The (hopefully achievable) Mum Bucket List

So we all know that it’s a given when you become a mum that you fall spectacularly to the bottom of the pile.

And I’m not talking of the laundry variety – although come to think of it, making sure the other half has clean socks (while also juggling children, work deadlines, school commitments…) is obviously ‘more important’ than you actually getting the chance to eat lunch.

(I would like to point out here that hubby has never been the type to moan about this. He is very good at wearing dirty socks for a second, and even third, day. No, it’s usually me that ends up washing the socks instead of eating the sandwich due to that lovely thing known as Mum Guilt.)

But sometimes it’s nice – and healthy – to do something for yourself. The experts even say that watching that half hour of TV you’ve been saving up, reading a magazine or meeting a friend for dinner actually makes you a better parent because no one is capable of being totally selfless 100 per cent of the time.

In my case it’s more like 60 per cent, on a good day.

I’ve been pondering on this in the last couple of days because hubby and I took a few hours out last Saturday evening to watch The Godfather, accompanied by a rather large bar of Toblerone. And it was great.

It’s one of those films I’ve always wanted to watch but never got round to. And although there were numerous jobs I could have been doing, it was time well spent.

Now although I would like to go on holiday to Canada, see Lake Louise and take a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer, clearly – with two young kids in tow – this probably won’t happen any time soon. In fact we’re saving that particular daydream up for retirement.

But, there are little goals that as a mum could, and should, be realistically achievable in the near(ish) future. A Mum Bucket List if you will – although as I’m not planning on expiring anytime soon, fingers crossed, this may not be the best name for it.

Anyway, here goes:

 

  1. Watching The Godfather 2 without falling asleep (due to exhaustion, not film quality) and/or pondering over the fact that Diane Keaton, IMO, was spectacularly miscast.

 

  1. Watching the original Star Wars. I know – I just never got around to that film either.

 

  1. Having the discipline to actually write my novel. A good friend has just scored a two-book publishing deal and I’m very inspired by her determination and drive.

 

  1. Going back to my favourite city New York to celebrate my 40th. If in laws will babysit! And hubby will pay!

 

  1. Getting the chance in the course of my job to interview actress Lauren Graham (yes, the one from Gilmore Girls). I love her.

 

  1. Making sure that when one of my best friends moves away in January (sob, sob) that we still meet up at least once a month.

 

  1. Growing my business in 2016 and expanding my PR and copywriting client base.

 

  1. Biting the bullet and going to the dentist for the first time in four years. (I don’t even have a phobia, I just never seem to get around to it.)

 

  1. Going through all the boxes in the garage that I haven’t looked at it in over two years, discovering what’s actually in them and then selling or giving it all away.

 

  1. Starting piano lessons again for the first time in 20 odd years and seeing if Mini-me would like to join me.

 

  1. Purchasing a piano on which to play, badly.

 

  1. Going to the cinema much more often than I do. It’s one of the great joys of life.

 

  1. Writing more frequent, and possibly more gripping, blog posts!

 

What’s on your Mum Bucket List? I’d love to know.

 

 

The Mum-pedemic sweeping the nation

Everyone tells you that the moment you become a parent the world as you once knew it will become shaken to the core.

But until someone hands you your firstborn it’s hard to really understand just how much loving and looking after a small person changes everything. It’s a bit like rattling a kaleidoscope and then lifting it to your eye and gazing at a completely different picture.

Once you’ve had a baby you come to realise many things: Just how little sleep it’s possible to survive on, just how much love it’s possible to have for your child and just how high the creator of Night Garden must have been when they came up with Makka Pakka and the Haahoos.

In smaller measure the world also tilts on its axis when you throw a second little one into the mix. Now you’re a professional juggler who will never pee alone again, unless it’s the weekend.

But there’s one facet of parenthood that only women get. The dreaded Mum Guilt.

Not only are men immune from this terrible disease, they don’t understand it and will tell you in exasperated tone that it is totally pointless – which to be fair it is.

Absolutely no good can ever come from worrying yourself stupid about whether or not you: cook enough from scratch for your children, let them watch too much TV, read to them enough, should ban yourself from using your iPhone when spending time with them, should have seen that tantrum coming and steered away from it, are a ‘bad parent’ for being too tired to have another row over teeth cleaning etc. etc.

