Judgmental parenting – in all its forms

So it seems this Facebook ‘Motherhood Challenge’ thingy has been causing quite a bit of a stir.

Articles in the nationals moaning about the ‘smugness’ of being nominated to post pictures of you and your kids on social media, people dissecting the whole issue on breakfast radio, people who have done it getting upset that others are upset about it.

And so the debate rolls on…

Having not been nominated myself I can only assume I must be slap, bang in the middle of the ‘crappy mum’ camp. Well, tell me something I didn’t already know!

Only joking – I can’t profess to have had majorly strong feelings either way on this one. Apart from noticing none of my FB friends had tagged me, and scanning through the lovely snaps of those that have.

I do understand the dislike of the whole ‘parental club’ thing though. You know what I mean, feeling like you’re included in something (even though you’re not even sure entirely what that is) and so somehow endorsed as a member of the badge-wearing ‘good parenting’ brigade.

Way back when after having Mini-me, like most first-time mums I suppose, I really felt the need to try and slot in with all the other mums I knew.

The fact that I hated, and I mean REALLY hated, breastfeeding worried me stupid for example because others used to wax lyrical about the amazing, natural bonding and sheer joy of it all.

Meanwhile I sat wincing in front of the television desperately trying to distract myself with episodes of Gilmore Girls and wondering just how long this horrendous, un-natural feeling of being a human cow had to continue for.

I was once reduced to tears by someone who thought fit to comment on how putting Peppa Pig on the iPad was probably not the most stimulating dinner accompaniment for my one-year-old.

Now as a part-time working mum of two of course my skin has thickened, my standards have slipped and I’m far more likely to laugh than cry about such things.

I’m a really big fan of sometimes sloppy, honest parenting – and so are most of my friends. So it’s lovely when we all have a good giggle about that morning’s ‘disasters’ at the school gates.

Mini-me’s pants falling round her ankles as we raced into school this morning was today’s… Nothing like a teaching assistant shouting at you about knicker elastic before 9am to make you feel like mother of the year!

But enough about that.

All this social media outrage has got me thinking about whether I myself am guilty of being a judgmental parent. After all it works both ways.

Just because I don’t juice things for my toddler, limit screen time and scour children’s cookbooks and draw up a weekly menu what gives me the right to scoff at those who do?

And I’ve been really horrible about Gwyneth Paltrow in the past but clearly her uber-healthy methods work for her brood… Resisting the urge to say more here…

Anyway that’s what I’m going to take from all this. Trying to just focus on my own family, making any changes that would be good for us, and perhaps not having a little chuckle about people who choose not to own a TV set or decide to home school.

Because that could quite rightly be construed as horribly smug too.

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Does anyone really work in their PJs?

At the end of last week I had one of those perfect ‘pick-me-up’ moments that are sadly becoming increasingly rare in the freelance feature writing game.

At least in my (recent) experience, when sometimes even actually getting paid for completed work can be an uphill struggle.

A lovely commissioning editor I work with emailed to let me know when an article I’d written for her magazine would be running and added that the editor apparently loved the piece I’d penned.

Isn’t it amazing how a two-line email can brighten your day?! And after a week when I’d been struck down by some dreaded virus from hell, making juggling work and the little people much trickier than usual, her timing couldn’t have been better.

Anyway all this, plus several days’ experience of trying to type cogent copy with a raging temperature and limited childcare, got me thinking about the big list of pros and cons that adds up to working from home.

It goes without saying that when you’ve always commuted to an office, the idea of running a business from inside your own house sounds incredibly indulgent. After all you don’t have to go out in the pouring rain and cold to get the bills paid, so just that fact alone should improve your quality of life, right?

Not to mention being able to get chores done at the same time, thus surely saving you time, having your fridge and Facebook on tap, plus the enviable ability to work in your grubby PJs without brushing your hair for two days, should you so wish.

This is certainly what I thought freelancing from home must be like – before actually taking the plunge into the self-employment game, with children.

And there certainly are big, BIG pros to ‘lap-topping’ your day away at the dining room table.

The inclement weather factor is certainly true, and that many means many fewer frizzy hair days too. A vain point maybe, but still worth considering (especially when you have hair like mine that looks permanently as if I have just inserted my finger in an electrical socket.)

Quickly ‘grabbing’ lunch is literally as easy as walking into the kitchen and slapping two slices of bread on a plate.

If not too busy I can catch up with a TV programme on planner without the soundtrack of mini-me asking a million questions, or the risk of me falling asleep on the sofa because it’s past 9pm.

I can even make a start on dinner so hubby and I actually get something of an evening after getting the rugrats to bed.

I’m not distracted by office gossip or chatting to colleagues or those meetings you have about other meetings, so my productivity level is bound to be higher.

And finally I don’t have to remember complicated hot drink orders for a large number of people.

Now for the cons:

On a lovely sunny day I often long for the chance to get out, but if snowed under with deadlines the only ‘outings’ factored in are nursery drop-off and pick-up related.

Sometimes it’s really nice, and necessary, to have a quick break from your desk, even if that’s only picking up a bite to eat. Sadly walking five metres to the next room really doesn’t count.

There’s no defined boundary between ‘work and play’ when you run a business from home, and that means you can feel guilty most of the time for doing other things when you should be working. Even when that’s folding laundry at 10pm on a Saturday night.

I often miss sparking off other people in an office environment – it’s hard to brainstorm with yourself after all! Joining a couple of Facebook groups with like-minded journos has really helped with this, but again you get the guilt factor when chatting over social media.

And being part of a tea round of one is rubbish!

I suppose what it comes down to is that home-based freelancing is like most things in life, on certain days you’ve got the world at your feet, and on others the grass is always greener on the other side.

I would like to point out that I’ve never yet stayed in dirty PJs for two days without brushing my hair. But I’m not ruling it out…