Parenting: My 5 Biggest Mum Guilts

mum guilt parenting

If you’re reading this post thinking that I’m about to reveal five one-off occurrences that made me feel really guilty – sort of like a confessional – then think again. This isn’t a “come clean” session that will absolve me of my past behaviour and allow me to continue Mumming with a clear conscience; these are things that I feel guilty about on an almost constant basis. Repeat offences. Serial guilts.

Although the fact that I keep on doing them must mean that I don’t feel all that guilty…it’s just a perpetual, underlying niggle – things that I know I should (and could) change, but simply don’t have the energy and/or willpower. Here goes – please add your own biggest Mum (or Dad) guilts in the comments section below!

parenting guilts

TV

I always thought that I’d be the sort of parent who would find interesting things for my child to do, every single minute of the day. Bored after lunch? Let’s make collages from fallen leaves! Need something to stay quiet throughout the mid-morning? Let’s sit with a giant farmyard jigsaw puzzle made from recycled hemp! In fact, let’s recycle hemp!

In truth, I use TV as the ultimate parenting crutch. I hate, hate even talking about this, but in the interests of transparency (and at the risk of getting a zillion annoying comments) I feel as though I have to be honest. There’s TV in the morning, because it’s always so bloody early and we’re never properly awake, and those extra few minutes in bed, even if Dora the Explorer is wittering on like an irritating parrot in the background, are completely necessary. Then there’s TV at breakfast (on the iPad), a spot of TV before nap-time (one Peppa, so not too drastic) and at mealtimes and then before bed. None of these sessions are like the epic Netflix sessions we adults do, but they still make me feel bad. I’m going to try and cut out the mealtime ones, if only because I can’t actually handle sitting there with kids’ TV on when I’m eating. Then it’ll just be a few “downtime” sessions.

People who don’t allow any television: HOW DO YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND? I mean, a) how do you get stuff done and b), don’t you ever just want a sit down with a cup of tea and five minutes of diminished responsibility, whilst your child is in the capable hands of Great Uncle iPad Screen? How do you keep the energy levels up? How do you keep on thinking of ways to amuse for the whole entire day? It’s a bloody long day! Your secrets, please.

7 month baby update

Pouches

My second source of ongoing guilt is what I like to call the Astronaut Diet. Baby food exclusively delivered via the medium of Pouch. Ella’s Kitchen, Piccolo, Babease, whatever you go for, it’s just the most unbelievably convenient invention since sliced bread. Sliced bread, incidentally, seems to be what I frequently “serve” alongside Le Pouch. To be clear, I’m talking about Ted here, who is 9 months old, not Angelica! She eats proper food. Not that pouch isn’t proper food – this week Ted has tried (and rejected) Lamb Stew, Cottage Pie and Vegetable Risotto as well as various fruit and vegetable purées – but I always thought that I’d be there at the hob, slaving away making delicious recipes and then blending them with a stick blender. HA! That’s happened all of once – it was when Angelica was a baby and she refused it for the whole week. The bits I had frozen in stupid bloody effing ice cube trays periodically came out to be defrosted and immediately (and violently) refused. Ella’s Kitchen Spaghetti Bolognese? Went down a treat.

So really, should pouches be a Mum Guilt? I mean, the ingredients seem good, the products are tasty, there’s no salt or added sugar (at least not in the ones I’ve tried) and it probably means that the baby is getting far more variety than I would cook up myself. Are pouches bad? The guilt – for me – comes from the fact that I’m not personally titting around with a blender and a variety of carefully chopped, slow-cooked vegetables. Every time I spoon goop from a pouch and into the baby’s mouth, a small part of me feels disappointed that I haven’t somehow fulfilled my completely unrealistic domestic goddess role, but then I think about all of the things I’ve done instead of the cooking and everything is OK again.

The fact that a pouch habit is ridiculously expensive should not be overlooked, but I can’t say it’s a factor in my Mum Guilt – I rarely drink wine anymore, and I used to spend a hell of a lot more on that!

iPhone

I have the sort of job that never stops, and so I have a constant stream of emails and notifications that come though at pretty much all hours of the day. I have all email and notification sounds off and don’t even get little red flags or whatever they are, but I still have to check intermittently throughout the day. And do you know what, I also have a cheeky check on ASOS, a quick scroll through Instagram and a cursory glance over the latest properties to arrive on the Rightmove app. (Though that’s stopped now as we have a house!)

Now and then I do have a dramatic little breakdown and bang on about how I don’t want the kids to see me check my iPhone ever, and I put it away in a separate room, but it doesn’t last for long. In reality, there are quite a few moments throughout the day when a speedy email check is completely fine, especially if the telly is on (HA!) but still. I try not to do it. In the ideal world, I’d only check it on formal work days, but as I don’t have any of those at the moment until we get another part-time nanny, I have to make do with dirty little stealth-glances. It’s like having an affair, but with an object. Oh, the guilt, the guilt!

Baby Classes

I’ve been absolutely rubbish at taking Angelica to classes of any kind, and Ted has been to a grand total of zero. To be fair, Ted wouldn’t have a clue what was going on, but Angelica loved Tumble Tots and Hartbeeps. We did go to Tumble Tots every week, I suppose, until we moved, but I always thought (again, the fantasy Mum Goddess!) that I’d have a full timetable of fun activities. Swimming on Mondays, archery on Tuesdays, horseriding on Wednesdays and abseiling on Thursdays, etc etc. On Fridays we would freestyle and go to soft play followed by reading the papers together in a coffee shop.

