I’ve seen lots of the ’10 year challenges’ going round at the moment. It has been fun seeing how people have changed. My own comparison photos show a hell of a lot more bags and grey hair. But I was happy in both photos…to me that’s a good 10 years.
Back in 2009 I was getting married (how is it 10yrs this year?!) and so the conversation of kids and family life was a regularly occurrence. We often sat and talked about how many children, judged the parents on TV and practiced our parenting skills on my niece (yes, she is still alive and well).
In 2019 we have 4yr old J, and are pregnant with boy number 2. Parenting isn’t something we talk about it’s something we desperately try to navigate. We have passed some areas with flying colours and failed in many other attempts.
I thought it would be fun to compare our parenting styles…
2009: Our kids won’t have screen time till they’re Preschool age.
2019: Yeah, J was introduced to the the joys of day time Tv from the day we brought him back from the hospital. Don’t get me wrong he wasn’t plonked in front of it but he was on my chest or in his bouncer as I filled my maternity lives with Jeremy Kyle and Police Interceptors. Then came Cbeebies and I will admit the tv does a great job babysitting J whilst I get on with housework.
2009: Our children won’t play on the Xbox until they’re teenagers.
2019: J is a master of the Xbox Lego games and has so much fun playing coop with Daddy or me. I’m not even going to pretend to feel bad about it because he loves the problem solving side of the games and it’s been great for hand-eye coordination. I think consoles can have a place on childhood as long as it’s used in the right way and appropriate games.
2009: My child will have healthy meals every day.
2019: What’s that? Some form of coated meat and chips again? Let’s just add some broccoli on the side to look like you eat vegetables. I DO aim for healthy meals but J is autistic and he has sensory issues around food. You can’t predict your child so sometimes you have to go with it. When he was a baby and weaning I did actually make his meals and I aim to with this bubba too. Let’s just hope baby boy doesn’t take after his brother and hit food regression at 18 months.
2009: We’ll go for walks in fresh air everyday.
2019: I would love to say I stuck to that and we did go out a lot before J started nursery (woodlands, seaside, parks) but now he’s away from me 4 days a week so when we are together sometimes we just want to chill indoors. We do go to the local park and woodlands quite a bit still, and we still go to seaside every few weeks so that’s a half win. Plus I do open the windows really…that’s fresh air, right?
2009: I’ll be calm and wont raise my voice. We’ll talk through issues together.
2019: Well I start as Mary Poppins but then I become more like Scar by the end of the day. I don’t shout as much as make dark sarcastic comments under my breath haha. The idea of calmly talking through issues goes out the window most days and I end up using bribery, threats (usually iPad related) and exasperated ‘just do as I said’ moments.
2009: My child will sit still and eat nicely in a restaurant.
2019: Hah! Oh how naive of me. I don’t think any young child ‘sits nicely and eats’ at a restaurant do they? We go through a cycle everytime. It starts with excitement to be out somewhere then boredom as the food is not instantly available followed by ‘hangry’ attitude kicking in, then excited again as food arrives, followed by realisation it’s still just food so actually not that interesting then finishes with being moody that they don’t have the same pudding we have at home (which is obviously my fault…and I’ve learnt to smuggle ‘approved foods’ in our bag now). Eating out requires distraction toys and the dreaded use of Mummy’s iPhone. But I don’t care, whatever gets us through with sanity intact.
2009: We’ll do crafts every Sunday.
2019: Nope…just nope. J is not a crafts fan. He hates messy play and frankly if it’s not Star Wars or small world related then he generally doesn’t give a monkeys. However I do like in hope and I go through phases of buying bits and trying to entice him to join in. I have learnt to make them ‘J-proof’ so I do the messiest bits and he does the directing. He will join in playdough now so that kind of counts as crafts. I’m afraid there’s no homemade birthday cards or fridge full of paintings in our house. But do you know what? It’s not the end of the world. My camera is full of amazing memories of things we do together.
2009: My child will sleep in their own bed.
2019: Yeah, I’m afraid that sleep is the key word. I want sleep, I need my child to sleep. So if that’s happens in my bed or his then I don’t care anymore. I did insist he slept in his own cot when little as I was afraid of squishing him or overheating or smothering with the quilt but once he hit 2 he didn’t seem to breakable anymore. J does sleep in his own bed the large majority of nights (mainly as he loves his dream tent) but if he does end up with us at 2am, well I secretly love the cuddles.
2009: When I’m pregnant I’ll eat all healthy food.
2019: This pregnancy I have the most horrendous diet. All I want to eat are carbs and burgers (I will happily fight anyone for a McD’s cheese burger…or McChicken Sandwich with extra mayo…damn it now I’m hungry again). I do eat fruit and have vitamin tablets but as for all the healthy crap I was going to switch too…well that hasn’t happened in either pregnancy. I love a can of full sugared coke and frankly I need it to get me through the day when running around after another little being. I have all my vaccinations and blood tests, all the check ups and I don’t have any alcohol when pregnant so I think I’m doing ok by baby overall.
2009: My child won’t have sweets and treats except at weekends.
2019: We’ve actually stuck to this one for the most part. I don’t give J sweets and chocolate often. He is happy with fruit and ice lollies as treats so tend to stick to those. However, if he’s been good and wants a kinder egg after shopping or if we’re at a friends and they offer him a sugary then I don’t say no, and we don’t wait for weekend. I let J have the odd sip of my fizzy drinks (which he thinks is the best treat in the world) but that’s usually just reserved for bribery when out or special occasions like at Christmas.
2009: My children will have all educational, wooden toys.
2019: I started off well. As an Early Years Professional I knew a lot of places to buy wooden toys and I knew the benefit of certain toys and resources for the various ages. I was really picky over what toys J played with. But with age came J’s personality and his ‘obsessions’. The autism started to kick in too and with it came the repeated play and limited play skills. Soon J’s favourite toy was the cupboard and doors. Then came wheels and things that spin. So plastic and metals cars came in, plastic popup toys and vetch items. I realised that keeping J happy, interested and building up his play skills was more important than what he played with. We still have a lot of wooden toys but currently my living room is 95% plastic Imaginext buildings, Star Wars and small world figures and metal die cast Star Wars spaceships! I don’t even feel bad as J does some amazing games with them.
2009: I’ll still be me. I’m still going to go out child free at least once a month.
2019: Now the problem with this is as well as becoming a parent myself, so are the majority of my friends. This means finding a date that works for both of us is a challenge. We spend more time passing different dates to each other that most our meet ups end up being play dates where we let the kids wreck the house just so we can sit on the sofa and have a catch up. Then the odd times I do get to go out with J, I am shattered, poor and we end up talking about the kids anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I do go to the cinema, I went on a weekend hen-do and meals with friends but its definitely not as regular as I would like. Writing this has made me realise I need to go out more with friends in the next few weeks before baby 2 comes out and life has it’s next ‘shift’. Funnily I don’t miss going out as much as I thought I would. I like my family life…but it is nice to talk to someone about something other than star wars plot lines, haha.
I’m sure I could go on for ages. Right now, my hypothetical children are being well behaved, eating kale, cleaning their own rooms, and are being headhunted by both Cambridge and Oxford University. Whereas my actual child has just eaten his second bag of Skips of the day, finished smashing ice in the garden (which was actual lots of fun) and spent half hour telling me all about volcanoes and hurricanes being the most dangerous in the world. I’m not a perfect parent but I’m a damned good one. I love my child and my bump to the end of the world.
So, how are your hypothetical children doing? Are your real child exactly as you planned? Are you the parent you thought you’d be? What have you stuck to? Let me know in the comments, or find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.