When I was pregnant I had all those vague ideas about motherhood. It was all rather blurry and pleasant to think about. I would be super patient, creative and give my child my full attention through all his waking hours. I had a quote in my mind ‘parenting is not a popularity contest’ – meaning I will do what is best for my child and not choose the easiest route and let them do what they please. It’s not quite working out that way.
Little F is now 21 months and through all his short life I have been asking myself ‘what sort of mum am I?’. It usually involves a lot of mummy guilt! I rarely have time to sit down and properly think about it, in a balanced way, including good and bad points. Being a mum is a long term ‘project’, so it’s good to occasionally take time to look at long term goals and see how are things working out. Maybe a change is needed to ensure the end goal is met?
I know it sounds awfully business like, but I’m not talking about singing my boy up for piano lessons at the age of two and arranging Mandarin lessons, as soon as a suitable teacher becomes available. No, I am talking about making sure I teach my son about being kind to others and not waste energy/water/food – the end goal being raising a polite, confident, generous and green adult.
At 21 months Little F is definitely your typical toddler and is approaching the terrible twos. Before he was 18 months I didn’t have to use ‘no’ a lot. He did things he did because he was curious and there was no need for chastising. Now he does things to test boundaries. Largely that means what will I let him get away with.
So how am I doing with setting boundaries and saying ‘no’? I’m doing my best to be firm, but not shout. I must admit I don’t always succeed. I definitely don’t hit my child though. The thing I didn’t expect is that sometimes it’s just so hard to stop yourself from laughing! Little F does such silly things or pulls such cute faces!
I thought I would be a crafty kind of mum and that we would do something artistic everyday. The reality is that we have carpets everywhere (not our choice) and paints and other messy materials are not so welcome. What we have replaced crafts with is cooking – something I did not expect.
Little F loves to sit on the kitchen counter with me and help to mix, pour, add, sift and chop. It’s wonderful messy play and he learns so much about food. I encourage him to taste and smell the food. We also talk about the names of the ingredients, their colours and what can be done with them. Most days it is nice to have him cook with me, but things can get a little stressy if I am rushing and just need to get on with cooking.
I do read lots to my son, we go through a few books for bedtime. Most days we’ll also find time to read during the day, even if it’s just a cook book! I fell in love with reading as a tweenager and I really want my son to grow up loving books. A good story can really transport you and give you a sense of adventure, but you can also learn a lot through reading biographies and factual books.
I haven’t disappointed myself so far on the outdoor play front. We do go out most days and go on camping trips, whenever possible. I love to watch my son explore nature and have fun with sticks, stones and mud. The joy on his face when he sees a puddle!
I also am doing well with not stopping Little F from doing something just because he might get dirty. This is partly thanks to most of his clothes being hand-me-downs and gifts, so we didn’t have to pay for them. And partly thanks to the right choice of clothes – he is a toddler he will get messy, so there’s no point dressing him up in smart clothes other than on special occasions. We also have an overall waterproof suit and wellies, for going out and splashing in the mud.
There were two particular points I had in my mind when I thought of parenthood. I did not want my child to be addicted to cartoons and screen time. We are doing very well on this point, as we only put on cartoons when either of us is unwell, which luckily does not happen often (a handful of times since he was born).
The second point concerned sweets. I didn’t want to introduce Little F to sweets at an early age, I know he’ll be wanting them once he is older and sees other kids have them. So far it’s going pretty well, with exception of a sneaky biscuit or two grandparents gave him. He also enjoyed a couple of small chocolate Easter eggs, as we were invited for an egg hunt. Instead of sugary sweets we give him dried fruit, which he loves and which has vitamins and fibre.
I have asked a few blogging mums, whose blogs I enjoy to read, to tell me about their experience with motherhood and whether they are the mum they thought they’d be.
Here’s Heledd from Running in Lavender:
In some ways I am the mother I thought I’d be. I love baking and doing crafts with my girls and am pretty calm (most of the time). I pretty much stick to our routine and the girls go to bed at 7.30 every night – which is what I always thought I’d be like.