Monday, 20 February 2012

Being a 'good enough' mum

It’s been a great week this week. Not much has happened on the therapy/referrals/help side of things, but as school holidays go, this has been the best by far!

The reason? Shall I divulge my secret?? Well, ordinarily during half term or school/nursery holidays I plan. I have a chart and everything! Mini has always responded well to structure and routine, so in the past I’ve planned activities – at least one each day, with meal times at the same time every day (as normal), bedtime at the same time as normal, and the ‘activity’ whether it’s soft play, the park, trip to the farm, visiting friends, baking, crafts has also been at the same time each day. Mini’s best time is in the morning so that’s when I plan for, and then in the afternoon he’s had play time, craft time or CBeebies.

This time…well, I didn’t plan anything! We have masses of craft stuff, I always have the ingredients for a cake, and we have stacks of Disney DVDs so I knew I’d have things I could pull out and do with Mini and Dollop, but otherwise, I basically let them run riot. This worked really well. Now Mini is at school he gets really tired during the week and so I thought half term would just be a chance for him to sleep, nap, chill out and re-energise. He didn’t sleep in late, in fact, half the time he was up earlier than during the week, and he went to bed at his normal time, but the only time he got tired was the last weekend of the half term (where he spent some time out geocaching with daddy, and had the excitement of a visit from his Auntie H).

So what did we do? I spent lots of time on the floor playing with them both, and introducing Mini to some games – Operation, Home Run and playing his favourite Jenga! We baked and decorated Valentine’s Day biscuits for daddy. Mini made and decorated cupcakes only needing help with the oven. We made pictures together. We walked to the shops. During Dollop’s naps, Mini watched James and the Giant Peach for the first time, and re-watched some of his favourite DVDs. He did a bit of writing practise, a bit of reading practise and a lot of maths practise. Dollop loved having her brother around, and together Mini and Dollop read, played ‘chefs’, had enormous fun with the Argos book, which over the week was a register, a clipboard for meetings, tickets for the bus, a pad of prescriptions,  train tickets, shopping lists, pieces of pizza…all sorts. They cuddled. We all cuddled. Mini also had a day at Nanna and Grandad’s which he thoroughly enjoyed (as he always does) and was well-behaved there too. He helped grandad pick up a prescription (and dropped off his own Argos prescription too), did lots of writing, used the computer, talked to grandad about adoption and birth families and had a whale of a time!

I didn’t use time out for the whole week which means that Mini didn’t scream, or refuse to do anything I asked him. We had a couple of ‘disagreements’ mostly over tidying up toys, but Mini was really good. He made choices and didn’t struggle to do it, or change his mind, and the choices he made were really great ones!

Mini obviously has anxieties about me and the NC being here for him, and I guess as he was with me all week, those anxieties weren’t there for him. In future, I won’t worry about making sure we’re doing something every day because actually all my son needs is quality time with me. It’s just taken me a while to realise that I’m -to borrow John Bowlby's phrase- ‘good enough’.


  1. There should never have been any doubt either by yourself or others that you were a good enough mum!! We all do our best with the tools,knowledge and experience we have to hand and day by day we learn new skills and so it goes on. Your son is loved and very much wanted now that's a good start! We all have our moments when we doubt ourselves or we know we have said the wrong thing but mummies are human too and you love your children unconditionally. Never doubt yourself as a mum sweetheart! Gremlin xxx

    1. Thanks Gremlin - your words mean a lot.
      The reason I have doubted myself is that over the last 4 years (but particularly the last 2) so many people have told me that Mini's behaviour is normal...and I've believed them, but because I've not been able to help him or deal with his behaviour it's made me feel like a crap mummy. I've tried a few different approaches with him over the years and nothing has ever worked, which again makes me feel like I've failed him.
      Now, I've tried something and for the first time it did work! And, not only that, finally someone else has recognised that Mini's behaviour is not normal, and has told me I'm doing the right thing. It's nice to feel in control for a change, and knowing that over half term Mini didn't need expensive trips out, or constant entertainment shows me that I'm enough for him- just me, and that's quite a nice feeling...

  2. School hols are always better times here. LL is calmer, better behaved and more at ease when he is at home for a period of time. He actually sat on the rug during this holiday you wrote about and said to no-one in particular, 'I love being at home.'

    Going back to good old John Bowlby, I don't think we can underestimate how true it is that we have built their 'secure base' for them; something that they didn't have before and now do. The 'secure base' consists of us (which means that we can take them out and they can feel safe in different places because they are with us) but also home. I think mine will be a little homebody in the future and probably won't go far.

    All of this shows that we are MORE than 'good enough'. xx