But I bet you still blame the government. Right?

Blame isn’t healthy. When you blame you hold on to emotions and feelings that are never positive. Of course you may think that if you blame another it absolves you of all guilt, but it will eat away at you nonetheless. Blame serves no purpose and – back to my original paragraph – makes people angry. And angry people make other people angry. It’s a vicious cycle.

And yes…yes there are some things in life that will make you angry. And justifiably so. I’m still pissed off my dad died when I was twenty-two, and I am fuming that two of my children will have to live their lives blighted by an incurable genetic illness, but if I let that anger absorb me then it would destroy me and many others along the way. Life is too short. There are some circumstances where you can choose to be angry, or choose to see things in an alternative light. It’s not as hard as it sounds to make a change. It could be something simple, it just requires a change of mindset. What is harder is accepting the things that we can’t change and have no control over. In those cases anger is an understandable emotion, but it doesn’t have to be a way of life.

I’ve learnt that the hard way…and in all fairness…who can blame me?

Running Shoes

Running Shoes: slang, related term: give someone his walking papers. 

 

Depression has been in the news a lot over this last weekend and, sadly, for all of the wrong reasons. 

It is as though there are two clear camps on either side of the debate; those who have had depression and ‘get it’, and those who have not, and believe it is simply a state of mind and not an illness. Something that going for a quick run can nip in the bud before it gets a little too self-absorbing. 

There are many forms of depression, each one individual to the person suffering. Some may recover with counselling, some may also need antidepressants, and others will need a combination of the two. And yes, some may even find that putting on their running shoes and exercising will help them as well.

Depression can occur on its own or with a multitude of other issues. It may last for days, weeks, or years, coming and going out of your life like that unwanted friend you’ve tried to cut from your life several times in the past. It is not the same experience for anyone and each individual will need their own treatment plan. 

Before I had depression, I admit (rather ashamedly so) that I thought some people who claimed they were depressed could do with pulling themselves together. I wondered if they liked wallowing in self-pity and playing the victim. However, since suffering from it three times, I know that those beliefs are an utter load of rubbish and I’m horrified that they were ever something I thought were true. It is a very real illness and incapacitates people every day, buit doesn’t mean that when successfully treated they can’t do their jobs, or raise their children,and I don’t for one single minute think it means they may want to harm hundreds of innocent people. 

But I don’t know. 

What I do know is that whatever is going on in the poorly brain of someone suffering from depression more often than not makes perfect sense to them. Suicide isn’t cowardly. It isn’t selfish. It is a rational decision to the suicidal person. They think it is the best for everyone andseems like the most sensible thing they may ever done in their life. They don’t feel they have a choice. 

It is shocking that there is such a lack of understanding surrounding depression nowadays and it is causing so much damage.

I’ve never had a miscarriage, yet am able to support others through it. I have never had to deal with being terminally ill, and yet I have watched both my father and a close friend die and have helped others going through the same thing. Compassion and empathy aren’t difficult concepts and yet when it comes to mental health people seem unable to find it within themselves to imagine, for just one second, what it is like to suffer from depression unless they have experienced it for themselves. They judge. They reduce themselves to petty updates on Facebook and Twitter. They spout dangerous opinions,which harm others. They compound stigma and make people afraid to speak out. 

I am not afraid. 

I have depression.

I am taking anti-depressants.

I am having counselling.

I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, sister, a friend and an aunt, and having depression does not make me any less of those things.

I am fighting and working every day to beat this illness and I will not let anyone make me feel worthless or pathetic for having it

And may I kindly suggest, that if you don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to mental health, you keep your mouth closed. 

Put your running shoes on and jog as far away from me as you can.

Shopping

Shopping: Shopping is an activity in which a customer browses the available goods or services presented by one or more retailers with the intent to purchase a suitable selection of them.

Shopping is meant to be fun right? I’m a woman and all women love shopping right? I should be on cloud nine now with bags full of flattering, gorgeous new clothes right?

