Madeleine West is a genius, and I am eternally in her debt.
Not since I discovered the miracle hacks of breast milk (who knew it was good for clearing babies’ conjunctivitis?), have I encountered a parenting hack so brilliant, so easy to employ.
On evenings you know will be followed by hectic, crazy mornings, simply dress your children in their outfits for the next day. Obviously not full school uniforms that crinkle and are uncomfortable in the night – but if their attire for the next day are casual wear, trackies and tees, why ever not?
Surely any parent can see the genius in this. Surely they can comprehend that clean clothes are being put on clean bodies, on clean sheets. Given the amount and ferocity of criticism directed at West though, many do not.
Here’s the thing about the people hiding behind their screens, the ones who have grossly attempted to discredit West’s parenting.
Whether her detractors admit it or not, they have at times done what they could to get by. That’s the nature of parenthood – it will bring you to the edge, and you will do what it takes to come back.
It can look like putting your child in front of the television longer than usual so dinner can be made. In another household, it’s giving your child whatever unhealthy snack it is that they’re screaming for so you can complete the grocery shopping.
For me, it has been that my children have been sent to day care in their pyjamas on several occasions.
We are none of us perfect, and none of us need apologise for it.
Yesterday West responded to criticism in a piece penned for Kidspot. In it she writes that her book, Six Under Eight, was intended to be a frank discussion about parenthood, in the hopes that it would “empower other parents, make them feel good about their choices, let them laugh in the face of overwhelming chaos, and show them that none of us is perfect.”
She rightly states her refusal to apologise for doing what is best for her family, and comments on the unfortunate inclination online forums have for bringing out the worst in people.
“Online forums have become the equivalent to the villages of old… But sadly, by tearing down rather than supporting our peers on the crazy rollercoaster that is parenthood, we shutdown all discussion, and cut off honest dialogue, as people will not share their stories for fear of being judged.”
Madeleine West gives us her tips for being an organised mum. Post continues after video.
West ended the piece with the reminder that so long as you cherish and love your children, you are a good parent – and the only opinions that matter are those of your children.
“If you can smile, remembering these little folk were, are, and will always be your babies, inextricably tied to you by blood, love, and all the pitter, splatter, and clatter in between, then you are a good parent.”
“We are not, and never will be, perfect, but in our children’s eyes we are the most perfectly imperfect parents they could ever wish for. Our little ones wouldn’t have us any other way, and at the end of the day, that is all that matters.”
All parents are feeling our way through parenthood, whether you have been a parent for a year, or for twenty. One of our most valuable resources are the parents who have gone before us, and we risk that when we shame them for their choices. All any of us can do is our very best.
Listen to the full episode of I Don’t Know How She Does It featuring Madeleine West here:
You can find a copy of Madeleine’s book here, or in any good bookstore.