When people ask me “how I do it” with three children, under school age, home 90% of the time, I give the same answer;
“I have extremely low standards.”
They laugh and say, “no, really, how do you do it?”
But my answer is the truth, and I’m here today to explain exactly what I mean.
When I had Angus, my beautiful first born babe, I did it all. Clean house, gourmet meals, park every day, gymbaroo, swimming lessons, play dates. You think of it, we did it.
Then gorgeous Eddie was born when Gus was 22 months old and I suddenly had two children under the age of two. Everything changed.
Eddie suffered from colic for the first 12 weeks. Then at the age of two, Gus underwent pretty serious surgery and rehabilitation to correct a neck condition he was born with. And me, well I struggled through life with two amazing but very demanding little people, all on no sleep.
I still remember the day I was trying to pat and shush Eddie to sleep in his bassinet, while a boisterous two year old bounced on our bed screaming at the top of his lungs next to me. My husband called and asked how it was going and I just lost it. Like lost it. Sobbing. Snotting. Lost. It. He came straight home and took the baby and distracted the toddler while I lost it some more.
It sounds miserable, but it was the epiphany I needed. It was ok to say I wasn’t coping.
It changed the way I proceeded to parent.
From then on I decided to take the pressure off myself to be the perfect mother and be the world’s okayest mother.
And that’s ok.
I have a list, of non negotiables. Things that can’t be swept under the rug.
They are things like;
I read to my kids every single night. Every night, no matter how crappy the day has been.
Teeth must be brushed, at least once a day.
They can’t be rude. To anyone.
Wrestle away, but when someone starts crying, it’s over.
Sharing is caring.
Love each other, forever.
I’ve always got time for cuddles and kisses.
They will be fed, it might not be gourmet. It probably will have been frozen. It could be healthy. But they will have a full tummy.
They can always come to me with a problem/worry and I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to help.
They know, above all, how much they are loved and adored.
Then there’s the list of things that really don’t matter. Things like;
Clothes most likely won’t go into their drawers folded.
Food won’t be creatively presented on pretty, breakable plates.
Some days we might not leave the house, and they need to make your own fun.
Their bedroom will never look good enough for a photo shoot.
Neither will mine.
They can wear costumes, or bathers, or pjs all day if that’s what floats their boat.
Signing up to every activity is not possible. Pick one. Rock at it.
They will grow up in a messy house. It’ll be clean, but messy. They’ll live.
There will be days when I am so bone achingly tired and they will sit and watch movies and eat popcorn from morning to night.
And that’s ok.
Because that is not what will define my beautiful boys and turn them into the people they are.
It’s the love they’ll feel. The affection. The attention to the things that really, deep down matter.
And that’s how I’ll continue to parent.
p.s you should know, that while I’ve been typing this, my children have trashed the house. I guess I’m ok with that too!
How do you parent? Loving but lazy? All guns blazing?