Updated: Jan 13, 2019
When I was a kid, I wanted to be important when I grew up. I had vague fantasies about becoming the education minister or a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.
I was always well dressed and had a witty retort for every situation. My keen intellect would be evident to all and I would be admired and respected.
This morning, I had to contemplate a chewed up Lego dinosaur tail, console the 11 year old owner of said dinosaur while intercepting and eating pieces of toast that the baby was trying to feeding to the irascible, wheat-intolerant dog.
In the meantime, the older two look at me hopefully. They’ve been invited to a birthday party of a friend, who being a newly minted teenager is hosting a ‘hangout’. Birthday parties are for kids, they patiently inform me.
I feel like my grandmother when she first experienced smartphone cameras. With this new information at hand, I shall remember that I should be hosting a gin tasting in lieu of my looming 40th.
The kids are home educated, so after breakfast they clear the table, harness the dogs and we go for a walk.
They discuss the work they want to get done over the week, a plastic recycling facility the eldest wants to secure sponsorship for, the on-going tragedy of the mangled dinosaur tail and how maybe they could use a 3D printer to make a replacement.
The baby, securely wrapped and on my back shrieks, “Duck,” every time he sees a bird because we saw loads of ducks when he was learning to talk. When we get home, they change the baby’s diaper without being asked and settle down to work.
Every now and then, the older three shout in excitement because they’ve taught the baby some new word.
My days are mundane and routine; grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, diapers, breastfeeding and dog walking. Sometimes, when I feel adventurous, I go to IKEA or the wet market.
Any attempt at sustained adult activity like reading, thinking coherent and important thoughts, listening to music other than Baby shark is interrupted without fail.
Yet, if I am honest, I love my life. I love it all; the refereeing, the sameness, the illogical conversations, the bad music and the lack of intellectual challenge. Being here for my kids’ has been satisfying in so many unexpected ways.
While I am entirely too good at fixing things with duct tape and WD40, I am on the whole, content in my corporate under achieving existence.
So, what’s my secrets to staying sane as a stay at home mom?
Make “me time” count and take it as it comes! I read or craft whenever I can; while waiting for kids to wear themselves out a park, when they’re occupied with a game or movie, when the baby is napping or when the husband suddenly offers to drive kids out for ice-cream.
Maximise these small pieces of peace and solitude, be quick to see them for the gems that they are and make them matter. Sometimes, the only me time I get is a solo shower. I luxuriate in washing my hair and scrubbing my skin quickly.
Just being aware of what a luxury it is to be alone in the shower with hot water on demand, can make me smile for hours.
Be the parent that YOU want to be. I cannot stress this enough. If you spend your days fulfilling someone else’s idea of parenthood, you have nothing but failure and misery ahead.
Your job is to find and do what works for your family and to be at peace with that. As I am at peace with dog hair in my bed, sofa, clothes and (inexplicably) my handbag.
Love what you have. I have very consistently hungry children and a husband who craves culinary excitement. I have learned to love cooking, truly.
It’s an outlet for creativity, experimentation, exploration and for up to two hours a day, I can say without guilt to everyone, including the kids, ‘I’m busy, please leave me alone unless something is on fire or someone is bleeding.’
There are beautiful cookbooks to pore over, fun videos to spark ideas for the next meal, cleavers to test and beautiful aprons to covet. When you love what you have, everything is miles easier.
Did you find this helpful? What secrets do you have for staying sane as a parent? Share your thoughts on our ibu Family Facebook Page or join one of our playgroups or support groups to connect with other stay at home moms.