But it was always the biggest faff getting ready for Tumble Tots – we were nearly always late – and quite often, as we made our way around the wooden apparatus and squishy wipe-clean plastic-covered obstacles (imagine the germs on them – the germs!) I would wonder why on earth we didn’t just set up something in the garden. Because we didn’t interact with anyone anyway! Hardly anyone made eye contact, most people looked as though they wanted to lie down on the mats and stare at the ceiling… I once went to a baby play group on a mammoth scale – it was in a huge sports hall with dozens of kids. A woman sat down next to me, sighed and said “I used to have a personality, once.”

parenting guilts

Hatred of the park

Right, I’m going to go there: does anyone else hate going to the park? It fills me with abject horror! Maybe things will change, but at the moment Angelica just doesn’t use the apparatus in any kind of way I find interesting or fun. Rather than hang like a monkey, she touches the bolts on the poles and says “doorbell!”, rather than slide down the slide, she makes patterns in the sand with her shoes. Now it is all very cute, I’m not saying that, but we could do that stuff somewhere else. Somewhere that didn’t require me to stand about like a complete berk, with rain drizzling down the back of my neck and half a gingerbread man clasped in my hands. Doing nothing. Just staring. It must be a bit like what it feels like to be Mariah Carey’s minder or something; you just have to watch out for danger and make sure that your charge doesn’t self-implode.

In my imagination, trips to the park see us cavorting on the swings with the sunshine beating down on us; we take a break to laugh at how Mummy nearly fell over on the pirate ship gangplank, then we hippity-hop up the tyre embankment pretending to be chased by monsters. In reality, I stand there, standing, wearing my parka as Angelica disappears into little cubby holes that are too small for me to climb into and then I try to follow her and get mud on my jeans.

I’m sure things will change, but as it stands (and I stand, standing, watching, guarding) I find it really dull. And that makes me feel so guilty. Because she bloody loves it and gets so excited! Maybe soft play would be more interesting. Though I’ve never taken her to soft play (husband’s domain, don’t know how I swung that one, must have been having another baby or something) and so that could just be one more thing on the list…

OK, people, hit me with your guilty things! Go, go, go! If you have nothing to add, then make sure you’ve read my 10 Month baby update here. I feel even more guilty now that I’ve confessed to my guilty things – Angelica, if you’re reading this in the future, I just hate the park, not taking you to the park. Ahem.

 

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63 Comments

  1. Samantha Jae
    December 4, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    I don’t have kids but I feel like these are all honest and normal things that parents do. I would definitely have my kids watch tv in the morning while I drink coffee and have a moment to wake up. When I babysat I too hated the park and found it quite stressful. That is the saddest thing ever about the defeated mum saying she had a personality once. I’m really suprised everyone kept to themselves. I’d figure others mums met they’re best mum friends that way. I think your a great person Ruth don’t feel guilty your a great mum and it’s so lovely that your honest.

  2. Melissa
    December 4, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    I have discovered Netflix (for him). I swore my 22 month old would not watch TV. He didn’t for a long time. Cooking was a nightmare. I have now eased up and he watches it while I cook. Life is easier but I feel like I shouldn’t let him watch it.

  3. Andrea Cunningham
    December 4, 2017 / 9:45 pm

    I do all of the above, we all do! Your human, you need to poop and a jumperoo and telly/iPad allows you go in relative peace, praise peppa!!

    Pouches are life….bairn eats better than us!!

    Your doing grand, have a magnum to celebrate doll 🙂

  4. Lottie
    December 4, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    I hate the park. Hate hate hate it. It’s the worst possible combination of being dull but somewhere I still have to keep my mind alert to check he’s not run into a swarm of bees or something. And I genuinely don’t know what parents did before ipads and the TV. I’d have lost my mind without YouTube kids.

    My other guilt? Using snacks as a form of bribery. Be it to get in the buggy, get ready for nursery, or leave softplay – a goodies oat bar solves all my problems. It just makes me hate myself a little bit…

  5. Una T. Tuna
    December 4, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    I don’t have kids but I was a qausi-nanny once, helping out the upstairs neighbor by picking up her six-year-old after school and then finding ways to entertain this supersonic one-girl energy drain until her mother reappeared five hours later. I thought my boredom at “playing in the park” stemmed from me being the babysitter, not the mother. What mother wouldn’t be charmed by non-stop chanting as Crystal twisted the swing chains tighter and tighter until I was quite sure she’s screw them off the bar? (She was not IN the swing while she did this.) Or kept intoning “LOOK!”, pointing at nothing and I had to fashion some sort of sensible comeback, without having any idea about what she was in fact discussing.
    i didn’t have a TV, so my default entertainment strategy was to bring her to Wendy’s, cuz she LOVED their chicken tenders. Then back home to let her have a go at my cats. Even they couldn’t keep up with her! I learned a lot about parenting on that playground!!

  6. Icedsilhouette
    December 4, 2017 / 9:59 pm

    Oh God the guilt…
    My biggest guilt is working. I’m back full time at work and barely surviving trying to be both mum and teacher. I’m never doing enough.

  7. Denise Barnatt
    December 4, 2017 / 10:01 pm

    You are so funny, I love reading your updates, your comparisons between real life and fantasy life are all spot on.