Wrong.

I am sat in Costas, stuffing my face with a whole load of naughty treats that will come back to bite my lardy ass later, because I’m so grumpy after two hours of unsuccessful clothes shopping. I feel like I have been in every sodding shop possible, and every time I’ve come out feeling a little more deflated and a lot more unattractive.

Are shops designed to make us all feel like lardy lumps of hideousness? It surely must take some effort to get the lighting precisely right in changing rooms so it shows up every single bit of dimpled flesh and uneven skin. And the mirrors, angled perfectly to reflect parts of your body that you – or anyone else for that matter – doesn’t really need to see…ever!!

And what’s with the mannequins that are unhealthily slim with minuscule clothes on them, pinned in at the back to make them even smaller and cling to their fatless torsos? Women do not look like this, and if they did I’d be seriously concerned!

Shops that have size 6 clothes at the front of displays, which can make you think an item is actually quite nice…only to search through to the back of the rail to find that in your size it looks like a small tent. And then you take it to the changing room to find that it’s not your size at all, that it says your size on the label, but that can’t possibly be right because you can’t get it past your shitting neck/thighs.

I don’t think my expectations are too high – I certainly don’t expect to look like a sexy slinky goddess – but I’d like to at least be able to feel good about what I’ve got on and how I look.

Am I at some weird stage in my life where I haven’t a clue how to actually dress myself? Am I stuck in the past, trying to look like I did at 20? I don’t think I am or of I was I’d have picked up one of the gazillion playsuits I saw today. Then again maybe I’m missing a trick, a friend once told me to try everything on as you never know, it may actually look better on you than on the hanger. Maybe play suits for me are the way forward? Somehow I doubt it.

And so what is the way forward? I’m attending Britmums Live next week and in true style have ‘nothing to wear!’

What are you wearing? And can I borrow it?! 😉

Help!!

Robot Number 478

Robot: A robot is a mechanical or virtual agent, usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by a computer program or electronic circuitry.

I’m sorry it appears that Robot Number 478 isn’t performing well. He’s failing, he’s not doing what it says in the instruction manual. He is not achieving what he is supposed to be achieving. He’s not good enough. Make him work harder. If he gets something right make him do something more challenging. Never let him feel he’s achieved anything, you must constantly make him do more. What do you mean he can’t retain all of this new information? He has to. Failure is not an option. He must perform. He must reach the targets set out for him, in fact he must exceed them at all costs. He wants to do what…play? My goodness no there’s no time for that. All robots must work at all times. All robots must be overwhelmed with new ideas and new concepts and they must learn them all immediately. There’s no time for trying to understand these robots…they must do as they are told and get to where they are meant to be. Robots must always have more to do, they are never done and must never feel the joy of success. Push them harder, challenge them more, never let them relax. I know let’s make sure they are here for longer – robots don’t need sleep or time away to be just a robot. Why is Robot number 478 still not where he should be academically? Why is he not doing what he’s told? Test him again, test him more. What is wrong with him? I’m sorry, what did you say? ? I do not understand, what do you mean these robots are all different? What do you mean that they all have different talents and skills? That they will not all conform to our rigid expectations? You think all robots’ successes should be measured in happiness and not targets? That they only get one chance to be robots…one chance at having confidence, self belief and pride instilled in them. One chance at being inspired, motivated and enthused. Why is this all so important to you?

Why I say…because they are not robots…they are children. Beautiful precious children. And their education needs to change. Not to one with longer days, shorter holidays and more pressure and stress, but to one that embraces childhood and its beautiful simplicity. One that allows children to be children and rewards enjoyment as well as success. An education not measured by targets and levels…but by laughter and smiles. Children instinctively want to learn and have an innate desire to please. They are adventurous and inquisitive; they believe in fairy tales and magic and are filled to bursting with enthusiasm. They are amazing, deserve the very best…and if I had a magic wand I’d make our current education system worthy of them.

