What Parenting Really Looks Like (and it ain’t pretty)


I clearly remember the rose-tinted spectacles of optimism I wore when pregnant with my eldest boy.

Of course, I knew parenting would be nothing like the white-picket fence images of the TV commercials – where the mum is radiant in her pure white dress, smiling down at her cherubic infant who gurgles adorably as she changes his nappy (which no doubt smells of raindrops and roses).

But ignorance is bliss, and I still managed to kid myself that becoming a parent would somehow turn me into Mary Poppins, so filled with joy by the arrival of my little miracle that I’d laugh away his tears, wipe up his mess cheerfully, and brush off the sleep deprivation with a strong coffee and a smile.

But that’s because we rarely capture images of what parenting really looks like.

It’s like the social media snapshots of our lives. We show the happy, smiling, sunshine moments. The fun, the parties, the “you gotta laugh” incidents. Our pictures feature the tidy corners of our living rooms, the front sections of the carefully-iced birthday cakes (which don’t reveal the back has collapsed into mush)

So what does parenting really look like?



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And when I say sleepy that’s really too cute a word to describe the sheer, sell-your-own kidney for an uninterrupted night, form of torture that a baby inflicts upon your life. Believe me people, it’s not ‘tired but happy’. I have wept over my baby’s cot, begging him to go back to sleep….



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Isn’t it just adorable when kids get their first taste of real food? Especially when they shove it up their nose, rub it in their hair, and throw it down your cleavage *tries desperately not to retch*



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Chicken pox. The appearance of those little dots which not only tells you your child is going to look like a pus-filled monster out of a horror movie for at least a week, but he’ll keep you awake with his screaming and roaring for at least 7 nights until you feel as sweaty and disgusting as he looks.




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Boring. And frustrating. A smelly uphill battle to get your cherub to stay put and do his business in the proper place. It can take months. Months of washing urine and faeces from clothing, carpets, bedding and pretty much every surface you’ve got.




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It doesn’t just happen during the Terrible Twos. Nope. As they grow older the crying just gets louder, the door slams are more dramatic and the whining is so high-pitched you begin to think only dogs could possibly hear them. Yes, they could be hungry, over-tired, a little too stimulated…. or maybe they’re just bad-tempered little brats!





And then there are the moments where we don’t happen to have any photographic evidence (a bit difficult to pick up a camera when you’re in shock)



When your baby has colic and reflux, and manages to throw up his milk on every second feed in an Exorcist-like fashion, spraying you with thick goo that drips from your hair like white ectoplasm. The only upside of this situation was that I learned to spot a potential eruption and tip Brodie over my shoulder so the yucky stuff landed behind me like I was a seagull who’d just taken a big wet, white crap.

(Why I never thought to get a photo of this is beyond me!)



When your husband takes baby and toddler out for a day at the zoo on his own. While walking around the animal enclosures he realises toddler needs a nappy change, so finds a quiet spot on the grass (since there are no toilets nearby) to perform a quick clean-up. He whips off what he assumes is a wet nappy – only for a big, heavy, still-steaming turd to roll into the palm of his hand.

(Oh yeah, hubby still has nightmares about that one!)


So the next time a parent presents an image of a crisp, white linen tablecloth and perfectly-turned-out children, just bear in mind this is a snapshot of their life – and about as realistic as a Tyrannosaurus Rex strolling down the local high street.

That fixed smile the mum is wearing on her face is to cover up the silent prayer she’s saying, in the hope the kids can keep up the pretence until you’ve gone home.


Check this out for even more hilarious – but frighteningly true – examples of What Parenting Really Looks Like


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60 Thoughts on “What Parenting Really Looks Like (and it ain’t pretty)

  1. Ha ha ha ha ha Donna! Those pictures are brilliant. Much more realistic!
    Donna @ Little Lilypad Co recently posted…Can you take your baby swimming after having their injections?My Profile

  2. Ha! This is more like it. There’s nothing glamorous about parenting is there? We always put such lovely pictures on our blogs, but you’re right, most of the shots on my cameral look like these )
    Actually Mummy… recently posted…Tesco Mum of the Year Awards 2015 – the big dayMy Profile

  3. Ha ha, having just dealt with yet another newborn poo explosion I’m nodding along here. So glamorous!
    Cat (Yellow Days) recently posted…Polarn o. Pyret Kids Clothing at House of FraserMy Profile

  4. oooh so much nearer the mark than those parenting manuals we think of as bibles in pregnancy!
    Emma recently posted…Tips for taking children to football matchesMy Profile

