The growing pains of perfect parenting (and Play Doh...)

Play doh
Play doh

Every time I wake up during the night, there’s a different person in the bed lying next to me.

By the time the sun rises, I’m usually hanging on to the mattress edge by a mere few centimetres and I’m clinging onto a postage stamp size piece of duvet for comfort.

It’s either that or I’ve bailed out and wake up under Elsa from Frozen, or Emmett from the Lego movie.

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who made the fatal mistake of not subjecting my babies to ‘controlled crying’ – I chickened out and now I’m paying a long-term price for it.

But it does make me wonder – if I’m a chicken parent, am I raising chicken kids?

A neighbour popped by the other day and, having had a few, just blurted out “Parenting is so bloody hard, isn’t it? Was it like this for our parents? I don’t think so.”

She was right, I think. The pressure to be perfect is enormous.

We now live in an age of middle-class chopper mums; constantly hovering over their little darlings, organising their every waking hour with organised ‘play dates’, educational activities and ultra-healthy meal time plans.

It’s also not the done thing to ever complain about being a mother – being a modern-day parent is marvellous don’t you know?

Boring, never! Exhausting? Pah! Boy behaving badly? Just expressing himself...

I’m not that conscientious. I remember once hearing a mum say she made play-doh at the weekend and my inner soul just died at the thought. Just get a life and buy it for a £1 at ASDA!

In the ‘70s I remember mums would let us ping pong between the neighbours’ gardens, getting dirty, building bogeys, getting into the occasional, inevitable spat and coming home from the park with skint knees.

We didn’t have play dates, we just played. It was quite normal; and mums and dads just let us get on with it.

The only problem they had was getting us to come home when they hollered ‘dinner!’ up the street.

And, you know what? Despite the fact we only had one hour of children’s TV a day, we were rarely bored.

Instead of clinging to my parents or being taxied back and forward to the latest activity, I was getting up to nonsense.

It probably helped forge a sense of independence; it definitely helped me appreciate that in life there were consequences (i.e. being grounded) when things went wrong.

Once, inspired by reading too much of the Enid Blyton adventure series, I led a group of kids on a trip to the local dam and a search party was out looking for us.

Another time I swiped all the ornaments out of the house and hid them in a field next door so my pals could play treasure hunt. It was fine until my mum got a phone call from a neighbour asking if she wanted her brass elephant back.

Ah, changed days. Now they’re glued to the telly, iPad, computer or we’re spending a fortune on piano, drama and horse-riding lessons.

It’s not all bad, I guess. At least I get five minutes’ peace and quiet to write this column.