  8. Libby
    December 4, 2017 / 10:03 pm

    I’m with you on the pouch guilt! We tried to do baby led weaning but my baby wouldn’t lead! As for the tv, she’s 11months and hardly ever watches it, which is not a testament to my excellent parenting but to her preference to sit and play quietly with her toys for hours on end! Don’t mind me, I’ll be hiding in the corner on my phone, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  9. Laura
    December 4, 2017 / 10:09 pm

    Haha I love all of these, hilariously true. I’m with you on the astronaut diet. I confess I tell people that my Ella’s pouches are ‘so handy for when you’re on the road’ but in actual fact they are a mainstay. After a few episodes carefully steaming and pureeing various vegetables only to have just a few mouthfuls eaten, I gave in! I’ll also add in TV, my baby is too young to do anything other than gaze at the colours but every evening I lash it on for a while so I can get started on dinner while it distracts him. Pre-baby me would have sworn that I would never have done this, and would 100% be making all baby’s meals from scratch! Baby classes on the other hand I have found brilliant for meeting people. I’ve met tons of mum friends at breastfeeding groups, yoga and baby play classes….having these new friends to talk baby stuff with has been a life saver!

  10. Susan Webster
    December 4, 2017 / 10:10 pm

    Ruth you just made my day. Currently have an 11 week old and a two year old. Tv is my saviour that and treats.. Never thought id give my toddler a biscuit just to bribe him into the car/ high chair/ put shoes on etc!

  11. JENNIFER WILSON
    December 4, 2017 / 10:12 pm

    i needed this today – currently weaning 6 month old, we HAVE to have TELETUBBIES on full blast, as she is now afraid of the blender.

  12. Seso
    December 4, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    Scrolling through Instagram is my guilt, definitely 😉 But about that tv- I have a 18-month old son. He was sick a month ago and we were stuck at home for 2 weeks ( I love park, staying at home for the whole day makes me insane). So out of boredom I let him watch some kid songs on YouTube- first it was one-two, and out of nowhere he wants more and more and more… It made me panic, he was addicted just like that, in few days. So no, we went through detox 😉 and now, when I want something done, he can really play alone with something else- books, animal figures, toys. He can find anything interesting, really, he doesn’t need THAT much we grown-ups think kids need.

  13. Leslie
    December 4, 2017 / 10:21 pm

    I’m reading this on my phone while my 3-year-old eats an applesauce pouch and watches Daniel Tiger on TV. No further explanation needed, right?

  14. Esther
    December 4, 2017 / 10:58 pm

    You are definitely not alone, tv and mobile phone are big ones for me too! I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  15. Aideen
    December 4, 2017 / 10:58 pm

    The BEST thing I’ve read about parenting in a long time. I feel the exact same about tv, park and phone. I hate hate hate that they see me on my phone. I try to remember what I saw my mum doing when I was a child and honestly have no image of her doing anything in particular ….. so maybe they won’t remember mummy always on her bloody phone. Fingers crossed. I also hate how little interest I have in getting out the arts and craft stuff considering I love art myself. Mother guilts a killer. Great post though Ruth x ps please do a house tour your front door looks amazing

  16. Anna
    December 5, 2017 / 12:05 am

    I EFFING HATE BATH TIME.
    There I said it. Cleaning the tub before hand, chasing them around naked, wiping up all the puddles, the horror that is having to wash and rinse their hair (with mine you’d think I used acid instead of bleeding burts bees that costs a fortune) having to change my wet pj’s, chasing them around naked again but this time with baby oil all over your hands, then, oh god, drying and brushing their hair.

    • Amy
      December 6, 2017 / 9:33 am

      I hate bath time too! And yes, the hair washing, sweet Jesus, I limit it to once a week no matter how cruddy her hair is. The other thing is she won’t take her bath with her dad, it always has to be me. “No papa! Mama!” (pushing daddy away) We started out with me giving the bath, I being the one “taught” how to do it in the hospital by the chain-smoking night nurse (I live in France, I had to “pass” a test run after being shown how, seriously) and husband being wary of the tiny slippery thing. Fast forward 23 months and I’m sitting there while she conducts battles with her ducks and fish, drinks her bath water, and just waiting for her to finish… Bit like Park Boredom except I’m staring at grubby tiles and get to be relatively warm instead of freezing.

  17. Carrie
    December 5, 2017 / 12:12 am

    100% agreed on them all!!! But your right I feel guilty but can’t be that guilty as we still do them all haha

  18. Poorani
    December 5, 2017 / 3:17 am

    I am guilty of these things. I wouldn’t mind taking my son to the park if I had company but I don’t. Winter is an excuse to not feel guilty about going to the park. Once she starts school or preschool , her TV time will drop and she will be more interested in playing with friends. Even now my son watches an hour a day except on weekends when he can watch a movie. In my mind watching rhymes is educational and better than cartoons. This might still be bad but I don’t know what to do. You can also play board games as she gets a little older.

    I feel bad about how addicted I am to my iPad but I haven’t changed. I need to set a couple of hours a day for browsing , stick to it and read more books in his presence. Being at home without a job has only made me lazy especially since he started school. I need to do something to feel more active – study or work.