  5. Amazing!!! I’m glad I didn’t read this BEFORE children as it would have totally put me off! I do not want a turd in my hand, or on my floor, or covering my walls…..
    Andrea recently posted…Team Honk Danceathon – We did it!!!My Profile

  6. Fabulous… such a giggle !
    Becky recently posted…How to use Pinterest as a research libraryMy Profile

  7. I had to laugh about yoru hubby and the steaming turd! This si all so true. Mich x
    Michelle Twin Mum recently posted…10 Top tips for a stress free school morningMy Profile

  8. Excellent. That really made me smile this morning :)
    Looking for blue sky recently posted…Not soup, seaMy Profile

  9. LOVE these pictures! I can relate to each and every one of them. The chicken pox one brings back not so found memories! My favorited are always the messy ones though, especially the first spaghetti dinner!
    Maureen recently posted…Bathroom Reveal!My Profile

  10. LOL. I am literally weeping. Brilliant photos, just brilliant :)
    Mum of One recently posted…Because You Can’t Toddler-Proof Everything…My Profile

  11. Ha ha – wonderful pictures and oh so accurate descriptions. This post is a must-read for first-time moms! It’s okay that parenting isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, but one doesn’t always get that from many of the parenting blogs. Awesome post!
    Kara recently posted…Extreme DownsizingMy Profile

  12. LOL! Even your toddler looks exhausted in your Sleepy picture! Definitely agree, parenting ain’t pretty!

    • They’re not babies any more Michelle – thankfully. That toddler is turning 9 next month! But I remember the exhaustion and the mess like it was yesterday. And the tantrums are still happening.

  13. Oh wow, love those pics. So cute and real — shows what you’ve truly experienced.
    Jay of Relaxed Thairapy recently posted…Review | Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Hold & Shine Moisture MistMy Profile

  14. Wait? What? “Parenting is nothing like the white-picket fence images of the TV commercials”? You don’t say?
    This is why I decided not to be a parent. I figured it would be more than I was willing to give. So good on you for accepting the challenge. It takes a special person to be a parent.
    Troy S. recently posted…#858 Ice cream truck music is sweetMy Profile

  15. Lol, I still remember those blissful times when I believed I would be the most patient mother in the world and my kids would be happy at all times ;)
    Tat recently posted…25 playful ways to get unstuckMy Profile

  16. I don’t think anyone is ever fully prepared for parenthood. Mine are all grown now and hindsight is 20/20. I barely remember the sleepless nights, the poop and everything in between. I survived! :)
    Alli recently posted…L’Oréal Excellence Age PerfectMy Profile

  17. What wonderful pictures! Well done on making it through all the challenges with such a sense of humour!
    Bethan recently posted…How to make a swirly circle skirtMy Profile

  18. I try not to take those kinds of pictures, but you sure gave me a laugh today. I think we have to laugh or else we will just cry…
    Heather recently posted…Five Ways Your Toddler Thinks Differently To YouMy Profile

  19. Thanks for the laugh. I am a mom of 4, had a daycare for 12 years, and now have a preschool. I have done plenty of these moments with my own children as well as other’s. Thank you for sharing pictures of the not so great moments. Reality isn’t easy to talk about. I applaud you for this.

  20. Lol, Im laughing, I have always said, if we could only know what was going on 5 minutes before a picture was taken, yelling screaming, stain that was cause by a quick snack, the tantrum, yada yada. Being a parent has its moments good, bad worse and beautiful, funny and yes even heart breaking. I agree with Kritina reality is hard to talk about.

    Great post, thank you for sharing!!!
    Karren Haller recently posted…The Ultimate PartyMy Profile

  21. This is so funny & true!! I have three little ones (age 5 & 3 year old twins). I laughed about your husbands diaper incident at the zoo! We all seem to have those moments when we think it is one thing in the diaper then realize (sometimes too late) it is something else. Parenting sure is full of adventures!

  22. You had me laughing so hard my daughter asked me what was wrong. Shows me I need to laugh more I guess. These are so like my life right now. A four month old that keeps me awake at night. A three year old that throws tantrums if things don’t go her way. An eleven year old daughter that is trying to find out why she is so grumpy all the time. And don’t even get me started about the 13 year old that knows it all. Thanks for making me laugh today.
    Kimberly recently posted…7 Easy Homeschooling Room IdeasMy Profile

  23. Oh my goodness! You have me in stitches! You have a great writing style.

    Your stories brought back memories of when my children were little. We sure did go through some crazy things.

