Learning to be good enough

This afternoon, my husband sat with my little girl while she did her school reading. She wasn’t concentrating. She was tired from school, her gym class and then seeing the nurse for her flu vaccination. She still hadn’t eaten because they were reading while I made dinner.

I could hear my husband getting frustrated with her as she fidgeted about. I came in to see what was going on. She couldn’t concentrate, wouldn’t sit still and kept playing with her clothes and her glasses. He was pointing at words and she wasn’t looking at them.Books for summer: ReviewI reminded her of a chat we’d had before she started school. She’d listed all the jobs she’d like to do when she grows up. A doctor, nurse or police officer among other things. She might like to go into space or maybe she’d work with children or be a hairdresser. We had explained to her that whatever she wanted to do, she would have to try hard at school.

And she does. Every day she comes home excited at all the new things she has learnt. She tells us why her teacher was pleased with her and how she helped the staff or other children. And we’re proud of her.

And yet, when we know that she’s tired and can’t concentrate we continue to push her. I pushed her without thinking. And I did it despite knowing that she always tries her best, it’s in her personality. She wants to be a good girl, she loves to please us and she wants to do well at school.

Realising I’d got it wrong

And it wasn’t until later on that I realised pushing her was the wrong thing to do. Because I need to teach her to be good enough. Not to try harder, to push herself and want to do everything perfectly and be the best. But to know that whatever happens, she will always be good enough.

I want her to know that if she needs to take some time out, she can do it. If she can’t concentrate on reading, that’s okay because she’s already good enough. And when she’s older and she fails an exam, messes up her driving test or comes last in sports day I want her to know that it’s okay. Because she’s good enough.

In the future, she will choose a university, a course and then a job. She’ll compare herself to other people and some of them will be better at certain things than her. But I want her to know that even when she’s not the best at things, she’s good enough.

These days, we hear every day about how the mental health of teenagers and even children can suffer. They push themselves to achieve their own expectations as well as those that are imposed on them. And yet we keep telling them to work harder and do better. And we don’t teach them that they’re good enough.

Setting an example

And as an adult, I still haven’t mastered the art of knowing that I’m good enough. I love being a mum and I’m proud of my children, but I’m not proud of me. A year ago, I was working horrendously long hours on freelance work I wasn’t enjoying just to make ends meet.

Fast forward 12 months and I’m working a few hours a day making a similar amount of money from work I love. But it’s not enough. I still aspire to better myself from a work point of view. And I’m getting frustrated that it’s not happening as quickly as I’d like.

Whilst I was working all those hours last year, I let my fitness go too. I wanted to exercise more, set myself a challenge and feel like I’d achieved something. Just last weekend, I completed a 50 mile ultramarathon. But it wasn’t good enough. I didn’t train as much as I wanted, I walked a lot more than I’d hoped and now I want to do it better.

But I need to realise that I’m good enough. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and I’m in a great position. I work from home, spend time with my children and still earn a good wage. I keep fit and I can run a long way. I’m not perfect, but I’m good enough. And until I accept that, I won’t be able to teach it to my children.

Do you remember to tell yourself that you’re good enough? Are you teaching that philosophy to your children? I’d love to hear how you do it.

9 thoughts on “Learning to be good enough

  1. Emma

    I’d hope my son knows he is always good enough but I do think I push (read encourage) him to test his own limits and to keeping trying if he’s struggling. As with all parenting there is a fine line and I never know if I’m over it or not. Emma x
    Emma recently posted…#SCMBookClub – AugustMy Profile

  2. Natalie

    I enjoyed this post lovely. My six year old is so competitive – she is generally good at most things she does however is very hard on herself if she struggles with something.

    I definitely try to explain to her that all she can do is her best, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Something’s take time and patience. I want her to do her best but there is a fine line between encouraging them and pushing them too much. Sigh this parenting business is tough!! Xx

  3. Emma

    This is such a lovely post and you’re absolutely right, we can’t teach our children what we are still learning to do ourselves.

  4. Sarah MumofThree World

    You’re definitely good enough! But I think feelings of not being good enough are quite common when you have young children as there’s so much to balance.
    And your girl is amazing! I have to accept that my 15yo is good enough. You can’t make a 15yo do homework and what I am pleased about is that he isn’t stressed. No worries about mental health problems here! So his GCSEs might not be the best they could possibly be, but he should come out of the experience unscathed and that is so important.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…The Lake House by Kate MortonMy Profile

  5. Esther @ Inside Out & About

    You did an Ultramarathon??????? Oh my goodness Nat. That is an achievement and a half. Even booking it and turning up on the day says so much about you. I feel proud of you! and how amazing that you can freelance doing something you love? So fantastic. A few of my siblings have had serious mental health problems (at different times) due to pushing themselves too hard. It is devastating to witness, but now they have come out and are much more balanced people. I feel like Win has a lot of homework but if he wants to just play with toys I just let him, because I know he is already doing great…but at the same time I don’t feel like I can completely leave it. Fidgety is the right word, and no concentration sometimes. You sound like you’re doing fantastically Nat xx
    Esther @ Inside Out & About recently posted…Evenings in the garden – made and discoveredMy Profile

  6. Laura's Lovely Blog

    What a really great post. I need to learn to be good enough and you’re right as parents we must lead by example. We’ve struggled with homework too and at the moment I have decided to not do it with my son on week days, he’s just too exhausted after school and we do it at the weekends instead. But as they have started to increase the amount already I can see this might soon not be possible. We had a day when my son didn’t even want to hold the pen and I fretted about him not having done it when he should have and pushed him when really it was too much. Parenting is such a learning curve isn’t it?
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  7. Martyn

    Love this post! I do this home schooling lark most days and some days i push and aome days i dont and often i get days where i get the balance wrong. Often i do the same in my own life. But one thing i do is make sure that there is always praise that what theyve done is also good enough. Some things we’re going to be better at. You’re better at running and doing ridiculous activities like ultramarathon and spot mistakes in peoples blog and mock them for it. Im good at making an idiot of myself and making those mistakes. But i wouldnt attempt to do what you do and thats equally ok. Setting the example is best for children and encourage that they are good enough is brilliant.
    Martyn recently posted…Home School – Hieroglyphic ScrollsMy Profile


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