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Parenting expectations vs reality

When I was pregnant with my first child I had so many ideas of what life as a mother would be like. 3 children later it’s not quite as I imagined……

Expectations for sleep

My baby would sleep and if not I’d read a book and do some effective sleep training and they’d sleep through early.


Nope. I’ve not even read a single parenting book. Surely the answer is on Mumsnet? Nope. Turns out there is no answer. Only survival. Some of mine slept, one didn’t, and I treated them all the same.


Expectations for feeding

They’d all be breastfed but happily take bottles too so I’d be able to get my freedom back pretty fast.


I've been fortunate to be able to breastfeed all three (although the promised skinniness didn’t materialise and I actually gained weight with a huge breastfeeding appetite) but none of them wanted a bottle and it turned out I didn’t want to leave them anyway, or leave the sofa each evening for that matter so I didn’t exactly try hard. Plus breastfeeding really, really hurt at first and at random points when I got thrush, cracked nipples and mastitis.


Expectations for food

I’d make all my baby and children’s food, buy organic and of course they’d eat all fruit and vegetables and only drink water. 


I did manage this for a good while with our oldest actually and felt like a super mum. Our second was weaned onto jars and pouches and number 3 has been weaned directly onto toast, yoghurt and pasta and pesto and whatever else the oldest ones are eating.


Expectations for screen time

My children wouldn’t have any screen time. They wouldn’t even want it because we’d be so busy doing fun and educational activities together outside. 


We do get out a lot, mainly because life is a lot easier with three children out of the house. But they are also familiar with every programme on Cbeebies and we have become those parents who give them a screen in a restaurant (if we ever brave going out that is).


Expectations for tanrtums

I was sure that my children wouldn’t have tantrums. I mean why would they – they’d know their boundaries from an early age.


My first and third have broken me and will battle over anything. Usually something I couldn’t possibly change even if I wanted to and so I very, very carefully pick my battles. Common triggers were (and still are) getting dressed, waking up, going to bed, food served on the wrong coloured plate, sliced cheese not grated, wrong colour of said cheese to name a few. 


Expectations for becoming a classy French mother

I’d be like the French (sure I read this somewhere – probably putting my feet up when pregnant with my first pregnancy) and take my children to restaurants and out to adult places so they’d quickly learn to behave and enjoy those environments.


When our oldest was a baby we did manage this and felt sure that having a baby hadn’t changed our lives that much and that she’d just slotted in. Then she became a toddler. And like all my children a wild, fearless and quite angry toddler, and going out became awful and that was that. Picnics are our thing now, which are French at least I suppose. 


Expectations for having a break

Everyone would be so keen to look after my babies and to have them overnight that we’d have lovely hotel breaks every couple of months.


When we had one baby, people were quite keen to have her. But then I didn’t want to leave her overnight and she was very breastfed – see feeding expectations. Although we’d not realised how much babies actually like their parents and don’t want to go other places very much most of the time. Now we have three and let me tell you, no one wants to take three. Best case scenario you can split them up but without a lot of family close this isn’t very possible. We’ve not had a single night away in 5 and a half years but have watched an awful lot of box sets.


Expectations for becoming an earth mother

I’d be an earth mother, patient, serene and glowing with a gaggle of beautiful sun kissed children behind me.


I do trudge down the muddy garden daily, exhausted in PJs and a dressing down and wellies to let the chickens out with a half clothed toddled running after me and baby on my hip. Somehow it doesn’t feel the same.


Expectations for my baby’s personality

I very much thought that my likes and dislikes and what I exposed by baby and child to would influence their personality.


Babies seem to arrive into the world as these perfectly formed little people with their own personality and who absolutely shape their world. I love watching who they’re becoming and how innately “them” they are.


Expectations for how much I'd love them

I really was worried I might not love my baby enough. And when pregnant with my second I was even more worried I'd not be able to love my second as much as my first. I lay awake at night a lot worrying about this. 


I never knew I could feel so much love for these little people in my life and my heart has swelled with each one. 

And here is my reality! Although lets face it, a very glossed over version - because who takes photos of the huge mid super market meltdowns, ipad time or beige dinners :-) 

Elspeth x 



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