crying child mid-tantrum


Over the last few weeks, several women have asked me what it’s like to have kids- and I feel I have a duty to them- and to you guys- to be honest that while raising kids can be blooming life-affirming and wondrous, it can also be incredibly tough: mentally and physically.

And it’s nothing like you imagined it would be.

I sugar-coated a lot of the truth to those inquisitive women-so sorry to the lady on the train last week and the other who emailed me about impending motherhood- I should have been more honest.

I did admit you’ll love those kids with all your heart, that the best times will simply blow your mind, the worst will make you feel you’re losing it- but I didn’t give the whole story because sometimes it’s hard to find the words. You see until you raise kids, it’s almost impossible to describe what your new life will be like.

I’m going to try here-harder than I did with those women at least.

I’m writing this post for those about to embark on this parenting lark, and for the rest of us, right here in the glorious chaos that is parenthood so you might not feel so alone.


Parenting can be tough, relentless, tiring and for the most part, pretty thankless too.

A groundhog day of meeting the needs of little people 24/7 whilst trying to stay strong, often, against all odds. On little sleep. Little ‘you time’ and fewer brain cells than you had before- because kids admittedly kill all those things off one by one.

It’s a slow war though- and one you’ll feel you’re winning one day, losing, the next.

By being honest though, hopefully we can all feel a little bit better about ourselves, more normal, less alone.


Kids will come into your world and turn it on its head.

I mean you thought you were tired that time at Glasto or the all-nighter at uni you pulled-like the time I thought it would be fun to catch a ferry to Calais for the night even if I did end up hallucinating snakes in the supermarche’s cake aisle from lack of sleep and too much booze- but parenting on no sleep is tenfold all that madness.

It’s wiping s*** off walls, bottoms, sick off clothes-theirs, yours, driving with kids screaming in your ear, in public, on buses, planes-tantums, tears, soft kisses, honey-scented heads, their warm breath on your face and chest, deep all-consuming love, great joy-a day and life, of utter highs and lows.

And all that fun, all that life-changing, wouldn’t have it any other way (OK who my kidding, I want quiet, obedient kids in the next life), starts on day one, as soon as they arrive.

That ‘my brain hurts’ kind of sleep deprivation coupled with a choppy sea of haywire hormones and a child that.will. not. stop. crying will DO YOU IN. It will make you feel helpless for what feels like forever as the nights are long, the days are longer- because for every easy ‘I’ve got this nailed’ parenting win comes an even bigger fall. And it’s lonely and sometimes boring as a baby simply eats, sleeps, poohs and repeats. You are not failing if you feel you cannot cope or are bored out of your brain. You probably went from a busy, full life to just baby and you.

And these challenges are not just reserved for the baby years. Sleep deprivation hits at all ages.

Your kid gets ill, they go through another growing pains phase-terrible twos, the threenager years, the actual teenager years etc etc.

In some ways life felt easier in those colicky, sleep deprived early days than now with squabbling kids, school fall-outs and having to letting go more as little ones yearn for greater independence.  The first day of nursery, school, sleeping at my parents’.

And, yes, you will be overcome with love when your kids arrive (creating a baby that cute will do that to you) but it’s important to be prepared. To remove those mother nature rose tinted glasses and know how hard it can be too.

To know you might not find yourself immediately in love with your baby for one. And that’s normal too. I felt a heady mix of shock, trauma and love when Oliver was born. Mostly shock though. LIKE-WTAF just happened kind of shock.

We’ve been fed a mythical story of what birth and parenthood is, and should be simply adding to the ever-growing list of parenting pressures.

Birth and raising kids is no walk in the park.

Where are the film clips of kids kicking off in Tesco like my youngest did today when I refused to buy yet another kids’ magazine to add to the pile in the recycling bin.

As my two kids moaned their way through the packing, the kind cashier and understanding smiles saw me through and the offer for discounted Prosecco consumed when little ones hit the sack!

I was lucky. Some people so frequently forget they were babies once, or believe the lies they tell themselves that their kids, once here, won’t believe like that. The false promise people tell themselves to keep the world procreating.

Just know this. You are not alone and things will be OK.

That these, the formative, tough years will not break you.

And if you do feel broken, there are people around to piece you back together-that you must reach out and ask for help be it your GP, family and friends..

