Parenting – the most difficult job in the world?


I am  a bit of a ‘netmums’ addict.   Today they launched their REAL Parenting campaign, recognising that we should all stop trying to be a ‘perfect’ parent and to relax and do the best we can in our own situation.

As all parents know , raising children is full of ups and downs.  There is nothing more wonderful than watching your child grow and acquire new skills, they make you proud in so many ways.  With all the joy and love that children give they also take from you a great deal.  They take your independence, sleep, money,time, energy, appearance to name but a few.  So why not be realistic and honest for a change – parenthood can be great but its also damned hard work and if we strive to be perfect parents won’t we always leave a little of ourselves behind?

My attitudes to parenting have changed a lot in the past 7 years.  When my eldest daughter was born I had high expectations of the type of parent I would be. We used real nappies, had home made  baby food and no sweets much before the age of 2, she was exclusively breast fed for 8 months and followed a strict routine.  As an early years teacher I was keen to involve her in lots of creative messy activities , it was rare that you would leave our dining table without bits of glitter stuck to your clothes and she only watched television if I sat with her and we talked about it together.

My 2nd child followed a slightly less strict routine, was weaned on finger food because she wasn’t interested in my healthy mush and developed a penchant for ice-cream.  She has therefore had sweet things from little after 6 months of age.  She watches television with her sister and ‘Charlie and Lola’ is the perfect vehicle for keeping her occupied when you want to get on with things. She is in disposable nappies by the age of 2 and rarely paints, glues or plays with dough and clay.

My 3rd wears a mix of disposable and real nappies, has been introduced to one formula feed a day by 3 months old, and has fallen into a pattern of co-sleeping.

With the first 2 children I didn’t return to work until they were almost 2 year old and was happy to stay at home. This time I’m really looking forward to going back into the adult world again and building a  life for myself.  Does this make me a worse mother?  I doubt it , surely a happy and fulfilled person will be best equipped to raise happy and fulfilled children.

My attitudes to parenting have changed , I feel a more relaxed parent (as much as one can be when juggling 3 small children) and have come to the conclusion that if you pressurize yourself too much about how you should behave as a parent , then somehow you lose a part of you. When all concept of who you were before has gone everything suffers, relationships break down, self esteem crumbles and you find yourself talking about the price of nappies and which level of spelling your child is on.

Give yourself a break, we are good parents, our kids will be fine if we instil in them basic values , love them and listen to them.  Don’t give up everything for them , look after yourself or what will be left of you when they are gone?


5 thoughts on “Parenting – the most difficult job in the world?”

  1. Hi,
    Well said, I couldn’t agree more. I once confessed to my best friend I had found it quite a sacrifice to have a child. This rather shocked me, as somehow I hadn’t really voiced that before. From the start I have felt really responsible for him, making sure he would get what he needs, often disregarding what I need. Surely I can take a shower a bit later if he needs a breastfeed now…or wait, let’s just skip the shower altogether etc. My best friend didn’t really recognise this. She felt having children hadn’t changed her that much, just added new, mostly fun and interesting things. Reflecting on our chat I realised how always looking for what was best for him, had put me in second place way too much. I recalled the person I had been before being married: always on the go, either away with friends or at someone else’s place, off to hiking weekends, rock-climbing trips or just going out for dinner, staying up late for a deep chat and of course, work to get some sort of career of the ground in an area I liked. Now I am home most evenings, go for country walks (just with the 3 of us), work on my own from home (as couldnt’ find a suitable part-time job). When my son is not around at weekends I struggle to find something to do as I have no hobbies left. Not much left of the person I was. You are sooooo right. I have started changing it now. I am working hard to build up a social life, have more regular babysitters and just generally give myself more time (allocated space!) to wonder what it is I (ME) would like to be doing. And it really is working…and what a relief too. I really had no idea to what extend I had lost myself in focussing on my mother-duties. Thanks for this. Inge


  2. This is so true, I am basically half or less of the woman I was. I used to be so independent, I was exercising every day, now just 2 days, and this is not every week. I came back to work full time and my husband and I find it now extremely difficult. My baby is sick from nursery every two weeks or so, we have to ask for holidays, unpaid leave, emergency leave to looking after her. Its really hard when is not family around, and thank god my husband is very supportive, if not I will be completely off the rails!! Sometimes its just too much. What its funny is that everyone ask about your baby, but let’s be real your baby will be well look after all the time, its us who need a hand sometimes, my friends always tell me how happy is my baby, of course she is happy she has all the care, but what about us? I got the impression I am running the London Marathon everyday which is not good!! Hopefully it will get better, but yes, babysitters work, so me and my husband can look at each other faces and realize that we are getting old, and we need to enjoy each other company much more.


    1. I’m so glad that people are compelled to share their stories. Is it any wonder that so many relationships fail when the children are young when we feel this way about ourselves. I agree that not having family near by to help out is a big factor.
      I suppose the basis of a strong family is feeling both that the self is important and that we are important to each other.


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