Striving for Perfection as a Working Parent

This week’s blog has been written by Alice Pilbeam-Brown, a qualified coach and parent.

About four months after my baby was born, I watched “Bad Moms[i]” for the first time since his arrival…making my total watches about six! Watching these incredible mothers party with their fellow parent friends and happily give their children take away lunches, I realised just how much pressure I’d put on myself to be the “perfect parent”…why was I taking it all so seriously? I’m pretty sure my baby didn’t care how his vests were folded or how his nappies were stacked in their baskets. These little things don’t matter, but they do take up valuable time.

Not long after, I started to pick up freelance work and time got even more valuable. I realised how many more unnecessary tasks I was doing in order to be a “perfect parent” and started cutting them out.

I knew I wasn’t alone.

I spoke with family, friends and colleagues, all juggling parenthood and careers; some nine-to-five in offices, some working from home, some running their own businesses from home and some working shift patterns. The juggle is tough! Somethings have to give and somethings just don’t matter.

We decided that; “It’s ok if…

…We only bath our baby every other day

…All the washing is saved until our working from home day

…We sleep in separate rooms so all three of us get some sleep

…“CBeebies Bedtime Hour”[ii] is almost mandatory after work to get through the evening

…My toddler had fish fingers twice, well three times, this week

…Dinner is made up of emergency car snacks most Tuesday’s because we’re always stuck in traffic

…My toddler is in childcare even when I’m not at work

…Clothes are recycled for many days so long as they don’t have food all over them

…“Passata” and pasta is a staple weekday dinner

…I bribe my child with chocolate to brush their teeth...even if this is a little ironic

…The white marks on my clothes aren’t milk, but my own toothpaste. Nobody will know!

…I use the baby as an excuse to jump the toilet line

…I feed my baby and text

…I work in my pyjamas

…Paw Patrol is on repeat for 6 hours when my baby isn’t feeling well

…Lunchtime nap is my green light; cracking on with work while my baby sleeps peacefully

…I use a high chair and breakfast bar for play time so I can watch and get my work done simultaneously

…The kitchen sink is piled high of dishes and there's not an inch of visible worktop

…By the end of the day my living room is decorated with so many toys that I have to skip, hop and jump to get from one side of the room to the other to avoid a plastic object imprinted on the underside of my foot!

There is so much pressure to be the “perfect parent”; ensuring your baby is dressed in the best and cleanest clothes, eating the most organic food, reading the best books, having a clean, tidy home…but ultimately, as far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Parents and working parents alike do their absolute best…even if that means writing emails in one hand and pushing a swing in the other!

[i] An American romantic comedy from 2016, “When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun and comedic self-indulgence.”

[ii] An hour of sleepy kids stories on the CBeebies channel.

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