A mum and life coach says she's a "really great mum" - and the secret is being "quite happy being average". Janey Holliday, 45, admits she walks past piles of washing, hires a housekeeper and takes pride in not being perfect at everything.
She puts happiness above academic achievement, by ignoring the Insta-perfect families online and "letting things be imperfect without being wrong". Janey, single mum to twins Monty and Harry, 14, and Tabitha, seven, said it's not always easy - and sometimes she cries after a chaotic school run.
But she considers herself to be a great parent by embracing being "good enough" - and delegating tasks to others, even if she could do a better job. As a life coach, she urges female clients to drop the 'martyr syndrome' and focus on parenting by your own defined values.
And reminds mums who worry about judgement to trust themselves - and "women have been raising children for thousands of years without Mumsnet". Janey from Sidmouth, Devon, said: "If you can go through life without worrying about what others are doing, particularly with parenting, life is so much more enjoyable.
“There is a place for everybody in the world, so you should try to define what happiness and success looks like to you and stick to those. When you are living a life based on your true core values, you don’t need to compare yourself to others.
"If I see a perfect family on Instagram, matching clothes on a nice holiday, whatever - it doesn't stir a reaction in me."
Janey said her key values are "happiness, kindness, love and fun" rather than financial security, organisation, and academic achievement. Leading by example allows her to parent more 'intuitively' rather than trying to compare to what other families are doing.
She said: "I consider myself to be a really great mum, and I don’t compare myself to anybody. I parent on those values. I’m in my own lane with my blinkers on and I'm not looking at what other people are doing.
“I approach parenting from a very relaxed, non judgmental kind of vibe because I feel a lot of mothers have lost their whole sense of intuition when it comes to parenting. So I give myself permission to parent in my own way, which is extremely empowering and confidence building.
“I just want my children to be happy. A lot of parents get very disappointed when their children don’t turn out as they expect.
"If they’re not academic enough for their very academically able parents, is it any surprise that these children end up with mental health issues by 14 or 15?"
Janey said she is "quite happy to be average" in particular tasks in order to focus on what does matter. She pays a housekeeper to organise their home for an hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.
She said: "I am good at lots of things, but I'm not good at everything. For example I just made some flapjacks and when I took them out I thought they didn’t look great, but my children loved them.
"So I just have to watch my inner dialogue and tell myself: no, that’s ok. Or I’ve just walked past a pile of washing on the stairs and I thought that’s fine, it can wait until tomorrow morning.
“It’s about forgiving yourself for not being able to do everything 100%. I’m quite happy to be average or below average in some things in my life.
"I'm actually very good at delegating, and lots of mothers aren’t because there is this belief that they should be able to do everything themselves, which is why women get themselves pummelled into the ground. I delegate the things that I don't like doing that some people are better equipped to do, like the housekeeper, to enable me to work and have more one on one time with my children."
Rather than nagging her children to do household tasks or stepping in to complete tasks to a higher standard, Janey said it is important they make mistakes while learning about chores. She said: "My sons hang washing out sometimes in the summer. They're not as good as me at doing it, but they're not going to get better until I allow them to try.
“It's our job is what they needed to do in the big wide world. It comes down to be allowing things to be imperfect without being wrong."
Although Janey's household has good communication and a ‘fun environment’, she said it is normal to have arguments and frustrations. She said: “I've got teenage boys, so it's normal for teenagers to lose their sh*t. So for me, I always like to inspire by example.
"Generally speaking, 99% of the time I don't lose my rag, with my kids. I don't really shout very loudly. Of course sometimes I will lose it and I think there's nothing wrong with occasionally losing it.
"We can all be in that situation where we want to pull our hair out. I've had situations where I’ve slammed the back door in my yard because I was just like, oh my god I’ve got to get out of the house. So that's a bit of a low moment as a parent when things just get too much.
"I think it's really important that we normalise all emotions. Sometimes it's good to be angry. It's the way we channel those emotions that's important."
This belief has been tested by parenting a child with autism, which Janey said can be stressful. She said: “There are days when I’ve dropped my daughter off at school and I’ve cried all the way home in the car. I haven’t slept properly in seven years, since she was born - it can be difficult, but I am also really happy and fulfilled, because I know that perfection doesn't exist.
“The SEN system is a total nightmare. When I was told she was autistic, at the age of three, from that moment on I thought what does this child need to thrive in life? And how do I get through myself with as big a smile on my face as possible?
“So I operated from a sense of my values - love, happiness and I went into this with a growth mindset, which is I'm going to learn an awful lot on this journey and I’m not going to know it all. It has to be what is right for my child. And actually, understanding my child is really important.
"I’ve done a lot of reading, I then look at the expert advice and I decide which bits I want for me based on the way I parent. Because every child is different. And basically, to just love the bones off her. I mean, that's what makes the world go round.
“They told me she was a square peg in a round hole system. But there's nothing wrong with my child, it's the system. I'm going to keep my child. it's really important to trust myself and to trust her that she’s going to be just fine. I don't care what anyone thinks.
"If you can go through life without worrying about what others are doing, particularly with parenting, life is so much more enjoyable.”
Janey’s advice to other parents:
- Trust yourself - women have been raising children for thousands of years without Mumsnet
- Don’t compare yourself to others
- Be realistic without being negative
- Remember that perfection doesn’t exist
- Know your core values and stick by them