  19. Amy
    December 5, 2017 / 4:10 am

    I love you for writing this post. I only have one toddler and I’m guilty of all of these. And my toddler still eats those pouches because it’s the only bloody way I can get her to eat a vegetable other than corn! She literally walks around the house saying, “poooooouch?” A year and a half of those pouches =

  20. Shannon
    December 5, 2017 / 5:03 am

    The ‘hormone’ released after childbirth……GUILT. It happens to all of us who set ourselves up with impossible goals. Remember, you are a mom who loves your children and life. You can’t give up one for the other. Years later the kids won’t remember any of it except knowing that their parents love them. Give yourself a free pass and know you are doing it right. Healthy happy momma=healthy happy kids.

  21. Maria
    December 5, 2017 / 9:01 am

    We do the TV lots too and I’m on my phone right now! While my son is watching TV har har har. I also do the pouches more often than not because isn’t it just soul destroying when you try to batch cook something perfect for them and store 56 portions in the freezer only for them to hate it every single time?
    I have an almost 2 yr old and a 7 month old. I do whatever I need to do to get through the day! Luckily I enjoy the park and go for lots of walks else I’d be completely bonkers by now.
    We do a great job guys don’t worry!!!

  22. Rach in Oz
    December 5, 2017 / 9:06 am

    Gosh, I could have written this Ruth. I’m very glad you did – makes me feel better that I’m not alone! SO much guilt over the tv. But I’m very heavily pregnant with #2 and without my Peppa/Teletubbies/In the Night Garden breaks, I’d be STRUGGLING. And we’d never eat anything because tv is the only way I can get any cooking done!

  23. December 5, 2017 / 9:40 am

    Yes. All of it. Sugar too, I have the sugar guilt. No, she doesn’t eat crudités. Or any vegetables except peas. But can spot a Percy Pig at 10 paces. The shame.

  24. Sarah
    December 5, 2017 / 9:51 am

    My boys are now 16 and 22! I hated the park with a passion … just so boring but definitely better in the summer …. used to sometimes take a bottle of wine to share with other mums after school pick up in the park (what the hell did that look like??!!). They were about ten at this time and off exploring not in buggies! As if that makes it any better ha ha! Also used to pay them not to have birthday parties!!! Oh my god I sound like the worst mother ever …. you’re all doing brilliantly … they won’t remember anyway! Well mine do about the birthday parties but at the time they thought it was brilliant !

  25. Becky
    December 5, 2017 / 9:54 am

    Thanks for posting this, I needed to hear this today! I have a two year old and a newborn and my toddler spends so much time on kids YouTube. To be fair it’s taught him numbers, songs and colours- all the things I should have helped- but any activities I try to do with him last 15/20 minutes and it’s too cold for the baby (who wants to be permanently attached to me) to go to the park all day long so the tablet it is…

  26. Sarah
    December 5, 2017 / 10:16 am

    I love your honest posts! They really make me chuckle!
    I don’t have children yet. But, I visited some friends this weekend who have a 3 year old girl and a 1 year old boy. They don’t have a TV in their house so their children haven’t ever had television per se. They are allowed to watch a couple of episodes of “Operation Ouch”, “Hey Duggee” & “The animated tales of Beatrix Potter” on the iPad. But apart from that, they just play dens and read books and do puzzles. I am amazed at what happy and contented children they are. Don’t get me wrong, the 1(nearly 2) year old boy is a handful but he is easily distracted by a good lift-the-flap book!
    I don’t know how my friends do it!

  27. Anna
    December 5, 2017 / 10:45 am

    My three-year-old daughter just eats “beige food” – bread, porridge, pasta, cheese, yogurt, eggs. Even though she’s in good healthy it makes me feel guilty that I can’t seem to tempt her with any red or green healthy food (even fun things like strawberries!). The more I push it, the more she resists….

    Ruth, as for the park I was always outside (even during winter) as my girl is so energetic. But now she’s at pre-school she’s too tired and welcomes having some downtime when she’s at home. Finally we can do things like read books and do stickers (I really recommend sticker books! Get house decorating ones which you might enjoy too and are less messy than collages and painting 🙂

    Well done for being honest! We need honesty regarding so we can empathise and help each other!

  28. Anna
    December 5, 2017 / 10:46 am

    My three-year-old daughter just eats “beige food” – bread, porridge, pasta, cheese, yogurt, eggs. Even though she’s in good healthy it makes me feel guilty that I can’t seem to tempt her with any red or green healthy food (even fun things like strawberries!). The more I push it, the more she resists….

    Ruth, as for the park I was always outside (even during winter) as my girl is so energetic. But now she’s at pre-school she’s too tired and welcomes having some downtime when she’s at home. Finally we can do things like read books and do stickers (I really recommend sticker books! Get house decorating ones which you might enjoy too and are less messy than collages and painting 🙂

    Well done for being honest! We need honesty regarding motherhood so we can empathise and help each other 🙂

  29. Claire
    December 5, 2017 / 10:52 am

    I have a 3&5 year old. I thought I’d serve only organic homemade fair but alas my 3 year old will eat nothing and I mean nothing but junk. If it isn’t packaged or frozen or laced with sugar he will refuse to eat. For days until he gets ill with a cold or virus. So I have just given in for now and give him nuggets, waffles, beans, hotdogs etc followed by biscuits and sweets for snacks. Now and again he will eat some strawberries. I feel awful about it but I just need him to eat. Those who say he’ll eat when he’s hungry must have the will of a saint and compliant children? Not stubborn willful and downright combative ones.

