I’m probably not alone when I say that one of the hardest elements of being a parent these days is the amount of Parental Peer-Pressure we are exposed to. Whether it’s cute little Pintrest-worthy sandwiches with slightly creepy faces on them, or craft activities need a small fortune worth of materials not to mention hours of time, it can all get a little much for parents like me.
When I say “parents like me”, I mean the parents who do what is necessary, who do enough, who keep it simple. Parents like me don’t have the time, energy or patience for going to the lengths of those mentioned above.
I do enjoy looking at all the wonderful creations that some websites show and some parents make, they pop up in my news feed and I think “Yes, that’s nice…. but why?”
Who is going to benefit from this? Is it for the child or is it for the parent?
If the child is happy to eat a normal sandwich, then just make a normal sandwich. If he is happy to be given a pile of craft bits and stick them randomly onto a used cereal box, then let him do that. It doesn’t all have to be perfect and Insta-worthy. Give yourself a break. Once they are enjoying what they are eating/doing/ making then surely that’s all that matters?
There is way too much pressure on parents to look like they are making all this effort. And we need to stop fooling ourselves. Yes, great, Jimmy might love a lunch that looks like a hedgehog, but will he even eat this deconstructed ham & cheese masterpiece?
And what else could you have been doing with that time while you tried to make the spikes look more spikey? You could have had a sit down. Or a hot drink. You could have caught up on that social media story that you have been trying to watch since yesterday, and is about to expire.
We also need to give ourselves a break when it comes to being honest about how we are coping. My friends always laugh at my bluntness when it comes to my children, in particular when I’m losing my sh*t! It happens to us all, some more than others, and trying to pretend that it doesn’t is no good for anyone.
No matter how much we love these mini versions of ourselves, they can (and do) drive us to the brink of insanity. This is another area of parenting where the peer-pressure is just too much. People seem afraid to admit that things are hard, that they want out (for a while!) or that sometimes family life is just not as enjoyable as they imagined it would be.
Some days, the bad seems to outweigh the good. Of course it’s not down to the kids, it’s down to us. We are allowed to feel that and we shouldn’t feel pressured into pretending everything is rosy in the garden.
There is so much discussion about mental health nowadays, and this should all be part of it. Being able to admit how you feel, express how you feel, deal with it however necessary, and then moving along. There is no better way to protect your mental health.
Every parent needs to figure out where the line is for them. Sure, go full on into the Pintrest parade if that’s what floats your boat. But my point is that we shouldn’t feel like we need to parent in this way, or that if we choose not to immerse ourselves in these activities, that our children will be losing out, because they won’t.
Teachers and parents spend their time coaching children and young adults not to give in to peer-pressure, not to succumb to doing anything that makes them feel unsafe or out of control. So why do we let ourselves as adults do the same thing?
Peer-pressure among parents is a very real thing, and we need to call time on it. Stand up for yourself and your choices as a parent. Rise above the tide of pressurising content you see online. Unfollow pages that are giving you the guilts as you scroll past, or make you feel like a failure when you attempt their suggestions.
All our children want and need is a parent who is happy, not struggling to keep their head above water in the hope of keeping up with the Jones’… or in our generations’ case… the Kardashians!
Keep it simple. Keep it real.
Do what makes you a happy, present parent.