If only I had that magic wand…

MAD Blog Awards

Incentivised Breastfeeding

Incentives: An incentive is something that motivates an individual to perform an action.

This morning I awoke to the news that in the UK they are trialling giving mothers vouchers in exchange for them agreeing to breastfeed their children. Incentivising them to do something that we all know is best for our babies, for we’re told often enough. Bribing mothers to perhaps make choices they’re not comfortable with or have no control over, thus adding to the pressure and guilt of parenting. I assume all babies born in the area where this is being trialled behave themselves and enable their mothers to gain financially…someone sent all unborn babies a memo about this right?

Yes I’m being deliberately obtuse because as a mother of three children who has both breast, formula and mixed fed I’m horrified at the suggestion. I’m appalled that the government is attempting to bribe mothers to do something they may not be able to, or want to do. And whilst I can’t fully understand why someone would choose not to breastfed, I believe everyone has a choice. Do I think more mums should be encouraged to choose to breastfeed…yes! But do I think this should be done through a finical incentive…no!

Breastfeeding is a divisive subject and one that all mothers have very strong opinions about. As I see it often those who found it easy claim it’s the most natural thing in the world and are dumbfounded as to why everyone doesn’t do it. Yes they say it hurt, yes they say it’s hard work, but they did it so why doesn’t everybody? Then there are the mums who choose not to and are vehement in their belief that they are good mothers in spite of this. Why should how we feed our children determine what kind of parent we are? And then there are those who desperately want to breastfeed, who struggle and try everything and yet, for many reasons, can’t. I’ve been all of the above mums at some point in my parenting journey.

When my daughter was born 12 years ago I exclusively breastfed. Ironically she is the only one of my children with asthma and eczema, but that’s another story. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would breastfeed, I was a single parent and it was bloody hard work, but I did it exclusively until a lorry drove into the back of my car and the stress of the hideous accident caused my milk production to disappear instantaneously. Back then whenever I breastfed in public it was sat on the toilet, in a cubicle and out of sight. It wasn’t discussed it was just what we all did, and it was lonely, uncomfortable and boring, not to mention particularly unsanitary. Times have changed and with both of my boys I breastfed in public, but it wasn’t always welcomed and I think that before we judge as to why people don’t want to breastfeed and incentivise them to do it with money, we need to look at changing opinions of breastfeeding in public and in general. We need to make it fully acceptable. I was out for lunch with a new mum the other day who I didn’t know very well and she kept apologising every time she breastfed her baby, and this made me so incredibly sad. Why did she feel the need to apologise all of the time, who had made her feel that what she was doing needed an apology? And would paying her to breastfeed her child change the way she felt she was viewed? I doubt it.

Let’s look at why people don’t breastfeed exclusively for 6 months as is recommended. There are many reasons and for something supposedly so natural, Mother Nature certainly doesn’t make it easy at times. Cracked nipples, engorgement, mastitis and many more delights can make breastfeeding hard, painful and unpleasant. My middle child had very bad reflux, and once vomited blood after a feed, turns out it was my blood and not his. There are also difficulties faced by parents of children with tongue ties or cleft palate. At the end of the day, our role as a mum is only half of the breastfeeding story, the baby plays a part too; and for some, breastfeeding is sadly never going to work. Thank goodness there is an alternative! There seems to be a trend on social media this morning in response to the news report, saying that formula should only be available on prescription for those who can’t feed…taking away choice and adding to guilt. And just how malnourished would your baby need to get before it was deemed that breastfeeding was not a viable option. How desperate would the mother be at this point, how much of a failure would she feel and what lengths would she go to? It’s a disgusting idea and one that actually makes me angry at anyone who suggests it. Have the people suggesting this struggled or not been able to breastfeed? Have they been there, do they know how it feels? Or are people assuming things and judging others again instead of trying to empathise, support and see things from another persons perspective? Formula feeding mums are made to feel guilty enough as it is. Will formula feeding become illegal next?

