I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my time as a stay-at-home mum:
“I didn’t give up my career to mop a perma-filthy floor instead!”
“I didn’t give up my salary to constantly clock-watch and rush, rush, rush to get the next meal made, only for you to smear it on the walls!”
“I didn’t sign up to spending most of my waking time following 3 minxes and a man around to just pick up everything they lazily discard!”
I think like a lot of soon-to-be SAHMs, I’d had a real rose-tinted view of what life would be like:
What I Thought It Would Be Like
Me and the kids baking every day, then doing messy crafts, maybe a story or 2, a walk after lunch (cooked, and from scratch of course), coming back via the swings and afternoon snack in the garden. Home-cooked dinner, more stories, bed. Lots of laughing, “I love yous” and fond sighs.
Me and the kids yelling at each other every day, them making incredible amounts of mess (food, toys, each other’s hair), a Naughty Step each or 5, parked in front of CBeebies while I get 3 meals ready (proper food – why does it take me so long?!), route-march to the shops occasionally strapped into the double buggy, run around the garden for 5 minutes until Midi Minx starts to rip up newly-budded bulbs or Mini Minx starts to wail (she’s such a limpet, that baby!). All sit down to family squabble-athon dinner when The Boss gets in from work. Pass kids to The Boss for wash, story and bed so I can be Bad Cop and scold them when they get up again and again, and turn the Chimps Enclosure back into a house for 10 mins or so before bed. Free time spent shopping, cleaning or feeding Mini Minx. Breaks: one pee break if I’m really, really desperate. Lots of angry yelling, crying, and strops (adult as well as child).
Pants, isn’t it? So I’ve decided to get a grip and stop letting this frustrating life just happen to us. I’m the adult – I’m in charge. Who cares if every meal is a proper one, made from scratch? Who cares if the carpet is hoovered? (OK me, if Mini is crawling over it). Who cares if the kids stay clean or their clothes stay in one piece? (Um….) Why spend every single meal fighting with the little beasts to eat – why not let them go hungry if they’re determined not to eat? It won’t hurt them long-term. Why not let Midi Minx wet and poo herself if she’s being too stubborn to use the potty before we go anywhere? I can handle the smell (and God knows, she has enough clothes for anything too badly messed to just be binned).
So I did. Today dawned cold, crisp and sunny. Perfect beach weather! And being the original Mega Minx, I know that little girls who won’t normally eat lunch will eat a scabby dog if it’s called ‘picnic’. So I checked the tide tables, decided when to go, then got the girls to draw over a boiled egg each while I made sandwiches. They practiced for Easter while I cut loveheart shapes and teddybear shapes. Best of all: it counts as a ‘craft session’. 10 bonus points to me.
We live on a little jobby of land that pokes out into the Moray Firth, so have an embarrassment of beaches and rockpools within 15 mins walking distance. However, supervising 3 minxes on my own (remember: I still have SAHM L plates) meant I felt more confident taking a mountain of stuff in the car ‘just in case’. Besides, it was only 4 mins drive to the nearest long flat EMPTY beach, bereft of dog poo (have a had a rant about dog owners yet…?) So that’s what I did, and unleashed the minxes.
Midi and Maxi took charge and shook out an old rug onto a little platform stand by the beach. As predicted, they wolfed down their lunches, especially the wee loveheart chocolates in shiny red foil I’d taken as a treat-surprise. We had a really lovely 20 minutes scoffing, looking out to sea to spot dolphins, blethering about the oil rigs floating past and deciding where the North Pole was in relation to our house.
What is it about my daughters, though, that they can’t spend an hour out of doors without needing to poo? And usually all at the same time? And usually with 5 seconds advance warning? Thank goodness for nappy sacks and a strong stomach…
Mini Minx soon set off her siren wail – as well as still being my little cling-on, she’s got an eye infection too, poor wee soul. I’m guessing it’s from rubbing her bogeys over her little face (Germ Vector Midi brought this evil cold virus into the household the week before last and all 3 girls are suffering). So I walked her in her buggy in ever-increasing circles round the eldest 2 minxes as they explored, pondered on why oystercatchers are so-called yet they catch mussels (Maxi), ate sand (Midi), climbed old WWII anti-tank defences (Maxi), ate empty crab claws (Midi), looked under rocks (Maxi), licked rocks (Midi), threw rocks (both. At each other).
Mini’s screams wouldn’t stop, so we slogged back to the car. Typically, she stopped just as we got to the car park. Luckily there’s a wee playground right there, so flexibility being the key to being a vaguely-adequate mummy, I let them run off more steam while I fed Mini cheese sticks and coaxed out a few grins from her.
Getting home, I played with the girls for an hour or so before dinner (shocker!), so dinner was a cobbled together thing that was weird but fast (pasta twirls, sliced cold roast beef, boiled broccoli and carrots, mashed sweet potato, cinnamon and butter).
The day was a success because: Midi fell asleep in her dinner tonight, and both girls ate a decent meal. The best bits for me: hearing all 3 giggle and laugh (and myself – nearly scared the wildlife); taking the time to just cuddle each girl, get snuggled back and tell them I love them. Bits to work on: I’m really not comfortable around mess and dirt! I let them get filthy and wet and didn’t fuss or scold, but it was a surprisingly big effort not to. The minxes weren’t bothered and enjoyed the day all the more for it. I need to work on embracing my grubby side. Based on the weather forecast, we should have a chance for another practice at being a normal family the day after tomorrow 🙂