    Even as a grandparent, we go through some crazy things. When my oldest grandson (3yo) was a baby, he vomited in my mouth. Yuck! I was holding him above me playing with him and trying to get him to laugh. Well, let’s just say he got the last laugh. Believe me, I now keep my mouth shut while playing with my 3 month old grandson. I sure don’t want any repeats. Ha! Ha!
    Charlie recently posted…Life Lessons Series: MoneyMy Profile

  24. Haha! This is so true! I love the real life pictures that you shared. Can totally relate with you!
    Ginger P. Arboleda recently posted…Tempur Breeze Launch in the PhilippinesMy Profile

  25. Great post. Just looking at you pics brought back a ton of pleasant (and not so pleasant) memories. Great stuff, thank-you!
    Kim F. Hoyer recently posted…Comment on Selling Through Storytelling by Kim F. HoyerMy Profile

  26. After 5 kids I can agree completely! Permanent exhaustion, feeding on demand so you feel like a snack bar on legs, vomit, poop & pee – often all over you at the same time and power struggles with toddlers that would thwart the UN ! But we keep doing it because we love them – don’t we!
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  27. Being a mum is hard work and this really hits home doesn’t it. I bet it made a good any mums smile!
    Dash Kitten recently posted…Sunday SelfieMy Profile

  28. Yes! yes! I couldn’t like this anymore than I do. I don’t know why more people aren’t more honest and share what parenthood is really like. I could have used the honesty before I got into it, hahahaha.
    Jill recently posted…InvisibilityMy Profile

  29. Wow! Thank you for the honest look at parenting.
    These are some crazy stories–I really appreciate the share.
    Nicole R (@AlwaysReiding) recently posted…It’s Monday, March 9th, What are you Reading?My Profile

  30. When I got pregnant and had my daughter, I realized there was A LOT that people don’t share, probably for fear we would stop procreating. But there is definitely a lot of good to go with it.
    Meghan recently posted…Challenges I’ve Faced as an Independent AuthorMy Profile

  31. Oh my…how you have said so much in your words. I don’t mean to laugh…but I laugh with understanding as my youngest is only 2 months old and the oldest is 14. I have to agree with everything you have said!!
    Amanda Hopkins recently posted…Five Minute Friday ~ PlanMy Profile

  32. Yup! That pretty much sums up my life right now. But, I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I love your pictures!

  33. This post made me chuckle! I remember days all too well. Now that we are past most of them, I don’t regret any of them. But going through it, I needed sleep the most. I don’t think you realize until you are a parent how much sleep you go w/o with little one’s. Parenting is a wonderful mess. Enjoy!
    Tamara recently posted…Main Event – Spring Break FUNPassMy Profile

  34. OMG – this was absolutely hilarious. HILARIOUS. I don’t have kids and when my friend was pregnant with her first child, she gave me some books to read that gave you the truth of pregnancy and that first couple years and I was equally entertained and horrified. We bookmarked the hell out of that book.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Why I Give Our Dogs Salmon Oil and Not Fish OilMy Profile

  35. I love this! So very true! I can’t count the times when I thought that the white-picket-fence-moms were full of it. haha
    I think it is more like you said at the end – when the kids are behaving we just say a silent prayer that they will keep up the charade til there’s no one else around. I think it is even more fun with breastfeeding because the high protein makes the vomit smell so AWESOME and stain EVERYTHING! Honestly? I think your post sums up the imperfect side of parenting perfectly! <3
    Jarah recently posted…For the Mom Who Feels Like She Isn’t Enough…My Profile

  36. Hilarious! Am putting this forward for the Netmums Blog of the Week! X
    Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer recently posted…The Big 5 Life Lessons.My Profile

  37. Yes, yes, yes! finally a post that tells it like it is
    Sarah Anguish recently posted…Living Arrows Week Eleven {2015}My Profile

  38. Tired.
    That says it all!
    I don’t think there are words enough to describe how much more tired I am (even after I do get sleep) now that I am a parent of two.
    Your photos go a long way to showing how so many of us feel!
    Sarah recently posted…Let’s Here it for PiMy Profile

  39. This post is so real. It’s so true that parenting is nothing like it is on TV. Even with my kids, each one is different and reacts to me differently. Thanks for sharing your parenting reality with us.
    Nickida recently posted…Secure Your Valuables On The Go with Master LockMy Profile

