My wife and I are equal partners both in terms of careers and home responsibilities and, as much as possible, we try to split the child caring responsibilities right down the middle.
After a hugely stressful and tumultuous 2018, which included the arrival of my son and the constant wrangling of my highly energetic toddler daughter and a bunch of other things best classified with the hashtag #adulting, I decided enough was enough.
I’m becoming much more comfortable with being a good parent with occasional moments of brilliance. And I’m trying not to beat myself up about the times when I’m just getting through the day.
At first I found it really liberating. Aiming to have a good day, or just a steady day, instead of an action-packed super-duper day, felt good from the moment I stumbled downstairs to make coffee.
I felt less pressure to be a walking entertainment studio for my daughter, and felt good when I squeezed some me-time into the day, rather than tackling the next domestic task.
But the super-parent habits keep creeping back. It’s almost always by stealth, a sub-conscious raid on my mindset. Without actively realising it, I find myself overly-worried about the state of our house, whether our daughter is getting properly stimulated through the different activities we do, whether my ability to settle my four-month old son to sleep is slipping compared to my wife.
I find myself tempted to reach for the phone and google the best way to ‘solve’ these dilemmas. What magic tip will change the way I parent!?!
It’s tempting to believe that if you research widely and diligently enough, you will find the right answer to all your parenting woes and stresses. There is so much content online that promises this nirvana to desperate parents.
In those moments I need to put away my phone and forget about finding a silver bullet.
On the days when I feel I accomplish a lot, I feel better about myself generally but it’s risky to have my sense of self-worth tied to my productivity.
On the days when I’m just getting through, and I’m not ‘achieving’ a lot, I feel frustrated and annoyed. And I have to deliberately pull myself together, take a breathe, relax and remind myself that I’m a born-again ordinary working parent, not a super parent.
Focusing on the simple things in the day does help. Taking time to enjoy my daughter’s uproarious, belly laughter as she races around the house. My son’s heart-melting smiles as he coos, curls and twists. Sitting around eating pizza on the lawn on a Friday night.
These simple happy things remain the best way to counter my pesky super parent urges. I need to ignore the constant flurry of advice whizzing around my mind about what I could do better. I need to take a leap of faith and believe, that all things considered, I’m doing a pretty good job as a parent and that’s enough.