Kids Steal Your Looks, Your Sanity and Your Mojo… But Mostly They Steal Your Time

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I had no idea that time would take on a totally different complexion after I had children. No-one told me that my time would no longer be my own, or that my fanciful notions of “being busy” pre-kids were just that – fanciful and self-indulgent.

Oh boo hoo, us parents have it soooo hard. Someone call the waaahmbulance….

Yes, yes, I know how utterly precious that sounds but I truly had no idea just how much my every waking moment would come to be defined by my children.

It started just hours after I gave birth. 40 long weeks of pregnancy had just come to it’s messy, visceral end and it felt like I had just collapsed at the end of a marathon. My baby was in my arms and we were finally over the finish line but I was battered, bruised and broken. A physical and emotional wreck. I needed to sleep.

I needed time to rest. To heal. To recover…

But – HOLD UP, SISTER – my baby needed to be fed every three hours, and I was the poor sucker who had to do it. Thus came the core-shattering realisation that pregnancy was just a light warm-up to the real marathon of parenthood; and that my time from now on was going to be dictated by this squishy pink blob of endless, wailing need.

WHAT I LEARNT ABOUT TIME AFTER HAVING KIDS

Everything takes forever plus 10 minutes

I knew that the menial work of child-rearing and domestic duties would absorb a lot of my time, but what I didn’t know was that straightforward tasks can take a really long time when you have kids:

A simple outfit change can take 10 or 20 minutes as you wrestle with a wriggling baby, chase a mischievous toddler around, mop up a category 5 poonami or argue with an indignant preschooler because they want to wear a Spiderman t-shirt and undies to the park in the middle of winter. Basic chores become epic time-suckers: eating dinner, putting on socks, brushing teeth, walking to the shops.

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Your entire day is spent micromanaging ALL OF THE THINGS

I completely underestimated the volume of requests that were going to consume my day: from the trivial through to the unreasonable and the downright ridiculous. I was quite surprised by the endless number of things I had to supervise or pre-empt:

  • The adventurous toddler who wants to stick things in power points, gargle on choking hazards, jump off the furniture or put his finger up the dog’s bum.
  • The baby that just cries, eats, shits and sleeps. Cries, eats, shits and sleeps. (But needs your over-attentive ministrations to achieve all of it. All the time).
  • The curious preschooler asking about rainbows, tampons, Mummy’s lack of penis or the location of his Spiderman t-shirt. Always with that damn t-shirt.
  • The affectionate toddler who needs cuddles when you are on the phone, cuddles when you are on the toilet and cuddles when you are asleep at 3am.

But – conversely – your kids are like the most demanding boss ever

You try to keep up, but the demands keep coming like a tidal wave of endless human need: a drink of water, more toast, Octonauts on You Tube, craft activities, bike rides, more cuddles, the red hat (NOT the blue one), the socks with stars on them, gummy vitamins and the EVERY SINGLE OTHER THING. And what’s THAT OTHER THING…? WHY?

It sounds exhausting because it is. Despite the fact that I spend long hours at home every day my time is not my own, and what time I do have is furtively stolen in tiny little fragments when the boss is looking the other way: enough to check Facebook, pee with the door shut, nibble on a secret piece of chocolate or sneak off for a sip of lukewarm tea.

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You can never truly punch off the clock 

You can never truly switch off when you have young children, and are always in a constant state of hyper-vigilance. You can’t afford to daydream, let your guard down, let your thoughts wander or lose yourself in books, music or film. You can never truly relax your attention during their waking hours, because if you do you might discover they’re about to abseil off a makeshift tower of dining chairs or stab themselves in the face with a barbeque fork – no matter how well you think your house is baby-proofed. You’re always on duty.

“Me time” is not the self-indulgent luxury you thought it would be

“Me time” is – quite frankly – a hilarious con. It’s one of those quaint little rituals that conjures up images of a relaxing bubble bath in a room full of magnolia-scented soy wax candles. The only thing disturbing the blissful tranquility of this scene is the sound of the spine being gently cracked on the latest Elizabeth Gilbert novel and your partner’s quiet footsteps as he glides over to hand you a glass of chilled white wine.

HA! Nice one.

