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Like a Switch

As you know, I am, first and foremost, a SAHM (that is, Stay At Home Mum to those of you who don’t know interweb lingo). I always felt drawn to motherhood, and it was a given that I would be a SAHM, even if only for a short period.

I loved it.

Until … I didn’t.

It was as though a switch had been flicked. One day, I was perfectly content being at home with the kids. The next day, I was not.

As luck (?!) would have it, this switch was activated the same time Mr T got his work transfer, resulting in us moving six hundred bazillion miles away from where we lived.

As soon as we had arrived here and the kids were settled in school, I began to search for work, and didn’t have much success. The glaringly obvious voids on my CV, combined with my eclectic work history (picking up work in between kids) and large variety of experience (from entry-level to management) worked against me, especially in a tricky and competitive market for even the most basic of jobs.

And so, I found myself still a SAHM. Except, I was increasingly shifting away from the nice, easygoing SAHM, and drifting towards the moody, grouchy, yell-y SAHM. A mum I did not want to be. A mum my kids didn’t deserve.

In November I got a part time job, and my other work, my passion, my dream job, is finally taking off as well. But I am still, primarily, that goddamn SAHM.

BabyGirl turns three on Sunday. In two days, my baby will be three. Which means, on Monday, she starts preschool. 20 hours a week, she will be going to preschool. I will be working two of those days, and the other two days I will have, for the first time in nearly seven years, uncommitted time without children. People are asking me, “Are you ok with her going for that many hours?”. People are saying to me, “Oh, you must be so sad that your baby is growing up!”.

Well, yes, I am, I suppose, a little sad at the prospect that my baby is growing up. But no – I’m not sad she is starting preschool. I’m am ok with her starting preschool.

You see (and I feel it important to mention at this stage, that this is very hard and upsetting for me to write) – there have been moments, snippets, times, when I have looked at my kids and thought, “Do you know what? I don’t like you. I’m sick of you. Go away. Leave me alone”. I’ve never said as much to them, but I’ve come close. And it kills me. I never wanted to become that mum who doesn’t like her kids. I mean, I’ll always love them, that goes without saying. But I would like to like them as well.

I want to enjoy my kids, to laugh with them and play. We still do those things, but they are increasingly far and few between.

I need to be apart from my kids, so I can have the opportunity to miss them.

I need to be away from them long enough that they miss me, and see me as more than that lady in the house who does all the stuff for them.

When that switch flicked off nearly a year ago, the light, the spark, began to fade. Finally, at last, with BabyGirl starting preschool in three days, I can see the light again.

I need to regain myself, so I can be the best mum I can be to my kids.

Because that’s the mum they deserve.

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My House is a Mess

Today, for a change (sarcasm) my house is a mess. A pig sty. It’s Day Two of the school hols, and there is shit (for lack of a better word) every where. Books. Toys. Clothes. Spoons. Everywhere.

And, it’s midday and so far I’ve hung two loads of washing, brought in two loads, changed the sheets and made four beds, cleaned the kitchen, put on the dishwasher and tidied up the bathroom. Incidentally, I’ve also suggested to Princess that she might like to tidy her room – she very politely commented, without a shred of irony or snark, “You actually don’t need to tell me, Mum – I’ve already started”.

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Right.

But, here’s the thing.

I need, we need, to stop apologising for the state of our houses. If someone was to come over unannounced today, I would be horrified and embarrased at the state of my house. But why? It’s not hygienically dirty. I vacuumed yesterday, though you wouldn’t know it to look at it. The kids are, by-and-large, wearing clothing. Well, pyjamas at least. And it’s not as though I’ve been sitting on my toosh perusing Facebook all morning.  Or sitting on my bed watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Ok, I did that for a little bit.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – I get why we tidy houses. Clean houses are so much nicer to be in. I feel that, I really do. I get such an immense sense of pleasure when my house is spotless. So much, in fact, that I take photos and send them to people. Literally to say, “look! My house is clean!”.

Because, it only ever lasts a day, tops. And I think that’s actually ok?

Our house has three kids in it. Three kids who like to read, play with lego, play with dolls, play toy kitchens. This house also has a mum in it. A mum who doesn’t want to spend her entire day constantly cleaning up after said children.

If someone tells me they are coming over, I clean the house. I make it look presentable – often by relocating the junk to another room, to be honest. And I do this because I know that the cleanliness of my house reflects on me. But what I don’t like, is the feeling that the cleanliness of my house reflects on me as a mother.

We already have so much damn pressure put on us to be perfect mothers. Our kids should be well behaved. They should be tidy and clean. They should be polite. Our house should be tidy.

