Take one look at this photo and what do you see? A happy child, idyllic setting, blue skies…. you’ll probably also notice the sandy face and unkempt hair, the fact that the child is very possibly (definitely) naked in a public place and a tantrum about all that sand is no doubt on the horizon. Welcome to my life. My perfectly imperfect, happy life. Because here’s the thing: perfect is NOT possible. No such thing exists. We’re all chasing it all the time but while we’re chasing we’re missing all those perfectly imperfect moments inbetween.
Maybe I see it more as a blogger, laying my life bare for all the world to see. I’ve done this for six years now and in that time I’ve seen various parenting trends come and go, but one has remained steadfast: the wish to idealise parenthood and family life, and make our own lives seem just that little bit more perfect than the next person’s. It’s natural I guess, that’s life in a competitive digital age.
As a blogger, there are practical and often devastatingly tempting side-effects to portraying this idealised vision of parenthood and family life: money. It always comes down to money in the end, doesn’t it? The more perfect our life might seem, the more brands might wish to buy into it and the more money we’ll make from sponsored posts and ad campaigns. It’s the dirty secret that many bloggers don’t wish to share, but it’s there as clear as the light of day.
There’s nothing wrong with showing the good side of family life. I’m as guilty as anyone of showing my “edited hightlights” on Instagram and the like. But the thing I want you to know (whether you’re a blogger or not) is that it’s just that – edited. For every money shot, there are countless others when my children didn’t want to pose angelically or my husband was too grumpy to take the photo. That’s family life – not just for me but for EVERYONE.
The other thing to remember is that many of us know this. We’re not stupid. When we read magazines and look at the beautifully styled photo shoots we know we’re looking at an airbrushed form of reality. And while some brands who work with bloggers simply want to regurgitate this version of perfection onto an online ad campaign involving bloggers, there are many others out there interested in really connecting with real parents. They want to hear about the funny parenting moments and mum fails that we ALL go through on a daily basis and they realise they might have a more engaging campaign if they embrace that reality.
Monday was such a brilliant day. We went to the beach (never going to tire of living in South Devon) with friends. We had a picnic looking at the sea, then got a boat across the water to a nearby town and walked along the seafront, playing penny slot machines on the pier and eating icecream. In every sense it was perfect. Except it wasn’t, because the kids inevitably had a pointless argument about whether a piece of driftwood was a “bone” or “wood”, not all the penny slot machines paid out and the icecream made a huge mess where one particular toddler was concerned (mine).
I tell you this because, for me, it was still a brilliant day. We have a tremendously happy life, despite the regular kid dramas and minor marital bickering about the home of dirty socks. And I’m sure we’re not the only ones.
So here’s to perfectly imperfect happiness, accepting who we are, being true to ourselves online and off and not giving in to the temptation of comparison.
If you need any more persuasion that this is the key to happiness (and success) then I urge you to have a read of this brilliant post by my pal Brummy Mummy of 2.
Anyway, here are some photos of our day out on Monday. These were taken about 20 minutes from where we live. I can’t imagine ever living anywhere but South Devon and it seems bonkers we’ve only been here three and a half years. And if you want to see the reality behind the photos, head to the video embedded at the bottom of this post, showing a regular family Sunday involving an impromptu party.
The video of the day before, if you fancy a watch…