I’m a Better Parent When Other People Are Around

I think when most parents take their kids out somewhere they hope the children will be ‘on their best behaviour’.  But, thinking about it and being truly honest, I’m also ‘on my best behaviour’.

Since we moved we’re in much closer proximity to other people.  If we were out in the garden at my parents’ you couldn’t hear someone else at the other side of the garden let alone neighbours.  Here, you have the noise from at least the closest six gardens wafting around as you hang out the washing.

I have noticed it makes me more aware of the people around me and the fact if I can hear them they can hear me.  They can hear…and they can judge.

I’m already pretty paranoid about what others think; especially when it comes to my parenting.  I think that’s probably pretty normal when you have autistic children.  I’m very aware of the fact our neighbours can probably hear when one of the cubs has a meltdown, when Bear screams for quarter of an hour upon waking from his nap because he can’t deal with the transition from sleep to wakefulness, when Tyger does all his weird and wonderful verbal stimming.

If we’re out somewhere I feel even more exposed and know people will be looking and listening to my parenting.

I’ll admit it, when I know people are watching or listening – when we’re out or have visitors over – I parent differently.

It’s not like I beat the cubs behind closed doors.  I don’t have a Miss Tranchbull style ‘chokey’ I lock the cubs in, although you’d be forgiven for thinking it if ever you heard Tyger’s screaming at hair washing time.

When we’re alone together I hug and kiss the cubs, tell them I love them, we laugh and play and joke.  Bear killed himself laughing over me saying ‘wibbly wobbly’ in a funny voice about 87 times.  We have fun.  But I do parent the cubs differently when I’m not around other people and not necessarily for the better.

I’m lazier when it’s just me and the cubs.  Around other people it’s, ‘Of course I’ll get you a snack, Sweetie.’  On my own it’s, ‘You just had Cheerios two minutes ago you can wait until I next get up to make tea for something else.’

I give in more easily.  This probably falls under being lazier, to be honest, but it’s a little more specific.  The cubs want the TV on when guests are over?  ‘No, no, Darling.  Just wait a little while.  Why don’t you play with this educational wooden toy?’  But, when it’s just me it’s often, ‘Yeah, sure.  I’ll put something on Netflix and then it’ll autoplay the next episode, too.’

I ignore them more.  I find parenting hard.  Harder than I thought I would (turns out being a teenager when your parents have two more kids does prepare you pretty well for being a parent but doesn’t mean you’ve effectively done it before…who knew?).  When around other people I stay switched on as much as I can.  It’s exhausting but expected.  When I’m alone with the cubs I zone out sometimes.  I suddenly ‘come to’ and realise Tyger has been repeating ‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummy’ like a stuck record for who knows how long.

I have a shorter fuse.  This actually ties in to my last blog post about autism and noise sensitivity.  I keep my temper around other people and might react to Tyger hitting Bear with a, ‘No.  We don’t hit, do we?’  But when it’s just me and the cubs and I’m overloaded from the constant noise I do snap at them and my reaction is more along the lines of, ‘What did you just do??  Don’t you ever hit him.  Do you understand?  No, I don’t care what he did.  I DON’T CARE.  YOU DO NOT HIT.’

I also – and this is not something I like in myself – use ‘why can’t you just…’ too often.  I know the answer.  I know Tyger can’t ‘just’ stop making all the noises he makes because his verbal stimming is part of his autism.  I know Bear can’t ‘just’ wake up from a nap in a good mood because the transition from sleep is hard for him…due to his autism.

Not all of it’s down to ASD.  Sometimes I know they can’t ‘just’ because they’re tired or ill or simply because they’re children.  I know but I still ‘why can’t you just…’ them.

It makes me feel hugely guilty when people compliment me on my parenting.

‘You’re such a good mum to those boys.’

I want to reply, ‘I gave them Nutella in a wrap for lunch and napped on the sofa for an hour after I got up with them this morning.  I shouted at them five times in the space of a minute for being too noisy and was grumpy when they both suddenly needed a poo when I sat down to have a cup of tea.’

