OK, first things first, being a parent often involves taking a deep breath, looking to the sky and swearing to yourself. This could be for many reasons – you’ve stepped on Lego for the millionth time (man, that crap hurts), someone has dropped food on the floor AGAIN, you’ve forgotten that slip of paper that school asked for last week… you get the gist?
You will get asked the same questions, will ask the same questions, do the same things, make the same food, forget the same shit and then you get to put them to bed, knowing that tomorrow it’ll be EXACTLY the same. Sounds awful doesn’t it? I’d be a liar if I told you it was all sweet and light all the time, but the thing is working out how to cope.
To achieve a sense of coping during the normal everyday challenges, I have channelled Bear Grylls style survival strategies in coping with my two and they work sometimes (so far it hasn’t included drinking my own urine).
If you’re going out for a day trip, get yourself ready the night before. I know, you’d much rather be curled up in front of the TV with a (large) G&T in your hand. But just imagine how ‘tomorrow you’ will be pleased because ‘today you’ got organised. Depending on where you’re going, and whether you’ll have a car/buggy/rucksack/sleigh/partner with you, there are a few essentials I try and take on all day trips. These are – water bottles (them and me), snacks (them and me) and lunch if we’re going out (them and me). This tackles the first few requirements made of you. I also tend to add baby wipes, toilet roll, antibac gel, a picnic blanket (can double up as a towel if someone falls into something), first aid kid and spare pair of clothes.
If I’m in the car I also tend to include a thermos flask for me, an actual towel for any mishaps, umbrellas and a football. Frankly I overpack come to think of it, but I like to have as much as possible if we’re going out for the day as the better prepared I am, the more likely I’ll chill the fuck out and everyone else will enjoy themselves too. Plus I can feel really smug if someone gets stung/falls in a pond/dumps an ice-cream on themselves (even if they were all me).
Equally – try and be prepared on normal days. Most days include nursery, school, someone swimming and me doing something for work. So I make sure the night before I have checked all school bags for things I have to sign, I make up lunches the night before, pack my own bag, have all PE kits etc ready to go (even if they’ve only been Febreezed rather than washed). I try really hard to make a note of all appointments or events that I get emailed about from school in a small diary (a real one, not phone) which I keep on me at all times. I try my best to consult it every night to make sure I haven’t missed something. This is when I realise I don’t have a tin of peaches for the Harvest Festival. If I was REALLY organised I’d look ahead a week or so, but I don’t, because I’m not superwoman.
Bear’s goals tend to include getting to a mountain peak before nightfall, and making camp before the light fades. Unless you’re going up a mountain these goals won’t be the same.
The times my children play me up the most is when I need them to do things, either getting ready in the morning before school, or getting ready for bed. So we now have a goal sheet, both children have one (essentially to-do lists). The five year old has written goals to achieve as a tick list on a small wipeable white board – teeth, shoes, coat etc. The three year old (as she can’t read yet) has pictures of the same things, so there’s no excuse. Both goal sheets act as reminders for the children, and often save me from yelling ‘teeeeeeeth, have you done your teeeeeth, shhoooooooesss, put on your sodding shooooooooeeeessss etc etc’. There are still times when I’m yelling these, but it’s not quite as much as it used to be. Not quite.
Bear will have a list of things not to eat in the wild, equally he knows the nutritional qualities of cockroaches. He is AWARE of his surroundings. To survive parenthood, you too must be On Your Game at all times. Don’t be caught out by the following –
1) “Mummy, can you hold this”
2) “Mummy, what’s this on my shoe” or, my favourite
3) “Mummy, I’ve just found something on the floor, and eaten it”
I have been caught out by all three, these have resulted in my being handed a pellet of human poo (straight from the source to be fair, not an unknown person’s shit). I have endured the whiff of sniffing shoes with suspect ‘mud’ on them. But my favourite has to be the sheer volume of times my children (mainly my daughter) have eaten crap off them floor. This has included woodlice (yes plural), a worm, someone’s discarded gum (eugh) and an actual stick.
For this you must have sensory qualities of a lion, the swiftness of a cheetah and the stomach of a street rat.
Come to think of it, it might be easier to scale Everest with nowt but a bottle to piss in.