I remember very acutely the early weeks and months as a first time mummy when I would compare myself to other mums and always felt that I was not doing as well as they were! Comparing yourself less favourably to others can lead to guilt, shame, anxiety, loss of confidence and diminished self esteem. It robs you of your joy. If you feel smug because you compare yourself more favourably to someone else, be careful lest you trip and fall! There is no one who is perfect after all.
By the time my second baby was born I didn’t have the time nor energy to worry about such things! But, more than that, I realised that we are all unique in the way that we parent and that our babies too are very different (even when considering our first and second babies).
It is great to share with other parents top tips and ideas for managing situations. This is best done in an encouraging way, with sensitivity to the way we make others feel. At the end of the day it is better to focus on being the best parent that we can be – an A1 version of ourself, rather than a second class imitation of someone else. Also remember to enjoy the journey, noticing and acknowledging the golden moments and triumphs, small ones and large ones alike.
One size does not fit all! Our baby will feed in his/her unique pattern, sleep in their own unique way, smile/sit/crawl/walk when they are ready, and have their own personality and abilities. By not falling into the comparison trap ourselves as parents we are, by our example, encouraging our children as they grow to avoid the same trap and to revere their uniqueness.
As parents we are not all brilliant at messy play/being creative/musical/sporty/baking/academic stuff, etc. But we can give our love, attention, time, talents and energy. We can listen, protect and care. These are the things which are priceless and are so precious to our child.
I love the saying that ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Why? Because this means that if you are not good nor enjoy one particular aspect of play or activity there will be someone in your ‘village’ who is! I am so thankful to every member of my immediate and wider family, my friends, neighbours, older family friends, church family, teachers and the community around us who have had input into each of my children’s lives.
As a parent you don’t have to do it all and be it all! Be the best version of yourself, be kind to yourself, and embrace the opportunities around you ‘sow’ goodness into your child’s upbringing.