I had a traumatic birth with my first and a supportive councillor and move closer to my family truly helped me heal. And this site too. A place to write and share the good times and the bad. A space that became my life and my job all rolled into one.

Kids gave me purpose and grey hairs. I do all that I do for them.

It’s true that children show you unconditional love and also push you to your limits.

Just don’t forget yourself in the mix. Look after you so you can look after them and know you’re not alone.

We’re all just trying our best and parenting is tough.

I discussed how hard parenting can be in this Facebook Live if you want to give it a watch

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Being Honest: Parenting Can Be Tough

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58 Responses

  1. Silly Mummy

    Yes, it can be a very hard line to walk – how honest to be with people and how much honesty they actually want! I love parenting, but it definitely is tiring & relentless – especially now I am doing it alone. Wouldn’t change it though.

  2. Jade The Parenting Jungle

    Groundhog day..I love that description, fab post as always I love how you reflected on what you said and posted about it. I think I maybe am too honest with my friends many of who don’t have children…I always say I would never not be a mum and my son is the world to me but it is hard, it is exhausting. I think they think I am trying to scare them off but I am trying to be kind and explain realistic motherhood…I think having a fluffy unicorns view of parenting and childbirth made me struggle even more as I also had a traumatic birth which spurned a tirade of PTSD, depression self doubt…years later I am stronger for it but I wish I had someone when I was a new mum to be like hey it is pants some days but that’s ok. Much love #Brilliantblogposts

    • Honest Mum

      Oh darling, I understand, my traumatic birth was made worse by feeling so alone and that I was failing because I was scared to admit how hard everything felt. Thank you for your touching honest, keeping it real with others and being so lovely x

  3. Mim

    Thanks for writing this, not just for you but for all of us. Parenthood is bloody hard, boring and exhausting. It’s the best thing ever but you pay your dues for it too x x

  4. Sarah - Sarahbelblog

    Thank you for writing this. It’s just so true. I almost don’t dare type it but the tedium quite literally does my head in. I had a busy job and active social life once upon a time and then WHAM! They baby has landed. My days now revolve around nap time, feed time and that’s not your sodding dinosaur. Still despite that I feel so incredibly blessed, have the most amazing little girl in the world (according to me) and wouldn’t change anything for the world. #brillblogposts

  5. Amanda

    It so can be tough – utterly exhausting, emotional and yet more rewarding than anything else. Great to see an honest mum post about being an honest mama 🙂 xx

  6. Mouse, Moo and Me Too

    I also worry that I can be too honest, esp around FTMs or pregnant ladies! But I truly never realised how cripplingly hard motherhood could be. Thank you for being honest too, safety in numbers!! #brillblogposts

  7. Vicki Montague

    I love your honesty. I am always honest about motherhood too and having had a day of being driven mad by Pickle this rings very true. He had driven me crazy all day by ignoring everything I had said to him, and then I looked up while I was making tea and saw him in the garden, headphones on, iPod in pocket, dancing crazily in his joyful way to some rubbish music. It made me grin from ear to ear! The good and the bad! I wouldn’t swap my life for anything!

  8. Lex @ mumisthewordblog

    Spot on. It’s a battle to say the least, but a rewarding one which is the main thing. Think that’s what makes it bearable. The good, precious moments definitely outweigh the bad, and my goodness there is tricky moments! I only have one daughter at the moment but when I think about having another it does make me much more nervous as I am very much aware of the reality of motherhood now, as oppose to the dream world you imagine during pregnancy. Loved this post, thanks for making me reflect! #brillblogposts

  9. Mess and Merlot

    Eek- I fear I may be a bit *too* honest when asked my opinion on parenthood!! Every stage has its (extremely!) testing moments but also some heart-meltingly special ones ( I’m sure this is Mother Nature’s way of ensuring the human race doesn’t die out!)
    This type of post normalises the reality of just how tough patenting can be and in my opinion that is a good thing. I did not bond with my firstborn and in hindsight I would say suffered from PND for over 2 years before falling pregnant with my second. I had no idea it was not normal (healthy) to feel the way I did otherwise I may have been able to get some support.
    A great, honest and really important message to get out there x

