This is the first in a new series entitled the Becoming a Stay At Home Mum’s Survival Kit. All the things I have found you need if you are going to survive becoming a stay at home mum! First up, A little perspective.
Picture the scene: A Saturday morning play date for a little one’s first birthday. There are 4 mummies and between us we have 6 children aged between 9 months and just under 3. Chaos but lots of fun. Monkey, still chronically shy has clung to me like a limpet ever since we arrived. If I tempt him off me to play with a toy he is no more than arm’s reach away and if I shift position even slightly he reattaches to me, terrified I am going to leave. Lunchtime comes and Monkey is already sat on my lap at the table doing some drawing. On the menu is perfect simple party fare, a cheesy pizza. I sigh with relief because I think that as Monkey likes pizza, that he will eat and enjoy it and then he may relax.
Instead he touches bits to his lips, and puts it down, turns it around in his hands and then looks at it in disgust. Here we go again, but with Pizza? What? Another food to add to the list of foods he won’t eat?? Same goes for the chips that come next. Then, because he is hungry, the ear rubbing starts and then the wailing and screaming because he is hungry but doesn’t want to eat the food in front of him. I can feel my blood boiling and set my face and try not to react to him or get upset. My lovely friends are hugely supportive and share similar stories to reassure me. I try to ignore it for a while, which really doesn’t work. So I take him out of the situation and give him big cuddles and try to calm him down, but if anything the wailing gets worse! Back into the kitchen where, after quite a lot more wailing, he gets distracted by magnetic fridge letters next to us and the crying slows to whimpers while he starts to play.
Cue lovely support from my friends and more sharing of tips and their experiences, it helps so much, and then one of my friends shifts the subject slightly to their recent issues with getting their little ones to sleep, and suddenly I have the thing I have been missing throughout the previous trauma, perspective! Time to count my blessings. Yes we have issues with Monkey over food sometimes (not always, last night for example he scoffed chicken, potato, chickpeas and rice in a lovely curry which was actually quite spicy!) but on the whole we are very lucky and he is a good boy. I know things can change all the time and I am probably tempting fate by even thinking this, let alone writing it down and sharing with the world! He sleeps solidly overnight and has done since he was only a few months old, bar the odd poorly night or bad dream now and then. In general he is well behaved and listens when mummy and daddy tell him not to do something (within reason, I don’t expect him to be perfectly behaved and if anything I like the strong willed times too as it shows strength of character), he’s not a crybaby and doesn’t create a fuss if he bumps his head or falls down unless he has really hurt himself.
So in that moment, where I had felt tears pricking at my eyes and my blood boiling, I suddenly felt a wave of relief. That doesn’t mean that the problems with food aren’t worth worrying about, of course not. But what I realised in that moment, is that at those times, when it feels like the end of the world, I have to remember that it isn’t. It’s a challenge yes but hopefully not one that can’t be overcome. When I feel like a failure as a mother because I just don’t understand why he won’t eat sometimes, I have to remember that I am doing my best and that all mums feel like this, even if not about the same issue. Just because another child eats well, they may not sleep well, or may other ‘issues’ to overcome. As my friend went on to say, they can’t be perfect all the time.
I hate to give in when he won’t eat perfectly good food, the rule at home is eat what is there or eat nothing. But at someone else’s house, I have to soften the hard line a little, mainly for my sake so I can relax a little. So he ate some sultanas, dried apple and dried cranberries, because he will always eat dried fruit, no matter what. Honestly I think he would live off fruits and nuts if I let him, which while isn’t the worst food in the world, it isn’t exactly a varied diet and wouldn’t solve the problem. But it cheered him up sufficiently and he did enjoy the party a little more after that thank goodness!
The point I am making to myself is take a breath and look at the problem/challenge in perspective. Whatever the worry at that time, it won’t last forever and things could always be a lot worse so I need to count my blessings rather than picking faults and worrying too much.