When I posted The New Mum’s F*cket List, lots of mums got in touch saying they still felt like this two, three or eight years on. ‘Is that OK?’ they asked? ‘Hell yeah!’ was my response. But just to make us all feel better, I thought I’d write another list. For the rest of us, ‘not so new’ mums. That we can use until the kids leave home (and maybe even beyond that).
So here are 8 things that (I think) are perfectly reasonable to let go of when you’re raising kids.
Always being on time for stuff. My dad once told me a marvellous saying. ‘You should never be early, because you’re wasting your time and you should never be late, because then you’re wasting someone else’s.’ I’ve always loved this. However since three kids entered my life, I have a new saying. ‘I’ve got kids. And I have no idea if I’ll turn up on time. Or, in fact, at all.’ It’s taken me a while to get my head around the fact that we’re so often late, and not feel bad about it. Because whilst us mums might do everything in our power to be on time, the truth is we have unpredictable small people in our care who frequently screw that up. It’s NOT our fault. It’s not.
Being a good hostess. I always feel slightly apologetic when we invite people over, especially if they don’t have kids. In the privacy of our own home, I know that we are chaotic but there’s something about doing it in front of an audience that REALLY makes you see this. I’ll also never forgive myself for thinking it’s acceptable to ask my guests to do stuff like replace the toilet roll, ‘whilst they’re up there.’ But you know what? It’s entertaining, if nothing else, and no one really expects us to be domestic goddesses, so accept your limitations, get yourself down Cook for a ready meal (which you won’t even bother to decant into a dish) and crack open the gin. Because the one really good thing about dining with parents? We ALWAYS have plenty of booze.
Being calm. I’m not even going to elaborate on this one. I’m simply going to say, it’s OK to shout. And say FFS under your breath (loudly) 457 times a day.
Taking on board other people’s s***. Us mums used to be fairly tolerant souls. I think. These days? Not so much. Our patience is already tested to the max, by small people that we actually love. People who we aren’t so keen on or we don’t even know? We ain’t got no time for their s***. And that’s OK. (Save your energy for the ones that matter.)
Being on top of stuff. Once your kids start school it feels like there is so much to keep on top of. Dressing up days. Homework. School trips. Arghhhhhhh! So forgive yourself if, like me, you send your child to school dressed as Snow White when they’re supposed to be a sports personality and you don’t even have the school trip on your radar. You are only one woman and you can only remember so much. And if your kids’ names often prove tricky to keep track of, you haven’t got a hope in hell with the other stuff. Make your peace with that now. And move on.
Being rational. It’s really hard to be rational when you’re tired and emotionally and physically stretched. Always make allowances for yourself, when you feel like this. And take it as a warning sign that you need a bit of TLC (i.e. gin).
Being perfect at anything (especially motherhood). I used to be a perfectionist. Now I’m often so worn-down, I need reminding to buy new leggings for the girls, because theirs have holes in. On the other hand, us mums know that nothing REALLY bad comes of wearing leggings with holes in. And that as long as we are all fed and safe, we’re doing just fine. (Plus being a perfectionist is exhausting and not all it’s cracked up to be.)
Being everything to everyone. The lack of headspace when you’re a mum is CRAZY. There are a million, unrelated thoughts running through our minds at any given moment. ‘What am I going to make them for dinner?‘ ‘Bugger, did I sign that permission slip?’ ‘When is Made In Chelsea coming back, have I missed it?‘ There is no way on this earth that we can be everything to everyone ALL of the time. So it’s absolutely OK to ask for some space (and get it). Being a ‘mum martyr’ is not sustainable and it’s fine to have someone else temporarily take over the responsibility of keeping the kids alive, for a bit. We’ve earned it.
So there we have it. A list for us ‘not so new’ mums to live by. Feel free to share it with another mum who could do with hearing this. And like the FB page. Oh, I’m also on Instagram (letting stuff go obviously)…