In reality, “me time” is much more likely to look something like this:

  • lying in the dentist chair
  • cleaning the bathroom
  • sitting on the toilet alone
  • doing the grocery shopping
  • waiting in line to renew your drivers licence
  • getting a pap smear
  • being forced to do jury duty

I kid you not, my new favourite thing to do is root canal. You get to lay back for a couple of hours and snack on handfuls of codeine tablets. It’s kind of like going to Gold Class at the cinemas – but it’s way less painful than an Adam Sandler movie.

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102 thoughts on “Kids Steal Your Looks, Your Sanity and Your Mojo… But Mostly They Steal Your Time

  1. Aaahh, I was just talking to a friend today about the joy of grocery shopping alone. Sad but true. Having said that, today I despatched one to school and the other to preschool for SIX HOURS! What did I do with that glorious six hours? I paid bills, wrote emails for a volunteer job, attended a dentist appointment, did some work, prepared food and hung washing out. I did however spend about 30 minutes doing some ‘thinking’ work with a coffee in the sun outdoors. It was glorious. Your time will never be the same again but you do get a bit of it back, promise. x

  2. Amen sister. Sneaky secret chocolate is a thing and it shouldn’t be: it just fucking shouldn’t! And don’t get me started on the ‘me time’ which is just bloody chores I don’t have to do with kids like bikini waxes (though I have taken a toddler to that- rookie error) and getting skin cancers cut out. Quality time? That happened before that first kid came out. Ps knew this would be good the minute I saw the title!

  3. All of this and then some. And I’m going to stick up for The Wedding Singer, but concur with just about every other Adam Sandler movie ever. x

  4. I feel quite good about myself after reading this. Fist pumping and shouting “YES, look how hard I work to micro-mange our lives. I’m so amazing! I am mother, hear me roar (or sob hysterically).”
    It took me so long to put a pot of boiling potatoes on for tonight’s dinner because I had to come out and see the family portrait my 2.5 year old had drawn, which really looked like fucked up strands of long pink grass. JOY!

  5. YES! You’ve summed it up perfectly (and hilariously, as usual). This is why I always end up staying up way too late watching bad TV or messing around on the internet once my kids are finally in bed – it’s the first time all day I’ve been able to listen to the sound of my own thoughts (a hobby I used to quite enjoy). I took my eye off them for no more than a minute over the weekend, vaguely aware that my son was outside thrashing a cardboard box with his ninja weapons. ‘Good’, I thought as he impaled it repeatedly, ‘Let him burn off some energy’. It wasn’t until the crying started that I realised HIS SISTER WAS INSIDE THE BOX at the time, and he’d just stabbed her in the eye.

    Best days of your life, they tell me…

    • OMG yes!! How lame is that, because it is PURE BLISS now. I used to hate waiting around for stuff like that, now I’m all “No worries – take your time. I need to find out who Jennifer Aniston was dating back in 2014”. LOL.

  6. I was once that childless woman that scoffed at mothers who complained of no me time – whoops!!! It truly is a myth!!! I’m getting light at the end of the tunnel with youngest going to kindy tomorrow though. Visions of watching all the Downtown Abby DVDs in one hit is soooo never going to happen! Too much to do, but chores in peace is so so nice!! xx

      • I can only binge on light stuff folding the washing – like Ellen, Dr Phil or Judge Judy. Need time to soak all the Downtown drama. Looking forward to that Blind date show on tonight. Did you ever see the UK one? LOVE IT!! I love watching social awkward moments! GOLD!! Don’t forget to watch it!

  7. The physical side of parenting changes as they get older but then they kill you emotionally. They need you more and need you at all hours ( and this is when you have been sleeping through the night for years). Yes parenting takes every moment of your life – I’m wicked dry often.

  8. So I’m up early today to get a few things done and oh look here’s one of them right on top of me demanding something. Even though both of mine are at school the day is never long enough! Singing from the same songsheet lady and I’m a wedding singer fan too. x

  9. Me time, hah, wtf is that? The other week, the husband and I left the big kids in charge of the little one while we ducked off for date night. Only it was morning, not night. And we went to woolies to buy loo paper and cat food. It was the first alone together time in ages. We splurged on a couple of diet cokes and drank them in the car. Romantic as fuck.

  10. Me time is when the kid is in preschool – wait, that’s dentist time, hair dresser time, doctor time, Apple store phone-fixing time …. it goes on! I am resigned to the fact that I am never going to get a full nights sleep ever again.