  30. Ro
    December 5, 2017 / 11:06 am

    I am guilty of some of these (baby too young for park and soft play!). Mr Tumble currently allows me to eat breakfast in peace and come to properly in the morning! Pouches are even too much effort for me, I’m planning to do baby led weaning so I don’t have to sit and spoon feed. He can eat what we eat and I figure I spend enough time feeding him via boob I don’t want to add to it the dogs will clear up what goes on the floor ☺️

  31. December 5, 2017 / 11:35 am

    Playgrounds and parks are the bane of my existence. Yes, it get´s better when they are a little older, but still, the time you spend there in the cold, just waiting for minutes to pass…
    I am one of the parents that survives without tv, and yes, it is damn hard. Before the kids were born we agreed on no tv before the age of three as the kids brain is not capable to really process movies before that age. I´m a doctor and these are the things you pick up along the way and remember for later: TV at an early age is one of the (many, agreed) risk factors for developing ADHS. That knowledge helps me through the minutes where I wish I just had ONE MINUTE to drink tea in peace while it is hot. Now that my daughter is almost four, we allow her 20 minutes of kids tv a day while our son (almost two) is napping ad I have to say these 20 minutes are pure bliss.
    Please note that I am not saying that to judge, it is just the way we do it and it helps that both kids are in day care, so I only have them for a full day at the Weekends. Which is, as you can probably imagine, the biggest source of mum guilt for me. The fact that the majority of their days throughout the week they are looked after by someone else, not by me.

  32. Natasha
    December 5, 2017 / 12:00 pm

    O so honest!!!!

    There are so many things I can relate to! So many. In my mind’s eye, I would be a crafty,earth mothery type of person that would work as my kids play by my feet. We would paint and bake cookies and eat healthy.
    Forward 8 years… My kids are now 8 and 5. I hate cooking, can’t bake and don’t want my kids by my feet. And it is such a mission to pull out crafty stuff after a long day.
    But…. It also does get better. Yes, they watch TV (they know Netflix better than me), but there are awesome programs. Peppa Pig at least teaches them Brittish English(only the little one wants to watch this one…que lots of bickering …). And there’s a program called Odd Squad that teaches them maths and other odd bits on the sly.
    On quiet TV substitutes:
    Those water paint pallets can be operated by children. They still ruin the paintbrushes. o.. and some advise: Buy two. They will fight about who made a mess and bla bla bla.
    My eldest likes to read – no really – he loves it. The youngest loves lego. My point is. It really really does get better. And pouch guilt? Screw pouch guilt. You are feeding them healthy food. Would you rather spend your spare time in front of the stove? Or reading them a story. If you feel you MUST make something from scratch…. (Just don’t. Haha) , buy the ready peeled and chopped veggies.

    But after all. If you feel refreshed after having a quiet (warm) cup of coffee, you will be a way better mom than going through the motions of what is ‘expected’, but being tired and irritated. My friend recently introduced me to ‘mom so hard’ on you tube. LMAO. They are soooo relatable and make you feel less judges and isolated.

    • Natasha
      December 5, 2017 / 12:05 pm

      o bloody hell. *palettes

  33. Natasha
    December 5, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    *judged (typing error)

  34. Kerry
    December 5, 2017 / 12:34 pm

    My daughter is 2 and she goes on the iPad or watches tv whenever she wants. No guilt! Maybe I would feel bad about it if she was happy to sit there all day but she colours, gets her books out, plays with all of her toys still. YouTube kids is great she knows all her colours, numbers from 1-12 and she can almost do the entire alphabet, just some of the things it’s helped her along with!

  35. Louise McKechnie
    December 5, 2017 / 1:11 pm

    I do EVERY SINGLE ONE of those things you mentioned! Or, at least, I did – both kids now on proper food (this always happens, from what I can tell, regardless of how many pouches you fed them as tots (a shit load in my case!). Both my boys hated baby groups – they much preferred playing at home or having their little mates over to play (MAX of two extras at a time when they’re under 3!!), so we really didn’t/don’t do very many of those at all. In fact, my youngest (3) has recently declared that he “hates” messy play, which the last group we were clinging on to, so that one’s now out the window too. For what it’s worth, things on the “stuff to do” front massively improve, without you having to really think about anything, when your older child/children go to school. You then have to drag your littler one(s) around to an absolute shed-load of events/school plays/summer fetes/book fairs/cake sales etc etc ad infinitum. As an example, this morning it was my seven year old’s school “Christingle” service at the local church – so the three year old was able to dick about in the church kids play area whilst the service went on, then eat all the refreshments/drink all the squash. Then we walked with husband/Dad (doing his bit of school duty for the season) to the train station so he could go to work, we looked at the trains (3 year old boys seem to enjoy this), got a coffee in Pret A Manger (me, not him – he had crisps – Ella’s pouch doesn’t seem so bad now does it!!?!), then got the bus home sitting on the top deck. Home for lunch, nap, job done! When he wakes up, we have to do the school run, which is another “activity” when you’re 3! So, I guess what I’m saying is, we all do what we need to do to get through, don’t feel (too) guilty, you’re sure to be doing an amazing job, and things do get easier on this front as they get older. But as a good friend of mine with 3 teenagers likes to say “small children, small problems – big children, big problems”!!! More guilt to come I think (and joy obvs)!! GOOD LUCK, and can’t wait to see more of the new house xx

  36. Rida
    December 5, 2017 / 1:24 pm

    Hahaha can relate to most of them. I don’t let my 10 month old watch tv but only because i have very poor eyesight and i don’t want to make it worse for him. But can’t guarantee anything as baby number 2 arrives in less than 8 months. How did you cope with 2 under 2!!!!!

