By Heidi Scrimgeour
Scratch beneath the surface of our best ‘perfect parent’ act (you know, the one you put on at Parent/Teacher meetings or for the benefit of your in-laws) and we’ve all got a guilty parenting secret or two. Don’t try telling us that you don’t sometimes eat your favourite biscuits in a quiet corner of the kitchen so that you don’t have to share them with the kids. You know what we’re talking about. So here are ten of the best confessions of imperfect parents to remind you that you’re not the only one who scoffs the kids’ stash of Easter eggs and then claims that they all went ‘off’...
1. Party bag theft
You know how your heart sinks when your kids bring home a party bag full of rubbish after a birthday bash? Well, here’s one way to limit your children’s sugar intake and ensure they’re spared the ill-effects of all that junk. Eat all the best bits yourself. It’s practically an act of selflessness for the benefit of your children.
“The slice of birthday cake that you get in party bags always has my name on it. If I have to suffer two hours of bouncy castle soft play ‘fun’ then I’ve definitely earned those calories!”
Liz, mum of two.
2. Bedtime bribery
Show me a parent who claims never to have indulged in an act of bribery or corruption in order to get their child to go to sleep, and I’ll show you a great big fibber. But you could always try a more creative approach to bedtime when it’s really going badly and you’re desperate for the kids to fall silent in time for you to enjoy a quiet glass of wine in front of The Great British Bake Off.
“I sometimes pretend I’m going to bed just to persuade my son to head upstairs too. Then as soon as he’s asleep I get up and have fun.”
Anne, mum of one.
3. Kitchen secrets
A perfect mother gives her child the chocolate flake from her ice cream without thinking twice. An imperfect parent quietly hides the flake to scoff when she’s all alone in the kitchen later.
“I hide my favourite ice-cream in the freezer behind the peas where the kids will never find it. I also hide chocolate and biscuits inside the saucepans so they don’t ‘eat them all at once’ but nine times out of ten I eat them all at once. Is it a confession too far to admit that I also drink a cheeky G&T from a coffee mug if I’ve caved and poured one before it’s teatime?”
Tina, mum of two.
4. Stealing time
Only a parent who has known the trauma of being unable to use the bathroom without an audience can appreciate the lengths worth going to in order to secure a little bit of precious
me-time. “I often drive the long way home just so I can listen to the radio in the car in peace.”
Lisa, mum of two.
5. Stretching the truth
No decent parent would ever lie to their child. But imperfect parents might creatively stretch the truth from time to time, albeit only in the interests of our children’s long-term wellbeing, of course.“On New Year’s Eve I put all the clocks forward by a few hours and let the kids ‘stay up until midnight’ and then I pack them off to bed at 9pm.”Donna, mum of three.
6. Bribery and corruption
There’s something about parenthood that turns us all into blackmailers at one point or another, and most of us have issued some sort of clever edict designed to keep the kids in line. But some of us are more wily than others in this regard.“I discreetly ring the landline from my mobile and then proceed to have a conversation with Father Christmas. He phones from time to time throughout the year to check up on good behaviour, you know.”
Hazel, mum of three.
7. Food for thought
From fish fingers to smiley-faced potato waffles, children’s food is sometimes ridiculously appealing, and yet few of us would dream of eating the kind of foods our kids love. So occasionally there’s only one thing for it; steal a sneaky bite while they’re not looking, or claim (if caught red-handed) that you were just checking it’s not too hot.
“I may have pinched food from the children’s plates when they were looking the other way, and blamed it on a naughty swooping seagull. I soon discovered that it doesn’t work so well when you’re indoors though.”
Kerrie, mum of three.
8. Meddling under cover of darkness
Once kids develop a mind of their own it can be infuriating to watch them refuse help with little things that you know you could assist them with. And sometimes the urge to interfere is just too strong for the imperfect parent to resist.“I wait until the children are asleep and then I squeeze their spots or give their wobbly teeth a helpful wiggle. It just drives me mad that they won’t let me do those things for them during the day, but once they’re asleep and can no longer protest, I just can’t help myself.”
Jane, mum of four.
9. Playing with time
Oh, the horror of being woken by a toddler who is hell-bent on starting his or her day at the ungodly hour of 5am. Any parent knows it is virtually impossible to persuade a small child that it’s not time to get up when they wake up full of beans at an unearthly hour, but imperfect parents think nothing of investing in clever trickery designed to buy them another hour’s kip. Sometimes, needs must.“I tell the kids that they need to go back to sleep because it’s still the middle of the night when it’s not. Thank heavens for blackout blinds.”
Claire, mum of two.
10. Ditching the kids for grown-up fun
Perfect parents wouldn’t dream of having fun without their children, but imperfect parents will go to great lengths to secure themselves a little R&R, uninterrupted by the demands of small people. “When my son was younger and due for his daytime nap, my husband and I used to go for a long drive to get him to fall asleep in the car. Then we’d pick up a yummy take-away and park somewhere scenic so that we could eat together and read the papers in peace. It was absolute bliss.”
Lynne, mum of one.
Various, MADE magazine