I was trolling through my LinkedIn newsfeed this morning and I stumbled across something that stopped me in my tracts by The Female Lead. This caption caught my eye. “Someone needs to see this today.

Talk about a slap upside the head! This resonated viscerally for me.

I’m home-schooling a hormonal monster today that has lost her homework due to a ‘saving’ issue with a word document.

There’s been a frustration tantrum, and everyone is exhausted. It’s just ticked over 9 o’clock, and frankly, I’m ready to exorcise demons from the house or go back to bed.

Today feels like I’m participating in a Tough Mudder race, but I didn’t sign up for the competition!

This article I stumbled across resonated because there is just so much societal pressure these days to get it right. To be the perfect woman or man, wife/husband, and mother/father. I am finding this is especially so during the lockdown. And like so many working parents like myself, who have added home-schooling to their already full task list, there has to be a breaking point somewhere.

Just like this post, there are times when I am happy to admit I have piled various leftovers from multiple previous meals, onto the plate and called it dinner.

Or I’ve cooked up some noodles and padded out leftovers.

Or I’ve made a gravy, mixed it with the leftover roast, dished the new invention into macaroon dishes with puff pastry on top and called it ‘pot pie’.

Tada!

There is one exception between myself and the quoted mother above. I choose not to feel guilt for the picnic or dishing up leftovers. I just don’t have the energy for that bullshit.

I’ll admit, our family has pretended we are at a fancy restaurant and had little dishes of what is left in the fridge. We all got a taste but it wasn’t enough for a meal. So what do you do? You pad it out with whatever else you have! You make do. You have to otherwise food goes to waste or you end up purchasing takeout which does you no real favours.

In my household, we are also known for using the picnic tray a lot. We grab little serving dishes (picked just for the occasion) and organise slithers of this and slices of that with some GF crackers and call it a meal. This is actually a favourite lazy Sunday afternoon when it’s raining outside and we come together to watch a movie.

At the end of the day, I am ok with this. Everyone gets fed. End of story.

This incessant pressure applied through our evolved society sets a false expectation that you have to be the perfect parent and dish up cordon bleu every time. This is utter bollicks and I call BS on it all.

On a good week, when I have scheduled the time, I tend to meal plan out the future week. I also do the majority of cooking and food prep then. This system works.

But there are times it doesn’t for whatever reason, and those weeks are stressful and hurried at mealtime. So you do the best you can. I place the priority on food in mouths rather than not eating.

Given I tend to only purchase healthy food options, my family members can get as creative as they want on those days that I have run out of steam. I have learnt, and I’m getting better at the implementation of waving the white flag of surrender to the mother role and telling my family — today I’m not 100%.

Those are the days that I shelf the guilt and exile myself to the couch to rest. This is probably one of the best things which have happened to me during breast cancer treatment and lockdown — voicing externally to those around me that my batteries are in need of a recharge. I give myself permission to stop.

I no longer see this pause as a failure, or that I’m not good enough. I no longer perceive the act of stopping as not meeting the position description of ‘mother’. I now choose to see this as a gift to self.

Don’t ever think you have to compete with the external image of the ‘perfect plate’ for every single meal – it’s just not real and never will be. It is simply a marketing illusion designed to make you feel bad unless you’re purchasing a certain product.

Just do your best.

And when those picnic moments come along to enjoy your kids’ faces who think they are getting a treat and pat yourself on the back that you got them fed.

Its time to slow down and get out of our heads — you know that space where we overthink and over analyse. Give yourself a treat and step into our heart space where all the feels are. Kick back and charge the battery up.

You can only do your best today and continue to strive to stretch your best tomorrow (if you have the energy to do so)!