Modern motherhood is a tough gig. We are expected to do it all, and to do it all well – raise our little loves, bring home the bacon, keep on top of the damn housework (and yes, this goes for dads too), and make sure everyone living in said house is happy and healthy. But this pressure cooker we’re all in makes us feel stretched, stressed and maybe also that we’re not able to be the kind of mums we want to be, all the time.
What’s more, there is so much noise interrupting our lives. Our phones are continually chirping with text messages, social media alerts and emails.
I don’t know about you, but I feel a little overwhelmed by it all and I crave a simpler time to bring up my kids in. While I can’t change much about the modern-day pressures on parents – that’s a bigger society at large thing – I think we can choose to not get too wrapped up in everything that comes with it.
Maybe we need to take a few notes from our childhood to turn that pressure cooker down? Here are a few ideas that I’m taking from mine to try and simplify my mum life.
1. The best things in life are free
I had the best childhood but when I think about what my brother and I did for ‘fun’, it was always free. Bushwalks, playing at the beach, picnics in a national park and making mud pies on a wet day. My parents never took us out to a cafe or paid an entry fee (or maybe they occasionally did, but I honestly can’t remember that – which goes to show the best things in life are free!). I’m trying to do more of the simple, free activities my parents did with us with my kids. Not only is it good for the family budget, but it allows us all to escape the hype and business that comes with the ones that cost money.
2. The weekends are for family time
Many of my friends spend their weekends on the soccer field. When I was little, my parents used to take my brother and I away for a weekend camping – a lot. Their weekends weren’t tied up and we were free to spend Saturday and Sunday together as a family. I’m going to try and resist the pressure to be over-scheduled on the weekend. The working/mumming/kindy week is busy enough. Weekends are family downtime.
Read more about old school parenting:
- 5 amazeball things we want our kids to know about our own childhood
- 60 old fashioned baby names making a comeback
- Upsetting old-fashioned parenting advice you should definitely ignore
3. What is parenting, anyway?
‘Parenting’ is a bit of a modern-day term. Back when I was little, my parents simply raised my brother and I. There was no overthinking it, taking it too seriously or worrying themselves sick that they aren’t doing everything to do with us ‘right’. With this in mind, I’m going to start thinking about how I raise my kids, rather than how I parent them. I figure as long as my kids feel loved, safe, looked after and are growing into kind, nice people, then I am doing a good job. I need to tone down the parenting noise.
4. One extracurricular activity
When I was in primary school, I did dance classes and my brother did karate. That was all. But some of my friends’ kids seem to have extracurricular activities, even before starting school and then juggle multiple ones when they get to school. I already feel stretched, so I won’t be buying into this. I will adhere to my mum’s (budget-friendly) rule of one thing each. I feel calmer just thinking about this.
5. Eggs are a good enough dinner
We often ate eggs for dinner growing up. Looking back, I think this was partly a cost thing and partly because my mum wanted to give herself a break in the kitchen. Eggs are nutritious, kid-friendly and easy. We also eat eggs a lot and now I know why this was my mum’s favourite default dinner. It’s a winner.
6. Take more mental pictures, not just digital ones
My phone is at storage capacity with all the photos and videos I’ve taken of my kids. But you know what? I rarely look at them. When I put my phone away though and enjoy the moment instead of snapping photos, I take mental ones. My childhood family photo album is full of ‘bad’ shots of my brother and I with our eyes closed, but I also don’t have a memory of being told to “look up and smile” every time I did something cute. One big way I can simplify my mum-life now is to enjoy being in the moment more and on my phone less.
7. Kids need to get bored
I’m often trying to entertain my kids because I feel the time I have with them is limited and precious, but perhaps I am doing them a disservice. Kids need to get bored to get better at playing and entertaining themselves. When I think of my childhood, my mum had the time to take us out more than I do now with my own kids, but she didn’t. My brother and I spent our days making our own fun – building cubby houses, chasing each other around the yard and crawling around the house pretending to be puppies.
8. Legs are made for walking
My mum didn’t have a car when I was growing up and so we used to walk everywhere. We would stroll down to the shops to get milk, to the park and on wet days, we would don raincoats and walk to school in the rain. Now my boys have the luxury of growing up in a two-car family but I don’t want them to miss out on the simple pleasure of walking somewhere. I now choose to ditch the car, the hustle of buckling everyone into their car seats and the stress of traffic.