  11. The shower used to be my last bastion of privacy and personal space. My daily me time. That is, until last week, when my 2.5yr old decided that he “wan shower wid mumma”. Every. Fucking. Morning.

    Nothing is sacred.

  12. The cuddles in the shower/on the loo! Why? Why? Why? And why never Daddy? And if I indulge the toddler, am I setting him up for some creepy, weird fetish for later in life? (Does anyone else worry about this)?

  13. So, so true. Which is why today, when I’m working from home and they’re both elsewhere, I’m sneakily catching up on blog reading when I SHOULD BE WORKING. But ohhh, those endless demands! Sometimes I think they’re deliberately taunting me, like when they scream at me from the other end of the house to give them their teddy bear, which is lying on the ground a metre away from them. And yes, WHY NEVER DAD?!

  14. Hahaha, I hate the fact that nowadays I am pretty much ALWAYS late to everything – even though I was the one who was always early before. And even if I get up earlier – and earlier. The things to do seem to always fill up the available time. Grrr!

  15. haha! So bloody true! I love grocery shopping sans child. It’s like frikken heaven. Just dawdling through the aisles, staring at the other parents who thought bringing the kids was a good idea. Idiots.

  16. Jeez. And I thought having a man baby was bad! I’m way too lazy for motherhood that’s why I’m going to get a puppy!

  17. Our kids will be back at school on Friday after an epic eight weeks of holidays.
    Today I was thinking, ‘Oh what will I do with my time?’
    Who am I kidding? I’m going to be cleaning up eight weeks worth of school holiday mess.

  18. It’s all true. I remember trying to snuffle my uncontrollable giggles at around midnight in the hospital ward after I had Leni. Everyone had gone, I had just pushed this small hippo out of my vigina. Their parting words were “get some rest”… cue hysterical giggles.

  19. Bahahahaha, oh every word of this is so damn true! On Saturday arvo my sister-in-law was having a pow-wow at her house to start planning her wedding. I went just so that I could lie on the floor and have a nap. I’m sure someone took notes!

  20. I had an argument with a friend who said that because she regularly cared for a friends child then she knew what being a parent is like. I didn’t know whether to laugh manically (I was ridiculous sleep deprived at the time so this may have been scary) or smack her. Paul tried to tell me on the school holidays that letting me hide in my bedroom while him and Dyllan were in the lounge room was the same as ‘alone time’. He is lucky that he did it while talking to me on the phone….

  21. My husband and I had a full blown argument because I think travelling on a plane by yourself counts as me time. He doesn’t. He clearly does not get it!

  22. Oh dear… oh dear…. first bub is due at the end of the month. Thinking I should be spending my time doing something fabulous until then (will probably just end up cleaning the house though lol!!).

  23. ‘Everything takes forever plus 10 minutes’. THIS. Omfg I was seriously the most punctual person ever pre-kids. Now? I’m lucky if I make it anywhere, and with all kids accounted for. I’m also that mad psycho mum ushering her kid into school 20 seconds before the bell goes with that smile masking clenched teeth and hissed words to the child who was too busy running around pantsless at home to get ready in time. Only 5 years to go until all the kids are at school…. woo….. *sobs hysterically into a bottle of wine*

    Love this lady. You’ve nailed it again. Like always. Because you’re good and shit. x

  24. I come to you from the other end of the tunnel where all the light is- me time returns and kids get old enough to make their own food, pack their lunches and school bags and even – wait for it- fetch things for you, listen to YOU whinge, bake you treats and be gone for hours and hours while you do your own thing. Lol. It will come soon I promise. (Now instead of coming in to the bathroom for a cuddle my about to turn 11 yr old shuns me if I am not fully dressed. I walk around topless sometimes just to make her freak out and cover her eyes).

  25. Oh my gosh yes! I have two kids and it can be exhausting. I had rough pregnancies but it was nothing compared to actual parenthood. I spent a few years as a single mum too and now in a new relationship and I get real ‘me time’! Not just root canal me time and it is unreal.

  26. I thanked my leg waxer the other day. Thanked her. And then asked if I could stay a bit longer. You know, just hang out for a bit. So yeah, I get it.

  27. That first dat after my baby was born was a horrible intro to motherhood! Exactly like you said – baby out, and who cares about mum! No-one! Call the waahmulance for me too 😉 I’d LOVE a single day where my needs were the focus!

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