  40. This is just the truth!!
    Ruthie Lopez recently posted…Sofia The FirstMy Profile

  41. Thanks for the heads up! I’m not a mom yet, but I really hope to be in the future and though I’m well aware of the challenges and incredible patience and strength it takes to be a mom, I so look forward to it with open arms because at the end of the day I know it will be the most rewarding, most important, most significant thing I will ever do in my life.
    Plus, I raised a virtual child in college so I’m good to go! (Kidding, obviously!)
    Tiffany recently posted…Creative Ways To Spark Your Creativity [Part 1]My Profile

  42. All so very true. Starts with childbirth which is way more gruesome than I ever imagined and ends with cleaning up teenage boozey vomit. Or so I’ve heard…
    Domestic Goddesque recently posted…Family Travel: Camping Pods at Port LympneMy Profile

  43. LOL!!! All of these are soooo true! But would I have it any other way? No!!! I am glad that I am going through these things with my family because these are the memories that will linger until I get old. :)
    Chai Galapon recently posted…If You Think You Have Done Everything and Yet No Success Comes Your Way then THIS POST IS FOR YOUMy Profile

  44. Yup, I spit out my oatmeal. Real life parenting is this messy and then some. Just wait until you’re dealing with acne, braces, learner’s permits, prom dates and keg parties. As the mom of two in college, I promise it never ends. (But then again, we’d never want it to!) Here’s to a glass of Chardonnay and a box of Clorox wipes!

  45. LOL funny photos!
    Mary Ellen/ Whisk Together recently posted…Maddox’s Favorite ChiliMy Profile

  46. At least they’re cute when they finally fall asleep :)
    Ashley Krout – i Find Hope recently posted…March Oil Spotlight: Wild OrangeMy Profile

  47. LOL, I couldn’t help but chuckle reading this…but I seen my kids and granddaughter in some of these scenarios.
    Renee S recently posted…Fruit Cobbler/Free Baby Items/Pretty PinwheelsMy Profile

  48. Very funny! And very true! Parenting is messy and hard…of course there are good moments but it’s so much harder and messier than you could imagine before you become a parent
    Renée Henson recently posted…Old Dogs and New TricksMy Profile

  49. Love all of these! Can relate to some many. What really got me was when you had all these photo’s and poof none for the kids actually behaving, cause as you said we’re either in shock or enjoying the moment, lol.
    Brandy Roberts recently posted…How Music Affects Kids’ Intellectual and Creative DevelopmentMy Profile

  50. Poxy.. you poor mom.. That must have been a rough spell.
    Becky recently posted…Are You Ready for the Future?My Profile

  51. I just love your pictures. This is what parenting is like in a nutshell. Thank you for the laugh and great post!
    Tanya recently posted…Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts – My Review (@ManitobaHarvest)My Profile

  52. Love your real life explanations of all of the messiness of parenting. It is both exhausting and messy and wonderful.
    Faith Still recently posted…St. Patrick’s Day Striped Jello BlocksMy Profile

  53. As a mom of two boys ages 1 and 3 I can TOTALLY relate! Sometimes I seriously feel like I live in a zoo! I love the pictures and this is a totally relatable post! Despite the frustrations, just keep swimming, mommy!
    Rachel @ Third Stop on the Right recently posted…Making The Old New: Upcycling Shampoo Bottles into Art Supply HoldersMy Profile

  54. Okay, I have to say this is the funniest post I’ve read! I’m not sure how you meant for it to go over , but that’s what I think. Also, you have me wondering if we really do want to adopt! Maybe we should go for a little one that is potty trained, able to eat on their own… lol just kidding this was great!!
    Christine Paul recently posted…Crimini Mushroom FarfalleMy Profile

    • Hahaha. You scared me for a moment Christine. Meant this to be funny. But don’t want to put anyone off children. They are wonderful and there are loads of rewarding parts of being a parent. Just think we don’t need to dress it up with a little pink bow and make out that it’s all unicorns and fluffy bunny rabbits – because it isn’t. Roll up your sleeves and invest in plenty of baby wipes, and you’ll be fine xxx

  55. Thank you so much for sharing. i have 2 girls and my husband has a daughter and son. When we met they were 2, 3, 4, and 6. It was a blended disaster at times. Other times it was a hysterically funny, disaster. Thank you so much for sharing and is definitely the real side of things.
    Amy Groves recently posted…Awesome Giveaway for 3-D Fiber Lash MascaraMy Profile

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