Over the past 3.5 years I have had to evolve just to survive. That means, I’ve developed my own unique formula, which involves loads of Whining multiplied by stacks of Wine-ing and just a little bit of that Charlie Sheen-style Winning. Here are my top survival tactics to help me keep “winning” at this mothering gig every day.
First off – Wine-ing – Drinking a little bit of wine to adapt to your stressful environment.
I’m so not an alcoholic or anything – please click here so I can redeem myself slightly (sip). Also, I should make clear that I hardly, ever drink in private and I never drink in the morning (is that after 12pm?)!
Secondly - Whining - whinging, complaining, bitching and moaning.
This aspect of my strategy involves talking to someone, anyone and everyone about your crappy day and all your general concerns, fears, hopes, dreams and complaints. To qualify as one of my Whining Confidants doesn’t take much. You make the exclusive shortlist by a simple process of elimination – you just can’t be my husband, but other than that, you’re fair game to be on the receiving end of all of my whinging – that goes for:
- any unsuspecting mum, dad or nanny in the park or playground who happens to be near me if I see a kid coughing near my kid/s.
- the poor guy manning the till over the graveyard shift at the supermarket, whose keen to just get on with his job when I am in the mood for offloading all my complaints of the day.
- fellow mums/dads at the school (you know who you are!).
- my kids
- my mother
- my coffee guy (Murray:I love you )
- my hairdresser (Babe: you go to the grave with the stuff we’ve discussed!)
- random elderly ladies (typically the ones with tight perms and lilac tints) who show me hints of kindness or smile at my kids when we’re out.
Thirdly – Winning – adapting, not caring what other people think of you and your decisions, being strong, being brave enough to take risks and set yourself apart from the minority even though people might call you ‘a few sandwiches short of a picnic’ sometimes.
This tactic is multi-faceted and involves some primal stuff we’ve all got within but forget to use:
- Foraging: To avoid starvation as a result of over being over-busy I remind myself to eat before the evening rush begins. I usually eat Aiden‘s leftover sandwich crusts and any other miscellaneous items that he rejected in his lunch box on the ride home from school. I also eat the kids leftover dinner (but only if I am genuinely starving, because this type of food is the least appealing at the end of a long day. Eating chocolates out of the pantry when no one is looking is my preference (much more satisfying and energizing) but if the chocolate supply has dwindled to an all-time low, sometimes I have no choice, but to eat the remnants of leftover, cold scrambled eggs just to sustain myself.
- Hunting and Gathering: Hide all of the annoying toys away even if you know it will break your kids’ hearts – I can think of nothing worse than cleaning up 1000000 puzzle pieces and craft items after an arduous day of mothering. There’s also nothing worse than stepping on that Barney toy bus and setting off the blasted toy (which has no “Off” button) so as to wake the kids at midnight.
- Killer instinct – never show weakness, never break down in front of your kids. Keep poker-faced no matter how much the little killers make you want to sob for mercy. This is a hard gig, but it’s a mind game and you don’t want anyone under 5 years old prevailing over you if you can help it.
- Maintain 3 cardinal rules and stick to them – but then don’t be so anal on the other small things if they are not 1 of the “3 rules” (this tip came from a close friend of mine – absolute gold). 3 things I’ve been consistently victorious over – 1. not sleeping in my bed with me (except if the kids are really sick or newborns), 2. not bringing food upstairs to the bedrooms and 3. holding my hand when we cross the road.
Most days, I do feel like I’m winning. Mostly, because my harshest critics (my boys) haven’t sacked me or evicted me into the Buzz Light Year tent in the yard - yet. Although, I know if I went a bit more Stepford-wife-ish and a bit less ‘me’, I’d have a closer shot of being a winner.
On that note:
Sorry, Darling Husband, that the kitchen was an absolute debacle when you walked in tonight at 9.30pm. I confess, there was a bit too much wine-ing and whining on Skype to my ‘getting through the day friend’ whose overseas at the moment and clearly not enough winning. I’m working on my game. Now, off to mop the floors.
Just a temporary measure, of course. Like, say, if hubby had to go away suddenly for business, or something, and I desperately needed an extra pair of hands round the house, to do ‘odd jobs‘ and the like.