I’m never a perfect parent but I’m at my most imperfect when nobody else can hear.  I can’t be the only one?

 

 

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16 Comments


  1. Of course you are not alone. Please don’t feel guilty about it. Children are a struggle without adding in things like ASD, tiredness and boredom. I remember thinking I had achieved great things if I could be dressed by lunchtime and not murdered my son!

    You need time to yourself too, and that is something that can be in short supply as a Mum. Be good to yourself.

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  2. This is me too, and neither of my children are autistic. They are just challenging in their own specific way. I can’t imagine how much harder I would find it to parent a child – let alone children – with a disorder like autism. I don’t doubt that you have impatient days and I don’t doubt that sometimes you shout more than you wish you did (because we all do that)… but, from one mother to another, from where I’m standing you’re a hero.

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  3. Loved this honest piece of writing that I am sure most readers will relate to. I certainly do. We have better holidays when we go with friends, one of the reasons being that their friendly witness of our family life means that we all step up a bit and make more of an effort with each other.

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  4. Well, you are certainly not alone there! In fact, tell me a mother who doesn’t behave differently in front of others…oh ok, I do have a friend who yells at her kids constantly, refuses them anything the ask for, (even the toilet!) and I’ve never seen her cuddle them. But we can’t all be perfect can we? xx

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  5. All kids are challenging at times and definitely know how to push us to breaking point. I feel like a complete meanie at times, but its part of being a mum in putting my foot down sometimes. #marvmondays

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  6. Your not the only one. I’m more self conscious when other people are there and in particular my friend and her mother in law. I feel like they judge not only me but my son and I actually feel like I’m a worse parent in front of them because I’m being watched. I can’t be my natural self and I hate it. Completely get this so don’t worry #marvmondays

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  7. Totally relate this! Would I let my daughter watch as much TV as I do if I knew the rest of the street could see into my front room? Hell no!

    #MarvMondays

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  8. Nope-you’re definitely not the only one!! You’ve just accurately described absolutely everything (and I mean everything, right down to actual words that come out of my mouth,) that I do when I’m alone with the children, and when I’m out with them! I never could have even come close to imagining the demands that being a mum would make on me. And yes, I can huff and puff too when I’ve finally made a drink, and I’ve just got the boys their 15th breakfast, and they ask for something else. But it is all so relentless, and there has to be an end to our fuse somewhere! I wish I didn’t have to do the whole ‘no darling, that’s now what we do is it?’ when I’m out, but I know how strongly everyone will be judging. I liked your line that they ‘are just being children,’ which is something I try to remind myself all the time-children and adults are like different species, just worlds apart. We are going to clash and misunderstand each other, and get cross and fall out, because of those differences. It’s just a shame we have to hide it in public! I love the honesty here. xx
    #bigpinklink

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  9. Such a honest post and no you are not the only one! We are all in it together xx #marvmondays

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  10. I think the majority of us are the same – it’s human nature to consider what those around us think and sadly some will jump to the wrong conclusion. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

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  11. This is such a great honest post, and describes me to a tee too! I have two faces when it ones to parenting and am also on my best behaviour when out and about. But don’t be hard on yourself, parenting is hard, very hard, and when your are tired it is an extra a strain. #MarvMonday

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  12. I relate to this hugely. I am so much less lazy and somehow more patient when parenting in front of others x #marvmondays

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  13. You are not. I can relate. I think it is only human to be like that. Thanks for your honesty. #BigPinkLink

    Nadia – ScandiMummy x

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  14. Nym I love this post! So honest and you’re definitely not alone. Hayden’s current obsessions are literally driving me up the wall and I can’t help but become incredibly shouty! My patience is so much better in public environments, that’s for sure! As I type I have a headache following a morning of leaving hubby to a Fathers Day lie in. It is soooo hard! Thank you for linking up to #spectrumsunday I hope you join me again this week xx

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