I am very busy (and very stressed) all of the time. I have so much to remember sometimes it feels like my head might explode. Some of these things might be small, but they are all essential and, without them, my family will come tumbling down around my ears and I will be forced to try and put it back together – inducing yet more stress.
These essential little things can be hard to explain to people who aren’t in my position – childless people and people whose kids haven’t started school, for example. Let’s be honest, even my own husband, who often gets home from work and wonders exactly what I’ve been doing, doesn’t know the half of what is involved in keeping our family afloat.
So I’m very grateful to ‘them’, whoever ‘they’ are, who have come up with a list of 26 things which parents have to do daily just to ensure their family makes it out of the door in one piece in the morning.
I’ve discussed the list with childless colleagues who maintain that some of the jobs could be combined – hair brushing and teeth brushing for example. Believe me, those are two separate nags (in my case also multiplied by three) so in my book that makes two separate jobs.
So here is that list in full – complete with comments from me on how these jobs affect our lives. 24/7.
Brushing their teeth (I line up three brushes complete with toothpaste and a cup of mouthwash for the most manky toothed child twice a day. Then I
nagask them to brush their teeth. Repeatedly. Inevitably one of them, usually my younger son, will forget.)
- Having clean uniforms ready (Surprisingly difficult as they dirty a lot of clothes and in winter it can take a long time for them to dry. Thank goodness for my daughter who keeps the same uniform on all week.)
- Remembering any doctor/ dentist/ optician appointments (We certainly have more optician appointments than most. Plus we’ve had physio appointments too over the last few months, sometimes meaning Mummy has to leave work early or son has to leave school early.)
- Getting the kids to school on time (I nag and they take too long to get ready, but we are pretty good at this. In eight years, we have never been late.)
- Keeping on top of calendar dates/ classmates’ birthdays/ anniversaries/ important dates (Time consuming and confusing. Sometimes costly too due to the number of birthday parties.)
- Laundry (The big one. I swear I wash more clothes than my kids could possibly wear. I seem to spend my life hanging clothes up to dry or putting them away. But of course it’s not time-consuming at all because ‘the washing machine does the washing’. I therefore shouldn’t complain about it.)
- Making breakfast (Of course the boys are old enough to make their own, but I still start the eldest’s off and completely make breakfast for the younger two. Plus they all have ‘second breakfast’ which they are also completely unable to get for themselves. Apparently. It all changes when my younger son turns 10.)
- Remember lunch boxes/ dinner money (Dinner money is a Sunday evening job, then we make packed lunches all week for between one and three kids. Three packed lunches in the morning is VERY time-consuming. Luckily my younger son has school dinner most of the time. Apart from when it’s sweet ‘n’ sour chicken.)
- Making sure they have a good meal to come home to (This is not one of my specialities. I don’t cook and they don’t eat proper food.)
- Making sure the cupboards are stocked (We have a weekly Tesco delivery, yet I still seem to shop for something nearly every day of the week.)
- Getting the children to bed on time so they are not tired in the morning (They never get to bed on time, but they never seem tired in the morning either. The bedtime process starts around 7.30pm and finishes about 10pm. By which time I am thoroughly fed up.)
- Making sure they actually eat their breakfast (The eating isn’t a problem. The eating quickly enough and chatting less can be a problem.)
- Making sure they take a drink to school (This is one that childless friends believe should be lumped together with the lunch. I see their point. But you still have to remember a drink when they’re having school dinner.)
- Ironing (I don’t do it. Life is too short. Me and the kids wear creased clothes. My husband irons his own work shirts.)
- Reading homework/ preparing kids for tests (Homework is very time-consuming. Especially when all three kids want or need parental input. And by parental, I mean my input. My husband doesn’t bother with homework.)
- If it is raining, making sure they have a raincoat (OK, that’s a no-brainer and not really a task as such. It stands to reason you take a coat to school approximately 90% of the year. We’re living in Britain after all.)
- Remembering PE kits and other essentials (PE kits for the younger kids live at school, but we still sometimes have to remember trainers. And the musical instruments too. Yes, we often forget. And when I say ‘we’, maybe it should be ‘they’. DO I HAVE TO REMEMBER EVERYTHING?!)
- Permission slips (My Sunday evening job along with the dinner money. I save them up and sign all the letters – and the cheques, there are always cheques, why are there always cheques – on Sunday evening. It takes ages, is boring and uses up loads of envelopes and a fair amount of brain power.)
Remembering to brush the children’s hair (The boys are supposed to brush their own. They never do without repeated
naggingreminders. My daughter’s hair has to be plaited or put into a bun every day before school.)
- Making sure they take their homework into school (The younger two are pretty good at remembering this themselves. I have relinquished responsibility for my eldest. He needs to sort himself out at his age.)
- Putting sun cream on them (Before school on a sunny/ potentially sunny day. Accompanied by arguments and moans from my younger son who hates sun cream. Plus making sure they have some in their school bags for later. With a name label on, of course. Yawn.)
- Making sure they have gone to the toilet before getting in the car (Not applicable. We walk to school and they are old enough to decide for themselves anyway!)
- Feeding pets (Not applicable. We don’t have any. If you wonder why we don’t have any, see above. I would probably have to give up sleep altogether if I had pets to deal with.)
- Keep on top of uniform/ patch up holes (Not a big one, we don’t get many holes, and they usually have the decency to only grow sufficiently to need new uniform once a year in the summer holidays. The name labels are a pain then, though. Any sewing, including Cub and Scout badges etc, is sub-contracted to Grandma.)
- Remembering after school clubs (Always a confusing one. I had a special calendar for a while for this. You just get used to the days and they change. This is another job which is partially sub-contracted to Grandma. I don’t know what clubs the kids do and when if I’m at work, I leave Grandma to think about that.)
- Keep on top of daily medications/ vitamins (Not a big one, although they do all have a vitamin at bedtime, due to point 9 above. Plus we have to make sure to always have Piriton to hand in case eldest accidentally ingests peanuts while we’re out.)
So there you have it.
That’s what we all go through pretty much every day just to keep our heads above water.
Is it any wonder mums are usually tired and often confused? Frankly I think we all deserve a medal.