Social media and its boasting posting has made modern parenting a competition that’s impossible to win. Other people’s parenting lives are apparently so extraordinarily fabulous! Meanwhile, the rest of us are just getting on with the everyday business of parenting, the execution of which is just as heroic and hashtag worthy as someone’s kid winning the school cross country race.
Forget your child’s preschool graduation (#soproud), the fabulous family holiday at a picture-perfect resort (#blessed) or that loveable dad who does elaborate dance routines with his daughter (#socute), these are the everyday parenting achievements we really want to see celebrated on social media.
1. Mum cooks one version of dinner and everyone eats it including the toddler #winning
I could probably count on one hand the number of times this has happened in my house; everyone sitting down to eat the same meal, followed by everyone actually eating that meal and enjoying it. Which is why, if it ever happens again, I’m boasting and posting.
2. Mum takes toddler to supermarket. Toddler doesn’t have a meltdown, wet pants or rearrange aisle 4 onto the floor #goteverythingonthelist
It’s a grand day indeed when you get your grocery shopping without incident. If you can get up and down the aisles without a major toddler-related trauma of any kind, it’s headline worthy.
3. Mum spends time with her kids but doesn’t take any photos because she’s too busy spending time with her kids #imagesunavailable
I don’t mind everybody taking the odd photo here and there – we need to document family life – but not every photo of everything you do with your kids needs to be posted. Sometimes it’s nice to spend time with your kids without trying to corral everyone for a photo every 10 steps.
4. Mum gets through bath and bedtime without shouting #silentnight
If you can get through bath and bedtime without shouting things like “I’m going to count to three …!” or “For god’s sake, go and brush your teeth!” you deserve one of those segments on The Project. You know, the ones where they put you in the live cross studio and ask you leading questions in order to draw out the details of the anecdote for exactly three minutes of air time.
5. Kid gets to end of school year and is happy. Doesn’t win any certificates #toomanyawardsinprimaryschool
There are a lot of certificates going round primary school these days so it’s kinda more noteworthy when your kid doesn’t actually get one. But if your kid is happy by year’s end, that’s what I’d call #parentgoals
6. Family goes to cheap bogan holiday park, photos unremarkable #unglamorouslife
In my experience, it’s those el cheapo holiday destinations that kids love the best. But those aren’t the ones making headlines across social media. Social media is all about “Ooh look we took our kids to Italy #ciaosuckers” or “Feeling blessed in Bali #bliss”. I say bring back the el cheapo holiday in the caravan park with the daggy swimming pool and the toilet block where you have to wear thongs in the shower. It’s not as photogenic as Bali or Rome but the kids will love it.
7. Family stops at motel en route to north coast, kids rave about toast in a bag for breakfast #televisionsintheroom
Likewise, there’s no better concept for kids than a cheap motel room with a television in it, like right there at the end of the bed! You can sit in bed and watch telly! Throw in toast in a bag for breakfast and most kids are like, “Best holiday ever!” Again, this sort of experience is not a family image stalwart on social media probably because the insides of motel rooms are so unphotogenic. But I say: challenge accepted.
8. Morning routine goes exactly according to plan. No one forgets schoolbag or suddenly remembers that it’s special colour T-shirt day #miracleonramsaystreet
If you get your kids out the door in the morning without having to shout, go back for someone’s shoe or quickly find a clean orange T-shirt for Harmony Day, take a photo of your kids buckled into the back of the car smiling because that sh** deserves to go viral.
9. Mum packs lunch box in morning. Apple doesn’t come back #dailyfibregoals
Any piece of fruit in a lunchbox is like a boomerang in this house, it just keeps coming back. If it actually went out and didn’t come back one day, I’d be wondering if I’d suddenly been teleported to a parallel universe. Like, it would be really weird. #spooky
10. Family goes to restaurant for dinner. No one spills their drink and cries #nosoftdrinks
When my kids were little, if we went out to a restaurant I couldn’t actually relax until someone had spilled their drink. I knew it was going to happen, so I just waited, mopped it up and we all moved on. Which is why I’d like to see this sort of achievement celebrated in the headlines.
11. Mum gets kids to bed in time to watch two episodes of her favourite Netflix show #mummymetime
If you’re on the couch with a glass of wine by 7:30pm, thus giving you a good two hour window before you start to nod off, call Carrie and Waleed, because that’s newsworthy.
Carrie: So, Miriam, this is an incredible achievement, talk us through how it came about.
Miriam: Thanks, Carrie. Well for some reason the kids didn’t act like a bunch of monkeys on crack at bedtime and everything went according to plan. Before I knew it, the bed and bath routine was done and I was watching Episode 1 of The Crown.
Carrie: And did you have to pause the show at any time when one of the kids came out and asked you for something?
Miriam: No! That was the most amazing thing! I just hit ‘play’ and didn’t have to stop the stream once! It was an absolute dream come true! I’m still pinching myself, to be honest.
Carrie: And it says here [consults production notes] that you got through TWO episodes before 10pm? Is that true?
Miriam: That’s right Carrie, I watched two episodes back to back and was still able to cut all the lunches for the following day and be in bed by 10pm!
[studio audience cheers wildly]
Penny Flanagan is the author of novel, Surviving Hal published by Puncher & Wattmann.