This is going to be the title of my new book.
They’re not, by the way. And it isn’t. But a number of things have inspired me recently to belive that there’s plenty of us out there, doing professional muming for absolutely no thanks at all. Hats off to those doing it single handedly as well – as IF you manage to get through each day without hurling yourself into the road in a fit of pure exhaustion. How on earth did people do this before there was wifi or the Disney channel? (Answer: beatings interspersed with wooden toys, soil and benign neglect in all probability.)
Prompted by how tired my two children have been each day since starting back at school, here’s some helpful things I have devised to cope with the trickier days.
Or, to give it it’s other name, “Crap Tea”. Crap Tea can cheerfully be assembled from the freezer in approximately the time it takes for two children to realise they will never be able to agree on what to watch on TV first, and fishfingers can be cooked in less time than it takes for them to actually start thumping each other.
A ‘can’t hear, don’t care’ policy
There comes a point in some car journeys – mostly the ones to after school activities – where the only acceptably way to not drive off a bridge with rage is to turn the radio up to eleven. It’s like that old philosophical problem of a tree falling in the woods – if you can’t hear them shouting, is it actually even happening??? Who cares. Bonus points for playing entirely inappropriate music in this game. Honk your horn on the swear words. It will make you feel good.
Get one. Immediately. Running is great, because all you have to do is run out of your house, which is probably what you’ve been wanting to do all day anyway. Obviously this does require a partner to make sure that dinner/fighting/bathtime and stories are all taken care of in your absence, but I like to think that by legging it out the door I am actually GIFTING my husband with the kind of quality time some fathers only dream of. Although the sight of my arse in lycra is probably the opposite of what he’s actually been dreaming of, but there you go. Beggars can’t be choosers etc.
You know the score. You’ve set up a star chart. Reward the good behaviour, ignore the bad. Give lots of praise. Foster their burgeoning self-esteem with positive reinforcement. But when all else fails, I think it’s actually ok to once in a while lose your shit and scream that if they don’t put their pants on RIGHT THIS SECOND you are actually going to send them straight to the fucking moon.
I sometimes like to look back through the old pictures on my phone, and remember what a brief, fleeting flicker is early childhood. “Yes darling. And this was the time you stayed awake for fifteen hours straight and made mummy cry!”, “This was when you shat yourself in that pub and I forgot the baby wipes. Silly old mummy!”,”This was around about the time you learnt to say blueberries, but pronouced it very loudly as BOOBIES every time we went to Tesco”. You can look back on the shit things and laugh one day. I tell myself. As the four year old screams at me for not ‘making his bed higher’.
When all else fails, it’s a hard hearted four year old who can’t forget himself for a second and start dancing to a nice bit of Uptown Funk. I’ve tricked mine out of several blossoming tantrums by simply turning on Spotify.
The flipside of all this of course, is that now both of my offspring are in school all day, every day, I am actually left alone for extended periods of time now. Imagine – it’s so quiet in my kitchen, I’ve just noticed that the kettle makes a constant tiny ticking sound for hours after it’s boiled. Who knew?? Certainly not me when I was surrounded by a pack of fools baying constantly for ‘honey on a ricecake in the shape of a letter B’ at all times of the day and night. It’s actually driving me crazy, so think on that next time you’re being shouted at by a furious tiny naked human.
You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. And it’s gone to school.
Next time: Who you are, what you like and what you’re good at….
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