I read an article recently about the rise of 'performative' or Pinterest parenting on social media and the pressure to get it right all the time. I have chosen to share some of my life on social media. I share the good bits, I share the funny bits, but I probably don't share the bad or tough bits enough, probably because I want people to think I have it together. The truth is, I don't. I have shared plenty of images, like the one below. The smiles was real. The moment was real. However, by me choosing to share this image, and not an image of the very tired toddler who cried the whole way through pumpkin carving and the very stressed out mum who could not get to the car quick enough, I am only showing my best side. It is one moment in a filtered reality. My parenting life, however, is more trial and error. It is fuzzy. It is imperfect. It is messy. It is chaotic.
Although, parents have began to share their parenting fails in a hue of humour online, I think it is important to remember that 'fails,' can be funny, but they happen because, as moms and dads, we are not supposed to be perfect. In light of this, I started to think about all those moments that I was not as fast as usual to swipe into portrait mode (and believe me, they account for 70 - 80 % of my parenthood existence)
My Biggest Parenting Fails To Date
1. No bedtime routine
My second born has a wonderful bedtime routine and goes down to sleep calmly, soundly and sweetly. She usually sleeps straight through and is pretty much the dream baby in that department. My first born however, is five years old and is still in our room. The bed to space ratio in the room now resembles one of those overcrowded, overcharged rentals in Dublin City Centre! Hands are up for total failure there - we were so in love and so blind to the future when she first arrived, that she never knew her own room! Eviction notice has been handed over yet again. Wish us luck!
2. Screen time over quality time
While scrolling through Instagram, my daughter said to me 'Mom, when you are finished on your phone, can you help me build my Lego coffee machine?" I straight away put my phone down. What I got from that question was she thought my phone was my priority. This was a fail that really got me in the feels. In this tech savy world, everyone is constantly swiping and scrolling. Google is our new GP, guidance counsellor, handyman and stylist. My right thumb definitely gets more of a daily workout than my left. I have used my phone as a babysitter. I know I spend too much time with it in my hand. This is a fail that I am very conscious of. I want to build more Lego coffee machines!
3. Forgot pick up day
It was a Wednesday. I had a long in work. I was so happy the day was over. I stopped for diesel and set off home. I heard my phone vibrating on the seat next to me. I caught a glimpse of the caller on the screen. It was my daughter's dance teacher. It was that moment that my heart plummeted to the pit of my stomach. I looked at the time and felt sick. I was not just late collecting her, but I had forgotten I was even supposed to. Luckily I was only five minutes away and all was ok but it gave me a kick to get more organised. Some parents can get through the week of appointments, drop offs and collections seamlessly and without a stray hair in sight. I, however, need a visual schedules, paper reminders, digital alarms and I still arrive late with a baby fuzz fringe in static stress bounce mode!
So, as you scroll through the daily parenting performances online, remember your ticket is just to view the best bits. Even if the out takes are shown, they are well hidden and easily missed. Parenting is not a perfect performance. The bloopers are the best parts. I think we need to show them more.
If you would like to read the full article I have referenced, read it here "Pinterest Parenting: How millennials are facing overwhelming pressure to be perfect parents."
How our little one's take to starting big school can be quite unpredictable, and this was most certainly the case with my almost five year old. After two years of Montessori and playschool, I was definitely banking on a first day of excitement, confidence and her pretty much twirling into the classroom without a glance goodbye. However, the girl I thought would be forming the first Junior Infant Alpha Omega sorority in her first week actually fell into my lap after three days in tears - "It's too long. I worked so hard. I just want to quit." There were more tears and falling asleep from emotional drainage by 6pm that evening. My heart was genuinely sore for her. I put it down to the change and the new routine and spent the following few nights with her in a bear hug of mommy proportions while I tried to talk to her as best I could. This was difficult considering the only answer I got from 'how was school?' was 'Mum, is it ok if I say I don't want to talk about it?'
I needed a way to get her to talk - to want to talk, and this is what I did.
