Long before I had kids, and the greying hair, wrinkles, and extra wobbly bits they came with, I had some pretty firm beliefs on how children should be raised. I’m ashamed to say that in my twenties when life was so care-free I would judge the parents of those toddlers I saw screaming in the supermarket, because I was certain, without a doubt, that no child of mine would ever be found in such a situation, since I would be in control at all times. How wrong I was. Several years have passed since then and it has become apparent that I was wrong about so many things…
What I Said Before I Had Kids: “I will cook from scratch every night and I will never feed my children processed rubbish.”
The Reality: With two fussy kids with opposing dislikes, a job, and various clubs to ferry the kids to, a meal that requires minimum preparation and everyone will eat without a fuss is essential. Which is why fishfingers, pizza, and chips have become staples in our house. If I’m feeling particularly guilty about their diets then I’ll throw some peas and vitamin tablets into their vague direction and hope some end up in their mouths.
What I Said Before I Had Kids: “My children will only watch the occasional educational cartoon on TV and they will not play any computer games until they are teenagers because they need to be playing with toys or outside.”
The Reality: It is amazing how much housework you can get done in the time it takes for one Peppa Pig episode to complete. Furthermore, the iPad is a thing of beauty, since it allows me to finish a cup of tea before it gets cold.
3. Behaviour In Public
What I Said Before I Had Kids: “My children will be well behaved when out in public because I will be firm with them on discipline and teach them to be well-mannered.”
The Reality: I’m lucky that my children are generally well behaved. But they are human. Small humans with big emotions, and that leads to tricky situations, especially when tiredness is involved. I have been the Mum who has done a fireman’s lift to remove a screaming child from a shop. I have been the Mum who has had to apologise to a complete stranger after a (thankfully soft) toy flew into her face. And, I have been the Mum who has had to get her son to write a letter of apology to another child after he deliberately hurt that other child.
4. My Identity
What I Said Before I Had Kids: “I won’t become one of those Mums who has no social life and never does anything without the kids.”
The Reality: Though I might be exhausted and feel like I never get a break, the truth is that when I am away from the kids I miss them terribly. I’d rather be snuggling up with them reading bed time stories than sitting in a pub having a drink, because I love them and I know these moments are precious. If I’m still trying to spend all my time with my kids when they’re in their twenties then I would hope someone would come and shake me out of it, but until then I’ll keep enjoying their company.
What I Said Before I Had Kids: “My kids won’t have mountains of toys. They won’t be spoilt. They will have a carefully curated selection of toys that will have educational benefits.”
The Reality: In many ways, I still agree with my earlier sentiment. I think that too many toys can be detrimental as children flit from one to another without the opportunity for imagination to develop. I’m also conscious of the environmental impact of too many toys. So, I have tried to keep the amount of toys they have down. That being said, thanks to a combination of generous relatives and my own desire to make my children happy, I’m still drowning in plastic tat from magazines along with various cartoon character playsets that rarely get touched.