I think if there is money spare to invest in breastfeeding mums then that money could be spent so much better than on vouchers, for sadly some children aren’t fed at all. And the more I write this post the more I realise that there is a much wider issue here and one that I cannot even attempt to cover in just blog post. Could the money be spent on support? On enabling mothers returning to work to continue to breastfeed somehow? On making breastfeeding in public accepted? Let’s be honest, mums don’t give up breastfeeding because of financial difficulties so why incentivise them with vouchers? Why should we be paid to feed our children?

This debate is still very much going on and who knows I may add to this blog post later.

What’s your opinion?

MAD Blog Awards

An Advert Rant.

Adverts: Advertising is a form of communication for marketing and used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to continue or take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behaviour with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common.

So, it is #rantyfriday and if you read my blog you know I often like a good rant, and sometimes that rant is about so called ‘parenting manuals!’ My dad once bought a manual to help him when I was a ‘difficult’ teenager. I don’t remember what it was called or exactly what was written in it but I do remember laughing out loud when I snuck into my parents bedroom to read it, thinking that the author clearly wasn’t a teenager as they didn’t get them at all! Maybe it was there that my dislike of parenting manuals began, who knows, but recently this irritation has spread to parenting adverts….

I was watching an advert for a popular squash brand this week and was infuriated by the tag line, ‘It’s great to be a dad, even better to be a friend.’ It is such a sweeping statement and I despair of parents who try and be their children’s friends; I’m of the firm opinion that you should be their parent! You, and they, probably have enough friends (I hope!) in your lives anyway. Parenting isn’t about being friends with your child, they are not supposed to like you, they are supposed to respect you and look up to you. Parenting is far more complex than friendship, and whilst I’m friendly with my children, I wouldn’t dream of actually being their friend. How would that help them? I’m supposed to discipline them, teach them the difference between right and wrong, nurture their talents and develop their personalities. I am not the one who should be having their first fag with them behind the bike sheds. Or be the first to hear about them losing their virginity. *shudders* I’m all for having a close,honest relationship with my children, but if they ask for my advice, the advice they will get is that from a mother, not a mate.

After watching that advert I then got a bit obsessed with analysing others. Nappies for example; ‘All your baby needs to wake up happy is your love and a dry bottom.’ What a load of sodding rubbish! I love my baby endlessly, and he always has a nice, clean and dry bottom, but does he always wake up happy, does he heck! I, for that matter, am loved and always have a nice, clean and dry bottom and I wake up in a foul mood almost daily.

And don’t even get me started on sanitary towels and, ‘Have a happy period.’ That was clearly written by a man. Why oh why would I or any other woman ever have a happy period? How could being bloated, tearful, irritated with everyone and everything, in pain, spotty and miserable as sin EVER be a happy experience. If a sanitary towel actually possessed magical powers and could make me have a happy period then I’d buy them in truck loads. Seriously, someone needs to invent that!

My point to this rant (albeit somewhat disguised!) is that parenting and life can be hard, and so many written words compound that. Books, magazine articles, adverts…if we read and believe them all we would go insane and never know what to do. Surely our instincts can tell us that if a child has a dirty nappy they will probably be unhappy. (and, for that matter, that we are never going to have the all elusive ‘happy period’)

My mum sent me this article in the newspaper this week (yes it was from the Daily Fail but still, I read it!)

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In the article it says that 46% of Grandmothers listened to their own instincts. And the others shockingly took advice from Mothercare or Marks & Spencer. Can you imagine their advert, ‘This isn’t just any baby…this is a baby with the peachiest, smoothest skin. A baby whose cries sound like sweet music!’ Bleurch, you get the picture. Are these companies really that influential, do people actually listen to the words in their adverts? Are some men out there now changing their complete parenting style to be their son’s mates even though it could be going against every instinct they have?