I picked her up each day as usual, full of hugs and kisses. and reminded her how much I missed her. On our short drive home, I would share with her a little piece of my day and ask her about hers, but just once. It was not until we were close in bed and finished our bedtime story that I would ask four simple questions -
1. Will you tell me something that made you happy today?
2. Will you tell me something that made you sad today?
3. Will you tell me something kind that someone did today?
4. Will you tell me something brave that you did today?
Each of these questions has its own purpose.
Will you tell me something that made you happy today?
The purpose of this question is self explanatory - I want her to remember the feeling of being happy that day and even if it was something that did not necessarily happen in school, it is a positive starting point.
Will you tell me something that made you sad today?
It is important to also acknowledge and validate their feelings of sadness, whether that be when she hurt her knee on yard or when his partner told him he did not want to play his game anymore - they need to know that you empathise with them.
Will you tell me something kind that someone did today?
Originally, I phrased this as 'something kind someone did FOR YOU today' but I started to notice that as the time went on, she was giving me examples of when she herself was also kind, which showed me that she was beginning to be more confident and more involved with her school friends, so we changed the question. She loves answering this the most too as she knows her Mom has a soft spot for kind gestures.
Will you tell me something brave that you did today?
I want her to know that I understand how big this change is for her and how brave I know she is being. Although, there might be repetition at times, I want her to feel courageous and like she can take on the world, one cheese dip and cracker at a time.
It may only be a month in but finishing our day with these four simple questions has helped my daughter understand and adjust. Her face actually lights up when I ask the first question before bed. Some nights the answers are short - and sound quite familiar (basically the same as yesterday's answers!) but then there are nights that they lead into so much more. Being able to recall and share these moments in her day have made her happier and more secure in the new chapter of her little life. The most important thing for me is that she knows when that bell rings, no matter what happened before it, Mom's smile is always waiting at the gate. We can talk later - first hugs!
If anyone has seen any of my Instagram posts lately, they may have noticed that a lot has changed in our lives – we have moved cross-country, we have left/changed jobs, we are now the gracious roomies of my parents (for money saving reasons), Lola has started ‘big’ school and Sadie has… well, let’s just say found her voice. Our next move is still being blue printed by the gods of destiny I guess, but as of this moment, I’m ok with that. I had an experience recently that has given me a new perspective. I have always believed in the ‘what will be will be’ ethos in life, but now I see that a little more is necessary. It is not enough to live in today but being grateful is the key – that is what makes today my new favourite day. I went to see a movie with my four old last night staring the always insightful, Mr Winnie the Pooh, who in fact lay this lesson down with a fully-grown Christopher Robin - “Today, my favourite day.”
One week ago, I found myself sitting in a busy hospital corridor, after two of the longest days of my life, waiting to be seen. I was waiting for a consultant to call me into his room to answer one of the scariest questions I have ever had to ask – is it a tumour?
We all hear cancer stories every day; sometimes it is in the news, sometimes it is friends of friends, sometimes it is closer to home, but one thing I never thought, was it could be me. I would have never thought that the blurry, distorted vision I was experiencing for a few weeks prior was something that would lead to a ‘query suspicious lesion, possible melanoma’ prognosis. It started a few weeks previous, when I noticed myself blinking and rubbing my eye a lot, which I was self-diagnosing as the usual parent broken-sleep tiredness, or maybe just time for a new pair of glasses and another thing to stack on that back burner. The end of the school year was nigh, we were moving to a new house, there was so much going on. It was not until one afternoon, when I was watching the girls play in the garden from the back door, that I covered my right eye and was shocked to see, or not see as the case was, there was a very evident blind spot. I could not see my kids’ faces. Still not too concerned, I made an appointment with an optician in a local Specsavers and it was there that things changed.
