When you need a break give yourself one

I know, we all need a break from the relentlessness that is parenting in lockdown. Thanks BoJo for your imminent easing of restrictions (I think) I personally won’t be running to the pub as of next week, (I won’t be running anywhere) but not necessarily for a lack of want, the specifics are more that I am unable to physically recover from such outings anymore, that it’ll probably be some time before I feel like getting shitfaced again, if ever. My days of organised carnage as well as spontaneity are pretty much kaput.

It’s funny when you realise drink just doesn’t do for you the things it used to and your body cannot recover as well from it’s onslaught, is basically your body’s way of telling you to quit without actually telling you, but that’s for another blog. This one is about parenting, and the fact that I am not coping well being the primary carer 24/7. I know it’s ‘my job’ as mum to suck it up and that’s exactly what I’m doing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not heavy. Sucking up is all well and good until you’re full to the brim from all the sucking and your glass is spilling over into some form of depression.

I have battled depression for 20 years. I was 13 when I saw my first shrink and took my first antidepressant. It’s something I’m able to recognise quite quickly and also pull back from with reasonable ease when I recognise its arrival, but when the days become dark in the middle of summer and you find yourself caring less about the things you used to, it’s usually a red flag.

I know the fact I have a chronic illness is one of, if not the main reason for my constant feeling down, and like I’m failing at life and motherhood, because I can’t just do all the things anymore. This can make life seem really shit sometimes. This is not a pity party, it’s the truth. The joy in my life often comes from my family. Specifically my daughter and I love her with all my heart but the truth is I’m running out of structure and patience. 

I need a break.

Ciara is my reason for staying alive. She is my life support and I hers, but sometimes we need a break to recharge, refocus and get off the merry go round. 

I want to not feel stressed 24/7 and desperate for ‘time off’ I want to look forward to picking her up from school again, and spending our days chatting about the bugs we’ve found or hunting for an ice cream van. Sometimes we mums need a break. Sometimes we won’t be able to have one. So what do you do if you can’t have a break? You give yourself one. Meaning, you stop hounding yourself about the fact you’re not baking cupcakes (tried and failed) or building treehouses and homeschooling. You give yourself a break and remind yourself you are doing your best. You’re showing up for the people that need you and you’re sucking up all that heavy shit and nobody might tell you what good a job you’re doing but you are, doing a good job. You’re soldiering on even when it’s hard and your kids love you. Even when they hate you, really, they still love you. Even when you’re disciplining them or enforcing rules they don’t like, they’re grateful, and the truth is they don’t care if you give them too much screen time just to get by, or let them have a few more sweets in a bid to keep them happy. They are happy if you’re happy. So when you need a break, give yourself one.

Covid and kids

Ciara reunited with a preschool friend yesterday and it was a much anticipated reunion. However her attitude was really quite bizarre and I fear that lockdown life has widely contributed to this latest phase of brattyness. When we first met up she was quite obviously overjoyed to see her long lost friend and they played tag and tried to catch butterflies in their nets, it was a lovely watch, seeing her so obviously happy to be playing with another kid again. But this joy seemed to disperse quickly and Ciara became quite standoffish. She wouldn’t share her badges which we had specifically taken for the sole purpose of sharing. She kept telling her friend to be quiet and putting her hands over her ears when she was talking, something I’ve never seen her do before so I was as confused as I was pissed off at this point. I was getting more annoyed as I’d asked her several times what the problem was and why she was finding this play so overwhelming. She had no answer accept just that her friend was ‘annoying her’ (much to my embarrassment) we traipsed the woods some more. Me constantly trying to gain back her enthusiasm, whilst searching for the kind little girl I’d left the house with that morning. It didn’t work. She continued this level of spoiled brat for the rest of the outing, which resorted in me meting out a punishment of cancelling the cake baking we had planned for that afternoon.

I came away feeling deflated, which is much of how I feel often lately. Trying to make the days appealing to a four year old is becoming more challenging as we continue through this period.

In my anxious mind it just clarifies the point that my best isn’t good enough. Whatever I’m doing mustn’t be enough because Ciara is losing valuable social skills through this isolation. She’s constantly bored and it matters little how much time I spend creating small worlds on the Tuff tray or planning a scavenger hunt in the woods, she needs that time with other kids to learn and grow as a person. She’s an only child and whilst she’s always been great at sharing she is losing the need to. I’m not constantly reminding her of why it’s important because there’s nobody here to exercise the point with.

I’m giving into her because most of the time I’m trying to keep her quiet so I can get some work done, or shoving the iPad in her face so I can have a lie down.

I don’t know how to normalise what’s going on for her right now.

We need to protect our vulnerable people and stop the spread of the virus, of course we do, but our kids are vulnerable too, and right now mine is at risk of social regression. I worry about the effects on her mental health at such a young age being stuck in with me, who, lets be honest, is a not so hot mess, most of/all the time.

Preschool is such a huge part of early year’s development, I worry I’m just not able to meet all of her needs at home. There’s little option for her to go to another setting because it’s just weeks before the summer break as is, and I feel like that would only confuse her further. Not to mention we can’t afford it.

I know I’m not alone in this plight and I know some of you will be in the same if not worse situations. I just want you to know if you’re feeling lost and you’re kid has turned into a spoiled brat, you’re not alone. You’re probably spreading yourself too thin, I can’t offer words of encouragement, only that I’m riding the wave of this craziness too.

Threenager at bedtime

Ah, bliss, you’ve had a long day, the kids are tucked up tidy and you’re ready to whack on your fav box set. You slouch down on the sofa, with a steaming mug of tea, or something alcoholic, whatever your tipple. Remote in hand. Sunday night goals right?

Wrong – you have a three year old remember. So don’t get too comfy.

Below is a list of things mine has said to me in the last 30 minutes:

  1. Mummy, my eyes are wet – checks eyes, hasn’t been crying (confused) I say ‘No they’re not wet darling’ her reply ‘Yes they are wet, cheeky monkey’ SMH
  2. Daddy’s turn… ‘Dadddyyy my feet are too worm.’ Does she mean warm? ‘No, worm’ takes blanket off puts a thinner one on.
  3. ‘I not like teddy blanket’ Ok well that’s kinda tough tits hun, as you pissed all over the spare last night sweetheart. (Throws blanket on floor)
  4. ‘MUMMY!! (Screamed in desperation) there’s a fly on my bed.’ There wasn’t a fly on her bed.
  5. ‘Daddy, daddy, daddy,’ Yes Ciara? ‘I need a wee’ (gets potty.) ‘No I go on toilet’ (never wants to go on the big toilet any other time) Lord give us strength
  6. ‘Mummy, I go sleep for one minute, then show kids my Batman?’ She means her batman transfer tattoo (I assume) and kids are her class mates at preschool. ‘Tomorrow Ciara, now GO TO SLEEP’

And finally, you think you’ve nailed it…. That was definitely a soft snore you just heard. It’s safe! Go back downstairs, can’t be fucked to put on said box set, it’s nearly 9pm. May as well go to bed eh?

The joke is definitely on us, as Ciara used to sleep 6.30-8.00 every night for about a year. It was bliss after living with ‘colic’ for her first year and wakeful nights until her second. But soooo took it for granted, we didn’t have enough sex in those quiet evenings, we definitely didn’t use them to do anything productive like work out or tidy the house. And now? Well now, our work outs consist of running up and down the stairs 7 times, the house is always a mess, and sex is well, it’s a rarity!

My advice to parents who’s kids sleep is HAVE THE SEX, enjoy a hot bath, food prep, do whatever you want, but savour every, single, second!!