Hey Parents! For your reading pleasure I am pleased to share the views of another Non-Mom. Kirthan is a social media strategist who likes to spend her free time ranting about things on the internet. She has also written for She Does The City and Fat Girl Food Squad and is now co-founder of www.updownandout.com. Her life goal is to become a living version of Pinterest.
Hi, my name is Kirthan and much like your lovely webmistress Jen, I am a non-mom who loves to dole out unsolicited advice. First off, I know what you’re going to say, “Kirthan, you don’t have a kid, what could you possibly know?!” Well, my area of expertise lies in the fact that I actually was a kid. So moms, hear me out. Parenting is the toughest job there is. You spend most of your time trying to make sure your kids don’t kill each other and the rest of the time trying to make sure you’re giving them the best possible start in life which now has a completely different set of standards from when we grew up.
Regardless of today’s standards, I still think that most moms are too hard on themselves and are setting the bar way too high. The first time I got wind of this was when I watched the movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” It stars Sarah Jessica Parker as a working mom who’s desperately trying to balance a demanding job with the expectations of motherhood. But partway through it I started to get annoyed. I noticed that there were numerous instances when she could have cut corners but insisted on doing everything herself and from scratch. Of course SJP was stressed out, she was trying to be a 1950s housewife while also being a modern businesswoman. It was all too much. I also started to notice these trends of extreme parenting on Pinterest. I would login and be bombarded with ideas of how to make my (hypothetical) child’s next birthday party a smash hit or how to pack a unique lunch so that she would know that I “really” care. What’s the deal with that? Here’s what I think parents should do to take the heat off themselves a little.
- Stop with the elaborately themed birthday parties – I hate to be the one to tell you this but that elaborate Frozen birthday party you just set up for your daughter’s first birthday? She’s not going to remember it. Sure she can someday look at pictures of it but you know that it makes no sense to put that much effort into something that the kid won’t have a single memory of. I’m not saying that your child should never have a themed party but maybe tone it down a bit. When I was a kid my big birthday thrill was going to Zellers to pick out plates, streamers, and balloons that had images of my favourite Disney Princess on them. That was as far as my mom went. My parents also didn’t worry too much about food. Dinner on my birthday was ALWAYS a pepperoni pizza. My mom usually made a cake from a boxed mix and used canned frosting. There was no need for her to learn how to do fancy cake decorating because she would usually just write “Happy 5th Birthday Kirthan!” on it and maybe try to make a few frosting rosettes. And I LOVED it. Just as a general example, here’s what my and my friends’ birthday parties generally included: games of musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey, a movie rented from Jumbo Video chosen by the birthday girl herself. What our parties didn’t include: a curated menu of artisan made dishes tying back to an overall theme of Dr. Seuss or Fairy Princess Land and tablescapes that look like something out of Home and Garden magazine. Trust me when I say that as long as your child’s birthday has cake and presents, he or she will probably be just fine. ,
- Making super special lunches. I never knew about this trend until Pinterest but apparently moms across North America are packing their child’s lunch with extremely fancy sandwiches made to look like panda bears and even trying to write special messages in their fruit (usually a banana). This all seems to me like it’s a huge effort just to remind your kids that you love them. But trust me, they know. The fact that you’re putting a lunch together for them is already proof. And there’s proof in so many other things you do for them. Also, since they’re little you might just have to tell them. But that’s okay. Just know that if you have lots of love for your child, they probably feel it and appreciate it. You don’t need to make a sandwich that looks like Winnie the Pooh to prove it.
- Being there for EVERYTHING. It’s good to support your kids but you don’t need to be there to watch their every move. Believe it or not, working mothers today actually spend more time with their kids than stay-at-home moms did in the 1960s (an average of 14 hours a week now versus 10 hours a week back then). But since society loves to demonize women who both work and bear children, you’re made to feel like you’re never doing enough. But rest assured, you are! And as crazy as it sounds, it can actually help kids to have unsupervised playtime because it helps them to learn problem-solving skills and gain a sense of independence. Also keep in mind that sometimes your best efforts could go unrecognized. My mom recently told me that she watched almost ALL my figure skating practices. I had no idea. When I went into the locker room to get changed I had always assumed she left to go run errands. Nope, apparently she was watching me in the stands the whole time and I didn’t even know it. Perhaps I was an especially oblivious kid but just keep that in mind the next time you can’t make it to each of your child’s dance rehearsals or soccer practice.
I know that it can be hard to cut yourself some slack. These days women aren’t only comparing themselves to other moms in their neighbourhood, they’re being compared to the super moms of Pinterest and Instagram. But try to remind yourself that stressing about every detail of your kid’s life isn’t necessary. In the end, simpler is better.