My mum is organised, a planner, and it frustrates the hell out of her that I am so chaotic. I am getting better but I am a LONG way off being anywhere close to organised.
Now I am a mother of two- exactly as she was, I am beginning to appreciate why she is so organised, she has had to be- it is a survival mechanism and it makes life such a lot easier.
My dad passed away suddenly when I was 7 and my sister was 8. My mum had to raise us on her own, miles away from her family, relying on the help and support of her friends and neighbours (many of whom she made on the school run).
She didn’t have the luxury of being anything but organised and so our lives were governed by routine. I think it helped to rebuild our lives making us feel safe and secure. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t militant or anything it just allowed us (and mum) to know what was what and manage day to day.
Read more about the benefits of routines for children here; http://www.lowershoreccrc.org/routinesarticlemelkins.htm
When baby A was born we swore by the Gina Ford ‘CLB’ routine and, she really has been a contented little baby. It has worked like an absolute dream and I would thoroughly recommend the principals to anyone. **word of warning** it is not for you if you are going to get totally neurotic about doing things to the letter. You will end up in a secure facility with a pretty white coat on, BUT, if you can use the timings and principals as a guide and take the really strict bits with a pinch of salt, you might find it really helpful.
I am trying to use the baby and toddler guide now…it is a work in progress!!
So, I am a bit confused as to why I haven’t translated this routine and order to the rest of family life… And then I recall that when I had some counselling a while back, Pat (the lovely, lovely councillor lady) got fed up of me being late or screeching onto the drive with seconds to spare and asked why I couldn’t ever arrive in good time. With a little bit of talking and digging I figured out that I am afraid of being boring. I hate the idea of a dull, average life and it subconsciously brought a bit of excitement into the everyday to have to speed to get somewhere or to think eek- am I going to make it etc. Pat asked me to be on time in future and, I always was. It didn’t make me boring and I honestly think that the sessions I had with her saved my life. (Maybe not literally, but I am certainly far more calm and happy than I ever have been).
Perhaps the fact that I am now Mrs Average in many ways is bringing this to the fore for me again and, leaving the house with two kids and no nappy bag is my subconscious way of adding a touch of Russian roulette to the days! It never feels quite so exciting when I am wiping a nose with my own sleeve though, so I am re-educating myself into planning and being ready for any eventuality.
I tested the planning this week end with a trip to Liverpool One on a Saturday with my sister and two of my oldest friends- none of them have children so the pressure was on.
The romanticised idea…
I prepare everything the night before so we are ready for our departure at 10am, I will hop aboard the bus with ease looking like a yummy mummy and when I’m told that I looking amazing will coyly say- ‘what, this old thing, I’m sure I look a mess!’.
I will illustrate that life with children doesn’t need to be any different than it was before, we eat lunch and sip wine. Everyone will have a wonderful day and my children will be picture perfect dreams…
The slightly grim reality…
Baby B does not get memo re being an amazing sleeper and showcasing my A1+ parenting skills so I am up and down all night like a fucking brides nightie and am shattered before the day even starts.
Jump in the shower and realise too late that it is freezing so get out looking like a drowned rat rather than the groomed, serene mother I was hoping to showcase.
Pack pram to soundtrack of screaming from Baby B and feeling frazzled head for the bus. Have the obligatory 30 second panic attack as I manoeuvre the buggy onto the bus. Toy that I have packed (planning for boredom) gets trapped so I am marooned between driver and buggy space. Attract the totally wrong type of attention and am mortified.
The rest of the bus journey is perfect. Babies attract lots of oohs and ahh’s and I feel very smug that I am so prepared that they are both fed on the journey. I rule at this organised, yet fun, grown up malarkey.
Arrive at Liverpool One and sister asks Baby A if she wants to get out…NO!!! This should be saved as a treat for later. Once she’s out she’ll never want to get back in. Planning disaster one- reins at home on kitchen work top, Not to worry, my lovely sister carries her. Venture into Disney store and immediately she wants to get down so I spend my time with my heart in my mouth looking for her and imagining that she has been snatched. She hasn’t. Or is breaking things. She isn’t.
Bending down is killing me so buy a brilliant butterfly backpackfrom Mamas and Papas. Which has a built in rein attachment. Result. Get one.
Planning disaster two- have not booked a table for lunch and everywhere has a waiting time of 45minutes plus. Even John Lewis cafe is full. When I have to use the lift for the hundredth time I remember why I have always ALWAYS said that parents who take their kids shopping are idiots and no one gets anything out of the experience. I call Mr L from the homeward department and lament my utter stupidity. I am the woman who was crying just beside the Sophie Conran display with a bright red double buggy- very inconspicuous.
Finally get a seat in Carluccios which is fab. (Great food, quick service, friendly staff, room for the buggy etc. I would thoroughly recommend.)
Order Baby A’s food secure in the knowledge that if there is a delay I have snacks in my bag. Ha, back on track. 🙂 Have a glass of procecco to celebrate and show other diners that it is possible to be a mother and a fun, carefree individual. Baby B is cute as a button sleeping in the pram. A couple of people comment on how lovely the girls are- OMG, I might be pulling this off. Swish my yummy mummy cardigan over my yummy mummy sling and beam.
Baby B is sick all over my lush cardie and as I pretended it was ‘this old thing’ can not share my utter devastation.
Stressing that I am spoiling the day for everyone with my humongous (but beautiful) buggy means that I fall between two stools, don’t actually feel able to do any shopping or entertain the girls properly. Boo. Ah ha- the mum guilt kicking in again. Lovely.
Set off for home and as we step off the bus the heavens open. Obv.
I figure out that it will take as long to work out how to put on the rain covers so leg it back home abandoning my friends and breathing out of my arse. I am not the woman I once was.
What have I learnt from the day?!
There is NOTHING to be gained from taking babies shopping. I knew this before but somehow imagined that it would be different for me.
Don’t take your kids shopping, especially in a double buggy, on a Saturday, in the rain. Definitely don’t take them if you want to actually try something on or buy anything. DEFINITELY DEFINITELY don’t take them if you are trying to show that being a mum and a normal person is plausible.
No,seriously, I did have fun. My only recommendation would be to book a table for lunch in advance. If you don’t need it, no harm done but, if you do, it is there and you will feel chuffed with yourself for being so damn organised 🙂
The planning bit worked well, I had everything I needed to be a miserable, stressed out old bag and thank god I did as two full changes were needed!!
Perhaps next time I should opt for a more child focused activity, I will try one this week and let you know how that works out!