Start writing a post

The gap between parenting expectations and parenting reality

Parenting expectations vs parenting realities

The gap between parenting expectations and parenting reality
Kirsty Ketley
I am a qualified Early Years practitioner, Parent consultant and mum of two. I love to write about all things parent/child related, including tips, hacks and my thoughts and opinions.

You can be fully prepared for the practical side of parenting, with a huge list as long as your arm of all the paraphernalia you will need and books telling you what to expect at each stage but, nothing can fully prepare you for the emotional side of parenting.

You won't ever be prepared for how you can love someone so much that you feel your heart might explode. You won't ever be prepared for just how proud and honoured you feel to be a parent and, you won't ever be prepared for how frustrated you can feel with a small human, yet be so forgiving.

I work with and speak to a lot of first time parents. Often, when they are struggling it is because they have set their expectations of what parenting is going to be like far too high.

Sometimes this is because they feel pressure to be the best, sometimes it is because social media makes it look easy, but often, it is because nobody really talks about how it actually is.

There is an unwritten rule that when you are speaking to new mums-to- be, you do not mention anything at all remotely negative. While I do agree that telling a woman who is about to give birth how horrific your own birth was is not ideal, I do think that our own parenting realities should be talked about more and perhaps, even be a part of antenatal classes.

Tiredness is talked about a lot but, until you experience the absolute exhaustion for yourself, both mentally and physically, you can't fully understand what it is like.

The whole "sleep while the baby sleeps" advice is completely unrealistic. In principle it works but, seldom do we get the chance to put it into practice. We are either so paranoid about something happening to the baby (something else that is unexpected) that we have to spend the time they are sleeping watching them or someone is ringing the doorbell. The washing will need doing, you need to spend time doing your life admin or just simply try and wash your hair. And, you can guarantee, the one time you do decide to nap, the baby will wake just as you've drifted off!

The biggest reality check I think for many though, is just how much your life changes. You know that it is going to change but until it happens you don't properly appreciate just how much it will alter.

The huge sense of responsibility that takes hold makes you realise that everything you now do has to fit around this tiny little being, who has completely captured your heart and placed themselves firmly at the centre of your world.

This responsibility can feel overwhelming and can be very consuming. You start to feel like a circus clown, juggling lots of balls, trying to do everything and be everything to everyone but rarely being able to fulfil it all.

While the responsibility can be overwhelming, parenting often leaves you feeling underwhelmed. It can be monotonous, extremely boring and lonely some days and you feel like your identity has gone AWOL, leaving you craving your old life.

Being overwhelmed and underwhelmed can happen simultaneously and leave you feeling like you are failing. You place unnecessary pressure on yourself and enter a vicious cycle of piling on the pressure to succeed and then failing because you have piled on too much pressure.

To combat all this, it is important to admit defeat, ask for help when you need it and remember that no parent finds it easy all the time. Also, it is important to know that the way you are feeling is completely fine. It doesn't mean that you are a bad parent and it doesn't mean that you don't love or appreciate your child.

You will have days where you are totally 'winging it' but, you will also have days where you are totally 'bossing it' and it is vital that when others offer their opinion, you remember that it just that, an opinion.

Accepting and embracing your new reality and adjusting your expectations accordingly, will without a doubt make your life a whole heap easier.

Parenting is certainly much tougher than most parents are prepared for, however, would new parents listen if they were told the stark realities? Perhaps not, but isn't it worth a try anyhow?

Can tech help female entrepreneurs break the bias?

Women founders continue to come up against common challenges and biases - solving this problem is bigger than supporting women, it’s about supporting the national economy.

Can tech help female entrepreneurs break the bias?

Women founders continue to come up against common challenges and biases

Written by Kelly Devine, Division President UK & Ireland, Mastercard

Starting a business may have historically been perceived as a man’s game, but this couldn’t be further from reality. Research shows women are actually more likely than men to actively choose to start their own business – often motivated by the desire to be their own boss or to have a better work-life balance and spend more time with their family.

Keep reading...Show less

How am I doing as a parent?

Evaluating yourself is hard. It's even harder when attempting to assess your parenting because there's no set guide and nothing to count, measure, or quantify.

How am I doing as a parent?
Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.

Some time ago, I met my lovely friend for a drink, straight off the train from London. She told me about a very intense performance review she had at work recently, which, although scary, was incredibly useful; it gave her a general sense of how she was doing and areas to work on.

And it struck me we don't get this feedback as parents. Am I doing a good job? I have no idea.

Keep reading...Show less
#StartTheConversation by joining us on

Join our new platform for free and your post can reach a huge audience on Indy100 and The Independent join