It’s been a long day. You’re tired, you’re fed-up, and you could happily curl into a tiny ball and rock back and forth muttering. The last thing you feel like doing is cooking a healthy meal, or entertaining your tot, or undergoing some rigorous housework.
Think of the theme tune from Friends, “You lost your job, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA.” Hey, even when you’re married the last bit can count if you’ve bitten your other half’s head off just because they said good morning.
So, your day has been crazy , your tot is driving you nuts and you decide to throw caution to the winds and just give them whatever they want. Have you ever just handed over an ice-cream for lunch? Used the TV as a babysitter? I commanded our PlayPennies mums to make their confessions and here are some corkers...
“The phone rang while my son, Jack, was on the toilet one day so I ran to answer it,” confessed Sarah, “I came back 20 minutes later to find him fast asleep with his bum still hanging over the pan. I completely forgot my son!”
Sarah’s confession made us all laugh. I have to admit that even writing it made me laugh. However, a sleep deprived parent is going to end up forgetting all sorts of things. One mum I know went to the shops, did all her shopping and wandered home without her baby in the pram. Her panic was heartbreaking, but fortunately she was well known in the area and her boy was safe and sound when she got there.
Last year my husband and I had a rare bash at our house, a Halloween party that was just fantastic. Unfortunately, the next day we both had such bad hangovers we could barely move or talk. Our poor daughter had the most boring day of her life. We tried to drum up the energy to feel guilty about sticking her in front of the TV for an entire day, but even that was too much hard work.
“I had spent all night working and had literally only crawled into bed at around 5am,” said Lynley, “My husband was away on business, so I had about half an hour’s sleep before my son woke me up. I was so tired that when he asked me if he could have an iced lolly for breakfast, I gave it to him without thinking.”
“I ran out of breakfast things,” said Shirley, “There was absolutely nothing in the house and I had two hungry kids staring at me in dismay. What did I do? I made them custard. Yes, custard for breakfast.”
It isn’t just forgetting food or kids, though; parents have a tendency to get all sorts of things muddled up when they’re busy/tired/all of the above. One of my favourite stories has to be another of Lynley’s...
“I slept in one morning and realised that we were running horribly late for school,” she said, “I was yelling at him non-stop to hurry up, get dressed, we’ve GOT TO GO NOW, only to arrive at the school gates and find them shut. It was an inset day. He’d been trying to tell me...”
Still feeling bad about that one time you happened to do something that you were positive would bring the Parenting Police crashing into your living room? Well, here are some more.
“My best one wasn’t actually with my own child, it was my best friend’s little boy,” said Kelly, “He was about six months old and I was minding him for the day. I gave him his bottle but hadn’t put the lid on properly and, as I fed him, the top came off and emptied the entire contents over his face.
And I laughed. Hysterically. For about ten minutes. So did his mum when I told her. Now he is ten he is quite amused by the tale too.”
Why am I telling you all of this? Because there are some myths that are worth dispelling. Some things you can get away with from time to time and, to be a calm and relaxed parent, sometimes you have to let things slide. Your child’s brain won’t rot because you let them watch TV all afternoon, their teeth won’t give up and leave because they had custard for breakfast, and (we asked him) they probably won’t remember that you let them fall asleep on the loo.
Parenthood is stressful and if you search for guilt on Google you’ll be amazed at how many articles cover a range of topics on why parents shouldn’t feel guilty. So, while there are always those things that we should avoid doing as best we can, try not to beat yourself up if you make a couple of mistakes here and there.
After all, we’re all still here and I’m sure we’ve all had an ice-cream for breakfast at least once.