Feel free to add your own ‘guilt trigger’ into the mix here. They are after all, as we mums know, too numerous to mention.

On one particularly low Tuesday I even found myself self-flagellating over the fact that my mum had pointed out I perhaps should cook hubby more potatoes.

(‘Just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean he should be deprived. After all his family is Irish…’)

Fortunately on this occasion I came quickly to my senses and informed her that he was very welcome to cook his own tubers. Foul things.

My point is that even though us mums know that stewing over something small is rarely going to turn out well we just can’t escape it. It’s impossible to be rational about Mum Guilt.

A major cause of MG seems to be work – whether you do, whether you don’t, whether you love your career, whether you’re happier staying at home…

Another is breastfeeding – whether you’ve done it for long enough, for too long, whether it secretly repulsed you…

Yet another is comparison – measuring yourself up against other mums and constantly feeling you come up short, that you should be doing what they are for your kids, that you should have bought that toy or gadget for your kids…

Gah! It’s exhausting – all that self-doubt and questioning whizzing around in your brain. Even more so if you find it hard to admit to your friends and so find yourself falling apart behind the closed front door.

There’s no cure for Mum Guilt and it’s likely none will ever be found. The best thing you can do is try to push it out of your head and replace with a cuppa and chocolate biscuit or super-sized glass of wine – without feeling bad about the calories.

And if all else fails remember this – you’re NOT alone!

 

Smug Mums Incorporated

It’s been a rather stressful few weeks in the Neat Freak house.

A seemingly never-ending bout of illness finally culminated in a spell in hospital for blue-eyed boy, and although everything’s pretty much back to normal now it’s been a case of muddling along as best we can for a while.

My never-ending ‘to do’ list is now the length of a short novel and I’m actually getting genuinely scared of being eaten alive by the laundry pile.

Being a long-time convert to the philosophy that a tidy home equals a calmer, happier person, I think what I find hardest about being a parent – apart from the lack of personal space – is the lack of space in general.

The plethora of ‘toddler tat’ in our lounge often feels like my biggest bugbear, that and how my kids manage to leave their sticky fingerprints and footprints on everything. But hey, it goes with the territory.

What’s harder to admit is that sometimes I find it hard to remain serene in the face of mini-me emptying out every toy she owns. Or that I love the fact that she does cake making and potato printing at nursery so I don’t have to at home.

Personally I think the sanest thing you can do as a mum is to accept the fact that you’ll never be ‘perfect’, try not to feel guilty about the decisions you make and above all never forget to laugh at yourself – whether at home or in public.

After all being a good mum is many things, but it’s certainly not black and white.

So why do the smug mums brigade, Smug Mums Incorporated if you will, seem to feel it’s okay to look down their noses at the rest of us?

You know the type, the ones who wouldn’t know self-deprecation if it bit them on the arse and who recoil in horror at the thought of feeding their offspring anything that’s not locally sourced, organic and prepared from scratch.

Queen of the Smug Mums, or at least the celebrity face of the campaign, has to go to Gwyneth Paltrow, her of Goop, or as I prefer to call it Gloop fame.

You know that lifestyle website with ‘useful’ tips on the perfect capsule collection wardrobe, the importance of owning a black designer jumpsuit and hearty recipes. Chickpea soup anyone?

To be fair Gwyneth herself has waxed lyrical about how we mums don’t cut each other enough slack. But then she always goes and spoils it by dropping clangers such as how office jobs are easier if you’re a mum than being paid millions to make a film. Or how she only allows her children to watch TV if it’s in French or Spanish.

And while describing herself as a ‘working mom’ as she did recently at a political fundraiser – of course we all host these regularly where I’m from – might be technically correct, in reality she presumably has staff and nannies by the dozen on standby.

Oh Gwyneth if only instead of writing about the benefits of juice cleansing on Gloop you could recount that time when you broke wind in a baby sensory class and blamed your unfortunate offspring.

Or when you let your kids have cheese and a bag of maltesers for tea one night because you couldn’t get them to eat anything else.

Or when you stuck them upstairs for some ‘quiet time’ with the iPad so you could indulge in 30 minute’s uninterrupted trash TV.

We’d like you, and the other Smug Mums, so much more…