The article ends with the sentence, ‘We think it’s important for mothers to be encouraged to discover their own inner instincts – something books can overlook!’

COULD NOT AGREE MORE. And now I think this not just about books, but hugely influential advertising as well. What do you think?

Slippers

Slippers: A slipper or houseshoe is a semi-closed type of indoor/outdoor shoe, consisting of a sole held to the wearer’s foot by a strap running over (or between) the toes or instep. Slippers are soft and lightweight compared to other types of footwear. They are mostly made of soft or comforting materials that allow a certain level of comfort for the wearer. This can range from faux fur to leather. (Wikipedia)

So I’ll begin by saying that this post is slightly different to my usual posts, but it is very current and I felt I just had to write it.

This morning I made the mistake of turning on This Morning. I watched a debate about the recent budget and how it affects mums. How mum’s who go out to work will recieve a tax break to help with childcare. and how SAHMs don’t receive any such break. It’s an interesting debate thats been discussed in newspaper, on the television and of course on Twitter. It is one that is very divisive and seems to have once again put mums into two separate camps. Forget the attachment parents vs the Gina Ford devotees, now it is SAHMs vs Mums who work. (And then everyone vs the government of course ;-))

The original reason the whole debate started has seemingly been forgotten, as everyone tries to fight their own corner. Shout the loudest. Justify themselves and the reasons why they do/don’t work. The debate is an ongoing one, and whilst I agree that working mums and families undoubtedly need support with extortionate childcare costs, (it has now gone from I can’t afford not to work, to I can’t afford to work) I am hurt and deeply affronted by the suggestion that as a SAHM I have no aspirations. That I sit about in my slippers all day (yes someone did actually say that on the television this morning!) drinking tea and doing sweet f*** all else. That the budget is to help those who ‘aspire to work hard and get on,’ and that SAHMs are not seen to be doing that and how they are deemed somehow to not be as worthy of support as those who work. That SAHMs are somehow inferior and the government is not willing to acknowledge what they do or indeed reward it.

I mean, it’s not like I want a ‘chuffty badge’ (remember them?!) or a pat on the back, (or actually any of the taxpayers money!) but I, and several thousand other SAHMs out there, would at least like it acknowledged that we DO work, that we DO have aspirations, that we ARE setting our children a good example and that we ARE doing what we think is best for them. Some of us aren’t staying at home through choice, (some are sadly to unwell to work and some’s children are unwell and need caring for) and some of us work our butts off at home WHILST looking after our children. We are not rewarded, we are not applauded, and are now criticised for not having any aspirations on top of everything else. For being lazy. But I’m betting that if you asked a child if they wanted their mummy to stay at home or go out at work it wouldn’t take a genius to predict what they would say.

And yes, don’t get me wrong, I imagine there are mums out there who are lazy, and who do not look after their children even though they are at home with them all day, and are happy for the government and the taxpayer to pay for them to do so. But DO NOT tar us all with the same brush. EVER.

And what about choice? It seems in this country, where human rights and freedom of choice are shouted about so often, we are not allowed to choose whether to work or not. Those who go out to work are often made to feel awful for leaving their children, and now SAHMs are criticised for not leaving their children! When will it stop? When will people realise that being a mum is the most important job on the planet and we mums should have time, energy and support invested in us, just like we invest in our children. Whether we work or not. Since when did becoming a mum become so worthless?

I myself have been a single SAHM, a single working mum (full time), a working married mum and am now a married SAHM. Now after my third child I have asked for an extra year’s maternity leave, (unpaid obviously) because I have three children and I want to spend as much time with my children as I possibly can. Time with my children that I will never get back. I’m lucky enough that my career can technically be ‘put on hold,’ and hopefully in years to come I will go back to work and be as successful at my job as I was before I had children. But for now they are my priority. I do not want to blink and turn around only to see them moving out at 18. They need me now. And I need them. And it would be quite nice if it was recognised that this is an amazing thing to be doing. A worthwhile thing. A thing that can be aspired to. Why have children if you are never going to see them? I’m sure it’s not that black and white to everyone, but to me it is.

