Parenting Failure – AKA the days are long but the years are short

Parenting Failure
photo credit: Daniel Cheung

The little people are all safely back at school & nursery after what feels like a VERY long holiday – so it feels like time to own up to my parenting failure (s) – if only to let them out and let them go.

We have had some good adventures and some big success stories – but most are tempered by some kind of parenting failure on my part, and from these I will learn! (Honest, I will…)

Parenting Failure No. 1: Arts & Crafts

I got over my fear of arts and craft projects and got the kids all involved in a great painting activity.  We did a painting together. They each did a version of the same painting themselves.  Everyone was happy and proud and IKEA frames have been purchased to proudly display said artwork.

Lesson learnt: just because they enjoyed it once, does not mean that they will ever enjoy such an activity again.  Painting session number two was met with fights and disdain and somehow the warm rosy glow of part one has been knocked down a notch or two…

Parenting Failure No. 2: Let’s go visit Daddy

An M&S Cafe dinner and visit to Daddio in the office was hugely anticipated.  We stocked up on treats from the M&S Food Hall (more just a couple of aisles really, but…)  Some (clearly insane) woman gave the eldest some chocolate penguins because she was being such a good big sister. (Really? She was trying to bundle the littlest one into an M&S shopping basket while I begged them all to STOP TOUCHING EVERYTHING) But it felt like we were doing okay here… The kids ran happily into the office bearing gifts of mini chocolate cornflake cakes.  And the middlest was promptly bitten by one of the little dogs that had come into the office for the day.  Cue (unsurprisingly) much wailing and a desire to get out of the office as soon as possible. The middlest one up until that point had quite liked dogs. Not so much now… (Pet plan put back by another unlimited amount of years)

Lesson learnt: call ahead and ask about the state of the office and its guests first. No-one likes a wailing child. And no one likes to have caused said wailing. Even if M&S treats are on offer.

Parenting Failure No. 3: Training Wheels Off

We decided that it was about time that the middlest one had the stabilisers taken off his bike.  I think he would have happily carried on using stabilisers forever. But Mummy & Daddy decided.  I had forgotten the pain, the strops and the all out war that was caused when we did the same thing with the eldest. He was pretty brave. He even got straight back on the thing after flying over the handle bars. (Main concern here was that I might have caused the loss tooth number three.   He really needs to keep some until they actually start falling out on their own accord…)

Lesson learnt: Patience. Patience. Patience.  Mine. Not his.   I’m sure he’ll have learnt to ride by the time he goes to college.

Parenting Failure No. 4: A lot of things close over Chinese New Year

I had a plan to go and visit lots of places in Shanghai during the holidays.  To make the most of the time off with the hubby. Partly so I could feel less out numbered by the little people. Partly just to explore.  M50 was one of those places I wanted to go visit: an Art area of town that I was sure would just be a wonderful, cultural wander… And it will be, I’m sure.  When the galleries are open.  (I have a history of planning trips to closed locations – just ask the hubby about some of our NYC date nights…)

Lesson learnt: When the kids are involved, double / triple / quadruple check opening times.  They are not a forgiving crowd of daytrippers.  (The visit was salvaged by one gallery being open.  It also served coffee. And had just baked brownies and croissants.  Not quite what was planned, but… Healthy treats and energy drinks are always well received!)

Parenting Failure No. 5: Learn your lessons quicker!

You would have thought that the above might have had an immediate impact on my double checking of things. It appears things take a little longer to filter through around these parts. (I blame the noise of the three little people.)  I had seen something mentionning a Lion Dance to celebrate the New Year, at a hotel / shopping complex near us.  This seemed ideal. There would be food options. Limited, but perfectly functional, shopping opportunities. And a Lion Dance.  The little people were very excited about seeing a Lion Dance. VERY excited.  So we duly went to Kerry on Saturday.  Only to find out that said Lion Dance had taken place three days earlier.  It had been a bad day anyway.  The little people had all had enough of each other. Hubby & I had definitely had enough of being stuck in the house with the little people for quite such an extended time. And I had failed again.  I believe one of the little people nailed it with a very vocal ‘EPIC FAIL MUMMY’.  Yes. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and led me to hysteria.  The kind that can only be solved with copious amounts of chocolate and a glass of good wine (or two…)

So after these, and multiple other, parenting failures, what have I actually, really learnt?

That when all else fails, Paw Patrol (and as of yesterday, CBeebies – woohoo! Thank you hubby tech lord) really is the answer.  Sometimes a time out for Mummy is in order. And nothing delivers peace and quiet for 20 minutes more than some repetitive children’s TV.

That, no matter what (as I was told when the oldest was a tiny baby, and it’s stuck with me…) “This too shall pass”  These 20 minutes, this fight, these tears, this tantrum… It will pass and we will all move on to the next thing – be it good or bad.

And that when I look back over the holidays, I can choose to see the failures. Or I can choose to see the fun that we did all have – even if that requires accepting that my eldest chooses to identify with the Dark Side.

And in the greater scheme of things, will any of these parenting failures really matter? (I have to hope not… but you never know…)

As Gretchen Rubin says: “The days are long, but the years are short”. It’s just a shame that sometimes the hours can seem interminable.

(And let’s just say a big hurrah for the proper start of term.  Here’s to structure, routine and a good old dose of organised sports!)

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