Other parents are much better than you. They do all the stuff you talked about doing whilst lying in bed in the early days of your relationship, fantasizing about your future children and what perfect parents you’d be.
They do everything in the blogs that you tweet about. They never lose their temper, or ignore their children. They are always ready with an imaginative, energetic story, and know just the right thing to say to a grumpy toddler to give them a new perspective on their whole life.
Nodding along? Look, I haven’t taken a survey, but I’m going to estimate that at least 11 out of 10 parents feel this way. No-one is a perfect parent, least of all those who claim to be (which I sure don’t, I hasten to add). It’s ok. Your kid will be much more negatively affected by your stress about what you think you’ve done wrong than by the thing itself. Your kids seeing you beating yourself up about things is just demonstrating self-abuse to them. (If you genuinely feel you’ve let them down, talk to them about it. Even if they’re too small to seem like they’re listening, they’re taking it in at some level.)
There a some things it’s ok to do sometimes, even if you promised yourself you wouldn’t.
It’s ok to check your phone while they’re in the park
They’re happy. They’re playing. You want to check in on the Grownup World? You *can* do it whilst keeping a eye on if they hurt themselves: Dear Mom on the iPhone: You’re doing fine. It doesn’t mean technology is replacing loving your kids.
It’s ok to use disposable stuff sometimes
If you promised faithfully you’d raise a carbon free baby (which you can’t do anyway, especially if you’ve grown your own), and run out of steam to do any more laundry, or can’t cope with carrying everything on a day out, or just need a break for a few days, it’s totally fine to use disposable nappies and/or wipes for a bit. It doesn’t mean you’re personally responsible for climate change, or are a Bad Environmentalist.
It’s ok to use the telly as a babysitter sometimes
There is stuff you need to do that doesn’t involve holding the baby. Even if you’ve got people on hand to do all your cooking and cleaning (what a marvellous thought), you’ll need a few minutes off now and then. Very little kids can’t be left to read a book, or draw a picture. Putting them in front of CBeebies for a bit while you chill is ok. Hey, I’m doing it right now. It won’t mean they never learn to play outside.
It’s ok to use food as a toy sometimes
If they’re screaming in the back of the car, or you’re otherwise finding it hard to console them, it’s ok to sometimes give them some grapes or something to distract them. It’s not the same as replacing love with food.
It’s ok to beat yourself up sometimes
Conversely to everything I’ve said, you will criticise yourself sometimes. But don’t get into a vicious cycle where you’re judging yourself for judging yourself. Accept the feeling, stop, and breathe.