Reflections on parenting: How do my kids really see me?

by | Parent Guides, Parenting

In celebration of our new campaign, Bubble Chief Commercial Officer, Sarah (CCO-mum-runner-negroni drinker) reflects on her experiences of parenting and identity. 

It takes most babies 7 months to realise that they are a separate entity to their mother. Let that settle in – babies take over half a year to realise they are an individual, that their feet and limbs belong to them and, even better, they are able to control them. Put a baby in front of a mirror and they will not recognise themselves. 

So I guess it’s not that surprising that it takes them a further decade to realise that their parent is an individual too.

Our kids see us primarily in relation to their needs, the person who provides food, shelter and comfort. But just occasionally you catch a glimpse of what else they think we do. Whether it’s watching them roleplay, hearing them chat to their friends or seeing their artwork, we occasionally get a sense of what fantastical ideas are in their head.

This is why we have launched an advertising campaign based on this truth. The campaign playfully draws on the age-old reality for many parents: that once we become one, our other, original self can quickly become forgotten. Certainly by our children, who struggle to comprehend that mummy and daddy have ambitions, passions and commitments that don’t involve them, and a life that existed long before they came along. 

The truth is that it’s only by remembering we are more than a parent that we are able to really thrive as a parent.

Whilst most of us are racked with guilt about the lack of time we dedicate to our kids, the fact is that parents across the western world are spending more time than ever with their children. In the last 50 years the amount of time that mothers and fathers spend with their children each day has tripled. Parenting only started to be used as a verb in the 1980s.

The pursuit of “intensive parenting” as an aspiration  – sacrificing hobbies and friendships to be at home more than ever was a phenomenon recognised in the 1990s. However, the facts suggest that this is neither sustainable nor good for us.

In fact intensive parenting is actually damaging for families. The more connected we as parents are to our friends the longer we live and psychologists have repeatedly proven that having hobbies makes us happier and more confident. Also, it’s vital we model self-care so that our children understand its importance.  

Whilst being a parent will always be the most important thing in our life, we need time to give to the other roles that we perform. Our children will be surprised to learn that we are more than a “mummy” or “daddy”, but our lives will be happier and healthier for it.