Finding It Hard To Write

Not in any way related to the post, but this is my toddler dressed as a monkey in a rather nice little tea shop eating a banana.

We all go through phases don’t we, where the blank page never fills up, where inspiration to sit down and type just doesn’t come. I’ve been feeling a bit like that about this blog recently, which is a shame as it’s intended to be a record for when my kids are older and they (or more likely, I) can read back at all the things they did, the highs, the lows and the inbetweens too.

Life has kind of kicked up a gear from the franticness of the early days of having two under two. Two whole babies to look after compared to one of me (with two of us of course during the evenings and weekends!). Nine months of that and then all of a sudden it was time to think about that four letter word again – work. I’m massively enjoying being back into the world of work but the dynamics are very different again.

Up until I was 12 weeks pregnant with Alexandra, I worked full time (and overtime! And time over that too!) and life was very full with not only my real job but also the volunteer work that I did in my spare time (running a mental health group). Then I upped sticks and moved in with Dylan and suddenly I had not a fat lot to do. I spent a lot of my first maternity leave napping, eating and watching pointless television. Now, I wish I’d done something more productive with that time. But equally I’m happy I had that wind-down time that I probably won’t get again until I’m 80. Then I had my time off with Alex where I learned how to be someone’s mom before I started freelancing – doing bits and bobs while she was napping, occasionally taking her along to a work meeting and she’d sleep in the pram or smile at everyone, setting up stuff for her to play with so I could work at our dining room table.

And then came maternity leave with Max and then came, well, now. Each and every day is so full on because even if we don’t go anywhere, there’s two bums to keep clean, two mouths to feed (constantly!), arguments over toys being MINE, washing to do, a house to keep clean, more snacks, more food, bottles, baths, bedtime routines. And that’s without nursery drop offs and pick ups, baby groups, play dates, errands, doctor’s appointments. So I’ve resigned myself to the fact the daytime is not going to be my friend in terms of work and I’ve generally been starting my working day at 7.30pm. It’s going well so far, I think. No one’s emailed me back to say THIS IS SHIT so I’ve either been writing okay or everyone’s too polite to say anything! I should hope it’s the former seen as they’re paying me to do it.

So in between my 12 hour days working as ‘mom’ with the kids, the couple of hours working at night, writing the occasional blog for the Motherload and occasionally talking to my husband, I’ve not had much headspace for this blog.

This whole thing comes across a little as a moan about how busy I am (which it’s not intended to be, I actually think I function better being busy and I love both my work and my homelife even if both can be challenging at times) or just a whole heap of excuse about my lack of blog writing. Which again, is unintended. I hope to always carry on this blog. I hope to be talking about my grandchildren on this blog one day (although of course my two are going to stay little forever and never fly the nest and have kids of their own!).

Anyway, it’s very late and I’m about to go to bed. Max is stirring a little so I’m hoping the murmuring over the monitor won’t turn into a full blown cry!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Balance? Where Are You?

If I stopped going to Asda, I reckon I’d have about 89 extra free hours a week.
Kids are not dressed as it was pyjama week at baby class, not because I’ve given up.

Among the many glib cliché phrases used around/to/about mothers is this idea of ‘finding the balance’.

When you’re younger, finding the balance maybe means not getting completely off your face every weekend so that occasionally you can spend a Sunday doing something other than watching Netflix and crying cause your face feels like it’s going to fall off. Or sometimes not working late and coming home to actually cook something in your own kitchen.

Then you have a baby, and you’re encouraged to spend all your time gazing at this little tiny newborn because you’ll NEVER have this time back again and who cares about having clean pants anyway? But in reality did any of us heed this advice and stop doing the housework completely?

And then you get to a point in life where you have two children who basically take up 100 per cent of your brain space and most of your time, energy (and patience of course). And you find yourself wondering whether you’ve got the balance right?

I mean sure, on the face of it, we’re swimming along kind of okay and nothing has sunk yet and we all normally get fed and washed during the course of any one day. Some days the baby naps on me and I get to watch mindless television for two hours while also looking at Instagram because there’s nothing else you can do when squashed beneath a quietly snoring infant. Some days I cook something vaguely presentable for dinner that isn’t beige and has more than one vegetable in it. Some days I wear make up. I’ve had a shower every day since I got home from hospital with Alexandra, my firstborn, because I decided not showering dipped below my ‘lowest acceptable standard’.

But the thought of all the things I didn’t do again – well I try not to go there else I’d never switch off and go to sleep at the end of each day.

Between feeding (a lovely mixture of bottles, weaning and food for the toddler too, as well as eating ourselves), expressing, changing bums, getting dressed, going out and actually doing something with the kids, nursery drop off, nursery pick up, baby class, endless shopping trips for avocado and parsnips (because the baby can actually eat them), rocking to sleep for naps, baths, washing up (I have no idea how we manage to use the entire contents of our kitchen cupboards approximately 46 times every single day), I feel like there are so many things which get pushed to the bottom of the list.

I agreed to write a press release for someone weeks ago and only just did it today, I have more ironing than I’d like hanging on the back of the bedroom door, the house is vacuumed fairly regularly but jobs like wiping down the skirting boards and cleaning the oven get left or just half arsed very occasionally, there are all sorts of other things languishing at the bottom of my to do list which may just never get done.

And yet, I do have spare time. Maybe if I used the time while I’m expressing more effectively, or didn’t watch as much Netflix in the evening, or maybe got up a bit earlier, then I could achieve so much more with my day. I’ve joked before that when Dylan comes home and asks me what I’ve done, my stock answer is: ‘kept the children alive’. Sometimes, I’m actually deadly serious and I couldn’t tell you anything else I’ve managed.

Have any of us really got the balance right?

Does anyone go to bed thinking: yep done everything without burning myself out? Does it matter that some days I look like I got dressed in the dark? That I’ve been to the gym three times I think since Max was born back in March? That I have utterly no idea how I’m going to squeeze any work into this scenario once I finish my maternity leave at the end of the year?

I would put ‘try and find a balance’ on my to do list, but we all know it’d end up right at the bottom somewhere between ‘learn how to make soup’ and ‘pluck your eyebrows – they’re a state’.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x