Motherhood. It’s monotonous. The routine. The repetitiveness of the essential daily activities. Almost before you’ve finished wiping away the last of the Weetabix, it seems you’re preparing lunch. The days are long. But the years are short. Where has the time for fun gone?
Kids need routine.
It is not a coincidence that I’m writing this on a bank holiday weekend. We’re struggling with the concept of ‘holidays’ here at the moment. Those of you who read my cheery Tenerife posts have probably noticed. They feel like anything but. I could blame pregnancy hormones. I could blame the weather. I could blame general tiredness. But at some point I think I need to blame myself.
Gina Ford has made me a creature of routine. OK, she didn’t make me. She didn’t hold a gun to my head and force me to leave my kids to cry. Or to eat toast at 7.00 AM. But I did. And it worked. And now two and four years on we are still in the shell of that routine. We’ll be back there more than ever in a few weeks.
Again, I can’t blame Gina. Or The Baby Whisperer or Dr Sears or whoever. Because I know that kids of all ages are happiest in routines. I believe this whole heartedly. Watch a child with no boundaries whatsoever and they are often crying out for some form of structure and discipline.
But there is a balance to be had. And I’m beginning to wonder if we’ve lost ours. I feel trapped.
I just don’t know how to escape. Kids need routine, right?
But. What about the mothers?
I bumped into another mum the other day who had recently taken some time off work to stay at home full time with her kids. She had just accepted a new job. ‘I was beginning to feel like all I do is clear away the breakfast things,’ she said. ‘It will be nice to actually achieve something.’
Because some days you feel like that’s all you do. Stuck on the hamster wheel of motherhood. You’ve got your kids dressed, fed, to school, fed again, other kids napped, back from school, fed some more, bathed and just about made it to bedtime.
But you can’t exactly remember what’s happened in between. Did you play with them? Did you really listen to what they said? Did you enjoy them?
Was there time?
Kids might be happiest in routines. But I’m not sure us mums always are.
I miss my kids.
Yesterday, on a particularly monotonous Saturday, I realised that I miss my kids.
I realised that I’m often not that much fun to be around. That I’m stressed where I should be relaxed. That I’m ‘doing’ when I should be ‘playing’ or ‘listening.’ That I’m just fed up with always having to do something. Always having to be somewhere. Always rushing.
It’s not just me, Daddy Pig is much the same. We’re ticking off the boxes just to make it through the day. Breakfast, tick. Getting dressed, tick. Swimming, tick. Without really ever being in the moment with our kids.
Without letting them see the fun people that I know we once were.
So. What can we do?
We can’t give up routine altogether. Obviously. The kids need to eat.
But the routine needs to be more flexible. More forgiving. To allow us to do more than get through the day. So, I am going to try and accept the following:
1 While the kids are young, there is little time for us to do anything else but look after them and be with them. So we should stop trying.
2 Things WILL get forgotten in the chaos of family life. Bins won’t get put out. The cats will miss their vaccinations. I will never be a domestic goddess. C’est la vie de la famille.
3 Daddy Pig and I will not always ‘like’ each other. But if we can both learn to relax a bit more, especially around the kids, we might stand a better chance.
4 Daddy Pig will do EVERYTHING differently (often completely bizarrely) to the way I do things. That’s ok. Who said my way was the right way anyway?
5 Stop rushing. Give up something we should be doing and do something FUN with the kids instead. I never put the washing away anyway.
Then. Do something wild. Make time for fun.
Last night, I went to bed early. Before Beaver and Godivy. Just to end the hell of the day. Long after Beaver had gone to bed, she crept back down. Into our room.
I was eating a pizza. Watching Sex and the City.
‘Can I get in with you?’ she asked.
It was 8.00 PM. She should have been asleep. But for once, the voice in my head didn’t say, ‘Put her back or she’ll be tired tomorrow.’
Instead, I let her get in. We changed SATC to Disney’s Robin Hood. We shared my pizza. And we chatted. I think I actually needed the company more than Beaver. Before I knew it, we’d fallen asleep, leaving Daddy Pig to wake up on the sofa.
Hardly a wild Saturday night. But wild for us. And this is the stuff that kids will remember. The stuff that makes them think, ‘my mum is fun. My mum values me.’
Yes. The days may be long. But the years are indeed short.
It’s OUR job to make time for fun.
Do you ever feel trapped by the demands of motherhood? Leave a comment below or come and hang out on Surviving Life and Motherhood. There’s a whole bunch of us just trying to make it through the day. Without resorting to drinking at 9.00 AM.