Being a good enough parent…

nutella first foodI was recently asked to write a series of posts about parenthood for Bounty. The idea was to provide a realistic, honest account of motherhood, that wasn’t all about introducing home-made, organic purees at six months on the dot and leaving your contented baby to settle themselves to sleep at 7pm every night.

They came to the right place.

I really enjoyed writing them – I am a blogger after all, of course I love the chance to bleat on about myself – but I did struggle at times with exactly how much information to reveal about myself. Visitors to Bounty are mainly new and expectant parents and I didn’t want to scare anyone, or have people actually follow my example of giving nutella as a first weaning food.

In the end I just opted for my usual, unflattering honesty. (With a caveat about the nutella). Rumour had it at the MADS after all that Emma from Me, the Man & The Baby was brought up on toast and chocolate spread for breakfast every day, and look at her! She’s turned out…er…well, not a great example, but you get my point.

What the Bounty posts were meant to show new parents though, is that you can’t be perfect – you just can’t always do everything exactly by the book and at the same time maintain your sanity. Something has to give, it’s just a question of priorities.

When you are a single parent, prioritising becomes even more important. I am one person. One ordinary person. One person, responsible for running a house, holding down various jobs, caring for two children and remembering to remind Bee to put out the recycling every Monday night. Is it any wonder that I don’t cook all our meals from scratch?

My priorities at the moment are simple – I want to be there for Bee and Belle. I want to be nearby when they are at school in case they need me. I want to be there in the morning and after school as much as possible. I don’t want to have to ship them off to manky holiday clubs in dingy leisure centres. And I want to drink wine, eat biscuits, and watch bad TV after 9pm. And if I can do all those things, I don’t actually care if the dishes don’t get done until the next day, or if the Honey Monster provides most of our breakfasts. The new Honey Waffles are actually very tasty thank you.

Does that make me a bad parent? No, of course not. I may not be perfect, but I am Good Enough, and that is what being a parent is all about.

Photo credit – moogs

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26 Comments

  1. 16 September, 2010 / 11:41 am

    I know what you mean about time with the kids being more important than being a perfect parent.

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:36 pm

      Absolutely. You only have to think back to your own childhood – can you remember whether or not there were dishes in the sink or if the kitchen floor was clean? Course not.

  2. 16 September, 2010 / 11:41 am

    A classic post, and brilliantly well written. THIS should be put in the Bounty Bags. Speaks to all of us, except those smug organic perfectionists (who cry themselves to sleep with the pressure)

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:35 pm

      Aha! great minds think alike on the Bounty bag front then! I just suggested that as a reply to someone else (think I am reading my comments backwards…)

      Damn those smug organic perfectionists with their home made wholewheat pasta and cooled boiled water.

  3. 16 September, 2010 / 11:44 am

    Jo, when you said Marmite was lush I connected with you and thought “here’s a woman clearly with some class” but Nutella ? Blllllleeeeeeeeeuuuurgh.

    As for good parenting, my experience is you do what needs to be done, no two parents are going to be the same, no children are the same (I bet there’s been different strategies used for each of your two girls at time). Was a good parent ? No diea, I didn’t “benchmark” myself against other parents, however she’s turned out educated, employed and a pretty pleasant young lady all round etc, so I obviously got things mostly right.

    So yes you can’t get everything right, parenting (like virtually every other aspect of our lives) is going to have “cock ups” from time to time, and I’ve made a few mistakes. C’est la vie.

    But Nutella ? Strewth, bleurgh.

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:33 pm

      What do you mean bbbllluuuueeerrrggghhh???

      Are you crazy man?

      It’s chocolate in a jar, what’s not to love?

      • 18 September, 2010 / 10:19 am

        I have no issue with chocolate, it’s the “nuts”. Nuts belong in a bag covered in salt, not in chocolate :)

        • 19 September, 2010 / 8:30 am

          I disagree. ANYTHING covered in chocolate is good for me.

  4. 16 September, 2010 / 1:00 pm

    It’s lovely reading about ‘real’ parenting and not some dreamed up ideal. I totally echo your priorities. By the way – Spanish kids are all brought up on Nutella. It clearly didn’t hurt Rafa Nadal did it?!

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:33 pm

      Well there you go – everyone knows the continental diet is healthy right?? Nutella all round! hoorah!

  5. 16 September, 2010 / 1:09 pm

    Ha ha ha, Emma is well….. yes I get your point. But in all honesty you are so right. There is no one way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:32 pm

      And with all those chances, we’re bound to get it right aren’t we?!

  6. 16 September, 2010 / 5:15 pm

    interesting!! I suppose I always thought you’d be one of those germaphobes who did care about if the dishes were done or not. So you are type A in regards to your writing but not in other ways??? Great advice, I always let it all hang out too

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:31 pm

      Really??!! God no! I am FILTHY. Seriously, my house is DIRTY. I’m not too bad at tidying, but I can’t bear anything type of cleaning that involves getting my hands wet…

  7. Emma
    16 September, 2010 / 7:17 pm

    Emma is amazing….Nutella and all ;-) This is a fab post mainly because I feel exactly the same way! Apart from the holiday club thing because I do torture Chick with that!!! Congrats on the MADS award xxx

    • 17 September, 2010 / 12:26 pm

      Awww and you’re amazing too!! :) x

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:30 pm

      I think the holiday club is ok when they’re little – since Bee turned about 11 though she hasn’t got quite the same thrill out of ball pits and team games!

  8. 16 September, 2010 / 10:42 pm

    Do you know what that is sound advice to any new parents and should be shown to all expectant mothers. Perfect, I was also brought up with Nutella on toast, unfortunately not allowed in the house, Mr L has a nut allergy he eats ‘orrible choc spread just not the same! xx

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:29 pm

      Perhaps I should ask Bounty if they want to produce it in leaflet form for their Bounty packs in hospital??

  9. 17 September, 2010 / 10:15 am

    Nutella is healthy. It has nuts in it.

    I cannot do chocolate in the morning, I just have an aversion to it. Chocolate is for after dinner…it would be like washing down Weetabix with Amaretto (alright, that is an extreme example. But, when I was a poor student I experimented with water on cornflakes (not good), orange juice on cornflakes (really not good) tea on cornflakes (in a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone self convincing argument – was an epic FAIL)).

    I just make sure that the one thing I don’t sacrifice is my time and attention, everything else I play pretty fast and loose.

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:28 pm

      Hmmm… a breakfast Amaretto? That sounds alright…

      I went through a phase as a teenager when I thought I was so ‘cool’ (i.e. I’m Mad! Look at me!) when I always ate my cereal with orange juice. Dear God. Thank goodness I’ve grown out of being such an attention seeker :-)

  10. 17 September, 2010 / 12:26 pm

    Nope.. didnt do me any harm at all.. *bangs head against wall* I’m perfectly ok *jumps on the sofa* gave me all the nutrition I needed *slides down bannister* it did good if anything *climbs into the cupboard*…

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:26 pm

      See? Point proven. Nutella is good for you. Fact.

  11. 17 September, 2010 / 6:32 pm

    Great post. If i were an expectant first time mother i would want a slummy single mummy as my mentor. Perhaps not one that looks as good as you do on your header image, that might make me feel a bit inadequate, but a good enough mum in any case. Not Gina bloody hell and damnation Ford.

    M2Mx

    • 17 September, 2010 / 8:26 pm

      I don’t normally look like that! Only with professional make-up and hair people to help me :-)

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