As parents all we ever want is to do the best for our children.
We love our children so much that we hold ourselves to dizzyingly high standards, expecting way too much from our parenting efforts.
The trouble is we fail to recognise that we’re actually only human. More importantly than that we miss the point that there is no right way to parent a child.
The word mistake is a little misleading in this headline, because short of dropping your baby down the stairs or leaving them outside overnight, nothing you do with is going to be wrong. We’re all just trying our best!
However there are a few things I wish I had known or done better over the last three years.
So here are the 10 parenting mistakes that I’m guilty of and hope to avoid making in the future.
1. Assuming I’m doing it wrong
No one is more critical of your parenting than you. When my kids won’t eat their dinner, aren’t sleeping through or cry inconsolably I assume it’s something I have done.
The reality is parenting is hard, but it’s not hard because of anything we do. It’s hard because kids are irrational, emotional and c**p at sleeping.
2. Not sleeping at every opportunity
I’ve lost count of the number of times I rushed around cleaning or doing some other chores instead of just getting into bed and closing my eyes.
It really is true what they say, when the baby sleeps you should sleep too. This is particularly good advice in the early weeks when you’re recovering from giving birth.
3. Stressing about routine
I’ve spent many an evening pouring over Internet forums and reading Gina Ford’s Contented Little Baby book to formulate a plan of action for the next day.
I decide when the naps will be, when the feeds will be and when our activities for the day will take place.
This all goes to s**t by 7am the next morning when the baby has just gone back to sleep after being awake since 3am. My advice? Get through it however you can and don’t expect your baby to fit a routine.
Some babies do, some babies don’t. I’ve had one of each.
4. Thinking my baby always cries for a reason
Sometimes babies cry when they’re hungry, tired, cold, hot or have tummy ache.
But sometimes there is no reason and there is nothing you can do about it. I remember spending hours up with both children in the evenings wondering why on earth they were still crying.
I assumed I was the one who had missed the point. I wasn’t feeding her right, I had failed to find the nap window or I wasn’t comforting her properly.
I remember finding this website about Purple Crying and it made me feel a lot better. Crying is awful, upsetting and draining, but it’s normal and not your fault.
5. Rushing to establish three meals a day
I remember reading in one weaning book how I needed to have three meals a day established by seven months.
This made me panic. My baby was barely eating two bites of anything I offered her, how was I supposed to get her to eat three entire meals?
And when did I start dropping bottles if she wasn’t eating properly? I just couldn’t see how it was going to happen.
Finally I read one sentence that made me feel better. “Food is for fun until they’re one.”
After that I didn’t stress the day to day eating, as long as she was getting plenty of milk I relaxed about the solids.
6. Beating myself up
I am my own biggest critic and can dwell for ages on stuff I think I could have done better.
Losing my temper is the biggest one I hate on myself for. When you have two children saying “mummy” or crying for you all day it is very hard to keep a lid on your temper.
Sometimes I snap at my kids to be quiet harsher than I would like. I need to remember I’m only human and let these moments go.
7. Not enjoying the little things
I often worry I haven’t done enough exciting stuff with my kids in the week. Sometimes all we’ve done is walk along the river, gone to the usual parks and play centres or done some baking at home.
The thing is we don’t have the budget to go to Disneyland every week, so I need to learn that actually enjoying the little things is just as important as enjoying a big day out.
My kids can laugh hysterically at a silly game of hide and seek. Sometimes it’s the simplest of games that are a huge hit.
8. Being sold cute things I don’t need
Babies are cute and the stuff shops sell for them are also seriously cute.
It becomes very hard to resist the little babygros with cute slogans or patterns on and the toys that are so soft you can’t put them down.
The thing is babies don’t need much stuff to entertain them in the early months and they grow out of clothes so fast that buying loads of stylish little outfits is like pouring your money down the drain.
Step away from the high street.
9. Not making enough time for us
We certainly won’t be going out every Friday night for quite some time to come. However I often struggle to fit in time, or even just a quick conversation, with my other half.
I would love it if we could squeeze in one night or lunch out a month together from next year.
I’m also guilty of only discussing things relating to parenting and the children even when they’ve gone to bed. Sometimes I need to focus more on us as grown-ups, not just us as parents.
10. Not taking more photographs
I take most of my pictures on my phone these days but I wish I could remember to keep my DSLR camera to hand.
With my second child I’ve definitely taken fewer pictures, mainly because I hardly ever have my hands free when I have both children with me!
I love making family photo albums at the end of the year, so I need to remember to capture as many of the funny, precious and silly moments that I can.
Have you got any parenting mistakes to share? Have you done any of the ones on the list above? I would love to hear from you.