The Curse of the If Onlys….

Chalkboard with idea and lightbulb

My three year old daughter is being a pickle at the moment. A few screaming thrashing tantrums coupled with a large dose of attitude and poor sleeping. This afternoon she burst into tears about the prospect of going into her activity class by herself, despite having done so for eight weeks.

I ended up having to sit with her until she got going, and then apart from the odd wave and thumbs up, she didn’t notice I was there.

As I sat on the floor, mt brain started to race. But they weren’t thoughts of how this was stereotypical threenager behaviour, or just a phase she was going through.

No, I immediately went into If Only mode – her behaviour was entirely due to my poor parenting skills.

If Only I had set boundaries earlier on in her short life, then she would know not to misbehave.

If Only I hadn’t been so cuddly and hands on with her as a baby, then she wouldn’t be so clingy.

If Only I had weaned her on organic homous and olive oil, then I wouldn’t have to bribe her with Kinder Eggs.

OK, maybe less so with the last one, but it seems that that my automatic response in every tricky situation is to question every decision I have made up to this point. It’s not just with my daughter either. When we go out to the shops and my son expects a toy or some chocolate, it’s not normal six year old boy behaviour, it’s because I have spoiled him up to this point.

It’s hard to pinpoint why I react in this way. Partly it’s a confidence thing, I don’t feel like a natural mother and am always looking for reassurance that I’m doing the right thing for my children. But what is the right thing? The internet and media are full of parenting and motherhood ideals, and it can be hard to navigate through the pros and cons. My email inbox is full of the must read latest advice, but frankly I can’t live up to any of it.

I console myself with the fact that both of my children are healthy and progressing well, so I can’t be doing everything wrong. Yes, my daughter isn’t learning French at nursery but that’s OK (unless she marries a Frenchman). Yes, my kids eat chicken nuggets and chips for tea sometimes, but they also stuff their faces with fruit at every opportunity.

Maybe the one If Only I should keep in my mind should be

If Only I stopped analysing everything so much, I might be more relaxed…..

10 Replies to “The Curse of the If Onlys….

  1. Ah it’s so hard not to do this, isn’t it!? If it makes you feel better my three year old is exactly the same. Cried at pre-school for the first time yesterday (he started in Sept and hasn’t been in any childcare before) and I spent the whole day wondering if it was my fault for not preparing him for it more. And he also expects something every time we go shopping – because like you, the Kinder Egg is a great form of bribery. And at least it’s cheaper than a magazine with a load of free useless shit! It’s really hard to not overanalyse everything. Oh and my kids are having chicken nuggets for tea! #itsok

  2. Sounds like you’ve been doing things pretty well so far to me… I STILL have to have stern words with my eldest wanting a toy or treat when we go to new places, and she’s nearly 8. It’s not you, that’s just kids! You need to re-think your if only’s – mine are more like ‘if only I’d put that wine in the fridge this afternoon’, or ‘if only I hadn’t scoffed all those hobnobs yesterday, I’d still have some in the cupboard’…. I can live with those! Thanks for linking up with #ItsOK xxx

  3. Great post – and you’re so not the only parent who suffers from a case of the ‘if onlys’. I think it’s because before we have children we have no idea of the hefty responsibility that comes along with. Once the full enormity sets in, then I think that’s when the self-chastising begins! But #itsok, it’s perfectly normal!

  4. It’s all about balance. What I have realised is that, even though I focus on the negative aspects of my parenting, and compare it with the best aspects of a bunch of strangers, my kids don’t care about that. They just want me. And I’m sure your kids just want you. So cut yourself a break love. Comparison doesn’t help anyone. Thanks for linking up to #itsok linky. Please come back next week.

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