Many years ago, when 9YO was still very small, I was lamenting to a (male, without kids) friend of mine about how one of the things I really missed about work was being strategic.
In response, he asked me the seemingly simple, innocent question, designed to make me miss my work life less:
"Why can't you be strategic in how you're raising your kids?"
He wasn't being facetious, or uncaring. It was a genuine question. I can't remember exactly what my response was. I wasn't rude. I didn't smirk, or rant. I think I just said something short about 'fire-fighting' and nappy changes, and naps and feeding...
But even then, I knew.
I knew that for all the good will in the world, it wasn't (for me at least) possible.
And over the years, I've wondered why. Why isn't it possible to be strategic?
Certainly, there's the daily 'fighting of fires', the unexpected things that happen every day, that throw us off-course. And for sure raising children is much more a one-to-one job, rather than where learnings can be applied wholesale to multiple clients or customers. However, there are child-raising strategies that can be learned and applied. I've read and listened to multiple books on such.
And I suppose, if I'm being kind to myself, having these strategies in my mind, help guide me (at times) in the moment.
HOWEVER, in the round, I am not strategic.
In fact, Contented Hubby and I often have a giggle at ourselves as we career through parenthood, a bit like a pinball in a pinball machine, crashing against the sides and changing direction violently! The key to successful parenting is complete inconsistency, right? 😉
But still I wondered....
More recently, you may have heard me on on InstaStories about the #mumhustle...? Man, it feels in full swing in our household right now!
And then last Wednesday, it hit me.
THIS is why, for all my best intentions, I can not be strategic. Most days, there is no time to take a breath, no head space to ponder... We are, I am, go go go from waking until bed.
Check out my Wednesday. Does it look a bit like yours?
- 06:15 Alarm sounds. Hop into the shower, including hair wash. Swish Coconut Oil around in my mouth - I'm trying to improve my gum health.
- 07:00 9YO wakes and gets up
- 07:15 6YO wakes and gets up
- 07:16 breakfast for all, put clothes washing in machine, get ballet stuff and karate kit ready
- 08:00 Do my teeth
- 08:05 Manically attempt to dry my hair - due to time, the hair dryer needs to be on full blast, but the button for full power is broken so you have to hold it down at a funny angle the whole time
- 08:15 Ask the girls to put on their shoes multiple times before it happens, walk to school
- 09:15 6YO's Year 2 class assembly - super cute (and slightly poignant as I can start to see how they'll be ready for Juniors in Sept - bye bye babies)
- 09:45 Walk home
- 10:15 Second breakfast (LOVE a second breakfast - think it was just eggs on toast), set cooker timer to heat up lunch and be ready for 12.
- 10:30 Work
- 12:00 Check lunch. Not cooked. Knob set half way between 'modes'
- 12:30 Eat luke warm, not great lunch
- 12:50 Hang up washing, wrap frozen fish into foil parcels and put in oven on a timer
- 13:00 Work
- 14:00 Forget Library volunteering for Year 2 class!
- 14:45 Stop work to leave for pick up, ring overseas friend on the way
- 15:15 Arrive at pick up, abruptly stop phone call as 9YO and 6YO bowl into me.
- 9YO says she doesn't want to go to karate as she bumped her head at lunch and doesn't feel good
- Instant brain juggle - 9YO was meant to be being picked up by her friend's mum to put final touches to class project
- Head to the Cafe where 6YO & I hang out while 9YO does Karate - this time with both girls
- Decide that 9YO can go from cafe to her friend's football practice on her own, and meet up with friend and her mum, while I take 6YO to ballet
- Text Friend's Mum the plan, asking for her to text me once she was 9YO
- Text Library volunteering mum to apologise for completely missing library duty
- Text Contented Hubby asking him to cook some rice and broccoli ready for 6:30pm
- Try to give the kids at least some attention, while we have a drink and snack.
- 16:15 All leave the cafe - 9YO to friend's football practice, 6YO & towards Ballet
- 16:20 stop off via work colleague to drop off some paperwork - they are not there, so head to Ballet, pass colleague on the way
- 16:30 Help 6YO into Ballet outfit, take her to the loo, class starts
- 16:35 Leave Church Hall where Ballet class is, head back to colleague's house, arrive, sort paperwork, stop for a quick chat
- 16:50 Walk back to ballet, on the way realise I'm passing 6YO's swimming lesson location, where I dropped her swimming costume at the weekend, so stop off there and pick it up (#winning)
- 16:55 Arrive back at ballet - sit down and scroll Instagram for 30 minutes
- 17:30 Help 6YO change, walk to bus stop, bus, walk to 9YO's Friend's house, admire project, finally leave
- 17:40 Walk to bus stop
- 17:50 Bus home
- 18:30 Dinner (thankfully I set the oven correctly this time, so all cooked and Hubster is all ready with the rice and broccoli)
- 19:00 Start bed time - bath, teeth, stories etc
- 19:30 Hubby has a work call until 20:00
- 19:45 Leave for Pilates class at the Physio (my back's not great and the Physio recommended it), contemplate trying to do the class another time as am shattered
- 20:00 Actually enjoy the Pilates class - it's nice to be out of the house and out of mummy mode for an hour
- 21:05 Head back home
- 21:15 Flop on the sofa in front of Netflix!
No wonder I'm knackered!
No wonder there's no time to be strategic 😂
The longest stretch of time I did something for that day was 90 minutes of work, followed by my 60 minutes of Pilates. For the rest of that 15 hour period, every activity took 5-30 minutes before the next item on the list!
Admittedly Wednesdays are a particularly busy day. I'll grant you that. But it's only a more extreme version of every other day.
The only strategy I'm able to apply is to (sometimes) remember and action dinner ahead of time, so I'm standing in front of the fridge at 6pm wondering what we're going to eat, and to remember to get the kids to take their after school stuff to school.
There is no thinking about how to raise them, how to speak to them, how to encourage, support, discipline them. None. Nada. Niente.
Perhaps I'm trying to juggle too many balls...? Perhaps the girls are over-scheduled? I don't know.
All I know is that my strategy is survival. And to make sure the girls know they are loved. Everything else is just getting through the day.
The mum hustle is real peeps. It's real.
As always, with my love from our family to yours,