Friday, 23 September 2016

In defence of the "slummy mummies"

I recently read an article in the Sunday Express where Camilla Tominey openly criticises a "hip, new chaotic childcare craze." However, she's not talking about mums who neglect their children for hours on end to sit drinking in the pub, or mums who happily throw their children into the laps of near strangers in order to fuel their own social lives or beauty regimes. No, she's talking about mums who simply go to the supermarket "covered in Hobnob crumbs" and ridicules bloggers and writers such as The Unmumsy Mum who apparently "celebrates the art of letting children go 'feral.'"

On reading the article, I felt completely disappointed that in a parenting climate where nothing we do is right, where we are force-fed the "proper" way to feed, wean, clothe, play with and nurture our children, that another woman could stick yet another poker into the ribs of mothers.

For me personally, discovering blogs and books by writers such as Sarah Turner (The Unmumsy Mum) has been a breath of fresh air. After spending my pregnancy reading tons of "how to" books which tell you to "trust your instincts" however DO NOT do x, y and z under any circumstances and make sure that your children are in bed by 8pm as soon as they can open their eyes, I needed something to kick all these expectations right in the goolies. For me, that's what supportive, honest, soul revealing blogs and books do. And I feel human again.

I want true stories and mistakes and mis-haps. I want to hear that someone else let their child cover the sofa in petit filous for the sake of 10 minutes peace and quiet. I need to hear this stuff!

I want to argue that these accounts are not part of a "hip" craze of parenting at all, but are reflective of real life. Nowadays, us mums have a huge array of expectations to live up to, particularly in comparison to our predecessors who did not have the added expectation of going to work, whilst also being the chief caregiver to our children. We didn't have social media thrusting picture perfect photographs of picture perfect families and mummies in our faces which give us mountains of impossible standards to live up to. If I can find another mum who isn't going to judge me for going to the supermarket covered in hobnob crumbs, I want to give them a big high five.

I can remember being so exhausted in the early days that my boyfriend and I took our 3 month old food shopping with a big smudge of poo on her head. We had completely forgotten to wipe it off before our trip and living the haze of sleep deprivation, we didn't even notice what was so obviously noticeable when we were there. We felt terrible once we realised. Does this make me a "slummy mummy?!"

The last thing us "slummy mummies" need is yet more judgement and yet more standards to live up to whilst we juggle the huge demands placed on us by modern family life and modern living. We're still trying to make it in the working world on top of being mothers and for the SAHM mothers, they're battling their right to be able to stay at home with their children without judgement.

The article finishes by saying that "it isn't just children who need boundaries-parents do too" and yet when I talk to my grandmother about her experiences of motherhood, she often tells me how it was considered quite normal to add a drop of spirits to a babies bottle if they had a cold and of how she used to feed her babies a mixture of sugar and water during night feeds so that they eventually stopped waking for feeds. Apparently, it was all the rage to have your baby sleeping through the night as early as possible and formula feeding was considered a godsend when it was first introduced, crying it out was the "only way" and babies were given solids when they were just weeks old to fill their bellies up!

In my opinion, children have parents flocking around them, endeavouring to do the "right" thing by them; things couldn't be more different than they were 60 years ago. More boundaries and more expectations would turn us into loveless robots and children need to learn resilience, we're not perfect, but we are doing it well! I argue that endeavouring to do any better would be counter productive. If getting through the day involves feeding homework to the dog for the sake of a shorter to-do list or a glass of wine helps us savour a slice of sanity, then so be it, us slummy mummies are doing ok.

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