It’s Time to Give Yourself a Parenting Break! Embracing the Real Side of Parenthood

Parenting is tough, but it gets even tougher when we spend too much time comparing ourselves to our own ideal image of what a perfect parent should be. And as much as I love social media, I also know that a constant barrage of perfect images can be discouraging to those of us doing our best every day!

That’s why I love Quaker Canada’s new campaign to #stopCOMPAREnting. It’s time to show the real side of parenting in all its disorganized, wild and wacky glory! So I’ve decided to embrace some of the ways that I will always fall short of reaching my own parenting ideals. These are four reasons I’ll never be a perfect parent…and I’m okay with that!

1) I will not create perfectly balanced, Pinterest-worthy lunches.

bento lunch

Photo credit to my good friend Jody at Mommy Moment, who makes the most beautiful Bento lunches!

I have two boys in school five days a week, which means I pack just under 400 lunches in the course of a year. And I am a little ashamed to admit that I’ve probably ogled twice as many beautiful, themed Bento lunches on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. From checkerboard cheese to rainbow fruit kababs…who wouldn’t want to surprise their kids with a masterpiece like that?

But let’s get real. I have just over an hour each school morning to make breakfast, make lunches, get my boys dressed, check agendas and get everybody out the door. They’re happy with a wrap, some fruit and a Quaker granola bar, so I am too!

2) I will not let my boys paint in the house.

paint mess

Make no mistake, I am a big believer in the importance of creativity. In fact, both boys go to the only fine arts school in the province. They are free to sing a song, dance a dance and colour with crayons as much as their creative little hearts desire.

But paint…is…messy. It doesn’t matter how hard they try to keep it clean, I know I’ll be scrubbing paint off places no paint should ever have been for weeks if I let them get those brushes out in the house. They go to a fine arts school. They get plenty of opportunities to paint. I’m saving myself the hassle of having to deal with it.

3) I will not create themed treat bags for every Easter, St. Patrick’s or Groundhog Day party.

lego valentine printable

Photo credit to my wonderful friend Jen at Mom Vs. the Boys! Not only did she come up with these clever valentines, but she has a free printable for them on her website!

I love to cook, bake and put together crafts for kids. I really, really do. And when I have extra time around a holiday, I will sometimes create fun treats for my boys’ classmates. But I do it only when I choose to, because I found an idea that looked too cute not to try or because I had a surplus of baking supplies on hand.

In recent years, my boys seem to come home from school on every holiday with an assortment of elaborate gift bags from classmates. Valentine’s Day almost rivals Halloween as far as their candy haul. I’m A-Okay with that. In fact, I love it and think the parents are superstars. But I probably won’t be taking part. I’ve got other things going on.

4) I will not set hard limits on screen time.

ps3 gaming

This is one area where I do struggle with finding balance. My boys are in front of a screen more than they should be, and I know it. But at the same time, we now live in a world of technology and with my job, I’m in front of a screen even more than they are. I don’t need to set a to-the-minute guideline for the time my boys spend playing silly games or watching their favourite YouTube stars. I can tell for myself when they’ve been watching too long, since they start getting snappy and irritable. When that happens, screens go off.

But imposing a set time just gives me extra work since I then have to be watching the clock. My boys play with their toys all the time. They play outside. Some days they don’t turn on a screen at all. Other days they spend hours playing video games. It all evens out.

baby eating ice cream

Zackary’s first ice cream cone is still one of my favourite parenting memories of all time!

If you’re guilty of comparing yourself to those perfect parenting images online, it’s time to stop, take a step back and embrace the reality of parenting. Check out the Quaker #stopCOMPAREnting website and enjoy some of the images of real parents in real situations…fun, unscripted, fantastic situations! And don’t forget to share your own real parenting images on your favourite social network using the #stopCOMPAREnting hashtag!

carnival boys at the front of the boat

As much as I’ve sometimes wished I could be as perfect a parent as the ideal images I see every day, I’m even more proud of the parenting I’ve managed, imperfections and all. My boys are polite, friendly and outgoing children that regularly receive compliments on their behaviour from adults. They are both strong students with above-average reading ability. They’re active and love meeting new people. Zackary is scatterbrained (a trait he gets from me), and Benjamin whines more than he should. But overall, I could not be prouder of my two guys. And I figure such great kids must mean I’m doing a pretty good job!

mommy kat and kids rp2

17 thoughts on “It’s Time to Give Yourself a Parenting Break! Embracing the Real Side of Parenthood”

  1. Flaws make us human. I am inperfect and I am ok with that. Being imperfect is showing that you are trying and may not always have the answer and that`s ok.

  2. Really great post! I know that I am not a perfect parent but my kids are doing just great my young adult son is a kind hardworking young man and my daughter a young teen is achieving A honors straight(middle school) for the last 3 years, so proud of them!

  3. My grandson lives with me and the hardest thing is limiting computer aka screen time. He would be there all day if he didn’t have limits. He is home schooled, so there has to be limits or off screen school work would never get done.

  4. I was a pretty easy-going parent when it came to rules for raising my son and he has turned out just fine. I have a responsible, thoughtful, hardworking young man, who make me very proud to be his mother.

  5. this is so true! I am so sick of the phony “perfect” lives of some people! No wonder there are so many mental health issues now a day with people trying to “keep up” with each other???!! For what??!!

  6. Chandra O'Connor

    I’m just glad Pinterest wasn’t around when my girls were in elementary school because I may have been one to try and do the perfect lunches.

  7. I loved this post. TV and computer time is a struggle in my house. I do set limits or they would be on it all the time.

  8. I’m happy with giving him whatever he will eat for lunch. So far it’s been: plain bread with butter for two weeks.

    He gets berries and cheese too but his “main” lunch is just that. Sigh.

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