(This article was first featured in Salisbury Parenting magazine)
Being a ‘modern mum’ is hard work.
Parenting has always been hard, but I think right now is the toughest it has ever been, mainly down to the pressures put on mums by tabloids, social media, and each other.
Mums are expected to raise perfectly behaved children, look amazing 100% of the time, have an immaculate home, climb the career ladder, and generally be superwoman.
A lot of the pressure obviously comes from the tabloids, particularly for making women think that we have to look like supermodels all the time. I Googled ‘baby weight’ and instantly found 10 articles from national newspapers and popular celebrity magazines about various celeb mums who look “amazing” despite only just having given birth. How is any new mum supposed to feel good about their extra weight, stretch marks, messy hair and eye bags when constantly faced with these kind of stories.
On top of this, there are always outraged articles about various celebrity parenting skills (OMG Harper Beckham still has a dummy!) which everyone and their dog seems to have an opinion on.
Social Media Pressure
Whilst we feel a little bit sorry for the celeb mums and the bashing they get for their parenting choices, most of us probably think that their millions and handsome actor/model/footballer husbands make up for the occasional front page rant they’re subjected to. However, any mum who regularly uses social media or any of the online parenting forums will know that it isn’t just the rich and famous who are targeted for not being up to scratch when it comes to raising their offspring.
Before the internet I suppose the only time you would be unlucky enough to face constant criticism over parenting choices was if you were unfortunate enough to have an insensitive know-it-all friend or family member. Nowadays though it seems to be ok for online parenting resources to constantly publish articles pinpointing reasons why you are messing up your child’s life. These range from telling your daughter she is beautiful and dressing her in pink, to cuddling your baby when he cries – and don’t let’s get started on the breast/bottle feeding debates! The comments sections on these articles are usually the worst part, with mums bashing each other because they don’t agree with the way that a woman they have never met is looking after the child they haven’t met either. I wonder how many of us have had a few angry words with a stranger on social media over comments about parenting choices – I know I have.
If you’re sensible enough to just take these articles with a pinch of salt then you might be able to avoid some of the pressure placed on mums online.
Unless you are an avid Facebook or Instagram user. And let’s face it, who isn’t these days.
We all get to the point when all of our friends also have children, and our Facebook and Instagram timelines are full of constant photos of other people’s kids. Happy smiling kids behaving themselves. Lovely clean, well-dressed kids. Kids doing amazing craft projects. Kids making cakes in a kitchen that isn’t a complete pigsty. Kids that look like they have come out of the pages of a catalogue.
And the mummy selfies aren’t much better. Selfies with the caption “I’m soooooo tired” when they have a full face of make-up on and have clearly just come out of the hairdresser’s. Selfies in the mirror with the caption “I feel such a mess today” when there are no chocolate handprints, dribble or sick down their clothes whatsoever, and by the way in the background their bed is made perfectly and there’s no dirty clothes strewn across the floor! These are supposed to be the ‘normal’ mums – where are the kids having tantrums in the middle of the supermarket, the messy houses and the selfie of the mum hiding in the kitchen drinking wine in the early afternoon?!
It’s hard to remember that most people’s social media pages only tell one side of the story, the really good side. Not many mums will put up photos showing that sometimes being a parent is hard work and not much fun – after all we all get criticised enough without it looking like we don’t like our kids!
Good days and bad days
Parenting is tough. We all have bad days, days where we want to hand our kids over to someone else and run away. Even on the good days, where the children have been well behaved (rare, but they do happen sometimes!) we’ve probably spent the day stressing about the state of the house or our weight or hair.
13 Things to remember
But if you can try to remember some of the following, you might be able to get through the day with a little less stress…
- Celebrities are not ‘real’ people. They have personal trainers, make-up artists, personal shoppers, nannies and a lot of money.
- Some women lose baby weight quickly, but most don’t. Looking after your new baby is much more important and rewarding than worrying about losing your mummy tummy right away.
- Sometimes it’s ok to stay in your pyjamas all day. Even for a few days in a row.
- Raise your child however is best for you and your family. No child has been scarred for life because they had a dummy until they started school, were formula fed, or ate chicken nuggets for dinner three times in one week.
- Your child is your child. If anyone, whether online or a friend or family member, thinks you should or shouldn’t be doing something just remind them that this is your baby.
- Every mum has hidden in the kitchen to scoff a chocolate bar or three at some point.
- If you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed and see the title of a parenting article that you think will annoy you, keep on scrolling.
- And if you do succumb to reading the article, avoid the comments section.
- People lie. Not many mums will tell it like it is.
- Social media photos only tell one side of the story. Remember that not many people are brave enough to put up pictures of the worst sides of parenting.
- Filters! If you see a selfie on Facebook or Instagram I can guarantee that the mum who posted it will have use a hundred filters to remove the dark circles, wrinkles and general tiredness from her face before letting the general public see it. There are even apps that can make a normal photo look like it’s come out of a magazine.
- Unfriend anyone on social media who makes you feel like crap, life’s too short!
- Follow Asshole Parents on Instagram and Facebook. These accounts show the worst bits of parenting a small person, and will definitely give you a laugh on a bad day.
Most of all you need to remember that you are doing a great job!