The joys of being a working parent.. we have had a super fun day celebrating my daughter’s 4th birthday today.
A month ago full of great intentions, I asked what sort of cake she would like.. she said a rainbow unicorn. I thought (foolishly) – achievable (I’ve never made one…)
I ran out of time to make the cake….
So, after the kids were in bed last night, the night before her birthday party, we made 12 cupcakes because I thought cupcakes were an easier choice than taking a knife and cutting up cake… they cooled overnight and I decorated 5 minutes before her party… pink with smarties. Winning!
This turned into my version of a rainbow unicorn. She loved it.
She didn’t care it wasn’t a unicorn. That she had asked for a rainbow unicorn cake wasn’t even mentioned. She was surrounded by people who love her at a party that was especially for her – in fact, so excited was she about her birthday party that was all for her, she woke me up at 2am and 4.30am to talk about her birthday party.
She got to run and play with her friends in a really great playground. “Happy birthday” was sung in her honour. She blew out candles. And she got to eat pink-iced cake that had “chocolate buttons with colours on them”. Her day was made. She absolutely didn’t care that there was no rainbow unicorn in sight.
Most days with three children come with a multitude of lessons.
The things I have learnt today is:
- Lower the bar of what you think great parenting looks like. Feeling guilty for feeling as though you aren’t living up to that special, invisible standard of what makes a good parent is a waste of time. Who sets that standard anyway? If your kids are clothed, loved, know they are loved, well-fed (and occasionally cereal for dinner falls into the category of well-fed), have a home to live in and are safe from harm, you’re doing an amazing job.
- Accept that there are trade-offs for living the life you choose – whatever the choices you make, there are pay-offs, trade-offs. Some things you will excel at, sometimes. Some things you will be mediocre at, sometimes. Recognise your strengths, outsource your weaknesses if you can – depending what they are. For me, I work full-time doing something I absolutely love, am passionate about and which fulfils me. I also have three small humans to take care of, which means I don’t always have the time to make speculator baked masterpieces for birthdays, no matter how much time there seems to be before the event. Working, spending time with my kids and maintaining my sanity (I mean, fitness) are my priorities (in no particular order). Baking is not. For some of the clients I work with, the trade-off for living a life they choose (i.e. a happy life) is leaving a relationship in which they are not happy and generally, there is a financial consequence to that change. That’s a trade-off. And it’s okay. You can recover finances. You can’t always, as easily, recover happiness.
- Be present. Whatever time you do have available to spend with your kids, be there. Take 10 minutes to read a story to them at the end of the day using funny voices. Ask them at dinner what the best part of their day was, and really listen to the reply. Do what works for you. But be there.
It can be easy, as a parent, to fall into a trap of feeling you need to live up to some special, invisible standard of what makes a good parent.
Don’t compete. Just don’t. Try and be the best version of yourself for your kids. Have fun with them. Put the phone done (unless you’re taking photos!).
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a lot of fun. There are amazing playgrounds for parties (free entertainment!). Sausages make a great party food. Cakes made from scratch are relatively inexpensive and kids love to take part in making them.
As you head into another week of juggling too many things, remember you’re doing your best! Be kind to yourself.