parent opinion

'Every parent has their own “I Don't” list. Mine will surprise you.'

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Before podcaster and influencer Maggie Chretien had children, she imagined she’d be the type of parent who was “perfect in every situation". 

“Actually, not only was I going to be perfect, but my children would be perfect, and I’d be very softly spoken, and I’d go to a lot of brunches, because maternity leave is a paid holiday,” she laughs. “My expectation of motherhood completely and utterly set me up for failure.”

Maggie’s experience reflects the 75 per cent of Aussie mums with children under 5, surveyed in Mamamia’s recent Parenting Pain Points Study, who agree that nothing could have prepared them for becoming a parent. It’s no surprise then that Maggie’s Instagram account, @thepeninsulamumma, where she shares sometimes poignant, and often times hilarious, honest takes on motherhood is resonating with so many women. Evidence: below.  


And like the 88 per cent of mums in our survey who no longer subscribe to the idea of being a perfect parent, Maggie doesn’t either. 

“I don't try to do it all, because it will kill me doing that and my family will suffer,” the Melbourne-based mum of two says.

Her turning point came when her anxiety got to the point she wasn’t able to leave the house with her kids. She knew she had to let the idea of the ‘perfect mum’ go and focus on her mental health.

“I want to give my kids the best version of me – always,” Maggie says of her five-year-old and two-year-old. “And yet, motherhood is the one thing that none of us will ever get right in every moment.

“So if me giving the kids Vegemite on toast for dinner allows us to have a happier house, I'm okay with that. That won't work for everybody, but for my family, that’s a sacrifice that I am willing to make,” she says of the pressure to make kids perfectly healthy meals every time. 

“We’ll have a really awesome night, they’ll go to bed happy, and I won’t have spent 30 minutes screaming at them and being frustrated, because they haven’t eaten the gourmet European kale and artichokes that I've created,” she jokes. 

So, inspired by Holly Wainwright’s original ‘I Don’t' list, here, Maggie shares how she isn’t doing it all, and is happier for it.

I don’t juggle more than two balls at a time.

Image: Supplied.


“I think the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that I can't throw two balls up at the same time. If I'm working, I can’t be trying to work around my kids, because that makes me anxious and frustrated. If I'm focused on my children, then that’s a day for my children – so I won’t do anything work-related until the kids go to bed. And when they’re at daycare while I’m working, it's not that I've dropped the ball on them, but I know someone else has picked up that ball for me.”

I don't check the photos that daycare and kinder send me of my children.

“I haven't even downloaded the app for my second child, which I think is a second child thing? I've always meant to, but when I pick them up at the end of the day, I just ask them, ‘Did you have a good day?’ They’ll say they had a great day. Solid. We’re good.

“I know that my kids are having a great time there; daycare is part of my village. I need daycare to be able to do what I do and also be the mother I want to be.”


I don’t separate my whites and colours.

“Everything goes into the washing machine and it doesn't matter what it is. I have the cycle that I know and love, I put it down to 30 degrees and everything goes in. I'm like, whatever will be, will be.”

I don't always want to play with my kids.

“Sometimes, I don't want to get down, be told that I can have a truck and only move two squares, and then be told I've done something wrong. Sometimes, I find that exhausting and I just don't want to do it. I'm like, ‘I would prefer to do the dishes. Mummy doesn't have the brain space for your 750 rules right now.’”

I don’t watch The Wiggles.

“I don’t know how to put this… my kids don’t even know that The Wiggles exist, because I don’t want to watch it. I enjoy Bluey and I can get behind Paw Patrol. For the longest time, the kids didn't know Cocomelon existed. And then I messed up and turned Cocomelon on and it was on for a good year.” 

I don't cook my children meals from scratch anymore.

“I gave up that battle a while ago. In the beginning I would put what I’d made into beautiful little cubes, that would go into the freezer – I was doing ALL the things. And then came a moment when my five-year-old was like, ‘No, I’m not going to eat anything that’s not out of a packet, and if you’re going to make it, I will not eat it.’ I don't have the capacity for that anymore, or the bank balance to just throw out everything. So the healthiest thing they'll have at the moment is kids’ ravioli. It's like a five-minute cook and they eat it!” 

I don't do a clean-up every day.

“You know how people do that at the end of the day? I simply don’t.”

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Feature Image: Supplied/Instagram/@thepeninsulamumma

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