Tag Archives: tantrums

Muddling through

I have spent most of my time as a parent feeling like I’m muddling through. From the early days with Baby Number One (when I constantly wondered why he did not seem to do anything the baby books said he ‘should’), through to now (a few weeks before Baby Number Two’s first birthday), our days seem to be a pick-n-mix bag of ‘let’s just try it and see how it goes’.

Sometimes, muddling through can bring unexpected joy. Like when your kids just WILL NOT go to bed at night (but it doesn’t really matter, because it results in cosy cuddles on the sofa).

Sofa cuddles

9pm and counting…

Other times, muddling through means watching in bewilderment as your toddler goes apeshit about what you can only assume is some major catastrophic life event.


His friend picked up a leaf

It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one muddling through – that everyone else knows what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. So it always surprises me when, while chatting to other parents – those who seem to have routines and plans and well-behaved children who never have a meltdown over a broken cream cracker – they say, ‘Oh, you know, we’re just muddling through.’


But you know what? This makes sense. Because when it comes to parenting that first tiny newborn, none of us have done it before. It’s a whole new world of responsibility, sleep deprivation, unexplained crying, and sleepsuits with roughly 3,000 poppers that never seem to line up properly. Then later, if a second baby comes along? Well, we’ve never had to entertain a fully-grown child while coping with all the above, either.

It turns out that, as parents, often none of us knows what the bloody hell we’re doing. We really are all just muddling through.

When muddling through goes well, it can leave you feeling like you’re clutching a winning lottery ticket on a blustery day: by some miracle everyone is smiling… but you know not to get too cocky, because the wind could change any second, whipping the ticket out of your hand and the smiles off everyone’s faces. This is called a Good Day.

And when it goes wrong? You can feel perplexed and unsure. You constantly doubt yourself. It can make you question whether you’re a good parent; question whether you’re good enough at all. It can leave you exhausted, frustrated and sometimes even in tears. This is called Never Mind, Tomorrow Is Another Day.

Now, I’m not normally one for imparting advice (because, clearly, I’m no expert), but in my three-and-a-bit years of muddling through, I’ve learned a couple of little tricks that seem to keep the peace, which I thought I’d share…

1 No matter how dire things seem, the addition of breadsticks will improve almost any ‘child meltdown’ situation by approximately 97%.

2 Fresh air, fresh air and more fresh air! It’s amazing how running around a green space releases tension. For everyone. (Some days we spend so much time outside, my kids think we live in the woods.)


…and breathe!

3 Bring a tub of Play Doh/paper and crayons/playing cards/some Lego everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. Cuddly toys get boring fast, but an activity can keep them entertained for, oh, at least five minutes. Result.

But do you want to know the most important thing I’ve learned? The only thing that really matters is that you love your kids. If you do, then you’re absolutely nailing this parenting shit.

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Confessions of a sleep-deprived mummy

OK, it’s time to come clean. We’ve all done these, yes?

1 On suddenly remembering you have a friend coming round in ten minutes, and realising the house is a state, you have quickly and efficiently tidied up by hurling every toy into an overflowing cupboard and cleaning all available surfaces. With a single baby wipe. Job done.

2 A text to family and friends that reads, “All ready. Leaving in 5”, should generally be interpreted as, “The toddler is running around with no pants on, the baby has just filled her nappy, we appear to have run out of baby wipes and no one has had breakfast yet.”

3 When you’re at a baby group/soft play/the supermarket and someone quietly points out you have a trail of baby sick down your sleeve, and you claim, “Oh God, I didn’t notice”, the reality is you knew all along. You just didn’t have time to change.

4 You have microwaved the same cup of tea eight times throughout the day, before finally giving up on it at 5.45pm and reaching for the wine bottle instead.


I will never get to drink you. Ever.

5 You have now forgotten how to behave when in adult company. So, on a rare evening out, rather than getting up from the table and saying, “Excuse me for a moment,” you announce loudly, “Right, I’m going for a wee”…

6 …before turning to your partner/friend and enquiring, “Do you need to try to do a wee too?”

7 For every photo you post on social media where it looks like you’re having the best time you’ve ever had in your whole entire life, your friends should (often rightly) assume that the remaining 99.9 per cent of your day has, in fact, looked like a great advert for NOT having children.

Best day ever

The best day ever! For the whole day? Unlikely.

8 When your partner offers to take the kids out for a few hours, you really want them all to have a great time together. And for there to be no tantrums. And for the toddler to not secretly remove his shoes and subtly drop them over the side of the buggy when no one is looking. And for snacks to be readily available at all the right moments. Yes, this is absolutely, definitely what you want. (Apart from the tiny part of you that secretly wants it all to go tits up, so he finally understands just how hard it is.)

9 You have called your partner “Daddy” so often now (awkwardly, sometimes when the children are already tucked up in bed), that occasionally you have to think for a split second about what his real name actually is.

10 Your child says, “I love you”, or the baby produces a corker of a belly laugh, or they both think it’s hilarious when you’re doing all the voices while reading Room On The Broom for the hundredth time. And you know you wouldn’t change a thing.

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