Anyway, I am guessing this debate will run and run, and is there ever going to be a conclusion drawn where everyone is happy? I doubt it. At the end of the day I applaud ALL mums. It’s a bloody tough job and we ALL need to stick together and support each other, and respect each others decisions.

Thank you for reading xx

Expectations: Part 1 (The ranty part!)

Expectations: In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen. An expectation, which is a belief that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result gives rise to the emotion of disappointment. (Wikipedia)

I’ve worked out why I dislike softplay so much. I don’t dislike children, far from it. I’m a mum of three, and when I’m at work I am a primary school teacher. I love children; they are my passion. But what I find frustrating (especially at softplay) are the many differing expectations other parents have of their child’s behavior. And how no one’s expectations seem to be as high as mine!

It is fair to say that I have high expectations, both of myself and of others. I expect a thank you when I let a car out, or when I wait and hold a door open for someone. (I rarely get one) But is it too much to expect parents to at least partially supervise their children at a softplay? To expect them to follow the rules? Be considerate? Maybe it’s my problem and something I need to just let go of, but quite honestly it annoys me when I see children who are say, over the age of four (usually by quite a bit) in the section designed for the under fours. Often with little respect for the equipment, or said under fours. (And yes in case you’re wondering, I am one of those mums who won’t let her children climb UP the slide!) It’s not the children’s fault, they are rightly absorbed in their own world of fun, but parents often seem to turn a blind eye to their child’s behavior or, in many cases, aren’t even keeping an eye on their children at all.

There have been many incidents I have witnessed this week where I have been left shocked, and thinking about the different expectations people have of themselves as parents, and of their children. One such incident was on a train, where a clearly harassed mother loudly told her screaming, ditressed daughter (who couldn’t have been more than five) to ‘f*** off.’ And another, where a mum told her child that no, she couldn’t play on the slide as she was disgusting because she had wet herself. The mum sat looking at her phone, not even attempting to clean or change her child, while the child sat crying, attempting to comfort herself.

It made me think. Do some people not have a natural parenting instinct (I find this hard to believe), or did they expect parenting to be easier than it is? Did they expect their children to behave without leading by example? Did they expect them to comply without supporting and loving them along the way?

And where do these expectations come from? Our parents, and our parent’s parents? Or social media and parenting books? Buzzwords, trends and manuals don’t help our expectations of parenthood. As I’ve said before, guilt and anxiety are intrinsic parts of being a parent, and sadly I think these buzzwords, trends and manuals, and the people behind them, feed on those emotions and our desperate want and need to do what’s best for our children. They can lead us to expect that our babies will sleep through the night from six weeks. (er, hello…I’m 36 and still don’t sleep through the night) They set expectations we didn’t know existed. Or indeed need to exist at all.

Expectations can be dangerous. As a parent we can set ourselves up to fail or be disappointed. These high expectations are partly what led to my post-natal depression. (Aside from the massive chemical and hormonal imbalance in my brain) I was never going to meet my expectations as a mother, and was inevitably setting myself up to fail. (More on that in Part 2) And on another level it can be dangerous for our children. As a teacher I have seen countless parents who have expected their children to be more intelligent than they are. Expected them to do better than they do. And refuse to accept them for who they are. You can imagine how these children feel.

Of course expectations aren’t all bad. When something unexpected happens it can be a wonderful surprise. A fantastic moment, which reaffirms your self-belief, and bonds you closer to your children. When our expectations are exceeded it can undoubtedly bring untold joy.

So…do I perhaps expect too much? And is this why I am often left frustrated and disappointed?

I expect so!!!

Is parenting how you expected it to be, or has it exceeded your expectations?