The optician showed me a worrying scarring/tear, which was visible behind my retina on the screen. She made a call to the hospital to expect me in asap. My husband had just finished work and dropped me in immediately. At this point, I was still unsure what was going on but was quite calm. I told him to return home with the girls and decided I would wait alone. It was only when the doctor called for his colleague to examine me also that I knew something was wrong. I was then told that there was a visible lesion or growth which had caused a haemorrhage inside, and they were querying it as more. Luckily, my Mum and sister were waiting for me after my consultation to bring me home, because as I left the room the tears were impossible to hold back. The atmosphere at home over the next two days was difficult to explain – silent, on edge, nauseating. I spent the night cuddling my little girl in bed, looking at every little speckle on her skin and imagining what I would do if I could not see these things anymore. These were thoughts I could not help but also, I could not avoid.
The waiting which followed through tests and scans was hard, but I was so lucky that it was not a long wait and, even more lucky with the outcome. I will never forget the feeling I got (and my Mum who was beside me) when the consultant said the words ‘it is not a tumour.’ Relief. What followed, of course, was nothing in comparison as far as I was concerned – a diagnosis of 'choroidal neovascularization', an injection into my eye, steroid treatment, progress check-ups for the haemorrhage and hope that sight will improve. I was told I was lucky that my peripheral vision has not been affected which means there is no need for laser treatment or for it to affect driving, etc. Now it is just a case of visually adapting (and maybe an on-call makeup artist!), which, in comparison to last week’s fears, is a huge relief. It is crazy to think so much can change in such a short few hours. For those who received much different news to me, I cannot even begin to imagine your journeys, but I am so proud of your strength and courage.
Today, as my mother and I currently discuss the excessive laundry situation which has turned her house into a TK Max of air drying – I smile with gratitude; gratitude for what I learnt yesterday, gratitude for what I have today, and gratitude for whatever tomorrow will bring.
So, Mr Winnie the Pooh, I must agree with you whole heartedly – today is my favourite day too.
We have quite a large and vast bucket list to get through this summer. In doing some research to find a few events that might help us tick a few off, I thought these were worth sharing. Here are six of the best family friendly events and festivals taking place this summer in Leinster and Munster.
Super Milk Wild Air Inflatable Run
What I Like...
Festival of Curiosity
(July 19th-22nd Dublin)
What I Like...
Bray Air Display
(28th-29th July Bray, Wicklow)
What I Like...
(4th - 11th of August Birr, Co. Offaly)
What I Like...
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SPRAOI Street Art Festival
(3rd - 5th August, Waterford City)
What I Like...
Castlecomer Discovery Park Digital Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
(All summer, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny)
What I Like...
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So on a mission to keep my sanity intact and to make some memories, I sat down with Lola (my only speaking little human!) and made our summer bucket list. I thought a four year old's bucket list prospects might be a tad far-fetched, but she surprised me - with most being quite achievable. Now, where to start...
What's on your bucket list this summer? We would love know!
"When my father didn't have my hand - he had my back."
Dads do not need to say much for us to know what they are thinking. For the majority, it seems, advice is not something they hand out too often or too easily, but when they do it is all kinds of wonderful.
I have spent the past week talking and sharing stories with friends from all walks of my life about the father figures in our lives and have put together a compilation to make us laugh, smile and be grateful for all those lessons they have taught us without even trying.
Happy Fathers Day!
Dad Advice - The Best Of
- If you're happy, I'm happy, but if you're not happy - I'll kill him.
- In every marriage there are rights and responsibilities and you have to divide them equally - so you are right, and your husband has responsibilities.
- Once you're gone - you're gone ('When I wanted to come home after getting married.")
- Don't 'deep kiss' on the first date.
- Men never know what they want when they are young. If it is meant to be you'll find each other again.
- If you can get a crowd singing with you in a pub you can go home with whatever lad you want.
- Man look after thyself and woman do likewise.
- Never change who you are for someone. You are amazing just the way you are.
- Driving is like sex - if you panic, you're fu*ked ("On my first driving lesson.")
- Never change who you are for someone else. You're amazing just as you are.
- Don't argue with your mother - she is always right.
- You needn't worry about telling us anything. Mammy and I will never make you feel ashamed.
- Don't worry about how many kids you have whether you are married or penniless, your family are everything, just enjoy them.
