Up until recently I was a helicopter mum. Well, I suppose I still am to a certain extent but recently I feel like I have really made some progress in loosening those apron strings a little.
We went to a local softplay the other day and for the first time ever, I let her go. I didn’t put my socks on and go crawling in after her, checking that she didn’t slip or full or get pushed about by the older children. I let her climb up to the very top level, I let her go down the slides, negotiate the drops, steps and other children all by herself. I know that sounds ridiculous to most of you, but it’s something that I really struggle with.
I hover, I am overprotective, I don’t let her run on concrete for fear of her falling over and smashing her face, I stand behind her as she climbs the steps to the slide at the park for fear of her toppling backwards to her death. I suppose you could say I’m just a little bit of an anxious person. Just a little.
Ok, a lot.
Everywhere we go I see danger, I can see in my mind her breaking her arm or breaking her nose or getting knocked over and it makes me so scared that I wrap her in this bubble of over protectiveness and I don’t let her be a two year old.
Yesterday morning I went upstairs to get dressed and in the five minutes I was up there I heard an almighty thud and then hysterical wailing. She had climbed onto the sofa and toppled over the back. She has a big bruise on her forehead and one on her hip where she banged into the table as she fell. I wasn’t there, I couldn’t stop it. The guilt was overwhelming but when they’re two, you simply can’t watch them all the time. It’s different when they’re babies and more portable. You put them in their seat or moses basket and take them with you. If you did that with a toddler you would never get anything done.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that toddlers will fall over. They will get bumps, bruises, scrapes, scratches. They will get pushed and shoved by the other kids, they will snatch and bicker and you have to let it happen. You can try to teach them what is safe and good and what isn’t, but ultimately some lessons they need to learn for themselves. It isn’t practical to hover over them all the time and while your heart might be in your mouth and you might feel sick and panicky, the pride you feel when they climb to the top of the steps will be overwhelming. The surprise when you see that they have come down the slide headfirst, will floor you. You will see another child take a toy, or give them push to get past and it will break your heart but your child has got to fight these battles themselves and when you see that they kindly let the pushy kid get past them, without making a fuss or crying or pushing back, you will feel like you have done at least one thing right.
Good luck helicopter mamas. It’s tough out there, but our kids are tough too.