So, I tidy my house when someone is coming over. I even spend hours tidying, and then pull the old line, “excuse the mess”, knowing full well that the house is cleaner than it has been in weeks.

But, what if there is an emergency? And I have to call someone to come over in a rush? My house probably won’t be tidy. It will be clean, but not necessarily tidy. And, if I can’t allow someone to see my house in it’s true state, then I feel like that says more about them, than me.

If a person comes into your house and judges you (and I know, pre-kids I was well guilty of it myself), then do you really want that person in your house?

I guess my point is this – I work hard at home. Very little of my time is actually spent sitting down doing nothing. In fact, as I type this, I have a 2 year clambering over me, and I’ve left my chair twice now to clean up a spill or fetch a drink of water or take a child to the toilet. Yet, my house still looks like a bombsite. I shouldn’t have to apologise for that. What I should apologise for, is getting angry at my kids when they dare to walk into a room I’ve just cleaned. How dare they think they can live in this house? That’s not the mum I want to be.

You know what? My kids are happy. We are having an at-home day. A PJ day. A messy house day.

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And that’s ok.

 

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How To Toilet Train Your Child 101

Hello and welcome.

Today’s lesson is how to toilet train your child.

I use, as a shining example, my 2 year old daughter, BabyGirl. She is toilet trained, both day and night. That’s right, mums and dads and random others, she is completely, utterly toilet trained and she is not even three years old.

“But tell us, Fantastic Mrs T, how on earth did you achieve such a feat, such an extraordinary (typed in a fancy British accent, fyi) level of parenting mastery?”

Ok, because I like you all, I’m going to tell you.

I.

 

Did.

 

 

Nothing.

Wait – what? Nothing? As in, nil? Nada? Nothing? 

Yup. Ok, so I’ll climb down from my pedestal now. Alright, I’ll take off my Perfect Mother crown too. You want the medal back too? Fine.

It’s true – BabyGirl is, and has been for some time now, completely dry, both day and night. And, yes – we essentially did nothing. We didn’t force her, we just let her do what she was ready to do. And, as luck would have it, she happens to be a relatively early toileter.

As well you know, she is our third child. So, I was entirely Not Bothered about whether or not she toilet trained. The fact is, she has never been a heavy wetter, and holds pee like a camel. Seriously – this kid goes hours without peeing. Not I. Oh no. More often than not, it’s her waiting for me in public loos. I won’t lie, I use her as an excuse. Often. Shhhh.

But I digress.

Here’s the thing that I’ve learned from all this parenting bizzo – kids learn things at different times, at different paces, and to compare any two children is like comparing the gestation periods of animals. We don’t criticise the elephant for her 18 month gestation period (good LORD, imagine that!) for being considerably longer than, say, the gestation period of a dog (which, btw, is 58-68 days)(you are welcome). Why? Because it’s nature.

Toilet training, too, is, by-and-large, nature. The nature of the child. Princess first showed interest in toilet training when she was quite young, around the 18 month mark. However, she wasn’t comfortably, go-out-without-a-nappy-and-three-spare-changes-of-clothes dry until well after her third birthday. And, she was still wetting her bed consistently at six years old. BoyChild went through a wonderfully enjoyable period (sarcasm) of pooping and peeing all over the house between ages 3 and 3 1/2, and then suddenly was just dry, day and night in the same week. Thank heavens. And, as mentioned, BabyGirl is dry, day and night, before she is three.

Each child is different.

So, really, my advice for toilet training, is that I have no real advice. Except, perhaps, let nature take it’s course. Introduce your child to the concept of using a toilet (let’s be honest, we all share the damn toilet room with them anyway, you might as well tell them what you are doing in there). Once you take the tentative step towards letting them leave the house without a nappy, pack plenty of spare clothes and don’t look back. They will absolutely pee all over a store floor at least once. You will die of embarrassment and not go back into that store for at least a month after, utilising their online store and delivery service instead. But then, you move on.

These are all learning steps, for you and your child (and also, for the surly store lady who had to clean up the puddle)(she needed a lesson in being nice to the mother whose child accidentally pee’d all over the floor, and also perhaps a lesson in gratitude that it wasn’t poop).

I am happy to announce that we have now graduated from the training toilet seat to using the real, adult seat. And, great news – she’s only fallen in the loo once. Oh, how I laughed helped her out like a responsible mother.

And that, ladies and fellas, concludes my lesson in Parenting today.

The next lesson will be on how to successfully have three children go to bed nicely and sleep through the night.

When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

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