Join us in sharing your parenthood reality
What did you think parenthood would be like before you had your baby? Did you try to get ready by reading magazines or following mummy influencers on Instagram? Or did you just figure it’s impossible to prepare, so you may as well just wing it?
I think what surprises most parents is how different the reality of parenthood is to what we imagined. Nothing can really prepare you for such a momentous life change.
No amount of late nights pre-pregnancy can help you understand what it’s like to be up all night with a screaming baby. Big problems at work are nothing compared to feeding issues when you know your baby isn’t getting enough milk but won’t latch on. And when you're exhausted, haven't eaten a proper meal in days and don't remember the last time you showered, you start to feel pretty depressed even if most things are going ok.
Did you know that 63% of Australian and New Zealand parents feel like they’re failing their first year of parenting, according to a global study commissioned by WaterWipes. This compares to 55% of parents worldwide.
That’s two-thirds of parents in your mother’s group who feel like a failure. Two-thirds of the women with prams strolling around Kmart in the middle of the day. Two-thirds of those mums sitting in the local café who always look awesome in their activewear. So why don’t we know about it? And why don’t we talk about it?
I have to admit, I look at those gorgeous, filtered images on Instagram and feel a huge pang of failure. Those images of babies snoozing in a perfectly accessorised nursery are adorable. But then I compare it to my baby’s room, which is always littered with toys, dirty clothes that haven’t made it into the laundry basket and random tissues.
I see those pictures of siblings posing model-like in cute matching designer outfits. Then I go back to begging my two-year-old to wear something other than an Emma Wiggle outfit for the third day running. Even if I were to get my kids in matching outfits, most of the photos are blurry as someone gets bored and runs away before I get the shot.
Seeing those perfect Instagram photos makes me wonder how everyone else can manage to keep their house and kids in order when I can’t.
It doesn’t help when you talk to other parents and they gloss over the realities. In our busy world, we don’t have time to get into the nitty-gritty of life. People ask how we are, we say we’re fine. Or ‘just tired’, the universal parenting truth.
We don’t talk about how we yelled at our kids that morning because they threw their pancakes on the floor. How we'd been trying to make a special treat for breakfast and it felt like a real kick in the guts.
We don’t talk about our irrational fear that our baby won’t survive their first illness. So, we sleep on the floor next to their cot all night and wake up to every cough and snuffle.
We don’t talk about feeling like the worst mum in the world when your baby is crying with arms outstretched at daycare and you have to walk out the door.
WaterWipes want to change all that. As a company created by parents for parents, they want to open up the conversation about the realities of parenthood. They’ve worked with 86 families, like-minded organisations and healthcare professionals from around the world and the result is a heart-warming short film from BAFTA nominated director Lucy Cohen.
They want to discuss how parenthood is messy. Our floors are covered in crumbs, we constantly have stained clothes and we spend way too much time thinking about poo.
They want to discuss how parenthood is scary. We fear our children hurting themselves, that they’ll be unhappy and that we're not doing it right. How sometimes we don’t bond with our baby like we thought we would and spend the first few months wondering whether it was all a big mistake.
They want to discuss how parenthood is about survival. We sometimes count down the minutes and hours, not only of the day but throughout the long nights as well.
They want to discuss how parenthood is about contradictions. How you long for time to yourself, while simultaneously hoping your babies never grow up and leave you.
They want to discuss the joys of parenting – the way you feel when you see their first smile, when they put their arms around you for a huge cuddle and the way their face lights up when they experience the thrill of a playground slide.
Most of all, WaterWipes want to encourage an honest conversation about parenthood. They hope that by sharing our stories, we will all realise that we’re actually doing an amazing job.
What's your #thisisparenthood moment? Watch the beautiful #thisisparenthood film to get inspired then share your real parenting stories on social media using the hashtag #thisisparenthood.