"The perfect parent doesn't exist." A letter to my pre-kids self.

I've often joked I was the perfect parent... before I had kids. 

But now, three kids later, the reality of life with kids is very different to what I'd imagined. 

Here's an open letter to my pre-kids self - shattering the illusions I had before becoming a parent.

Watch: Be a good mum. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

Dear Erin, 

I see you over there. Nearly 10 years younger than you are now, so full of anticipation for your future and ready to build a family with your loving husband. So impatient to get started, to meet your unborn kids. Daydreaming about who they’ll be, wondering about what life will be like. 

Well, I’m your future self - three kids and four pregnancies later - and it’s time we got a few things straight.

The perfect parent doesn’t exist.

First up, the perfect parent doesn’t exist. You might think you’ll be her, but you’re wrong. You haven’t had any kids yet, so it’s easy to think of all the things you’ll get right as a parent, while secretly judging the actual parents around you. Looking at the tired mum watching her toddler have a tantrum in the supermarket and wondering how she got it so wrong. 

Reality check on aisle three: this is your future too, you just don’t know it yet.  

Sometimes they’ll have chicken nuggets for dinner.

I know, the horror right? But it’s true. 

Oh yes, I know. Your children will only eat lovingly homemade food prepared by you, with no salt or sugar, and a full rainbow of fruit and vegetables at every meal. And for a while, you’ll try. Your firstborn will eat carefully made purees, crafted to meet his every nutritional need. 

But by the time I’m writing this, you’ve given into the reality. 

Image: Supplied.


Feeding three kids, three times a day (plus countless snacks), while also juggling ALL the things, means sometimes your kids will have chicken nuggets for dinner. Or two-minute noodles. Or chocolate biscuits in their lunchbox. Or sugar-packed cereal for breakfast. 

Yes, you’ll do your best, but you’re only human.

Screen time is a given.

Before you had kids, you recoiled from the idea of them having any screen time at all. 

I remember you visiting a friend’s place and feeling confused that her kids were just sitting watching TV while you drank cups of tea and chatted. Shouldn’t she have been engaging them with fun, yet educational, games? Or getting knee-deep in rice bubbles on the floor for some messy play? Or baking sugar-free muffins from scratch with them in the kitchen?

But you’ll find screens serve a purpose. Sometimes it’s pouring rain outside and you just need a break. Sometimes you need your toddler to be occupied while you feed the baby. Sometimes you’ll be in a restaurant, and Peppa Pig on your phone is the only thing that will allow you to eat your dinner with two hands.

Image: Supplied.


It’s okay. We all use screens to some extent, and not all screen time is created equal. What matters is making sure they’re not the only thing your kids do. Everything in moderation, always. So don’t be so hard on me, your future self. 

A mum bun is done.

Look at you, Erin. You don’t even know how gorgeous you are. Freshly washed hair, carefully considered outfit, glowing, well-rested skin.

And why would any of that change once the babies start to come along? 

Well, I hate to break it to you, but showers are going to be hard to come by. Keeping on top of washing clothes will become a full-time job. 

You’ll start to choose clothes for their practicality, not their style. You’ll forget how to wear high heels, and you’ll wear your hair in a mum bun, just like all those mums you see taking up precious real estate with their prams at the cafe. 

Because one day you will be that mum. You’ll be a bit disheveled, a bit frazzled, a bit unkempt. But to your kids, you’ll always look like a beautiful superhero.

"To your kids, you’ll always look like a beautiful superhero." Image: Supplied.


Time is your new currency.

Remember when the weekend would roll around, and you’d fill your days with all the things you wanted to do? Catching up with friends, wandering down to the local cafe for a leisurely brunch, perhaps even trying out a new hobby? 

Those days are gone, my friend. 

When you heard the mothers in your office complaining about how little time they had, you’d quietly roll your eyes. Surely it wasn’t that bad? But with kids, everything takes approximately seven times longer. 

Getting shoes on and leaving the house becomes a tactical operation, designed to test your patience, your authority, and your ability to find a missing gumboot. 

Your weekends will fill up with kids' sport, birthday parties, park visits and play dates. Twenty minutes to yourself will feel like a trip to the spa. And time is the new currency you’ll trade in, especially with your partner. So enjoy those time-filled days while you can.

Listen to Before The Bump, Mamamia's podcast for what to expect when you're expecting. Post continues after audio.

You WILL sound like your parents.

As the eldest of four children, you used to resent being told more was expected of you. That you were the oldest so should set a good example, and not pick fights with your younger siblings. 

And surely you’ll never shout at your kids: "Because I said so!"

Truth is, now you’ve got three kids, you’ll often berate your biggest boy for not behaving properly. For fighting with his little brothers in the car. Telling him: "I expect more from you because you’re eight, he’s four!"

You’ll start to sound more and more like your parents, but you’ll also have a newfound respect and appreciation for everything they did for you. 

The old you is gone. 

The cliche is true. Once you have kids, life is never going to be the same again. Spontaneity is a thing of the past and every decision you make will now have your kids at its centre. Nothing you’ve done in life until now will be harder, or better.

The old you is gone, but you won’t really miss her. Because your heart is too full, and the new you is pretty great. At least your kids think so.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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