So, for fun, here is an excerpt of my dream advert – and Darling Husband, if you’re reading this (which I safely know you aren’t) – I’m only joking, so please, please don’t go anywhere – I really, really do love you ‘just the way you are’ – this advert is a mere ‘puff’, just a bit of poetic licence, laced with exhaustion and a maybe just a dollop of non-melancolic depression.
Temporary Role: Replacement Husband
Desperate, exhausted housewife seeks capable replacement husband/helpful significant other for short term assistance and workload sharing.
- To be successful in this role you must be male, easy on the eye, competent and keen with all housework and handyman type stuff, including and not limited to vacuuming, sweaping and mopping floors, folding linen, mowing lawn, dusting and polishing, various types of heavy lifting, washing cars, washing out school lunch boxes, making school lunches and cooking gourmet fat-free, dinner-party style, impressive adult meals.
- You must be a self-starter who has no qualms about taking and following instructions and must expedite all tasks completely and thoroughly without raising complaints or expecting anything beyond your usual remuneration in return.
Candidate Personality Traits:
The successful candidate must be witty, worldly, charming, charismatic, rich, own sports car and be willing to permit shared use of the above assets. (It is expected that applicants are not applying for the position in connection with personal revenue raising, but rather in course of gaining a richer life experience about ‘what life is really about’.)
The successful candidate must be able to dispel all the usual theories about husbands and men in general, so as to restore the employer‘s faith in the ‘stronger’s sex.
Candidates who have little or no knowledge of the following areas, or would consider any of the following items to be “non-issues” need not apply:
- Wouldn’t bath the kids unless the odor became a real cause for concern
- Oral hygiene is not a high priority – that is, teeth brushing, hair brushing and face washing – not necessary (maybe before bed, but hell, why bother every time they wake up from a nap etc)
- Meals and Nutrition - not sure what they would consist of, snacks and offering drinks of water would be on request only and
- How one dresses kids – i.e. Fashion style – not too crucial as long as shoes are on the correct feet.
There will be a 24 hour a trial period for the successful candidate - this is only because the employer will know within that a very short time frame (almost instantly) whether or not you have what it takes.
Perks to the Job:
Excellent remuneration for the right candidate. Bonuses include a jam-packed day of on some very witty conversation, leftover dinners for you to take home and bottles of wine to share at the end of a busy day. Plus you’ll get to feast your eyes on a diverse array of fluffy, coloured bathrobes and matching slippers which your employer will model for you for free as part of the ritual to cap off each interesting day on the job.
This is a highly rewarding position for anyone ready to take fatherhood to the extreme and to take fatherhood seriously. Either way, each day will be different and challenging but not without its lasting lessons and souvenirs, like toddler sized bite marks on your limbs some days, food stains on your clothes and matted chunks of your hair.
Funny, I would be thrilled to find anyone able to cope with the workload at all, but the truth of the matter is that my husband cracks it when he has to look after both of our sons on his on for more than a couple of hours. If left ‘in charge’ for longer than 2 hours, I’m bound to hear things like ”You’ve slept in for 2.5 hours this morning and I’ve done everything for them – you should be feeling so relaxed!” or “You’ve had your free time now it’s time for you to spend some time with me instead of sitting on the computer!”
Don’t get me wrong, I am very, very grateful for any spousal support I get, as I know some husbands do little or next to nothing, but still, it could be better, and an initiative-taker would be a win.
Alas, for now, I won’t be placing any adverts.
Rather, my dream is for my husband to take our sons on an outing* ON HIS OWN for an entire day.
*”outing” does not include sitting on the couch with a drink and a newspaper while the kids look after themselves and kill each other for the entire time. It means an actual, not simulated in a Ben10 Tent, out-of-the-house-for-more-than-5 minutes actual excursion.
Well, a girl can always dream, right.
- 13000 police for london riots (vault9.net)
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- August 2011 London riot maps (vielmetti.typepad.com)
- London riots: Telegraph readers’ photos of the rioting and looted areas of the city (telegraph.co.uk)
- London Riots around Josephine PR HQ (josephinepr.wordpress.com)
- London riots: Absent fathers have a lot to answer for (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)