  37. Louisa
    December 5, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    Great read. I think these are common guilts, you need to do whatever keeps you sane! I used to love soft play with my first as we found one with Starbucks coffee! Now with a 7 month old I don’t take her at all these days. Oldest is now 4 and half and to be honest I used to stick on the tv as some days as she just wouldn’t stop talking! In my defence I always read her a bedtime story from the age of 6 months as my mum never did but vividly remember my nan reading to me whenever I stayed over and I loved it!

  38. Louisa
    December 5, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    Great read. I think these are common guilts, you need to do whatever keeps you sane! I used to love soft play with my first as we found one with Starbucks coffee! Now with a 7 month old I don’t take her at all these days. Oldest is now 4 and half and to be honest I used to stick on the tv some days as she just wouldn’t stop talking! In my defence I always read her a bedtime story from the age of 6 months as my mum never did but vividly remember my nan reading to me whenever I stayed over and I loved it!

  39. Vicky
    December 5, 2017 / 2:00 pm

    Ruth, I too do all of the above! And Iam forever feeling guilty! Last weekend was so full on I had a poorly very clingy one year old and decided not to do my elder children’s homework, I couldn’t be arsed quite frankly! So I had a bit of a “you’re a terrible mother” episode and we rushed the homework this morning which was an awful
    Idea as through all the panic and stress I told my son his writing was just terrible and scruffy! His poor little face he looked distraught! So out of guilt I have him extra biscuits in the car in the way to school! Must stop dishing out the biscuits too…. oh and I sometimes sneak upstairs and hide for twenty minutes, until one of them finds me!

  40. Erin
    December 5, 2017 / 2:30 pm

    Please don’t beat yourself up Ruth! I remember when I was pregnant with my first (I have a 2 and a 4 year old–it does get easier, believe me!) that my father told me—in reference to the female surgeons he worked with—“women seem to have guilt that men don’t—don’t fall into that trap.” Making the pressure we put on ourselves (and what society tells us what makes a “good” mother) a feminist issue has really helped me deal with my guilt…though I am a work in progress.
    Of course, I am sure that fathers feel guilty sometimes too, but I don’t think that it is quite the same—my husband never felt bad when he fed our kids an Ella’s Kitchen pouch (yippee for those pouches!), whereas I felt I ought to be making things from scratch (which I hardly ever did anyways).
    This being said, I think it helps to look at yourself in the way your best/kindest friend would—would they get on your case because you let your kids watch Peppa Pig while you were trying to get their breakfast or dinner together, or because you have a big deadline and have to write an email? Of course not! Would they criticize you because you really didn’t want to get the playdough out (because the 2 year old still tries to eat it!), and placated them with some (less edible) colored pencils, instead of making a collage from found objects in the yard? I would hope not.
    Finally, regarding the playground—I don’t hate being there (it helps that I don’t have to hover quite as much as before because my 2 year old son tends to stick with his (very careful) 4 year old sister), but all the stuff I need to bring with us does make me crazy (heaven help you if you forget wipes, water, or a granola bar!).

  41. Agnese
    December 5, 2017 / 2:30 pm

    I think you might enjoy a book called Simplicity parenting, it sheds a light on the fact that babies don’t actually need 101 toys or countless activities and thus you as a parent can feel so much better for not taking the kids to ballet lessons one day and arts and crafts the other.

  42. Kay
    December 5, 2017 / 4:40 pm

    Sooo… I am “guilty” of all these things, but excepting the phone (which I really am trying to stop, she says, typing while breastfeeding) and the park (which I hate hate hate but would never let on) I don’t *feel* guilty.

    This is why… I once asked my husband how he truly felt about all the pouch in our lives with our first child and he looked bewildered. “Why? Should I mind? Aren’t they organic?? She likes them…”. It just hadn’t crossed his mind – they were just baby food and she was a baby. Once they’re bigger obviously you make their food, but when they just eat (throw/spit out) mush… well, buy the mush if you’re fortunate enough to be able to.

    Same with TV. Having 2 very small children is HARD. You gotta do what you need to do to get through the day. And anyway, it is somewhat good for langauge (my 2 yr old has got into old Disney films and keeps saying things like “i should like some jam with my toast today please” ).

    Anyway, my overall point is this. I am assuming Mr AMR loves the children just as much as you do, and cares just as deeply about their wellbeing. And yet I’d bet quite a bit he doesn’t feel guilty about these things. Or at least not very guilty. So maybe… you (and all mums really) give yourself a break. You’re doing amazingly.

    P.s. all baby classes are shite. True fact. Spend the money on the pouches.

  43. Abi
    December 5, 2017 / 5:04 pm

    I agree with all the above, especially TV. I hate that I put my 2 and half year old in front of it constantly. Or at least it feels like I do. Before I had my twins (now 13 months) we NEVER watched Tv and I made an effort to constantly engage with my son. After the twins it’s become my go to activity as I’m just so tired all the time. My mum tells me not to worry, it’s just a phase and it’ll get easier. And they do learn things from the TV I guess. And they’re more independent if they’re not having activities thrust on them the whole time. More imaginative. Or at least that’s what I tell myself!!

