The balance of perfection
Spend a few minutes trawling Instagram or Facebook and we’re pretty sure you’ll come across several #soblessed #perfectfamily or #makingmemories posts, all creating a picture-perfect existence of family life. However, look a little deeper, meet the people in the photos and we’re pretty sure you’ll see that they too have to nag for half an hour solid to get their children to put their socks and shoes on ready for school. In a time where our every move, child’s achievement and events are charted on social media, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees and identify what’s reality and what’s purely there to create a picture perfect mirage. In fact, 9 out of 10 mums feel pressure to be ‘perfect’ and 2 out of 10 suffer with mental health issues. So how do you forget about being perfect and just be a mum? Here are some facts: 1: Almost every image you see has been edited, filtered, or airbrushed to within an inch of its life. Every magazine will retouch images of celebrity mums to hide a few, or in some cases, many inches, blemishes and imperfections. Not sure how it works? Think of the very best Snapchat or Instagram filter and multiply it by 100! Airbrushing can completely change a photo leading you to believe that the cover star is, well, perfect. As any honest celebrity will tell you, they’re not perfect. They do have bad skin days and they do wear control underwear under those skinny jeans. If the images in the magazines are making you feel the perfect pressure, go on strike, ditch the mags for a month and make a promise to yourself to only read books; out of sight, out of mind! Watch an airbrushing video on YouTube. When you see the process, you’ll realise just how fake the images really are. 2: Realise that social media isn’t real. To anyone whose husband or partner isn’t that great on Mother’s Day or who doesn’t have a partner and is raising their child alone, social media on any expected gift holiday is a big no-no. The gushing posts of friends and celebrities about their dozen roses, amazing heels or new designer bag are not going to make you feel good. Ditch the social channels for the day, stay off line and go #makememories. The other thing to remember is that it’s very easy to create a perfect world in that one post that shows a clean kitchen and happy children. However, we all know that the other half of the kitchen is covered in jam and crumbs and that two minutes before the photo the kids were screaming and crying. It’s far easier to fake perfection than to show reality. 3: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Two out of ten mums suffer with mental health problems. That’s a shocking statistic and one which needs to be addressed and the community we live in needs to help change that. Being a mum can feel like the loneliest time of your life. Babies don’t come with an instruction manual, they’re all different and it doesn’t get any easier when they grow up. This is why it’s vital to surround yourself with a like-minded ‘village’. Seek out mums that are doing it your way, whatever that might be. This is where social media comes into its own. There are stacks of mummy groups, toddler classes, mummy networking, breastfeeding support groups and clubs you can join. It can feel scary, but take the time to look at their page, suss out the comments, take a look at the members, read the reviews and go along. There is nothing more comforting then hearing another mum say ‘oh god, mine did that too’. Surrounding yourself with a network of people that make you feel normal and that what you’re doing is right will help to remove some of the pressure. If you’re not confident enough to go to a club and everything is feeling too much, speak to your GP who can refer you to groups that will give you the support you need. 4: Know that there’s no right or wrong way. As soon as you have a baby, everyone will have an opinion on what you should be doing. The routine to follow, breast or bottle, holding baby or putting them down, co-sleeping or cry it out. It can feel like a constant judgement battle with the intake of breath and the ‘I wouldn’t do it like that if I were you’ comments. You could be defensive, you could tell them your opinion or why theirs is wrong or you could just smile and nod and thank them for their valuable input, then carry on rocking motherhood by doing it your way. As long as your baby is healthy and happy, then you’re doing a great job, keep it up. And if your baby is miserable, suffering with colic or just not happy, then know too that you’re doing a great job, it is not your fault and it will pass. 5: Read these points again – and good luck bossing mummahood.