Family, Life, Parenting

Maelstrom, or Life With Children

After gathering the kids in our usual morning maelstrom of finding shoes, packing nappies and snacks and herding everyone towards the car, worrying we were running late, delighted to realise we were running early (So the show starts at 11am, not 10am, you say? Of course I knew that already!), and seriously regretting my decision to come out at all, it was a moment of blessed relief to reach the theatre in one piece, or 4 pieces, if you count us individually, and sit in our seats.

photo credit: dolanh <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/99357189@N00/32943543418">just fits</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>
Five bags for one day out with 2 kids? Yup, looks about right.

This was a trip we had planned for over a month, a birthday visit to a children’s play for my daughter’s fifth birthday, so I don’t have any excuse for being in a fluster.

If we have plans for the next day I can sometimes be sensible enough to get organised the night before. Pick out clothes, pack bags, assemble lunch boxes. Ensure swim gear or dance gear or library books to return are in the car waiting. Retrieve the car keys from the sandpit or shoes from the pantry. (Moving things to new homes is my toddler’s favourite activity.)

But sometimes I am tired, and it’s all I can manage to get the dishes washed and the dirty clothes in the machine before having a shower and flopping into bed. Sometimes my husband is at work late or I am out for the evening and after the bedtime battle and a long day of work doing all the evening chores alone looks a much more daunting prospect than watching TV for a while.

Clothespegs on washing line. Photo by Kyle Arcilla on Unsplash

A washing line empty of laundry. But is the laundry mountain awaiting pegging or awaiting folding?

And sometimes it’s the weekend and we haven’t decided what we’ll do until suddenly we are off to meet a friend or visit a fair or hit the park. Then it’s action stations. Do we have snacks? Nappies? Wipes? Where’s my wallet? Why is your other shoe always missing? Your hair is a mess, I’m sure I brushed it already. Why are you getting undressed? Please keep your clothes on, we have to go. Let me just pop this load of washing in the machine as we head out. Oh I’d better take something out for the freezer for dinner if we’re out today. Why aren’t your shoes on yet?! No you can’t bring all those toys – pick just one please. Stop. Taking. Your. Clothes. Off. Let’s just brush your teeth in the car.

So many mornings go like this. Was it like this for my parents when I was a child? I can’t remember, but then out children hardly noticed our wild buzzing over their heads this morning. I imagine that if anything they were merely mildly bemused at our antics.

Has life with small children always been this relentless? Always been this intense? There is no break. No down time in which you aren’t thinking of what you should be doing instead. When I’m writing I have to blinker myself from the piles of laundry to wash or fold, from the messy beds, the untidy living area, the breakfast and lunch dishes piled up. I have to get my writing done first. I do chores once I have written enough for the day, or I would never start writing.

Certain household jobs can involve tiny helpers but not all. The kids are great with laundry and love to tidy up the deck and help clean the car. They WANT to help with the dishes but it’s too stressful for me. Often I have to work around the children, pause to play with them or sit them in front of the TV. I then feel guilty that I’m not sending more time with them. But when I do stop and play I feel guilty about the messy house.

Mother with two children and ipad on sofa. Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash
Do I ever look that calm around my own two children? And is my house ever that clean? She doesn’t even have baby throw up all over her shoulder. And the toddler’s face is clean. Fake news! 🙂

My children are five and eighteen months, so I’m holding on to hope that things ease up as they get older. In time they might be relied on to organise themselves to get ready to go. I won’t need to pack nappies and spare clothes all the time. Maybe they could even pack their own lunches and do a few chores. What bliss that would be!

Please don’t comment if you have older children and mornings and chores haven’t gotten any easier. Don’t burst my bubble just yet!

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