It’s Sunday morning. I’ve been up five times between 12am and 6am with two kids. It’s now 9.15am and my kids are still in their pyjamas. My 5yr old is on the PS4 playing Lego Jurassic World and my 3yr old is watching Peppa Pig on my iPhone.
I have just put a wash on and taken some damp clothes out from yesterday’s load that I had forgotten about. The dishwasher has just gone on – we have no clean bowls because I forgot to put it on last night. I could wash up but to be honest, I don’t want to. I’m more focussed on keeping the kids quiet because Daddy came home from a late shift at 3.30am. So screen time wins today.
My husband works shifts and unfortunately, running my own creative business and lecturing part time at a university doesn’t bode well for family time. In fact, it seems to at times drain us all of energy and reduce three of us to tears – the fourth cracks on and makes the most of his time with us cheering us on and making us laugh through whatever calamity has occurred.
Our house looks like a toy shop having spoilt the kids at Christmas and prioritising cleaning the Play-Doh and Kinetic Sand from the breakfast table today – which only one child ate at because the other one challenged my rules and I daren’t wake Daddy with the drama that could un-fold. I use the term breakfast table loosely this morning – the table is currently home to a headless snowman decoration, an incomplete dinosaur atonomy kit and the kids will be lucky to reach the table unharmed with two baskets of clean washing hiding behind the sofa, my airer adorned with forgotten sodden garments and a mountain of Christmas decorations that haven’t made it to the loft yet.
Despite all of this I am actually very house-proud and before the day is up I will have fought tooth and nail to ignore my very real OCD anxieties and will have succeeded in tidying just half of this chaotic house in order to relax in the calmness post-bedtime.
What normally ensues is a battle to clean, feed and play with the kids whilst teaching them to be well-rounded human beings as they watch their not-so-well-rounded Mother who is running around tidying everything and anything I can between the “Mummy”‘s and “Can I have”‘s.
My heart is racing, my knees are shaking because I’ve forgotten to eat anything and little pin pricks of panic run from my shoulder to my finger tips. This anxiety reers its horrid head when the reality hits every hour or so, that I also have to find customers that will pay me £x by the end of the month as well as finishing my client work and prepping for my university lecturer role. I call mu Mum, who reassures me that everything will work out, that I am strong and have achieved lots and will continue to do so. And I know I will, on this occasion my Mum provides the rosy tint to get me back on track, to help me see the positives so that I can move forward productively. Other days mindfulness acts as my rose tint and sometimes fresh air or doing absolutely nothing can be disguised as my favourite pair of glasses.
Grabbing five minutes, whilst the dolls are having a tea party and the Lego is out, I open my laptop. Guilt sets in immediately and like magic and on cue, two little voices pipe up in their innocent and slightly irritating tone “Mummy”. And then there they are, on my lap, pressing keys, asking questions and doing their utmost to distract me from my screentime. Fair enough I think, I should be parenting, this can wait. Closing my laptop I give them a squeeze and tell myself to get a grip because look at those faces. And I concoct a craft activity or make believe game to top up my parenting points before losing them again as the hoover appears for Kinetic Sand round two.
Even as I write this by hand to avoid any interruptions, the guilt has set in and I must wrap this post up.
I’ve typed this whilst Daddy plays with the kids and I get my rare, un-interrupted screentime – but rather than hole myself away in silence, I sit in the conservatory, where all the action is. With Alexa blaring out George Ezra’s Shotgun (my son’s current favourite) and my daughter begging Daddy to do whatever funny thing he has done again and again.
That’s life and I love it, but it is hard and sometimes a bit of a rosy hue helps.