- Don't put yourself down, there are enough people in the world who will do it for you.
- What is for you won't pass you by.
- Remember to laugh out loud - always.
- Never miss an opportunity to go kayaking.
- A sense of humour is very important.
- You deserve the best.
- Go to the forest to be alone and without anyone.
- I don't give a sh*t what anyone does outside this house, as long as you're happy - I'm happy.
- It's onwards and upwards for us lads.
- Follow your dreams.
- Study your craft and you can travel the world with it.
- It might make you happy now, but are you sure it will make you happy next week?
- Always make friends with the authorities - guards, bouncers and parking enforcement officers.
- Never wear your politics on your sleeve.
- Bankers are wa*kers. Don't trust them.
- Mind yourself on them auld roads.
- Everyday is a school day.
- Don't lick your knife.
- Never put your finger in a squirrel's nest.
- Always be willing to let people help you.
- Put your bus money in your sock just in case you loose your purse.
- Don't feel pressurised into drinking alcohol - just order coffee instead.
- Never throw out anything that you could fit a flower into ("hence why we have a garden that looks like a thrift shop!")
- Control the controllables.
- Always finish one job before starting another.
- Righty tighty - lefty loosey.
- Don't mind what people think of you when queuing at the dole office. You'll be paying taxes long enough.
- A feckin rabbit?! There is no sense in that. Just have a baby or something, at least there is some sense in that ("On getting my pet rabbit")
- When ordering a drink at the bar, wave a 50 note but then pay with a 20 - the bartender will have 50 in his head and give you change for it.
- Just listen to the music.
- Work hard and be yourself.
- Never let anyone bring you down to their level.
- Get back up, don't let them rule you, it will make you a stronger person.
- Travel the world and learn different cultures. Educate yourself always.
- It's a blemish on a work of art ('If I ever had a pimple.')
- Tuck the ball into your chest and run.
- Get up when the sun rises and you won't waste a minute of the day.
- Crystal meth, craic cocaine and heroin are NOT recreational drugs - stay away! ("I was just in shock he even knew what those drugs were!")
- Never be afraid of anything or anyone
- The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
- Keep jigging away and keep your wrists loose ("With reference to a fishing rod of course!")
- You've made your bed, now you can lie in it.
- Ah sure it will be alright.
Is there a particular piece of Dad-advice that you will always remember? Please share it with LifeAfterBlue below or on Facebook.
2. Get some painting done
3. Chalk on the pavement
4. Make daisy chains
6. Take those bicycles further afield
7. Sand or Water Play
8. Turn them into photographers
9. Sunny Science
"I find my happiness where the sun shines."
What better way to catch a glimpse into a toddler's psyche than just asking the questions!
Lola Rose is in the hot seat making some tough decisions...
1. What takes out red wine stain?
2. Flap, flap, wiggle, wiggle
3. Examples of irony
4. What does slapped cheek look like on a four year old?
5. What are the lyrics of Gangnam Style?
6. Who is calling me on 012107***
7. Jamie Oliver Paella
8. What are the best instagram accounts?
9. Are Spencer Matthews and Vogue Williams engaged?
10. PJ Masks face paint image
11. Nikki and Jamie Don't Tell the Bride
12. Are the Spice Girls having a reunion?
13. Mom needs a drink meme
14. Cheap spas in Dublin
15. Who is calling me from 012108***?
16. What do spots on your chin mean?
17. Pop songs about chips
18. What age is Philip Schofield?
19. What age is Holly Willoughby?
20. What is the average temperature for a toddler?
Taking inspiration from my previous post, I set up a little heart hunt for Lola and Sadie to add some excitement to Valentine's Day - a simple, easy to set up, activity which saw lots of smiles, fun and muddy bottoms (the last part was just Sadie, she's still a bit wobbly!) Here is what I did...
What you need
- Red card
- Tape / Blue Tac
- Basket / Little trailer (to collect the hearts)
What to do
This would be a good activity to do for a birthday party also - Happy Hunting!!!
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Motherhood | Me