    My top survival tip is find a local baby group and try to make sure you get to it every week. That way you’ll feel like you’re achieving something. It’s made my life a lot easier.

  44. Nina
    December 5, 2017 / 5:10 pm

    We were all the best parents in the world before we actually became parents. The reality is very different. My sister and I often refer to our amazing, know it all pre-parent state and roll on the floor laughing at how naive we were. All I can say is just wait until you get the the Lego stage, man that’s a whole load of slam your head in the door fun!

  45. Rachel Stott
    December 5, 2017 / 7:02 pm

    I feel like you’re just a mom. Lol. I had tons of guilt over letting my kids watch tv. I would like to say my oldest never watched tv. But she did. And once it’s on the littler ones can’t just wear blinders all day. So I mean it happened.
    When I worked I worked over night literally while my kids were asleep and would sleep when they slept. Granted I only had 1 at the time so it was easier to get sleep. But still I was upset when I had to leave and go in. Like I was failing as a mother because I wanted to go to work. Even though she literally never knew I was gone.
    So I mean. You just sound like a mom who’s trying to make it work. However you can.

  46. Annie
    December 5, 2017 / 11:09 pm

    TV. My 2 year old worships at the altar of Elmo. I have basically just told myself that it is ok and we read enough books and are in five different play groups that her brain isn’t rotting…

    Also, she hasn’t eaten a vegetable in six months.

  47. Grace
    December 6, 2017 / 12:05 am

    Thank you! I laughed so hard (with you) because I recall ….. you should really put these in book form.
    Seriously, I love your writing. So relatable yet well phrased. xo Congrats on the homestead,too.

  48. Meg
    December 6, 2017 / 2:19 am

    Oh god Mum guilt….

    * I’ve yelled (and swore) at my beautiful perfect 4month old little boy.
    * I don’t do the ‘baby classes’…
    * I have him in the baby bjorn bouncer probably a little too often during the day because I just need to freaking chill. (He’s a shocking cat napper so down time is nearly non-existant).

    And the list goes on…

  49. Else
    December 6, 2017 / 6:39 am

    So I don’t have kids…but my mom was a working mom, and although I don’t remember what happened before 3 years old, there was a fair amount of TV involved after. There was TV first thing in the morning while the house was asleep I was usually the first awake and quickly figured out how to switch it on. There was TV at lunch time and TV again at teatime (not the british tea time which is basically dinner/supper, just tea and biscuits) and don’t get me started on the holidays. I remember watching TV for hours and hours on end. So…whilst this is not the best testament to my parent’s parenting skills… I am a functional adult, who was not intellectually compromised by the vast amounts of TV I watched, and I love reading, gardening, etc. and I do many other things than watch TV.

  50. Gemma
    December 6, 2017 / 6:55 am

    Spot on as usual Crilly. I’m a single Mum, full time job, with a nearly 2 year old. My co parent is CBeebies, I’m not joking, it’s on when we’re at home, unless I’ve put Peppa on Netflix. He only ate pouches for the first year, but is a fabulous eater now so it obviously did no harm. My biggest guilt is that… I look forward to Mondays desperately. After two days at home I am desperate for adult company and hot coffee. I really do not know how anyone does more childcare than this, I would literally go insane.

  51. Gaby
    December 6, 2017 / 9:15 am

    Yeah, these could be my mum guilts as well, except I refuse to feel guilty at all!
    TV for my 2y3m old?? Sure! Weekdays – early in the morning whilst preparing for daycare and a must evening session of ‘In the night garden’ on Cbeebies. This really makes everyone’s life easier! Especially evening bed time – she resists less when she sees Makka Pakka & Co going to bed, and gladly follows their example 🙂 I really don’t see what is wrong with a bit of TV time.
    Checking iPhone/iPad in the presence of child? Of course! How on earth I would have things done otherwise? Although I leave visits to ASOS until after her bedtime. Which then makes me wifey-guilty because I surf ASOS rather than having a meaningful conversation with my hubby. Who is most of the time snoozing on the couch occasionally glancing at football game on TV. Scratch it, no guilt there either 😀
    Food? Oh, sure, I was buying empty pouches on Amazon, filling them up with fresh fruit purees mixed with home made yogurt or ricotta and stacking them up in the freezer. That’s the only thing that I am proud of in the food department and my daughter was gladly eating those. I also cooked a lot of things – home made mini meat balls with veggie sauce, wonderful chicken soups, pastas, quiches. About 90% of it had to be thrown away or recycled by my hubby. My daughter was refusing to eat them. In fact, she was also refusing Ella’s pouches or any other baby food. I was so disappointed and sorry for all the wasted time, effort and money. I think it is cheaper to not even bother and go straight for astronaut diet. Now I stopped bothering and I am happy if she eats a handful of biscuits and drinks milk/eats yogurt.
    In general, Ruth, I admire you. I don’t know how you make it through the day with 2 toddlers at home. I am working full time and my daughter attends the kindergarten, and still – I used to hate Mondays before, but now I think Monday is my favorite day of the week. I love my daughter more than anything, we usually have great time during weekends baking cakes together, going for long walks, playing, but I am also so happy to be able to go to the office, wear clean clothes, have a cup of coffee in peace in the mornings (I arrive before everyone else) and do the grown-up stuff. I think, enjoying my job is probably my biggest mum guilt 🙂