    • Honest Mum

      I wish you’d been able to get the support you needed, as I do for myself earlier on, that time post-birth can be so hard and it’s crucial we are not deterred from asking for help. I remember thinking I was failing if I did and kept the way I felt from my loved ones. Thanks for your comment, we must naturalise parenthood so others feel supported and strong x

  10. Alison (MadHouseMum)

    I’m sure that this post and your video will help a lot of people. I can remember my sister saying that one day she’d had enough with her two toddlers and just went and his under her duvet, where my mum found her. She was surrounded by friends and family, but still felt so, so alone. Little ones do this to us. That’s why your honest post will resonate. Of course, when they hit the teens it is less lonely, but still with challenges…and, as you rightly point out, rewards. Alison x #brilliantblogposts

    • Honest Mum

      Aw so glad your sister had that loving support, parenthood can be so tough and it’s so important we are honest about it all. Thanks for your lovely comment, teenhood seems so far away but it will be here before we know it! x

  11. Eb Gargano

    Great post and all so true! I always think parenting is a little bit bonkers and doesn’t quite make sense. Some days it is so freaking hard and there are a lot of sacrifices. But yet it is somehow all so worth it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always remember saying, though, that ridiculous line about how having kids wouldn’t change anything. Such rubbish! It changes EVERYTHING! But mostly in a good way. Xx

  12. Themotherhub

    Totally agree – I tell everyone I meet how hard parenting is ( I know, I’m great fun!) I agree that it’s important to make people know they are not alone . #brillblogposts

  13. Lou

    It is funny how such a universal thing as having children can sometimes make you feel very isolated in your worries and struggles when really none of us are alone with our fears or concerns- there are millions going through the same. It will be through putting it out there like you have so honestly done, that none of us need feel alone, that we are not mad or wrong, there is no right or wrong when you are just doing your very best. Thanks Vicki as always #Brilliantblogposts

    • Honest Mum

      Thanks so much Lou, your comment has really touched me, you are spot on, the more honest we are about the good and the tough parts of parenting, helps us all x

  14. Cherry at The Newby Tribe

    Thanks for such a great, honest post. We have only had our children home for one year, and I wish I could have read something like this before they came home, as for the best part of the year I have thought I was the only one and was slowly going out of my mind! It’s so great to realise that everyone feels the same – we just happened to jump into our family at 3 and 5 years old rather than babies 🙂 #brillblogposts

  15. 2travellingtots

    This is such a great post! And so true. It’s far too easy to give people (especially the ones without kids) the stock answer of oh it’s great….which obviously it is but man is it HARD sometimes! #brilliantblogposts

  16. A Mum Track Mind

    This is perfect Vicki – it really sums up the rollercoaster experience so well. I think we sugar coat it for people who haven’t yet embarked on motherhood because despite all the difficulties, most of us wouldn’t change our decision to have kids. So I usually figure, why scare them off lol. #brillblogposts

    • Honest Mum

      Haha but so important we as parents can share how tough it can be and I’d have personally loved a bit of warning so I didn’t feel so alone when I felt life wasn’t how I thought it would be x

  17. Charlotte

    HI Vicki- What a lovely post. I have to agree with megan, my children are not babies anymore but they are by no means grown up. I have a 7, 4 and 20 month old. I think this stage is harder than juggling a newborn, 2 and 5 year old. I have the constant fighting, arguing and general lack of compassion from my 2 eldest. As for my youngest, well she copies everything they do…

  18. Rach

    Yes to all this! It is tough, unbelievably tough but oh so worth it. There are days when I’ve never known love or happiness like it, then there are days when I could tear my hair out and burst into tears at any given moment. Great post #brillblogposts

  19. Nige

    Interesting post I believe parenting is only as tough as you make it good read thanks for hosting

    • Honest Mum

      Really Nige, I think even if you are as positive as possible, parenting can still be tough as kids get ill, go through hard stages but a great attitude to have

  20. Christine - Yogaberry

    Yes parenting can be tough and sleep deprivation is the worst! I remember how overwhelmed I was when my first one was born. Breastfeeding every 2 hours day and night… I never thought this was actually physically possible but I got through it! Now there are other challenges of course and it never seems to stop!

