All the terrible parenting advice I've gotten online.

Many things change when you have a baby. Your body, your hair, the shadows under your eyes, your bank balance, your relationships, and the information dished out to you through your social media feeds.

Based on the types of conversations I have online, the photos or articles I look at and the demographic box I fit into (city dwelling 30-something mother of two), I get quite the cocktail of ads and ‘suggested posts’ served up to me on Facebook and Instagram.

Sometimes I imagine there’s a plucky young Facebook executive casting their eye over the data report for the day and thinking to themselves, “Based on her criteria, today this lady saw ads for leggings that make you two sizes slimmer, washing powder, toddler shoes, gin, adult slippers that look like shoes, a wine sale, crumpets, sleep consultants, frozen chicken nuggets, anti-wrinkle cream, multi-compartment lunchboxes, a device you stick in your lady parts that connects to your phone to say how much work your pelvic floor needs, and more wine. WHAT IS THIS LIFE?!”

Terrible parenting advice.
"I wonder if people actually do all of these things, or if they just pretend they do for the internet", Casey McPike writes.

Sometimes I’ll see an ad for a bar opening, but when I scroll back to look it’s gone. I’m sure that same young exec is saying, “LOL! Sorry, our mistake, we temporarily thought you were someone with a life. Here’s an ad about cheap haircuts”.

But my morbid fascination lies with the ‘suggested articles’ containing well-meaning advice from pages where I just know the comments sections will be filled with, “I am the best ever parent and person!” undertones. I’m under no illusion that if I dared to comment with a query on the real life application of some of the advice I’d be met with the online equivalent of “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!”

terrible parenting advice
"How mornings usually go in my house".

Don’t get me wrong, some of the information is genuinely helpful and I’ve learned some awesome life hacks (putting a pool noodle under a fitted sheet to stop toddlers falling out of their new big kid bed = genius), but a lot of the time I wonder if people actually do all of these things, or if they just pretend they do for the internet.

For example, apparently my morning should include:

  • A brief (10-20 minute) session of gentle stretches and meditation to prepare me for a day of mothering
  • Taking 5-10 minutes over a cup of lemon in warm water to stimulate digestion
  • This bit is never explicitly mentioned, but taking the cue from “stimulating digestion” I assume the next step is to go for a poo
  • A mindful shower followed by body lotion application
  • A healthful breakfast, eaten while calmly planning my day.

Cool, sounds lovely, something to strive for in my “house by the beach where everything is white, tidy, and smells like French Pear candles” fantasies. But then the next bit gets me unstuck, because I’m also supposed to:

  • Respond immediately to my waking child so they don’t feel abandoned, but I’m also supposed to let him/her wake and spend time in their own company to learn to be comfortable in their own surroundings (which one, internet, which one?)
  • When I hear my child wake, I’m to put five hair ties on my right wrist, so that if I raise my voice during the day I can move it to my left wrist, then berate myself that evening over all the hair ties that moved (note: I’m gonna need more than five hair ties).
  • I should lie in bed with my child before they get up (or take them to mine if they’re still in a cot) and spend 20 minutes connecting with them and sharing gratitude rituals. I have two children though, so do I just pick a favourite? I guess that’d give them something to feel gratitude about.
  • Allow them to choose their own clothes if they’re old enough to do so, because #ChoicesAreEmpowering.
  • Eat breakfast together with my children to model healthful choices and #Togetherness (but wait, wasn’t I supposed to eat breakfast calmly on my own?)
  • Involve the children in gathering what’s needed to pack into bags, along with the personalised organic bento boxes you’ve prepared, before you head out the door together (presumably it’s almost dinner time by this point?) for some #MakingMemories magic.

Maths is not my strong point, but a brief tally up of how long everything will take suggests that I’d need to get up at Ridiculously Early O’clock to make this sort of morning come together. I’m not sure I’d get buy-in from the kids on the lying still and doing gratitude rituals bit. Also, we’re out of lemons and if Rice Bubbles aren’t considered a ‘healthful’ breakfast then shut up Internet.

So I guess night time is for creating the organic bento snack boxes, washing all the clothes that the children have chosen and unchosen, preparing dinner for the next night, and ‘reconnecting’ with my partner.

Oh, and running the home business I’ve started after being fired from my job for consistently swanning in at 4pm saying, “Sorry I’m late, the children have only just finished dressing and packing their bags for the day, by the way, does anyone have any spare hair-ties?”

Because you need to be something other than just a mother, but please, make it a home business about being a mother, and definitely don’t let it draw your attention away from your children for a single second when they’re awake. Which means going to bed about an hour before needing to get up again.

And that’s totally at odds with the next sponsored article that popped up, letting me know that getting 8-10 hours sleep per night is the best way to get back into my skinny jeans.

Casey McPike is a working mum and part-time writer from New Zealand. She has two little girls who give her a run for her money every day and most nights as well. She dreams of training for a marathon in her spare time, but usually gets sidetracked binge-watching Netflix with a  family-sized block of chocolate in hand. You can check out her blog or follow her on Facebook or Instagram & Twitter .