Is high expectation the number one downfall of a parent?

parent expectations

Almost three years on since becoming a parent, I am still at war with myself. I am still battling the minefield of expectation.

Before becoming a parent, I had this glorious expectation of what being a mother would be. It was wrong. It was A LOT harder than I expected.

Before becoming a parent, I had this rose tinted exception of what our family unit would be. It was wrong. It is a lot less dreamier than I expected.

On mother’s day this year, I had this silly expectation that I was going to have a mother’s day just like in those ads, that I would feel so overwhelmed with love and laughter. It was wrong. I was reduced to tears within a couple of hours.

On our first family holiday abroad, I had this excitable expectation that we were going to have THE BEST family adventure out together. I was wrong. It was stressful and totally unenjoyable for 75% of the time.

Epic fail grunge rubber stamp on white background, vector illustration

You would have thought, given the fact that I write this blog, I would have finally got my expectations of being a parent into check. Am I the only over-expecter in this parenting thing? Or are we all secretly over-expecting and then feeling crushingly useless when the expectations do not even come close to the reality? Is this just something mums feel as women being the over-analysers in life, or do dads have a sense of this too?

I read recently that one of the secrets to being a confident parent is to not expect too much, nor too little. If that’s true, which I suspect it is, then  boy am I in trouble. The question is…how do we recondition our brains to expect less….to just “get it done”…when all along we have been somehow been led to expect so much more? Answers on a postcard (or comment!) below please.

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  1. I think the big issue is the media and how things are portrayed to us… Background music which makes us emotionally react and editing ensuring we don’t see anything other than smiled and laughter… A hallmark picture perfect scene is set into our brains and we now seem to expect it within our own lives.

    I think parents do expect too much, especially with those that seem to compete aka the playground pushy parents.

    We need to turn it down a notch, I think you’re right!

  2. I agree with Rachelswirl…the media definitely impacts this. But I also think that current parents help to spread the misunderstanding. When expecting moms announce that they’re pregnant, the other experienced moms in their life say, “Oh, it’s the best job in the whole world…I love being a mom…it’s so wonderful…you’ll love it…etc….etc.”

    These statements might definitely be true. Moms might love the job they have to take care of these little ones, but they aren’t being honest with new, expecting moms that it’s hard and that there are times when they hide in the bathroom because they just want to get away from their clingy children!

    I think that you have done a great service to other expecting moms to help them to understand that what they see on TV isn’t real (you know, like how it isn’t real in any other aspect of life!) and to be prepared that motherhood is sometimes scary, frustrating, and draining and it looks very little like the scenes on TV and in the movies!

  3. I’ve always loved kids, therefore, I thought that once I had my own, I’d have unlimited supply of patience… Boy was I wrong! That’s probably one of the reasons why I always feel guilty every time I lose my patience with my five-year-old and yes, it makes me feel like such a failure too.

  4. It’s very true that we expect so much of ourselves as parents. Women, particularly, are very hard on themselves and set overly high standards. I think we need to try to relax a bit around parenting and not try to live up to unrealistic ideals.

  5. I think sometimes we do set the bar too high. But it’s hard no to. I had the same with our first holiday, that it would be the best holiday ever. Now I have lowered my expectations and prefer it that way because I always enjoy things more when they turn out better than I expected. xx

  6. Until N started school I was fine about motherhood and how he is. But now he’s at school I’m despairing because I just can’t get him to work at his reading or words. It’s so hit and miss and I’m now worried he’s going to be behind. I’ve done all I can but I think he’s missing out because the OH has never and will not read with N. That’s researched as something that really helps boys so I do wonder how much that would have helped but I can’t do anything about that if the OH won’t play ball.

    I think expectations are good, but you just need to be prepared to relax about things if needed

  7. Oh it’s so easy to set up for a fail that in our family we expect things to go wrong! We often have a pretend filing cabinet to file away the rubbish a nit dwell on it! It makes all the ups more fun!

  8. Parenting is definitely harder than people think! Its a rather big shock to the system, especially as they get older because you just have no idea what to expect. I don’t think I have exceedingly high expectations, I just try to take each day as it comes and do my best and expect the same from him

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