Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

March 29, 2009

Why ‘Summer Time’ is not good for parents

So the clocks have gone forward an hour and it is now officially British Summer Time (BST) - or I suppose that should really be Irish Summer Time from where I’m sitting.

This is good for one reason; we get more time to play outside during chilly, wet summer evenings.

For anyone with children, the concept of messing around with time is generally not a good idea. You see, for most small minds, sleeping and waking are worked out by very simple equations: darkness + moon = bedtime, daylight + sun = morning time. You try convincing a wilful three year old that it really is bedtime even though it isn’t dark outside, and then convince them the following morning that, yes the sun is up, but it is still technically night-time as it is only 5am.

There is actually a poll on the British Summer Time website: ‘Should We Stop Changing the Clocks’. I think I will cast a ‘Yes’ vote on behalf of all parents who suffer additional sleep deprivation at this time of year.

‘Invest in blackout blinds’ the parenting magazines and websites suggest. So I did, last year, and while they’re OK up to a point, I think ‘make the room slightly darker’ blinds would be a more truthful product name. Why can’t someone make a proper blackout blind – surely whatever they used in the Blitz would do the trick?

We will try to keep the small people up a little later tonight in the vague hope of counter-balancing their finely-tuned body clocks. I doubt it will make any difference though and can already hear the inevitable dawn chorus of a very small boy who just wants to get up and get on with a whole new day of playing with his trains.

And on that basis, maybe we shouldn’t stop changing the clocks after all!


March 22, 2009

A Mother’s Day

As I enjoyed my annual cup of tea in bed this morning, while listening to the escalating chaos downstairs and resisting the urge to go and interfere, I started to think about a real ‘mother’s day’. You know, those days spent mainly at home, doing nothing in-particular and yet feeling utterly exhausted at the end of it. Take yesterday, for example.

Yesterday, I was Tigger, Bob the Builder’s dad, Captain Hook, and a leopard. I drew a fantastic map of Neverland and searched for treasure in a laundry basket galleon with a blanket sail.

I changed six nappies – each one requiring lightening quick reflexes, mild wrestling skills and lots of singing. I read sixteen stories, brushed three sets of teeth twice (I am of course including my own!), dressed and un-dressed three people and put three pairs of shoes on four times.

I provided ten meals, swept the floor thirteen times (it’s still messy), loaded and unloaded the dishwasher twice and wiped up three spilt drinks.

I searched for, and found, my hairbrush, deodorant and moisturiser in three different rooms. I fished a towel out of the loo and a pair of shoes out of the kitchen bin. I fixed one truck and one car, built a railway and relocated a missing teddy.

I diffused eleven disagreements, kissed better one head, four fingers, three knees, one bottom and one eyebrow. I shouted quite a lot but laughed even more. I danced like an idiot around the kitchen and rolled around on the bedroom floor.

And at the end of the day, I tucked in two blankets, kissed two sleeping heads, and fell into bed exhausted.

I often think I haven’t really done much in a day (unless we’ve all been to the zoo, climbed a small mountain or created a piece of modern art). Now that I have actually sat and thought about it, I’ve realised just how much I actually do! So to all you mums out there, don’t forget that the every day little things are just as important – if not more so – than the occasional big things.

Happy Mother’s Day.


March 16, 2009

The good, the bad and the highchair!

I have never been a natural domestic. I’m sure I do have an inner cleaning-freak lurking somewhere deep inside, but I seem to keep it very well hidden. It all seems like such a pointless exercise with children in the house all day, and despite my mid-afternoon resolve to have a really good tidy before I go to bed, it never actually happens.

I try – oh, how I try - to mimic the annoyingly perfect show-home houses of magazines and – more annoyingly - some of my friends. I have lots of fragranced candles. I have occasional tables and nice vases. I have lots of black and white family photos on display. I have even invested in bed-decoration – probably the wrong term but you know the stuff; lots of pretty cushions and throws which you chuck onto the floor every night so you can get to your proper pillow.

I’m quite aware of my domestic abilities - very good at laundry and hopelessly bad at floors. Today, however, I discovered an even lower level to my cleaning deficiencies – the highchair!

After a particularly messy mealtime, I realised that my usual ‘retrieve-dropped-bits-and-spray-with-Dettol’ routine just wasn’t going to be enough, so resorted to the vacuum. As the last few peas flew down the nozzle, the suction lifted up part of the seat revealing, to my horror, an entire eco-system of hidden food remains: endless florets of broccoli I thought had been eaten, handfuls of peas, dozens of Cheerios, half-eaten rice-cakes, bread crusts, raisins – all residing under the bottom of the individual I had credited with eating these things.

There was only one thing for it. I dug deep, found my cleaning-freak and my marigolds and set to work!

My highchair is now gleaming. I can hardly bear to look at it, I feel such shame. I think I’ll retreat to the bedroom and seek solace in my pretty cushions. They may serve no purpose whatsoever – but at least I can be sure they are clean!


March 10, 2009

Goodbye boardroom, hello kitchen floor!

It's official - I am unemployed; another statistic of the credit crunch. There are no more rungs on my corporate ladder, my impractically-high heels are back in their box and my designer suits are going to the local charity shop.

Some might think that leaving a part-time job isn't that big a deal. Well, it is! For the last six months, my two days a week in the office has been - apart from financially necessary - 'me time' and, on many occasions, the only thing keeping me sane.

On my working days , I didn't seem to mind the early starts because I had a reason to put on my nicer clothes. I could relax on the train while reading the free papers. I would look forward to a freshly brewed latte. I could converse with adults, make an impression at meetings and generally have a sense of order to my day.

In my new role as Stay At Home Mum, I feel strangely nervous and more than a little panicked at the prospect of filling entire weeks with two demanding boys.

The reality now is instant coffee which I won't get chance to drink. No-one from IT will come and fix my computer. The lovely old man from stationery won't bring me more Post-Its when I ask and I can be sure that my coffee cups won't be cleared away by someone at the end of each day.

On the positive side, I'll be able to hoover whenever the urge grabs me and of course I'm excited about the additional time I'll have with the children. As the mornings and nights get lighter and the days get a little warmer, I have high hopes for days playing in the garden, picnics, visiting the zoo and generally enjoying this opportunity life has thrown at me before the children are too big for bubbles, cuddles and gingerbread men.

One step at a time though. Now, where's that jar of Nescafe.........?

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