  21. John Adams

    Oh yes, this parenting thing can be tough. I used to describe the early days as like “being hit by a truck emotionally and physically”. I’m not actually convinced it gets much easier as your kids get older and styart doing crazy stuff, you know, like pulling off all-nighters and catching ferries to Calais. Great post and as ever, great linky.

    • Honest Mum

      Absolutely John and reading all these comments makes me feel less alone so thank you. Haha dreading when my kids do the crazy things I did myself!

  22. Helen

    I can identify with all of your thoughts in this post lovely (as per usual…). Relentless is definitely a word- I often feel like having kids is similar to having your heart walking around outside your body and you trying to control it and stay on top of life too. Does that sound a bit weird?! Love your honesty, it is empowering and refreshing, big love xxxx

  23. Notmyyearoff

    Soooo soooo true!! I often sugar coat the truth to new parents or those still thinking about having kids but wow… It’s like the happiest, hardest, most overwhelming but joyous but exhausting thing ever. And all the emotions do sometimes come at once don’t they?

  24. Mel

    I loved this honest post about parenthood, honey. Yes, motherhood is amazing, mind-blowing, full of love and happiness, but oh my gosh it is tough too. It certainly is no walk in the park and there are tough, tough times. It’s all worth it, but it is also incredibly difficult, especially on very little sleep with hormones all over the place. xx

  25. Roberta Cutolo

    Vicki this is so true ! I am going through the teenager abuse a the mimes he calls me ‘man’ or ‘bro’ and when I ask him to do something there is no answer and if I ask again he says ‘relax man’ or ‘chill bro’ .,,, I also have a 10 years old one and although I luckily still get hugs and kisses from him he just doesn’t listen and is almost like he has unlearnt how to do anything and so he calls me for anything I mean anything especially for water, snacks or a charger while he is on the PlayStation as he cannot leave the game but in his head I should just drop doing anything to bring him (upstairs) anything he is asking for ….. gotta to love them but I never signed up for this and it is not a walk in the park but apparently it is all worthy and is better to have kids then not … Is it? h-e-l-p !!!!

    • Honest Mum

      Haha I totally understand and feel this with kids aged 6 and 3, parenting can be so hard, and thank goodness for blogs and social media so we can all be honest about it so we feel less alone and more supported x

  26. Tanita

    Such a great post Viki so honest. These kind of posts are so important I think because it brings people closer together to know we are in fact all going through the same thing. Parenting is wondrous as you say but also blooming tough but you know what I loge this quote by Theodore Rossevolt: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well”… ?? xx

  27. Michelle Reeves (The Joy Chaser)

    Oh darling needed to read this today with 4th time potty-training in progress for a threenager who doesn’t care. These things are definitely sent to try us! Of course everything passes with time and each stage of parenthood has its blessings (and its trying times!) but when you’re in the thick of things it’s hard to have that perspective. Thanks for reminding us that it’s completely normal to feel that way and that we’re not alone x

    • Honest Mum

      Thanks sweetie and hope things go well with the potty training. Xander who is fully potty trained, decided to pull his pants down in the street the other day and wee. Argh! We will get there huh xx

  28. Sunita

    This is a great post. It’s hard being a parent and however much we feel fortunate to have children we still need to air how tough it can be at times. There’s also so much pressure to be seen as a perfect parent. Pretending everything is ok is exhausting. We’re really hard on ourselves and don’t realise what a great job we’re doing. I used to worry about complaining about the tough bits in case people thought I was ungrateful to be a mummy. But now I’ve accepted the tough bits are a big part of being a mummy too. Thanks for sharing all of those up and down feelings. I’m a big fan of counselling for any tricky moments that crop up in life. x Sunita

    • Honest Mum

      So true Sunita, I agree, we have a pressure to be seen as perfect and it can stop us from reaching out, being honest and feeling supported. Loved this comment, thanks x

  29. Megan - Truly Madly Kids

    Vicki – I love this! It is so true! I’ve just been saying to a friend today, that those sleepless nights with a newborn do seem a lot easier that days with my 10 year old now! Parenting is tough, it’s not a walk in the park, it’s worth it, but it’s handwork and anyone who says it isn’t … well, they’re lying! Thanks for writing this.

    • Honest Mum

      Absolutely Megan, thanks for your comment, so important we are honest and some days, I definitely reflect and think how easy the baby days were in comparison!


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