Shoes lined up neatly by the door, floor spotless, kitchen bench pristine, beds all made, no dirty washing…who lives here? Certainly no children or animals!
If your reality is washing up in the sink most days, dirty clothes threatening to overtake the laundry and a smattering of toys, books, shoes, clothes and the like scattered around indiscriminately, then, you more than likely live in a home with children. So, why do we constantly apologise to all and sundry for our children being, well, kids, and ourselves not being *cough, cough* perfect little housewives?!
Sometimes, the vacuuming can take all day, taking in time out for stories and games, naps and meals. Until you are the parent of one or more toddlers, you really have no use for the term ‘Time Management’ and even the most organised mums will struggle some days.
1. When their favourite things are all over the place…
My eldest was often happiest sitting on the floor in her room with the entire contents of the bookcase, and that was a lot, piled around her as she thumbed through a favourite book, or sang away to herself pulling apart the Lego creation we had finished together earlier than morning, just so we could do it all again tomorrow, oh joy!
2. When in the kitchen…
If I was in the kitchen, it was the contents of the Tupperware cupboard – the only one not to have a childproof catch on it, since I caught her with several containers of dried ingredients poured out on the floor “making a cake, mummy!” – strewn from one end to the other with wooden spoons making great but ear-splitting harmonies. I tiptoed through the mess, happy that she was occupied, if not quietly, at least where I could see what she was up to.
3. When you have guests at home…
Spoiling this picture of my successful combining of time management and child minding my husband would often walk in the door with a mate from work. Picture me, embarrassed, red-faced, and apologising for the mess whilst I madly try to restore order before someone trips on an odd piece of plastic and breaks their neck. It was a clean mess, my house wasn’t dirty, it was just loved in and lived in.
4. When they do tantrums during grocery shopping…
As mothers, we constantly berate ourselves for our perceived parental failings, often manifested in public by our children. Public tantrums that only a two-and-a-half-year-old can perform well. One time, when I had just about completed the weekly shop. My two-and-a-half-year-old was sitting in a trolley full of groceries and was wanting to get out. She was good at voicing her opinions loudly, still is actually! ‘Mum, I want to get down’, she shouts. Not on my watch – last thing I need is a runaway when I’m almost done.
Let’s just say that the voice got progressively louder with me saying sorry for the racket to everyone around me in the checkout line and loudly whispering to my daughter to pipe down; we’ll be leaving soon. With that not having the desired effect, I gave her a poke in the ribs and another warning to be quiet. She stops her carry on for a moment to calmly and very loudly tell me to ‘Stop poking me Mum!’ Oh the shame, the floor would not open up and let me disappear unfortunately, but a couple of kind or perhaps now deaf people in front of me, took pity and let me jump the queue. What else could I do, but say sorry again and thank you? I must have sounded like a gibbering lunatic, I certainly started to feel like one.
5. When the whole family are on vacation…
On a long awaited family holiday to Disneyland, we decided to treat the family to burgers at Planet Hollywood on Rodeo Drive.
Ok, we HAD to go to Rodeo Drive so I could drool over the shop windows and there just happened to be a Planet Hollywood in that location. Fast forward two hours of queueing and after finally ordering a meal, our youngest daughter was getting tired and cranky — and she whinges when she’s tired and cranky. So, we are almost at the point of walking out when the long awaited meal arrives! Two bites later and she is still whinging, but now it’s ‘Mum, I feel sick!’ Turns out that tired and cranky doesn’t go well with hungry tummies. Mad dash, for the loo, only to be greeted by a restroom attendant who is none too happy when my child proceeds to throw up all over her polished and pristine floor! No amount of apologising was going to make up for that one. All I really wanted to say to her was, ‘if the service here wasn’t so slow, she wouldn’t be sharing her meal with you’, but of course, I didn’t!
I said sorry.
Sorry. Not Sorry.
Sometimes, we apologise for our children when in reality the behaviour we are saying sorry for is beyond our control and our kids are not out to make life difficult on purpose.
So, stop apologising for your house being a home that is filled with a family and consider those public misdemeanours as a public service to mothers everywhere. After all, we’ve all been there, we all need to normalise the hardships of parenting and those stories are gold to embarrass your children with when they get older!