  52. Lorna
    December 6, 2017 / 1:52 pm

    Oh yes! I do ALL of these! I can add the over-protectiveness… mrs high anxiety here kept baby and smaller baby confined to 2 adjoining rooms through the day so that older baby wouldn’t maim herself in daddy’s office/climb into the downstairs loo/pull over the coat stand/fall off the bottom step of the stairs. As a result she still wants me to hold her hand on the stairs etc. I’m sure she will manage it by adulthood. And the sugar guilt. And the DVD screens in the car headrests… I could go on and on. But we are in survival mode and as long as we don’t destroy their attention span (I probably have) and rot their teeth (that too and both now point blank refuse the toothbrush… does chewing on a wet face cloth in the bath count as cleaning teeth???) oh my lord parenting is bloody hard. And I arrive at Creche and one girl has 10 toddlers mesmerised with a song and 5 others asleep quietly in the corner. What witchcraft is that?!

  53. Jo.C
    December 6, 2017 / 2:27 pm

    My parent guilt is after school clubs. Every single child in both of my daughters classes does at least two activities, ie ballet, gymnastics, piano lessons, the list goes on. They went to Brownies but that fell through after a year and I really can’t be arsed to sign them up to anything else, especially as the nights are dark early and cold. I just want to get in my pj’s and sleep. Lol

  54. Laura
    December 6, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    I’m sat on the sofa reading this on my phone, the eldest is on the iPad. Them smallest is watching tv…
    I feel no guilt. I NEED a break. And omfg I hate the park. It’s the most boring ‘activity ever. Now, if there was a nice little coffee shop some nice benches etc I maybe wouldn’t mind. But there isn’t. So I have to sit there on a wet bench with a wet arse in the freezing cold whilst my kids are screaming ‘mummmmmy mummmmy loooookkk looking LOOOOOOOKKKK!!!’ Repeatedly.

    I used to feel guilt. I’m passed that now. I think the only guilt I can think of is that the kids seem to have inherited my bad sight. So it’s chunky glasses for both.

  55. Sk
    December 6, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    Putting on five episodes of twirlywoos so I can have a shower is a great guilty thingy. Then yes all of the above. Sick of puréeing things for her to spit out lol. Add also going shopping and eating out with baby to list
    Glad I’m not the only one

  56. Ali
    December 6, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    I don’t know anyone who does no TV. Seriously, never met one of them. I figure as long as we do enough other stuff it doesn’t matter!

    I wish our local park had a coffee stand. The big one further away has one but it’s a 25 minute walk with the pushchair.

  57. Sk
    December 6, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    Plus I used to feel guilt and then my mum said “oh I used to leave you in the playpen for an hour watching Sesame Street every morning” Fair enough lol
    I feel guilty when I row with my husband in front of her too

  58. Lizzclare
    December 6, 2017 / 10:10 pm

    If George wakes up before 7am I put him
    In our bed and he plays CBeebies games on the ipad until half 7 when we get up for breakfast sometimes it’s 8am if his dad has already gone to work. He’s 20 months old and I’m 12 wks pregnant and sick as a dog getting up is very hard. We dont pouch feed him as he now eats chopped up versions of what we have and I do take him to soft play and Mums and tots but the days are painfully low bf when we don’t leave the house.

  59. Elizabeth
    December 7, 2017 / 6:09 pm

    I do absolutely every one of those things (and also WAY overuse the microwave), plus I only see my 2-year old daughter for about 45 minutes a day during the week, because I work about 100 hours a week (that’s only a slight exaggeration). I’m never home at the end of the day, and the 45 minutes we do spend together in the morning are all spent with Curious George yapping away at us in the background so that I can get her dressed for school and out the door without tears. And the guilt about absolutely hating the park (ooooh, I HATE the park) is magnified tenfold, because if I’m actually lucky enough to ever get to the park with her, I feel like I should relish in it!! You are doing more than great, especially because you are doing the number one most important thing for them, which is being there. Even if being there means there’s a TV on and an iPhone in hand, you’re there. And trust me that no mom guilt in the world is as suffocating as that of not even being around.

  60. Laurie
    December 7, 2017 / 7:34 pm

    Oh Ruth, literally every single one of these. You are not alone. Soft play is worse than the park though, don’t do it. It’s now a job exclusively for aunties and uncles and we’ve somehow made them think it’s a lovely thing for them to get to do!

    My additions to this would be:

    1. Teeth. My daughter (23m) is really temperamental with brushing, and if I’ve been at work all day and she throws a tantrum, I’ll often just put her to bed without having done them and bribe her in the morning with a yoghurt for breakfast if she lets me give them a good scrub.

    And

    2. Work. I just work too much. I’m the breadwinner in my house and have a fabulous, high flying career that I’m really proud of, but I get so jealous of all the extra time Mr Laurie gets to spend with our daughter. Come the weekend, I’m so knackered and not as much fun as I’d like to be. I make sure we do lots of lovely things together, but half the time she’d rather stay at home larking about with her toys so it really demotivates me to be bothered to get to the next National Trust location in the list.

    So so so much mum guilt out there. The rational part of our heads tells us it’s nonsense but we all still feel it. Hang in there and just do what you’re doing, because your kids seems great!

  61. Becky
    December 8, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    Oh my life, this is like I’ve written this myself! Ruth, you’ve just summed how I’m feeling in this post. Thank you for reassuring me that it’s ok to feel Mum guilt, and doing the same things as you! You’re amazing xxx

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