One of the things I find hardest about being a parent is the constant lack of time I seem to be battling against. As soon as you’re welcoming your new baby into the world you’re met with it – and it never goes away. Whether it’s dashing around to get the laundry and dishes done while your newborn sleeps, or rushing to get to work on time in between getting a child ready for nursery or school, time seems to seep away before your very eyes.
This wouldn’t be such a problem if, unlike me, you’re willing to accept that it’s only possible to achieve X, Y and Z in any given day. Unfortunately for me I’m a typical Type A person. A perfectionist, organisational freak who likes things “just so”. Unwashed dishes and piles of laundry stress me out. Unanswered emails send me into a spin. And don’t even get me started on the perils of being a conscientious “go the extra mile” person. I HATE letting people down – even if they’re total strangers who I’ve never met before.
Since becoming a mum of two 16 and a half months ago I’ve come to realise even more how time has this ability to run away from me. I feel like I’m regularly trying to balance my own unreasonable To Do list against my often unreasonable expectations of myself as a mum. I want to be that mum who remains calm at all times, doesn’t bat an eyelid at reading the longest story on the shelf at bedtime, can patiently wait for her five year old to tell a longwinded story before brushing her teeth in the morning. But all the while I have an inner voice screaming “HURRY HURRY HURRY!” It’s a problem.
Recently I’ve noticed how hard on myself I am. Every night when I go to bed I have a list of things whirling round my brain that I need to achieve the next day. The bedroom wall that needs painting, the article I need to write, the blog posts that remain in my drafts folder. But along with those I have the other, far more important things. Spending quality time with my kids and husband, doing some form of exercise, cooking healthy food for my family, making sure we’ve all got clean clothes to wear.
If I were to list out all the things I planned to do today you’d laugh at me. With two young children at home who need constant supervision, love and attention, I’d given myself the task of unpacking after our holiday (more on that to come), finish redecorating our bedroom, take a load of stuff to the tip, do a full grocery shop and spend a full evening with my husband not talking about work or faffing around finishing things off at my laptop. HA HA HA.
Of course you know what happened. I tried to finish some semblance of the above during the toddler’s naptime, but the five year old (quite rightly) wanted to spend some time with her mum. I felt stressed thinking about the things I still hadn’t ticked off my list and I (inevitably) got grumpy with my husband for not doing more to help me. Want to know what he did today? Gave me a lie-in after the toddler woke at an unseasonable hour, did the grocery shop, went to the tip, looked after the five year old while I did some painting in the bedroom. It’s not like he sat around watching YouTube videos while I rushed around making him cups of tea.
And this is where I’ve decided that, actually, today we BOTH rocked. Neither of us achieved everything on the To Do list. Yes, I was still unpacking things at bedtime. Yes, the bedroom wall remains unfinished. Yes, I have a load of work to finish off tomorrow. But we DID manage to unpack much of the holiday stuff. I got a load of laundry done. I painted a bit of the bedroom wall. I managed a large chunk of work. Both my kids were cuddled, played with and listened to today. They went to bed happy and largely oblivious to my inner turmoil at not finishing the To Do list. I reckon that’s about as close to Superwoman as I’m ever going to get.
Why am I so hard on myself? Are you the same?